WARNING! This article contains spoilers pertaining to the current season of The Walking Dead and comic books. Proceed at your own risk!
The Walking Dead has been doing a tremendous job this season keeping the viewers on the edge of our seats. From the giant walker herd to The Wolves' attack on Alexandria, Season 6 has been full of surprises with just a few episodes under its belt. In episode 6.03 -- 'Thank You' -- we witnessed what might be one of the most shocking story developments yet...
No one can deny the severe impact this scene will have on not just the show but the fan base as well. For an in depth analysis of this turn of events, check out my article all about what the fate of Glenn could be. Despite this, Glenn's story line was just the tip of the iceberg in an action-packed episode. Although Glenn's fate has stolen the spotlight, we are left with a rather significant cliffhanger for Rick Grimes as well.
Where we last leave Rick, things have been going from bad to worse and then some. Let's breakdown everything that has happened leading up to Rick's final scene in episode 6.03 (episode 2 is omitted due to the fact he was not featured in the episode):
- While preparing for a dry run of the "lure away plan" at the walker quarry, the truck parked precariously at the edge of a cliff gives way, forcing the dry run to become the full plan.
- During the execution of the plan, a loud truck horn coming from Alexandria (Wolves attack in episode 2) leads half the walker herd away.
- In the midst of the confusion, Carter is bitten by a walker and Rick must perform a mercy kill.
- Rick must now come up with a new plan to corral the stray walkers back to the group being lead away by Daryl, Sasha and Abraham.
- In his new plan, Rick has to run a mile down the road to retrieve the RV in hopes of attracting the straggling walkers away from Alexandria.
- Along the way, he puts down three walkers, cutting himself with a walker-blood-covered machete in the process.
- After driving the RV to his check point, Rick is attacked by a group of Wolves and narrowly escapes death.
- During the skirmish, the RV has been disabled and will not start as the herd of walkers approaches with Rick still inside.
With all this in mind, let's think about how these relate to Rick's situation.
Problems on the surface
Many of Rick's physical problems came about during episode 6.03. While the dead RV and walker herd are troublesome, we've seen Rick get out of these kinds of problems in the past. The main focus, for me, should be on his cut hand. It is a pretty well known belief that walker blood should always be kept away from openings on the body (eyes, mouths, and yes, cuts). The characters even took this precaution back in Season 1 when Rick and Glenn used walker guts to blend into a herd in Atlanta. Now that Rick has possibly been contaminated by the blood soaked machete, could this mean a development from the comics will make its way into the show?
Rick's Mental State
Keep in mind, the first three episodes of Season 6 have all occurred within the same day. That being said, this is A LOT for one person to handle, even someone as hardened as Rick Grimes. In his closing shot, you can see Rick mentally beginning to panic once he realizes his plan is falling apart at the seams.
But why is this significant?
Rick's character growth over the past six seasons has been extremely dynamic to say the least. Transforming from naive, good-hearted sheriff to battle-tested survivor, his leadership skills and decision making has helped everyone in the group survive as long as they have. But on this particular day, nothing seems to be going his way. From the rush job of his master plan to him accidentally cutting himself to the RV dying, all these failures seems to be taking a toll on his psyche. Case in point, I can't recall a time where Rick made this face:
Fear, panic, frustration: all emotions that could be coursing through Rick at this time. We have seen Rick have a mental breakdown inside Alexandria before, but in a very different way. This particular moment makes it seem like he has run out of ideas, a trait that has never been associated with Rick Grimes.
And if/when he finds a way out of this bind, what will this do to the town's perception of Rick Grimes? The Alexandrians are already on the fence about whether or not they can trust Rick as a leader. With the apparently failed mission AND The Wolves attack on Alexandria, there will still be a lot of mixed feeling towards Rick. On one hand, his need for the townspeople to become stronger is becoming much more evident; on the other, Rick's decision to move up the plan resulting in failure might cause people to further believe he is a bad omen of danger and death. Definitely a tough one to call...
'Thank You' has brought up so many questions and thoughts that are just begging to be clarified. Episode 4 is set to premiere on November 1st and will be a 90 minute episode! Let's just hope we get the answers we are looking for!