For those of you who were worried the Grimes Gang’s extended stay in Alexandria would be Hershel’s Farm redux… Yeah, if it wasn’t put to rest during the season premiere, or the apocalyptic — even for post-apocalypse — “JSS,” then it definitely was when “The Walking Dead” proceeded to shatter our hearts into one million tiny pieces, never to recover again with “Thank You.”
We’ll get to that big moment — you know the one — in a bit, but first let’s recount all the abject horror and terror happening outside Alexandria during the episode.
“Get Back Safe”
For all the insanity that goes down pretty much from minute one, “Thank You” is a pretty simple episode that breaks down to a few complimentary missions. We pick up seconds after the premiere, with what we now know is the horn from the truck that smashed into Alexandria blaring, and the rest of the herders headed back home as quickly as possible.
They’re about 10-20 minutes ahead of the back half of the herd, which broke off as soon as the horn started blaring; while Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), along with Daryl (Norman Reedus) are still driving the front half of the herd to the clear zone, where the thousands of walkers will be safely away from Alexandria.
Since some of the Alexandrian Red Shirts are injured, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) decides to Running Man it out of there, but before he does he makes a terrible, terrible leadership decision: he tells Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) that not everyone is going to make it; and when they fall behind, leave them and get back home.
Problem is, he does it in earshot of Heath (Corey Hawkins), who proceeds to run the normal gamut of, “We have to be better than this!” before later getting slathered in blood, looking at his own reflection and realizing the world has changed.
Before that happens, though, Heath causes a fair amount of trouble, and continues to raise doubt to Michonne about Rick’s leadership. And an interesting divide arises: Michonne explains to Heath that it doesn’t matter what Rick says, she’s going to get them back safe — but when the chips are down, she’ll also do what needs to be done.
“Rick said what he said, because sometimes we don’t have a choice,” Michonne tells Heath.
That’s the crux of it, right? The line that’s hard to explain to those who haven’t had to face Woodbury, Terminus, and bite off a man’s neck. You’re not abandoning people at the first sign of trouble, but Rick’s way is that if you need to kill someone that’s bit, or there’s a chance of saving the many at the expense of the few, he’ll take it. Heath, and everyone who argues otherwise, those who hold on to old world sentimentality, are likely dead.
And he doesn’t show up this episode, but as we progress further into Morgan’s (Lennie James) story line, it’ll be interesting to see how he actually falls on this line.