The Walking Dead S06E03 “Thank You” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: FOX, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Angela Kang
Director: Michael Slovis
Essential Plot Points:
- Back at the herd, Rick and the others race towards Alexandria to try and stop the horn, and then the herd. Rick orders Daryl to stay with the front end of the herd and tells the others he’s going to get the RV and use it to round the stragglers back up. He orders Glenn and Michonne to take the Alexandrians back home and then takes them to one side. He makes it clear not all of them will make it back but someone has to. Heath overhears him.
- At that moment, one of the Alexandrians is murdered by a Walker and euthanised by Michonne. As his horrified friends look on, Rick looks the man’s still warm body and sets off.
- The horn stops as Glenn and Michonne lead their team towards Alexandria. They find a group of walkers in their path and kill them, ordering the Alexandrians to stay back. They ignore these orders and a few seconds letter one, Sturgess, wounds another and runs off. A third, David, is bitten on the shoulder. A fourth, Annie, has already injured her ankle and the surviving team members find their progress slowed to a crawl.
- At the front of the herd, Daryl is starting to panic about what’s happening in Alexandria. This being Daryl, he does so in the calmest, most monosyllabic way possible. He tells Sasha and Abraham that he’s heading back and, when they implore him to stay, seems to consider it. Then he says, “I got faith in you, ” and peels off.
- Meanwhile, Glenn and Michonne’s ragtag fugitive fleet have made it to a small town. Heath, with barely contained disgust, confirms the town is the location of Aiden and Nicholas’s catastrophic supply run. He pushes the other man to act as their guide and Nicholas, clearly traumatised, agrees.
- Things get worse. Firstly because none of the cars in town work. Secondly because they find Sturgess being feasted on by walkers and thirdly because the outer environs of the herd, that they’ve barely kept ahead of, arrive in town. Hiding in a nearby petstore, they try and regroup. Glenn suggests starting a fire to attract the walkers away from Alexandria and Nicholas suggests a nearby feed store.
- Glenn reluctantly agrees to let Nicholas come with him, and takes a moment. He examines the watch Hershel gave him and calls Rick, explaining the plan. He signs off with, “Good luck, dumbass.” Echoing the first words the two men ever exchanged.
- Rick in the meantime fights off three Walkers, injuring himself on a machete protruding from one. Which is either bad, very very bad or an alternate route to Rick’s experiences as an amputee in the comics.
- Annie and Scott both offer to be left behind to help the group speed up. Heath refuses them and confronts Michonne. The young man admits that he overhead Rick and Michonne verbally destroys him, pointing out everything Rick’s been through that the others haven’t.
- Glenn and Nicholas find a walker pinned beneath a car and Nicholas realises it’s one of his team, left behind on the disastrous supply run. As he kills him, they hear gunfire from Alexandria and race towards it.
- Nearby, Rick reaches the RV and rolls out.
- Back at the petstore, Michonne’s team try and wait out the Walkers. David hands Michonne a last will, written to his wife Betsy. Earlier, he’d told Michonne that Betsy and he had fallen in love and got married when David had been rescued by Alexandrians.
- Michonne writes “YOU’RE GETTING HOME” on her arm and hands David back the will. As she does so, the gunfire from Alexandria attracts the Walkers outside and Michonne tells her people to wait for them to clear before heading out.
- Things get worse. Two Walkers in the back room sense them and begin pounding on the door. The noise attracts the attention of the Walkers outside. Michonne and her people fight their way out, losing Annie in the process.
- And worse. Glenn and Nicholas find the feed store has already burnt down. Nicholas, barely holding it together, struggles to think of another target as the two men are cornered by the herd.
- And worse. Michonne’s people are cornered nearby and climb a locked gate to escape. Heath, first over, shoots the walkers clawing at Michonne and saves her life. David is torn apart in front of them, as a powerless Heath looks on in horror.
