Warning: Major spoilers ahead for those who have not seen episode 6.03 ‘Thank You’
Jesus Christ, Mary Mother and Joseph. Where do I even start with an absolutely phenomenal episode like this? After all hell breaking loose following a massive attack by the Wolves on the ASZ in last week’s episode, this Sunday we shift back to Rick and Co’s perilous situation as they race to get back home with the mother of all hordes on their tail and closing in fast. I wouldn’t want to be in either, but of the 2, I think Rick’s group is in deeper sh*t. And, boy, did tonight’s episode ever prove that in spades.
To put it bluntly, “Thank You” is a 1-hour gigantic disaster. Now, I don’t mean that the episode was terrible — and in fact, I rate it as one of the best of the series — but it’s just a huge pile of one thing right after another going completely wrong. Of course, I don’t think any of the survivors — including Rick and Co’s core group of characters — had experienced a horde of this magnitude, and they had to think of what to do next in like 2 seconds at the of the premiere, but even still, this is one messed up 60 minutes of hell.
MICHONNE STEPS UP AS THE NEW RICK GRIMES OF THE GROUP
For most of the episode unfortunately, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is separated from the group by his own choice and is having to deal with his own issues. I’ll get to that in a moment. But, no worries because while the Ricktatorship may be temporarily absent, Michonne (Danai Gurira) steps up as a very worthy replacement — and in many ways, demonstrates she’s a much better leader than Rick could ever hope to be.
Danai Gurira has played Michonne in The Walking Dead since season 3, but it feels like she’s been here from the very beginning. In fact, I find I often have to correct myself that she’s not one of the “Atlanta 5” (the characters that have been with the series since Atlanta), and that’s because she’s firmly made her mark as one of the coolest and most interesting characters on the show. This week, she gives perhaps her best performance so far.
Of course, Michonne is the ultimate warrior and shows no fear as she approaches a huge group of walkers, samurai in hand, over and over and over again. Her fearlessness itself is one of the hallmarks of her leadership, as a true leader shows no fear as that will only get you and your comrades killed. But when she isn’t slicing up walkers like it’s 2nd nature in this episode, she is exhilarating in another way entirely. Her explanation to Heath (Corey Hawkins) of the struggles he doesn’t know of surviving is breathtaking, and her dedication to saving their injured comrades, albeit unsuccessful, is some of the most convincing on the show.
In the end, however, Michonne’s leadership pays off because of all the characters, she, Heath, and Scott are the only ones to make it back to Alexandria by the end of the episode. Granted, Scott is injured (not bitten, but has a leg injury sustained in a fight with a group of walkers. For the comic-book readers out there, this arc should sound very similar), but he’s alive and just steps away from getting help by the episode’s final moments.
OH HELL NO, THEY DIDN’T!! RIP NICHOLAS **AND** GLENN
Lord have mercy on my soul. How in the hell do I put in words the horror, the terrible grief, perhaps even outright anger at what we had to witness tonight happen to our beloved Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun)? Let’s think about this. We have witnessed this character grow from being that “walker bait” boy, as Maggie put it, to a strong man and perhaps one of the best fighters on the show. Hell, remember the scene of Glenn being tied to a chair while locked in a room with a walker? Anybody else would have been walker chow, but Glenn somehow managed to survive. After all of that, seeing him go down as a result of falling off a dumpster at the most inopportune moment is a tough pill to swallow to say the least.
But, remember, this is the zombie apocalypse, and sorry, but shit happens. Also remember that Glenn has in a way inherited being the group’s moral compass after Dale’s death, and he’s one of the few characters that have never killed a human being. That is very admirable, and for that, he has become a fan favorite. However, unfortunately, sometimes there is a time to kill, and I definitely think he should have made that call with Nicholas (Michael Traynor). I mean, the guy had gotten Noah killed, lied about it, and then, tried to kill Glenn. And, even if you put all of this aside, Nicholas is just like Carter, and as Rick put it in the premiere, “just another person who shouldn’t be alive now.” In other words, Nicholas will eventually get himself killed and probably anyone around him at the time.
Unfortunately, Glenn does pay the price for the poor decision in perhaps one of the most horrific, heart-wrenching death scenes in the series thus far. Glenn and Nicholas find themselves surrounded by walkers, and initially, I thought maybe Nicholas would commit suicide-by-walker, thus giving Glenn a fighting chance to get away. But, nope, even with his death, Nicholas still manages to screw up the entire situation. Nicholas decides to shoot himself in the head, and this happens while they are both on top of a dumpster, with Glenn losing balance and falling off into a mob of walkers. Within seconds, poor Glenn is devoured, and the really shitty part is no one’s around to see or hear him die.
