Disclaimer: This post contains both a spoiler and unapologetic feminist commentary on the most recent episode of 'The Walking Dead'. Please proceed with caution.
As the collective heartbeat that is The Walking Dead's fanbase returns to normal, speculation over the sixth season's most recent episode orbits two questions: Is the beloved Glenn -- former pizza boy, eternal optimist and loyal husband -- really dead? And if so, how is Maggie not going to completely lose her shit?
The second question isn't really a question. The implication is that Maggie Greene, arguably the show's strongest female character, absolutely will lose her shit upon learning that her husband has become Walker food. This loss, one in a long series of tragedies in which her stepbrother is gunned down, her father is beheaded and her younger sister is shot to death, may be the straw that crushes the embattled Maggie.
As a violent show with plenty of male fans, it is easy to assume these predictions are based on antiquated ideas of what women can and can't handle. But lovers of this show are nothing if not enlightened, rooting for the Samurai-wielding Michonne, the stalwart and newly terrifying Carol, and even Jessie, the housewife who recently went absolutely, fucking HAM on a home intruder. Unrelenting pain and continued loss have torn apart many a male character, and the implication is that Maggie will simply suffer the same fate, irrespective of the fact that she is a woman.
As with any show that focus on both the frailty and resilience of the human spirit, this is absolutely a possibility. But in a show where female characters are put on an equal emotional playing field with men, Maggie still has the ability to surprise fans, to exhibit strength beyond her male comrades. And in honor of Glenn, be he dead or alive, let's exercise some optimism and look at the record of resilience that is our favorite girl on the farm.
1. Maggie fights. Viewers can discuss ad nauseam Maggie's transition from doting daughter to zombie huntress, but fighting Walkers is par for the course in this world. This is a woman who has been attacked, kidnapped, held hostage and threatened with rape, and she fights her human attackers relentlessly. In season three, she and Rick rescue Daryl and Merle from the Woodbury community, and she shoots Oscar while escaping to prevent reanimation. After the prison is attacked and her father killed, Maggie leads the charge to find Glenn, and she fashions a weapon out of her father's pocket watch to battle the cannibals at Terminus.
2. Maggie makes connections. Maggie's ability to trust sets her apart from Rick, and it saves the group on several occasions. It is Maggie who brings Aaron to the barn, eventually leading the group to the Alexandria Safe Zone. She forgives Tara when she confesses her part in the murder of her father, and Tara becomes a key defender of the group as a result. Most recently, she befriended Deanna Monroe, becoming a trusted adviser to the community's leader at a time when trust in Rick's group was at an all-time low.
3. Maggie does what's necessary. Trusting, yes. But Maggie's no-nonsense approach to the messier of tasks often goes unnoticed as just the small feats of bad-assery that make up who she is. She leaves the farm to notify the group via horseback that Carl has been shot, bringing Lori back with her. She goes on numerous supply runs with Glenn, digs graves for the sick in prison, cuts open a pregnant Lori to deliver her baby, babysits an unconscious Eugene and a dazed Abraham after a brutal fight and, perhaps most bad-ass of all, tells her dying father it's time to let go, that she will take care of what's left of the Greene family.
4. Maggie rolls with the punches. Fighting in the name of survival may be her most noticeable skill, but it is Maggie's mental and emotional flexibility that will save her in the end. After months of relative safety on the farm, Maggie faces not only the shortfalls of her Christian upbringing but also the truth about her entire community's new Walker status. Remember when the Greenes kept two dozen zombies in the barn, thinking they had the flu? Yeah. That happened. After the death of her stepmother and stepbrother, her father and then her sister, Maggie mourns and moves on, not internalizing until the crazy sets in (Nobody's on the phone, Rick!), but also not wallowing in her loss, Sasha-style. Death after death - even as the only living Greene left -- Maggie hardens but does not become hard.
5. Maggie is hopeful. What reason does this woman have to hope? Yet it is her steadfast optimism that sets her apart from Carol, who also lost her immediate family throughout the course of the show. She marries Glenn, a seemingly pointless decision in a world devoid of laws and religion, and even considers having a baby after a pregnancy scare forces the conversation. The desire to "be alive, not just breathing," is a common theme in Maggie's character, and one that will surely sustain her in the coming episodes.
The next few weeks could prove me wrong; Maggie Greene may disappear, despair and retreat into herself. We've seen character after character shut down, lose hold of their mental stability or completely alter their personality upon finding themselves alone in this new world. But in the spirit of both Glenn and Maggie, two characters who epitomize resilience, forgiveness, optimism and strength, I choose to remain hopeful.