Warning: beware of herds. The Walking Dead continues with its parallel storylines as we pick up with Rick and company after they heard a loud, blaring horn coming from Alexandria. This is “Thank You.”
The episode begins with a blaring horn. Glenn rushes through the woods as fast as he can as Rick radios in to Tobin, who gives him no response. Everyone’s on the move as Rick radios to Sasha and Abraham about what’s happening. The horn, coming from the east, isn’t stopping. Daryl tells Rick that they’ll need help, but Rick tells them to keep going.
Naturally, Annie’s ankle hurts. Heath figures that the horn is coming from home. One Alexandria resident is bitching, so I’m guessing that he’s about to die soon. Everyone is done, but Michonne shuts him up and tells him to move. I mean, really, the guy has no real reason to complain right now. Rick has a new plan: he’ll come back, get the RV, and circle the walkers so he can lead them away. Everyone else, get home.
He tells Glenn and Michonne to kill whatever they encounter…and he doesn’t want their help. If the others can’t keep up, these two, at least, need to return. Try to help the others if they’re in danger, sure, but if not, keep on going. Unaware to the three, Heath overhears this.
Oh, and one guy went and got himself bitten. Eh. No real loss, really. At least the horn eventually stops. Rick checks the man’s gear before telling the others to get back safe. He heads off. So where is Morgan at this point? Again, he wasn’t too far from them.
Glenn and Michonne lead their group through the woods, even though they have no idea what lays ahead. These Alexandria folks are a bit too timid for my liking. Glenn instructs the folks to not worry. Whatever’s ahead, they have no choice but to keep moving.
Michonne, Heath, and Glenn start hacking through a small group of walkers. The Alexandria folks? They eventually join in and manage to put up a decent fight, save for Will, who accidentally shoots Scott in the leg before running off like a bitch. Heath manages to save one of Scott before he’s bitten. Oh, and David else gets bitten. He knows what’s coming next…keep moving, right?
On the road, Daryl tells Sasha and Abraham that he’ll spin at the next intersection, which isn’t the plan. Without him, though, Sasha admits that the walkers may stop them, even though there’s nothing stopping him from leaving. He soon speeds off.
The group continues on through a seemingly clear patch of road. Michonne looks at David’s walker bite. It’s about what you’d expect. Why isn’t this David dead yet? He’s been married for three months. Not his wife from before. Not long after Aaron found David, who was on his own, the two found Betsy on the way back to the community. She still saw him. She became his first friend, then made him more- better than he used to be. If David makes it back, he wants to tell her that meeting her in the middle of all this was worth it.
Glenn concedes that the group can find a spot to stop for a bit. Not for long, though. They arrive at an empty plaza and begin searching the cars for anything that can take them back. Glenn tells Michonne that he needs to get back, but he won’t leave them alone. Michonne believes that Rick knows what he’s doing.
Heath and Nicholas talk. The people on Nicholas’ team who died weren’t afraid, even though Nicholas and Aiden didn’t know what they were doing. Heath concludes that they need to keep moving. Since Nicholas was the last person there, he can show them the way. So we have two limping characters and one who has been bitten. Remember that. On the way, Nicholas finds a very familiar looking hat.
He takes charge and leads the team when they happen upon a group of walkers feasting on Will. The group falls back, but walkers are approaching.
The group takes refuge in an abandoned pet store. Walkers are currently blocking the way out of town. Michonne figures that they need to be led out of town. Not the best idea, Heath says, but at least Michonne is trying. She’s not giving up. Glenn has an idea. If they can distract the herd by burning one of the buildings, they can’t make it back to the pet store. Michonne opts to burn it, but Glenn decides to do it himself- this is his idea. If he gets stuck, the others must keep moving.
Nicholas points out that there’s a reed store nearby with a lot of dry stuff. He offers to draw up a map, but instead, Glenn orders him to lead the way.
