TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 6, Episode 3: Thank You [AMC]

Michael Traynor Steven Yeun The Walking Dead Thank You

AMC’s The Walking Dead Thank You TV Show ReviewThe Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 3: ‘Thank You,’ was not a eulogy, despite there being a number of those, over the course of the show. Andrea, Beth, Bob, and (especially) Tyreese have all been played off the stage, to varying degrees; but every so often, a trap door opens, and someone on stage just disappears. With Noah’s loss, this was sort of how we were introduced to the Alexandria arc. There was plenty to appreciate, about that particular moment. There were a few things to be grateful for, about this one.

For starters, I appreciated that these first three season 6 episodes have been shaping up as Darwinist wish-fulfilment, in the World according to Rick (Andrew Lincoln). In frankly short order, full & potential dead weight was shed. If Carter couldn’t get away with more than a single episode’s worth of Rick resistance, the also rans amounted to The Walking Red Shirts. I appreciated that their Red Shirt status set up a resolution, of sorts, with Michonne (Danai Gurira) & Glenn (Steven Yeun), regarding the us-and-them dynamic Rick has insisted on maintaining. I appreciated Daryl (Norman Reedus) going rogue-with-good-intent; abandoning two colleagues to help a third, with no real pay-off to vindicate his actions. Most of all, I appreciated that viewers were set up for a slaughter of the weakest links, only to be handed a loss of one the strongest. To call that a mixed bag would be an understatement; but I thank them, all the same.

Redemption arcs don’t come easy, to this show, and I’ve been grateful for that, too; but I broached the subject of killing weight (as opposed to dead weight), last time, and this episode brought the matter front-and-center. Piece of shoe, Nicholas (Michael Traynor), had been given the biggest second chance of the season. When that second shoe dropped, however, it underscored two of the show’s most consistent themes: take no one for granted, and the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. What it also did was re-litigate the dilemma of high stakes versus payoff. When supposedly “safe” characters paint themselves into a fatal corner, we’re expected to agonize over how they get out of it. There doesn’t seem to be a way… but there has to be one coming. In the event it doesn’t (as was the case with Noah) we are left weighing the momentousness of the moment against its cost.

Here’s the rub: the episode may have left fans in a quandary, over just such a critical moment. There are some scenarios where this could amount to a fake out – which would please any number of fans to no end – but this would come as a slap to the face, for anyone who accepted the outcome for what it was. When a character, with this high a profile, is seemingly done away with without warning – or fanfare – the reaction can only be horror. Horror is what TWD is meant to deliver; so I thank them for that.

Going backsies on such a moment, however, would not only seem like cheap stunt theater, to some, it would really piss them off – even as they applaud a beloved character’s return. Flame war baiting aside, this would be an opportunity for some spectacular writing, as would be necessary to even attempt a fake out of this magnitude. Yes, hurt/ pissed-off fans were/ will be unavoidable, over this – regardless of the settled outcome; but just for the allowance of such a scenario, however, I thank them.

What really riled me was the notion of the left field loss of one key character as a means of selling the peril of another. The thought of a double whammy had to have occurred to fans, as Rick fought for his life; and that had to be the idea, to some degree.

The bright side, there, was that source fans were definitely left with much to speculate over. Losses & damages are due, for the Alexandria arc; but with this episode’s events, source fans will have to curb their expectations. One character looks set to miss an appointment with source destiny, while Rick’s self-inflicted wound seemed important enough to suggest him being on course for his. This likely leaves a third core cast member squarely on the bubble; but the point seemed made: fans (source, or not) should not take the fates (source, or not) of these characters for granted. I thank them for that.

Here, then, was the great Zen moment of it all. Whether you accept the outcome, or allow for an out; whether you appreciated the episode’s farewell-by-proxy, or were left dreading another shadow of Sophia dynamic; whether you would have preferred a proper play-off stage exit, or the thrill of the trap door: the episode did its job. It left us with something pretty sizeable to dwell on, and maybe even more to look forward to.

This episode was not a eulogy; so I didn’t have to write one.

“Thank you.”

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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