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‘The Walking Dead’: The Legacy of Glenn’s Pocket Watch

‘The Walking Dead’ has only had a few characters who have managed to hold onto important mementos. These objects are often passed on from fathers to sons like Rick’s hat and Hershel’s watch. But their staying power lies in their symbolism. So why did Enid inherit Glenn’s pocket watch?

Sometimes, The Walking Dead forgets itself. It gets wrapped up in some bigger behind the scenes scheming. There’s clearly some kind of hope that it’ll be applauded for the payoff and it’s “new” and “original” take.

Season seven has been a wishy-washy mixture of torture porn and organic storytelling deviating from one episode to the next. Consistently, the show is at it’s best when it’s focusing on the characters. Forcing the audience to wonder how they would handle the same situations. And pushing our faves forward through their shared circumstances to confront this life the only way they’ve learned how to live in this world: Through hope.

Recently, it felt like the show had literally killed the hope with the death of beloved Glenn (Steven Yeun) as an almost afterthought to maintain the integrity of the comics. It doesn’t help that Negan’s version of survival, although effective, is one we’ve come to view as wrong, but is being forced down our throats nonetheless. He can keep people alive but it comes at a great cost.

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene/Rhee – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Embedded From: thewalkingdeadhighway via Tumblr (click for more info)
There’s a moral gray area when it comes to the zombie apocalypse and it’s one we’ve seen come into play over and over again. Especially when it comes to guilt – something that has been weighing pretty heavily on everyone.

A few examples would be Rick (Andrew Lincoln) feeling responsible (as he should!) for what happened in that circle with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Daryl (Norman Reedus) feeling responsible for lashing out and causing Glenn’s death. Carol (Melissa McBride) is afraid to love because she fears losing the people she loves, but she’s feeling guilty over all the killing she has done to protect them. And Enid (Katelyn Nacon) is feeling guilty for being spared from that circle altogether.

As far as we’ve seen, Negan doesn’t feel guilt or remorse. This has a direct effect on his humanity, or lack thereof. Perhaps, it’s the absence of men like Hershel (Scott Wilson) and Eastman (John Carroll Lynch) in Negan’s life who have held major roles in tempering Rick and Morgan’s (Lennie James) brutality respectively. Though, we don’t really know Negan’s backstory (and frankly don’t care to) it’s certainly a factor but there’s more than one way to survive and no one way can be deemed right or wrong. It’s a way for The Walking Dead  to draw on that important “Just Survive Somehow” philosophy.

Which brings us to the importance of Hershel’s pocket watch. It’s an item that is heavily featured in episode five of The Walking Dead. So if you haven’t seen it yet and want to avoid spoilers, turn back now! But come back when you’re all caught up!

We had to wait four-ish weeks to find out what happened to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and while it’s debatable if it was really necessary to keep us in the dark for so long, there was the beginnings of closure in the scenes that were directly related to her physical and emotional wellbeing. Specifically centered around Hershel’s pocket watch.

It’s no surprise Glenn had it when he died. I can’t really think of one instance he didn’t have it since Hershel gave it to him. And as Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) handed it to Maggie there was a little tiny inkling of relief. Glenn and Maggie’s love with transcend death. That was evident in Glenn’s last words. But there’s an important feature in Maggie giving Enid the watch that mirrors Hershel giving it to Glenn.

Hershel gave Glenn the watch as a sign of acceptance of Glenn and his relationship with Maggie. But it symbolized so much more. It was a physical representation of Hershel’s expectation of Glenn to remain who he is despite being a man facing insurmountable circumstances. And Glenn came to rely on the pocket watch for guidance when he could no longer rely on Hershel himself. It became a moral compass of sorts he took out when he was unsure or feeling vulnerable. And it’s interesting we didn’t see much, if any, of it after his first kills at the Savior compound.

For a brief moment, Maggie was going to leave it on Glenn’s gravesite but she can’t seem to give it up until the end of the episode. Like her father she passes the pocket watch onto to Enid.
The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC via AMC Press Site

Glenn came onto the scene a fearless former pizza delivery boy, who eventually became a leader in his own right. From the moment we meet him in the apocalypse he’s an orphan with no backstory (a damn shame on the show’s part given how long we’ve known him and yet never really knew him). At first, Glenn was just another person apart from this ragtag group of survives. But Hershel made him family. And in turn, Glenn has had this uncanny way of making others he has found along the way family like Tara (Alanna Masterson).

Similarly, Enid and Glenn bond unexpectedly after she’s in the right place at the right time with the whole dumpster fake-out death early last season. She is the first person he tells that Maggie is pregnant. And while Glenn spends most of that episode babysitting an obstinate child, he saw her potential. There’s an understanding that grows between them, which is why Glenn would want her to have the watch. Enid is family.

It’s how Glenn’s legacy – and by extension Hershel’s – lives on. A sentiment that Maggie shares when she hands it to Enid and says they don’t need anything to remember him by, they have each other. The healing has barely just begun.

There is no doubt that many would argue that it belongs to baby Rhee. And perhaps that’s true, but if there’s anything we’ve learned it’s that nothing is a sure thing. We hope that Maggie won’t suffer another great loss, but she was a bit reckless for a pregnant woman on strict orders of bedrest. It’s only going to get more strenuous and dangerous for her as she gets bigger. And anything can happen in the next nine months. It would be an absolutely crushing blow if anything did happen so we won’t even entertain the thought. In any case, it’ll be a long time before that baby is ready for that watch. Long enough that Enid would pass it on, when baby Rhee is old enough.

Until then, Enid will keep it safe. It’ll guide her in times of fear and misdirection because the pocket watch being passed on tells us that in even in the absence of hope, it will return in time.

‘The Walking Dead’ airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC. Be sure to tune in! And be sure to check back at Hidden Remote for more The Walking Dead content.

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