Rick, meanwhile, is on the run. He receives a transmission from Glenn on the group’s current position and Glenn’s plan to set a fire. While the message does come through, Rick is too focused on cutting down any and all walkers in his path, even taking every weapon he can find. However, he does end with a pretty bad cut on his left hand…
The Alexandria folks are patched up with just enough until they return the infirmary. Annie and Scott want to be left behind since they’re slowing everyone down. If it won’t be done now, it will be done eventually, but Heath insists on the group staying together. They don’t leave people behind. Not them, he adds, casting a glance at Michonne.
She speaks to Heath alone and asks if he has a problem with her. Heath claims that he’s just looking out for his people. He heard what Rick said about how some of them wouldn’t make it and that they can’t keep up. Even still, Glenn is out there risking his life.
Things will get worse, but in Michonne’s mind, the people of Alexandria haven’t survived like Rick and his group have. Has he ever done something that shocked him? Has he been covered in so much blood that he didn’t know if it was human or walker? No? Then he doesn’t know.
Well, that was an argument.
Nicholas and Glenn continue along as Nicholas talks about Will- he was only 19 and the team left him behind. Glenn insists that Nicholas isn’t that man anymore. After willing himself to do it, Nicholas kills the walker. The two hear shots ringing out. Thinking it’s coming from home, they head back.
Back in the pet shop, Michonne’s group also hears shots, but they remain in hiding for a bit. Walkers begin heading in the direction of the gunfire. Once the walkers are gone, the group will head for the feed store.
Rick is still a man on a mission and arrives at the wall marked by the orange balloons. He enters the RV and drives off.
After reading David’s note to Betsy, Michonne insists that he’s getting home. Well, she writes it on her arm, but the sentiment remains. Some banging from the back gets their attention. Michonne cuts through the walkers inside, which alerts the attention of the incoming herd heading their way.
With no other choice, they open the doors and begin running from the oncoming herd. Annie falls and manages to kill a few walkers before she’s devoured. Busted up ankles will do that to you.
Nicholas and Glenn arrive at the store, but find it already burned to the ground. Well, someone else was at least smart. Walkers approach from both sides, forcing the two to find another way. They arrive in an alley, but the fences are blocked by walkers. Trapped, the two kill as many walkers as possible, but they’re severely outnumbered.
Michonne’s group arrives at a fence. Everyone manages to make it over except for David. He’s slowly dragged back into the herd. Luckily, Heath managed to kill the walkers holding onto Michonne’s leg. Damn, David’s note doesn’t even make it through.
Glenn and Nicholas, still very much outmatched by the walker herd, make a stand on a dumpster. Nicholas, seeing the death all around him, is snapped out of his funk by Glenn, but he thanks Glenn before shooting himself in the head.
Glenn is thrown into the herd as walkers begin to rip guts apart…
So Michonne, Heath, and Scott managed to escape the herd, but he’s still falling and slowing them down. They eventually reach a river. So the show can have a callback, Heath looks at his reflection in the water and notices all the blood on his face.
Rick, meanwhile, arrives at a spot and radios to Glenn, but gets no response. Nothing from Toby, either. He does hear from Daryl. Won’t be long, now. Rick will be headed towards Sasha and Abraham soon. Rick overhears the gunfire. They’ll have ignore it and hope that the people of Alexandria can take care of what’s happening. What Rick and his group is doing, they’re doing for the community.
But then Rick is ambushed when Wolves enter the RV. Daryl calls out for him, but gets no response. But this is Rick Grimes. He manages to kill both men. He checks one of the men’s pockets and finds a tiny container of baby food.
Looking through the mirror, Rick spots others approaching. He picks up the machine gun and fires at the wall. Rick has X-Ray vision.
Daryl manages to meet up with Sasha and Abraham as the three keep moving forward to lead the massive herd behind them.
In typical TV and movie fashion, the RV will not start when Rick attempts to leave. And walkers are slowly approaching his location. Well, at least he’s not stuck in a tank.