- AND WORSE. Glenn and Nicholas are horrifically outnumbered and have nowhere to go but onto a dumpster. Surrounded by walkers, Glenn frantically tries to formulate a plan. Nicholas finally loses his mind, turns to Glenn, says, “Thank you,” and shoots himself in the head. As he collapses, he takes Glenn with him. Glenn screams as the Walkers close in and rip the two men apart.
- Michonne, Heath and Scott make it to a creek which will slow the herd down. Heath stares at his blood-soaked reflection, barely recognising himself.
- Nearby, Rick stops the RV at the edge of the woods and signals Glenn. He gets no response and calls Daryl, assuring him the breakaway herd will be back their way shortly. Sasha bitterly congratulates them both, as Rick remains unaware that Daryl has gone off mission. Rick delivers a rousing speech telling his people to hold fast and signs off. Starting to break down, he looks on the verge of saying something more…
- …And then the Wolves Morgan let live last week almost kill Rick. He shoots the two men, sees more sneaking around the RV and empties an assault rifle through the side of the RV, killing them.
- Daryl hears the gunfire and accelerates, apparently to help.
- Michonne, Heath and Scott reach the outskirts of Alexandria and get their first hint of the damage.
- Rick, searching the bodies, finds baby food. The Wolves may have his daughter. Visibly shaking with terror and adrenalin, tries the engine. It won’t start. And then, the breakaway herd emerges…
This entire episode is a series of no-win scenarios. Some are big, some are small and the most important one isn’t even about the episode but the series itself. All of them are horrifying, none of them are easy and none of them break the right way. Yet, somehow, Kang’s script still manages to find some moral ambiguity in the choices the characters make.
Look at every single character choice in this episode and you see the same thing; people trying to do the right thing and often coming up short through no fault of their own. Scott leads the Alexandrians into a fight not for glory but to help the very people who most of his friends still think are one step away from being a threat. Nicholas volunteers to help because he wants to make amends for what he’s done. Heath fights for the injured because he’s convinced no one else will. Michonne gives a dead man a moment’s reassurance because she wants him to get one last moment with the woman he loves. Daryl goes off message not because he wants to, but because he can’t live with the thought of leaving Carol to stand alone. Rick tells Glenn and Michonne that the Alexandrians won’t all make it not because he’s cruel, but because he’s been here before.
Glenn trusts Nicholas because he defines himself by not being as hardened as his friends.
In order, here’s how those decisions play out; Scott gets himself injured and three people killed. Nicholas gets himself killed and, odds are, Glenn too. Michonne has to watch David die in a way even more horrific than what was already coming. Daryl realises that if they’re going to survive he has to trust, and risk, everything left that matters to him. Rick may be about to lose his hand and his daughter but, just maybe, get some humanity back.
And Glenn may be dead.
All these moments play out with the same gentle, battered compassion and desperate humanity that’s defined this extraordinary season to date. Everyone impresses here but this is very definitely a four=hander between Michonne, Glenn, Daryl and Nicholas. The three originals all have moments of absolute horror here as they find themselves faced with their impossible choices. Daryl comes back to the fold, Michonne is forced to literally and metaphorically wipe the memory of David from her and Glenn finds his refusal to leave people behind may be the last thing he ever does. Two of them move past their decisions, one stands by his. What level of price he pays for that remains to be seen.
Then there’s Nicholas, whose arc ends here in the only way it ever could. Michael Traynor’s done great work in the show from day one and he ends on a real high note here. Nicholas’s story is a tragedy, and one this show is uniquely equipped to handle. He’s not a good man, or a bad one, but one unable to adapt to a world where the consequences of everything are fatal. Fans will, and are, of course blaming Nicholas for killing one of the show’s longest standing characters but even if he has, there’s thematic completion there. Nicholas wasn’t equipped for this world, Glenn refused to leave him behind, he died as a result.
Or did he?
