The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 3, “Thank You”
Written by Angela Kang
Directed by Michael Slovis
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on AMC
“Thank you” is one of the most emotionally exhausting episodes of The Walking Dead in a while. Not since “The Grove” and “Too Far Gone” have I sat completely tensed from head to toe, wanting to lie down and take a breather once the episode was through.
I don’t know why Rick’s folks continue giving him sneers and looks whenever he speaks the bold truth, because we see throughout the episode Rick was right. Once again. The Alexandrians, hard as they try, have done nothing but drag Rick and his group down, especially when it comes to accomplishing the greater goals for Alexandria. They’re either cowards or inexperienced soldiers that are completely overwhelmed; it’s a wonder Heath has survived this long. And he has taken charge, for the most part. When Glenn advises the trio of injured to stay back, Heath leaps into combat alongside Glenn and Michonne.
It’s almost like the Alexandrians have been home schooled for the past few years and are now rolling around with folks that have been through hard inner city public schools. Whether they want to admit it or not, Rick’s crew have seen much more combat than they ever have, and they’ve experienced ugliness that the Alexandrians have yet to even fathom. There should be no argument for Michonne or Rick that they’re liabilities. This doesn’t mean they should be abandoned, but they should be working twice as hard to prove themselves, and so far, we’re in a corner where everyone is at the mercy of the walkers.
Even Glenn. Glenn’s final sequence in “Thank You” is a testament to Rick’s entire philosophy. The Alexandrians are like teenagers thrust in Vietnam; they have no idea what they’re in for. If Rick doesn’t begin whipping these people in to shape, more are going to fall, especially valuable warriors for the cause.
Glenn’s fate is a painfully ambiguous sequence that will leave fans debating and processing for the next few weeks. If Glenn has survived, he’s proof positive that Rick has to enlist some sort of boot camp and whip these sheltered townies into shape once and for all. Whatever gesture Nicholas assumed he’d make for Glenn, he knew deep down that he wasn’t molded for this new world, and in the process may have taken Glenn with him. Nicholas’ final action, though, is the self-admittance that a lot of folks at Alexandria aren’t prepared to confront quite yet, because while the other soldiers like David and Scott have at least tried to prove their worth, Nicholas is clear from the escape in the forest that this just isn’t what he’s cut out for.
And really, what can you do in this new world? You either contribute to the cause, or you die. There’s no middle ground anymore. There are threats out there from the Wolves, to the walkers, to everything else, and these Alexandrians are just not prepared. What the group deals with in the episode are bitter truths, ones that everyone has a hard time accepting in one form or another.
Every one of the injured knows they’re not making it back. Michonne knows they’re not making it back. Heath is unwilling to admit that Rick is right, however cruel, and in the end, as Heath looks into the pool of water, examining his blood drenched face, I think it’s his bitter realization that Rick was speaking the truth. The truth is hard and often times cold-blooded, but it will eventually rear its ugly head. Even Michonne realizes in some way that though she’s a wonderful soldier, she’s not a leader, and we see that in her reactions to the herds in the pet shop, and on the fence, when she is nearly pulled into the herd of walkers.
Beyond the bigger moments of sheer chaos, there are other, more subtle moments of characterization that help define the urgency effectively. The Alexandrians on the mission are not just cannon fodder, and manage to have their own moments to display their humanity, however ugly it may be. Probably the most gut-wrenching scene, beyond Glenn’s peril, is watching David write a goodbye note to his wife, who likely perished in Alexandria. It’s tough: Not only is he never going back to pick up the pieces, but that the note will never get to her.
There’s also the tough confrontation between Heath and Michonne, who have a hard exchange in an abandoned pet shop that is seeping with uneasy truths. Heath has a difficult time swallowing it, but Michonne has seen the darkest pits of humanity and a world of the dead that Heath has yet to comprehend, and it sparks a rift between the pair, once they brave the oncoming herd. The more the season presses on, the less obliged the producers seem to feel to let our characters off with easy circumstances.
Michonne and Heath are still on the run from the herd, Glenn might be dead, and to make matters worse, Rick is smack dab in the middle of a massive herd coming from all corners, stuck in an RV that is taking him nowhere. Not to mention that if he decides to hightail it, he just might come under fire from even more of The Wolves. It’s going to be a hard road to hoe as the fallout from the raid continues to destroy the sanctuary Rick has striven for, and there’s still a lot left for them to accomplish if and when they make it home.