Thank You Plot Summary:
Alerted by the sound of a truck horn, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) separates from his group to try and get the herd back on course. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are tasked with bringing everyone else back, but they quickly learn the price of kindness.
As we have seen countless times throughout this series, it’s very important to put yourself first. Compassion frequently leads to a one way ticket to the afterlife. This is something the Alexandrians have grappled with lately in relation to Rick’s group. It has always been portrayed as a gray area too. Even though we’ve seen plenty of justification for leaving people behind, we’ve also seen the importance of saving those around you. There’s more than a handful of characters on this show that would have died if someone didn’t care enough to go back (Tara is the best example). Arguments could be made for both sides pretty easily…unless the episode is “Thank You.”
This episode’s message was as blatant as a fist to the face. Caring about people will kill you. Not just caring about those who will clearly die. Literally anyone at any time. It’s easy to be practical and say that Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Michonne should have just left those people in the woods. Those two bitten guys were clearly goners and Annie (Beth Keener) was slowing them all down with her injury. Yet it’s a much tougher call if you put yourself in their shoes. Michonne’s conversation with David (Jay Huguley) really pushed the idea that the Alexandrians, despite being severely disadvantaged, are people worth keeping alive. It’s not heartless, or even that bad of an idea, to give a perfectly mobile bitten person a chance to say goodbye to their love ones. That’s the most human thing you can possibly do and it’s clear that Michonne is perfectly willing to maintain that humanity.
But humanity, at least according to this episode, is a weakness and it solves nothing. David died anyway in a much worse fashion than if he was just executed on the spot. The same can be said for Annie. Scott (Kenric Green) was able to get out, but it’s tough to see how worthwhile their efforts were. The able bodied people went completely out of their way to help those weakened, and it failed on all counts. Heath got angry that Rick said to leave those weak behind and he saw at the end that’s the only reason why he’s still alive. Does this mean compassion is dead? Hopefully not, because if these characters don’t care about each other, no viewer would care about them.
Like Glenn’s apparent death. Viewers are upset by that because Glenn was an amazing character who had no bad qualities. He cared about others and actively fought to keep them going. Rick wouldn’t even be alive without Glenn. This pizza delivery boy turned badass was one of the few characters every viewer loved. So when it looked like walkers were devouring his guts, it sucked on all counts. To make matters worse, it was because of Nicholas (Michael Traynor), a character no one liked because he was the asshole who let capable people die. His suicide was the last bit of assholery that continued pushing the episode’s message that caring about others is a death sentence. If Glenn killed Nick back in the woods, none of this would have happened.
Yet is Glenn really dead? It definitely looked like it was his body being devoured, but the scene was clearly shot in a manner to keep it ambiguous. Glenn grabbing Nick’s body as it was falling was definitely no accident either. Without actually seeing Glenn’s body getting eaten and no indication of where Nick fell, it’s not unreasonable to theorize that his corpse became a shield. The walkers would devour an already dead body, and as Glenn is covered in Nick’s guts, he’ll develop the camouflage that has kept many others alive before. We could very well see Glenn come back once again, and if that happens, this was a brilliant use of misdirection.
As was pretty obvious last week, Morgan letting those Wolves go was a terrible decision. If showing kindness to good people is a bad idea, giving it to your definite foes is even worse. Case in point, Rick is ambushed by those very Wolves. He’s almost killed in his RV too! In this scenario, it’s so easy to look at Morgan and seriously question his decision to be this force of unified peace. That’s not exactly wrong too. However, it’s also wrong to kill random strangers just because, so it goes on a case by case basis. Morgan definitely chose wrong in this case but he’ll hopefully choose right next time.
This did have the impact of proving to Rick that Alexandria is in huge trouble. He knows that these people got the baby food from his community, and they could only get that if they got in. Tough break that this happened right when he just told everyone to keep the herd moving. His belief that Alexandria can handle itself (and they did but he doesn’t know that) is shattered immediately with that little jar. Unfortunately he’s now stuck in every sense of the word. He can’t decide if he should return to Alexandria or keep the herd going, and now he’s surrounded by that herd. Talk about ending on a huge cliffhanger.
Structurally, this episode was set up a bit weird concerning Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). I honestly had no idea what was happening there. Daryl initially decides to travel off on his own, presumably to return to Alexandria or help out everyone else. We then just get several shots of him riding his motorcycle through nameless countryside. Sure, it’s cool to watch Reedus ride a sick hog, but what does this accomplish? Absolutely nothing. Then he just reunites with Abraham and Sasha, rendering the whole detour pointless.
It’s not wrong to care about people, but “Thank You” pretty firmly declared that it is. Nearly everything terrible happened because people were trying to help others, and now we have a large body count on our hands. Including, possibly, one of the best characters on this show. It’ll be interesting to see where these characters go from here, specifically Michonne and Heath. This may be their last straw in their quest to care about anyone. Yet I hope that’s not the case because it’s compassion that makes us root for these people. Would this show really be better if everyone just killed each other no matter what? Absolutely not. Hopefully we’ll get future episodes proving this, just like how “Thank You” pushed the opposite.