With “Thank You,” we have another case of episodes running parallel to one another. It picks up right where “First Time Again” ended, and then takes place at the same time as “JSS.” Again, while unconnected episodes of The Walking Dead are fine and are more than capable of standing on their own, connecting these episodes make this feel like one long episode.
And it was just as heavy as the previous two, even more so because while the people back at Alexandria were able to ward off the Wolves, at great costs, the group on the outside has one problem lumped onto another with little time to breathe. From a narrative point of view, it’s a good way to maintain suspense and tension throughout the episode. Sure, we get those quiet moments like the discussions in the pet shop or Rick in the RV, but there is a constant threat because they still haven’t led the walkers to a safe enough point.
People have said this last season, but it’s a testament to how ill-prepared the people of Alexandria were for what lays beyond their no-longer safe walls. They complain about death, waste precious ammunition, don’t stay aware of their surroundings, and overall just have no idea how hard the real world is.
This is the kind of stuff that Rick and the rest of the group have dealing with all along, and they’ve paid for it. Despite losing people very close to them, loved ones who they thought would make it to the end, they’ve kept on going forward because there’s no point in going back. Even if the group has settled into Alexandria, they refuse to let themselves get weak because they’ve had to live in the middle of this harshness for so long.
It makes me wonder what’s keeping Rick’s group from just taking Alexandria now when they have the resources, power, and fearlessness. At the same time, they still hold out hope that these people will learn. They don’t have to become killers overnight, but they do need to wake up and start defending themselves. It’s why Rick wanted them to learn how to take care of walkers. Like the situation at Alexandria with the Wolves, the people will find themselves in a situation where they need to fight. They can’t and shouldn’t expect someone like Rick Grimes to come in and rescue them.
While there was a lot happening in this episode, Heath and Michonne’s argument was the most memorable moment for me and a pretty good exchange on its own. It hits home at the major differences between our main characters and the people of Alexandria, but more than that, it highlighted just how much these people have been changed by the world around them.
Carl had to kill his mother, Carol watched her reanimated daughter executed, Daryl found Merle turned and made the impossible decision of having to kill him, Beth and Maggie watched their father decapitated right before their eyes- there are plenty of examples of these people walking down dark paths and can’t go back to their normal selves. You need to adapt to this new world if you want to make it to the next day.
There are no rules in this world anymore. And whenever there are, they change on a case-by-case basis. It’s one thing to claim toughness in a harsh world, but that can change when you’re thrust in a situation where you have seconds to make a potentially impossible or life threatening decision before you’re killed.
The problem with the people from Alexandria is that they aren’t moving fast enough. They’re plagued by weakness and that’s going to keep them from surviving. In this episode alone, we had four Alexandria residents fall to the walkers due to injuries and not being prepared for this world. Some of the deaths are too telegraphed, though: if a character complains, they’re probably going to die.
We literally just had this happen with Carter and now we have someone else bitching about how hard it is. And I don’t even know the guy’s name, so I care about him even less.
At least Annie knew her limp was holding everyone back and gave in, as opposed to further slowing them down. And David, like Noah before him, had a moment to talk about his future. You know how it goes with optimism. Too much of it and you’re dead, mister. And once your friends fall, like Rick said, you keep going forward.
Which is what made it all the more surprising that Daryl would consider going against Rick’s plan just to help him, but in the end, he decided to head back to Sasha and Abraham in the end. These three haven’t been given much to do aside from lead the herd, and there’s only so much you can do when they have to drive slow, but hopefully they get something beyond this.
Rick being ambushed by the Wolves was a surprise moment and helped this further emphasize the parallel storylines, as this means that the Wolves just retreated from Alexandria. But this is also a slight negative. Exactly where is Rick in the RV in proximity to the Safe Zone? The Wolves had been battling for a while, so I assume that they’re not running at full speed.
And yet, they showed up at the RV not long after they were chased off by Morgan. Yet they ambushed Rick like they were in peak condition.
