The Walking Dead left us sad, shocked, and a bit puzzled by the end of “Thank You.” There was so much to process. We were enthralled during most of the episode, but much like Rick and his crew, we were left feeling hopeless and a little scared by the end.
The third episode of Season 6 of The Walking Dead, “Thank You,” is a continuation of the premiere episode “First Time Again.” When you consider that the desperate events we’re watching are occurring at the same time as the brutal invasion of Alexandria in “JSS,” you’re reminded that The Walking Dead is not for the faint of heart.
“Thank You” has created a debate about the fate of Glenn that may not be answered for another two weeks. People certainly feel strongly about this morally strong, compassionate character that many can relate to. The Walking Dead filmed his grisly scene in a way that left the door open, but it’s not clear that Glenn will actually pass through said door. Regardless of the outcome, people’s responses to Glenn and his role within the world of The Walking Dead tell us a lot about the human need for hope and reassurance. In terms of acting, directing, and filming, the scenes with Glenn and Nicholas were very well done.
Rick’s ambitious plan to herd hundreds of walkers past Alexandria, 20 miles down the road, is quickly falling apart. In “First Time Again” his run-through turned into an emergency action plan. Then the Wolves attacked Alexandria in “JSS,” resulting in a blaring truck horn attracting the walkers away from their course, towards the walled community. In “Thank You,” Rick runs back to Alexandria to attempt to lead the walkers away, while Glenn and Michonne attempt to get the Alexandrians back home alive.
“If something’s in front of you, you kill it.”
—Rick to Glenn and Michonne
“Thank You” opens with Glenn (Steven Yeun) running through the woods. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) runs up behind him, trying to radio Tobin (Jason Douglas) back at Alexandria. We can still hear the truck horn blaring from the direction of the walled community. Tobin doesn’t respond, probably because he’s trying to stay alive as the Wolves attack. A walker approaches and Rick intones, “Michonne.” Michonne (Danai Gurira) runs up the hill behind them, killing the walker with her sword. Further down the hill, seven Alexandrians follow: Nicholas (Michael Traynor), Heath (Corey Hawkins), Scott (Kenric Green), David (Jay Huguley), Annie (Beth Keener), Sturgess (Jonathan Kleitman), and Barnes (Justin Miles). Only two of these Alexandrians will make it out alive.
Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) are still herding the rest of the walkers away. Rick radios them, telling them about the horn noise coming from Alexandria that’s led half the walkers off course. Daryl, more soldier than shepherd, wants to come and help, but Rick tells the three of them to continue to lead the rest of the herd away. Daryl follows his order, but doesn’t seem happy about it.
Rick and the others run frantically to make some distance between themselves and the hundreds of walkers behind them. Even as they run, the Alexandrians are having their doubts. Nick starts to get the trauma gaze and almost freezes until Glenn’s yell brings him back into focus. Annie falls and sprains her ankle. That won’t help them get to Alexandria any faster. Glenn helps her up and they start running again. Barnes takes a minute to waste time complaining that Rick has killed them all until Michonne tells him to shut up and get moving.
Rick has stopped to tell them the new plan. He’s going to go back on his own and get the RV, then circle around to get in front of the herd, hoping to lead them away again before they reach Alexandria. The others will keep heading towards Alexandria.
Rick pulls Michonne and Glenn to the side. Glenn wants to help him, but Rick says he can do it on his own. Michonne needs Glenn’s help to get the Alexandrians back. Rick tells Michonne and Glenn that they can try to save the Alexandrians, but they aren’t going to all make it back. Despite Michonne’s indignation, Rick tells them if the others can’t keep up they need to keep going. They need to make it back.
Since the only Alexandrian experienced with walkers is hiding behind a tree listening in on Rick’s conversation, Barnes is attacked by a walker and killed. Geez, Heath, if you’re so experienced with walkers maybe you should have been protecting your pals rather than spying. Barnes’ death is a warning: Get on the Rick train or you’re going to die.
The horn stops. Heath, David, and Scott exchange looks as Rick goes through Barnes pockets and grabs some extra weapons. Rick isn’t the most sensitive of dudes, but you can’t have too many guns or knives. He wishes them good luck and sprints off like a terrifying forest ranger.
“You need to help me. We’ve got to get these people back.”
– Michonne to Glenn
Michonne, Glenn, and the remaining Alexandrians have no choice but to continue walking, trying to stay ahead of the herd while dealing with what’s in front of them. As they walk through the beautiful forest with the sun shining through the leaves and the birds singing, the come upon a group of walkers. Michonne, Heath, and Glenn take care of the walkers, then the others jump in to help. All except for Sturgess, who accidentally shoots Scott in the leg, freaks out, and then runs away from the walker fracas. So much for sticking together.
