Until last Sunday, one of The Walking Dead’s longest survivors, Glenn Rhee, had never killed a single unaffected, non-Walker human being. But in the most recent episode, Team Rick raided one of Negan’s compounds and Glenn had no choice. To make matters worse the team caught the bad guys asleep, so Glenn had to bring himself to slash the throat of someone who was defenseless.
Showunner Greg Nicotero, who directed this episode, was pleased with how the scene turned out and credits Steven Yeun’s strong performance for that. “Steven’s so fantastic of a performer. My job as the director is to create an environment where these guys can go to these horrible, dark places. And that’s about as dark as you can get.”
There was one detail that some viewers might have missed which made it harder for Glenn. “Emotionally, I wanted Steven to feel every fiber of that moment and that anguish. So we created a prosthetic head that was flawless. And we attached it to a dummy body and our props guy, Adam, I laid his arm across the torso so when Steven entered he saw a real hand with a [wedding] ring on it. It took him to this other place. It was as real to him as it could possibly be.”
This was the point of no return for Glenn, but one other character still has yet to take a life: Heath, who accompanied Glenn to the room. It was originally assumed he would have to stab the second sleeping man, but Glenn silently insisted he had to be the one to take them both — perhaps to spare Heath the angst he was going through.
Nicotero also discusses the thoughts and feelings behind Carol and other survivors with The Wrap; read the full interview here.