So I suppose what I’m getting at is I wish we got a better sense of where everyone is in proximity to everyone else. They’re surrounded by tons of threes, but they’re still able to be in pretty decent communication as opposed to just getting static. They can’t be too far from home since Morgan made it back to the Safe Zone in no time, so what gives?
Okay, so Nicholas and Glenn. It’s not worth still harping over the fact that Nicholas got Noah killed. We know it happened and it’s something that Nicholas will have to live with for the rest of his life. But like everyone else, he can’t just dwell on the past. He has to become a different person.
Credit where it’s due, Nicholas did show signs of changing. He became more careful when it came to handling walkers and knew his way around when trying to lead his group to a safe location.
So does his final act of redemption come with his death? He thanks Glenn, as if he’s grateful for Glenn waking him up and showing that, despite all the horrible things that he’s done, he could change. Or was it a spur of the moment decision because he knew that the two of them were in an impossible scenario?
That image of Nicholas and Glenn surrounded by walkers on all sides was quite chilling and harkened back to the pilot with Rick stuck inside the tank with walkers on every side. It’s a scenario where there’s literally no way out except being torn apart. Nicholas chose suicide to prevent from being taken by the walkers first.
And he took Glenn, a staple character since we first heard his voice in the pilot, with him, killing off another member of the crew who has been with us from the first season.
But…are they both dead?
I’m not one to jump onto theories or conspiracies so soon after an episode airs because I’m caught up in emotions and don’t want to believe it. We’re not talking about Jon Snow here, but something feels…off here. Glenn has been with us for a long time. If he were to die, I don’t think it would be this way.
Having a character ripped apart by a swarm of walkers fits a character we don’t know, but most of the main characters, even people like Merle, have been given deaths that carried major significance.
Glenn is quick and nimble. He’s able to figure himself out of most situations he’s in, even when cornered. Yeah, this was a massive swarm in a tight corridor, but let’s think back to “Conquer.” Nicholas left Glenn to be devoured by a pile of walkers, but Glenn emerged from that impossible scenario just fine. We’re given no explanation as to how and that’s still a big question mark, but the point is he got out of that situation when he should have been killed.
Furthermore, I subscribe to theory that, more often than not, if a character dies, you need to see a body. This isn’t always the case and I’ve gladly eaten my hat when proven wrong, but on this show, if a main character dies, we usually see it happen. There are exceptions.
We didn’t watch Andrea shoot herself in the head, but she’d been bitten and knew what she had to do. We still heard the gunshot on the other side of the door as Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Tyreese listened.
And we didn’t see Carl shoot and kill Lori, but we heard it along with Maggie. Also, the fact that she doesn’t emerge from the prison and, you know, Maggie performed a damn C-section on her- how much proof do you need? And remember how Rick and Carl thought that Judith was dead, even though there was no proof she hadn’t been whisked from the prison?
Again, people, we’re not talking about Game of Thrones. The Walking Dead comic may be willing to cross certain lines, but the show isn’t that daring yet. Impossible and crazy it sounds, I’d be willing to bet that Glenn makes it out of this alive.
It also doesn’t help that I just don’t feel this is Glenn’s time. Yeah, part of that is being up to date on the comic and knowing what’s in store for Glenn, but given how he didn’t even have much of a final moment with Maggie, and how much this show loves to play up emotional moments before a character’s death- Bob rings a bell- I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Glenn.
I could be completely wrong here, but we’ll see. And even with this in mind, “Thank You” was another very good episode that had the away team facing trouble on all sides and they’re not even done yet. Glenn’s left up in the air, Sasha, Daryl, and Abraham are still leading the herd, and Rick is on his own with walkers right outside the RV.
The episode had great tension throughout and helped bring Heath up to speed with the horrors of this world. I do with the location and timeline were a bit better defined and I wish this show didn’t have the cliché character that hurt their leg and is slowing everyone down shtick, but in this world, the strong survive.