Glenn looks at Scott and his gunshot wound with a frustrated glance. Things go from bad to worse when a walker sneaks up behind David and bites him. Michonne kills the walker, but it’s too late. Everyone looks awkwardly around and David says, “I know what it means. We gotta keep moving, right?” Not all the Alexandrians are cowards.
“The rest of that herd turns around, the bad back there gets worse.”
— Rick to Daryl
Daryl wants to go back to Alexandria to help once they’ve moved the herd five miles, but Sasha and Abraham are determined to stick to the plan of 20 miles out. Abraham reminds him, “That’s making sure they’re munching off infirm raccoons the rest of their undead lives instead of us.” Abraham always has a way with words. Sasha tells Daryl, “If you want to go we can’t stop you. But without you they could stop us.” Daryl sees a sign for the planned community of Alexandria and can no longer resist, leaving Abraham and Sasha to lead the walkers on their own.
“No hiding, no waiting. You keep going.”
— Rick to Michonne and Glenn
Michonne looks at David’s bite as they walk. She asks him about his wife, Betsy. They had both been found by Aaron—first David, then Betsy. He tells Michonne that before Aaron found him, “I just gave up on being someone, an actual person. Know what I mean?” We wonder if he walked around with armless, jawless zombies on a chain too? As David describes how Betsy made him a better person than he’d ever been, Glenn walks behind listening. Turns out that Glenn and Michonne can relate to these red shirts more than they imagined. Annie suggests they have to stop to tend to Scott’s gunshot. Glenn agrees they can stop once they are out of the open. Oh Glenn.
They end up in the town where Aiden and Nick lost their crew. None of the cars work. You’d think they would have whole fleets of cars available to them in the zombie apocalypse. After spending time with some of the people doomed to die, Michonne and Glenn have decided they’re not drinking Rick’s kool-aid.
Glenn: “Listen, I need to get home, but I’m not leaving them behind. We patch Scott up, we get going.”
Michonne: “Rick knows what he knows. We’re ahead of the herd. Maybe half an hour now. We can stop. We can make it.”
Well maybe some of you can …
Nick admits to Heath it was his and Aiden’s fault that the people in his crew died. He tells Heath, “They weren’t afraid. We were.” They join back up and Heath says Nick can show them the way. Nick looks at his alpha Glenn, and Glenn agrees. They find Sturgess’s hat. Annie says, “He left us behind.” He didn’t leave them too far behind, because there are walkers eating him around the next corner. Nick gets that dazed look again, and Glenn pulls him and the others back. As they see more walkers, Nick freezes again until prompted by Glenn. They hide in a pet store. We hate to think what happened to all the pets.
Glenn suggests they can start a fire to distract the herd from coming to Alexandria. Michonne says she’ll take on the mission because Glenn has a wife, but Glenn insists it’s his plan. Glenn tells Michonne she needs to get the others back if he takes too long. Calling back Hershel’s words, Glenn says, “We all have a job to do.” Like his late father-in-law Hershel, Glenn has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and believes in the importance of helping others. Unfortunately, that didn’t turn out so great for Hershel.
Nick suggests a feed store and offers to take Glenn there. Glenn doesn’t seem on board at first, probably because Nick keeps falling into a trauma daze, and maybe because Nick tried to kill him like a week ago. But when Nick looks like he has hurt feelings, Glenn agrees to go together. Rick would have just said “No!” like he did to Father Gabriel in “First Time Again.” But Glenn isn’t that guy. Glenn’s the compassionate one who loves nothing more than a good redemption story, which is why we love him so. Before they leave, Glenn goes through his bag and pulls out the watch that Hershel gave him, certainly thinking of Maggie as he looks at it.
Glenn radios Rick, telling him that he’s going to set a fire in order to pull the walkers away from Alexandria. Rick listens while he fights off walkers, cutting his hand in the process. Glenn’s lasts words to Rick on the radio are “Good luck, dumbass,” referring to the first words Glenn spoke to Rick in the pilot. We’ve got a bad feeling about this.
“Thing is, they aren’t all gonna make it.”
— Rick to Glenn and Michonne
Scott, Annie, and David are telling Heath they should leave them, that they’re just slowing the group down. Heath says, “We don’t leave people behind,” adding, “Not us,” with an accusatory glance at Michonne. Michonne follows Heath and confronts him on his passive-aggressive attitude. Heath tells her he overheard what Rick said to them.
Michonne: “Rick said what he said because sometimes you don’t have a choice.”
Heath: “That is not how we do it.”
Michonne: “Because you’ve never had to do it any other way. You haven’t been through it, not really. … Not like Rick. Rick was out there. I was out there. We know, you don’t. But if you don’t learn, you will die, we will.”