So what do I think of this character death? I, for one, am on the fence. Initially, I was out there in the trenches with the rest of the fans, madder than hell and wanting to cut the writers a new one. But, after thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that the move actually makes the series more realistic. Writers for a television series really do live the dream. After all, they can do anything they want to any character they want and is control of the entire show’s universe. So, if they want to make all the series’ fan favorites die heroic deaths, they can make it so with just a few strokes of the pen. However, the downside of this is that it’s not how reality works. People die horrible, unexplainable deaths everyday, and the zombie apocalypse is no exception. Shit happens, freak accidents happen, it’s as simple as that. So, if this is what Scott Gimple and Co. did, then I actually applaud them for it. Killing Glenn in this manner was a bold and brazen move, but it is one that brings the series back down to Earth a bit.
NOW for the catch in all of this. I debated about whether to include this part in my review because of how spoilery it is, but decided it was relevant. That said, for those who wish to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now. But, for the rest and particularly those who are looking for some smidgen of hope, keep reading because I can offer one. One thing that hasn’t been explained yet is the ringing of bells when Nicholas proceeded to kill himself. What was that all about? Could that be an indicator that what we saw wasn’t reality, but perhaps a hallucination or dream (actually nightmare)? I do think it’s a strong possibility, especially given that something similar happens in the comics. For the hard-core comic book fans out there, do you recall something like this playing out in issue 75? HINT: It was part of an alternate non-canon ending. If it still doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps this will:
Look familiar? Yeah, uh huh (and, yes, those are spaceships in the background!). As most viewers know, Glenn doesn’t die by walker in the comics, and instead, is killed by super-villain Negan, meaning this image is from one effed-up dream sequence (interestingly enough, Glenn originally was slated to die in this issue, but it was postponed to issue #100). The bonus ending to the comic was supposed to be a spin on Plan 9 From Outer Space, with aliens reanimating the dead and was done strictly for fun. I think it’s safe to say it’s very possible Glenn’s death scene may have been a hallucination, paying special homage to this very comic-book Easter Egg. Either way, I suspect we won’t find out for at least a couple of weeks since next Sunday is the Morgan flashback episode. Sigh. The writers, those sadistic bastards!
Regardless, without any additional information to tell us otherwise, we have to assume that Glenn Rhee was killed tonight. Thank you, Steven Yeun, for your marvelous work on the show. If this is all nothing but a terrible dream, that’s great and I will be on the front row applauding your return. But, if not, know that Glenn will never, ever, be forgotten.
OUR FEARLESS LEADER DOES THE UNTHINKABLE AND LOSES HOPE
Remember back in the Pilot when Rick was surrounded by walkers while underneath that tank, and he pulls out his gun, says “I’m sorry , Lori” all with the full intention to end it all than to face the horrors of what was about to happen. That scene feels like it were ages ago, and since then, Rick Grimes has become one of the most fearless warriors on the show, next only to Michonne perhaps.
But, even the bravest of men have their limits, and at the end of tonight’s episode, we see Rick meeting his. Insisting that the rest of the group head back home, Rick decides to stay on mission and attempt to use the RV to get the herd back on track. When Rick can’t get the RV started and the walkers start to surround him, he quite literally loses hope and gives up. Did anyone else notice the look on his face? It’s in that face that we realize Rick Grimes honestly doesn’t know what to do, and that’s terrifying. After all, there is nothing more unsettling than the realization that your leader has come to terms with all hope is lost and starts to crumble.
Speaking of Rick… Going back to the comic-book dream sequence I had mentioned, as it turns out the dream was actually Rick’s, not Glenn’s. And, let’s just say that if the next time we see Rick Grimes in present day, he’s back at the same hospital in Atlanta from the Pilot but with spaceships outside the window, then I was right. Yes, you read that last sentence right, folks. Very weird but also very exciting if this turns out to be what they’ve done. Dream sequences are always very risky and even more difficult to pull off effectively, and so, I’d be very interested in seeing how they did it, as well as the fan response.
All in all, a superb episode and while I didn’t think it were possible to top that phenomenal season 6 premiere, I believe they just did. At the end of the day, this show is about zombies and is part of the horror genre. This episode is 60 minutes of non-stop, heart-racing zombie slashing action, and the simple truth is it should be this way. As I had said in my review of the premiere, EP Scott Gimple had promised going “back to basics” this season and making the walkers the primary threat once again, Well, I think this proves Gimple’s no liar, and if it’s a hint of what’s to come, I think we are heading for a hell of a roller coaster ride for the remainder of the season. Hold on tight and stock up on the booze, because ready or not, here we go!
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Critic Grade — A+
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com