Because there is a chance, a good one, that Glenn isn’t dead. Stephen Yuen didn’t appear on The Talking Dead after the show’s US broadcast, the other cast did not Twitter eulogies as they have in the past and there’s something… off… about how the scene is shot. Yes we see Glenn screaming in apparent horror and pain as he hits the floor. Yes we see guts being torn from what looks like his body and yes there’s sad, “This character is dead now” music playing as the scene pulls back.
Showrunner Scott Gimple has admitted that Glenn will be a part of future episodes in some form. The scene is shot in such a way that the intestines appear to be being pulled from the top of his chest where intestines, well… aren’t. Plus there are no founts of blood pouring from his mouth. And the slightly coy way the scene’s shot. And the fact Nicholas falls on top of Glenn. And the call back to his first line in the show and the clear similarities between Rick and the tank then and Glenn and the dumpster now.
And that, more than anything else, is the no win scenario this episode faces.
Make no mistake, Kang’s script is another absolute belter in what is so far the best season this show has ever had. But there are only two ways it can break and neither of them are good. Either Glenn, one of the longest-running characters in the show, is dead, or he isn’t. If he’s dead then not only will it leave a massive hole but the cruel possibility of zombie Glenn shambles into view. If he isn’t, then Glenn’s still around but the show will have gone to a well it really, truly cannot go to again. The scene is presented as Glenn’s end and if it isn’t then this can never, ever be done again. Fans have long memories, hold grudges for decades and you flirt with that at your peril. Just ask M Night Shyamalan.
But that’s all in the future. For now we have Schrodinger’s Glenn: Rick in incredible amounts of trouble and yet another great episode under the show’s belt.
- “Get back safe.” Said to Team Victim as Rick is looting the still warm body of their friend. BEST LEADER EVER.
- “We’re gonna catch up with something.” “We’re gonna catch up with a LOT of things. And we’re gonna end them.” Dani Gurira does incredible work this episode. Michonne speaks like she fights. Every syllable has a purpose and every syllable has weight.
- “You wanna go, we ain’t gonna stop you. But without you they could stop US.” Sasha’s moment is clearly coming this season, but this is pretty good for starters.
- “We don’t leave people behind. NOT US.” Heath is a great addition to the cast and his pitbull refusal to back down is exactly what’s keeping him alive. Plus, the arc he has here is very much the opposite of Nicholas’s. Nicholas is faced with his past and is crushed by it. Heath is faced by his future and is defined by it, accepting the conflict between violence and compassion that Rick and his team struggle to balance constantly.
- “Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn’t know if it was yours or Walker’s or your friends? THEN YOU DON’T KNOW.” This entire speech is amazing but the delivery on this line is stunningly good. I’ve seen this episode compared to a war movie elsewhere and that’s very accurate, with Michonne in particular as the hardened veteran trying to keep as many of her people alive as possible.
- The show now has three black, male leads who are very much alive all at once. This, for a series that has been justifiably criticised for the revolving door approach to its black cast is a very good thing indeed.
- In what way can Glenn’s death can satisfy anyone? On the other hand, who won’t be on tenterhooks to find out what happened?
- Rick is in a lot of trouble with that hand, especially if there’s zombie blood on it. Robert Kirkman’s talked about how Rick losing a hand is something he regrets doing in the comic and we’d thought it wasn’t going to come up in the show. That looks to no longer be the case. Or, at the very least, Rick’s going to be very unwell for a while. Perfect time for a change in the balance of power at Alexandria maybe? And the worst possible time for a war…
- Jay Huguley, who does great work here, is a familiar face for genre fans. He was Dr Peter Marks in Alias, Jimmy Ledoux in True Detective and Ray Whitehill in Star-Crossed.
- Shot of the episode is this. The two diverging paths represented literally and metaphorically, Daryl’s brave decision to come back rendered at distance and not commented on, just how he’d prefer it. The direction throughout is great, again, but Slovis nails this in particular.
Review by Alasdair Stuart