Heath: “I’ve been doing runs from the start, okay? I know what it’s like.”
Michonne: “Have you ever had to kill people because they had already killed your friends and were coming for you next? Have you ever done things that made you feel afraid of yourself afterward? Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn’t know if it was yours or a walker’s or your friends’? Huh? Then you don’t know.”
Glenn and Nick come across one of Nick’s reanimated crew. Nick says he should be the one to kill him since he left him behind. Glenn gives him support, saying, “You are not that guy anymore.” They hear gunfire coming from Alexandria. Yes, things can actually get worse.
Inside the pet store Michonne, Heath, Annie, Scott, and David hear the gunfire as well, and see the walkers being drawn to it. David writes a note for his wife Betsy. He gives it to Michonne, but she writes on her arm, “You’re going home,” and gives him back his note. That is a pretty confident statement to make, particularly since everything seems to be going from bad to worse today.
“You try to save them, you try, but they can’t keep up, you keep going. You have to.”
— Rick to Glenn and Michonne
Some walkers who were locked in a pet store closet start pounding. Michonne kills them, but the noise alerts the other walkers that someone’s in the store. When she looks out the window, Michonne realizes the herd has arrived and they have to make a run for it. How come they never try that old trick of rubbing walker guts all over themselves and blending in like they did the first season? They leave the store and start running. Annie falls, again, and tells them to go on without her. As the walkers surround her she begins shooting at them, but there’s too many. Why didn’t she save a bullet for herself?
Glenn and Nick find the feed store and it’s already burnt down. Walkers are coming on all sides. Glenn asks where they should go and Nick starts to panic again. Nick takes them down an alleyway.
David, Scott, Heath, and Michonne get to a gate and help each other over, though Scott tells them to leave him. It looks like neither Michonne or David will make it, but Michonne finally gets over. As the walkers swarm David, the note to his wife falls out of his pocket. Why they don’t use a bullet on David is not clear. Instead they stand and stare as the walkers eat him, until Heath finally says they need to keep going.
“You make sure you get back.”
— Rick to Glenn and Michonne
Glenn and Nick are surrounded by walkers. They manage to get on top of a garbage bin as walkers reach for them on all sides. Nick begins to go into a trauma daze and Glenn tries to shake him out of it. Nick focuses and looks at Glenn, saying “Thank you,” then shoots himself in the head. When Nick falls, he takes Glenn down with him, falling on top of Glenn as all the walkers surround them and begin eating. We see Glenn screaming as the walkers eat Nick’s intestines. The moment calls back Michonne’s words from earlier: “Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn’t know if it was yours or walkers’ or your friends’?”
Scott, Michonne, and Heath have gotten away from the walkers. Michonne looks down at her arm and sees the note she wrote to David, that he’d make it home, and wipes it from her skin. As they cross a stream, Heath looks at his reflection and sees his face coated in blood. Has Heath passed Michonne’s survivor test finally, now that he’s covered in blood?
Rick and his group are pretty self-righteous about how much more they know about survival than the Alexandrians. Rightfully so, but the community also includes other survivors who spent time outside before they were rescued by Aaron, such as David. They’re not all people that would be dead if it weren’t for a wall.
Rick makes it to the point where he plans to try to lead the walkers away. He radios Glenn and gets no answer. He radios Tobin in Alexandria and there’s no response there either. He finally gets a response when he radios Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, and gives one of his vaguely motivational speeches:
“There’s gunfire coming from back home. We gotta sit with it and hope they can handle it. I think they can. They have to. We keep going forward for them. Can’t turn back ’cause we’re afraid. … This is for them. Going back now before it’s done, that’d be for us.“
As Rick wraps his bleeding hand, the Wolves that Morgan let get away from Alexandria try to kill him. The first two he shoots after they surprise him as he sits in the driver’s seat; the rest he shoots as they try to sneak alongside the RV. He checks the pockets of one of the wolves and finds baby food, and realizes they have just attacked Alexandria and maybe his home.
Daryl had ridden off towards Alexandria, but when he hears Rick’s radio call he heads back toward Sasha and Abraham. Scott, Michonne, and Heath have arrived back in Alexandria to find it has been attacked.
Rick gets back into the driver’s seat in order to lead the walkers away, but the RV won’t start. The walkers all begin to come out of the woods. Looks like Morgan’s pacifism has may have killed them all.
These first three episodes pack quite a punch, and let’s face it, we’re not even done with this story yet. Half a herd of walkers is still heading towards the recovering Alexandria, and Rick is right in their path. And viewers, at least some viewers, are uncertain about the fate of Glenn. With all that, The Walking Dead wants to leave us hanging with a Morgan backstory episode next week? Let’s hope there will be more to next week’s 90-minute episode.