This episode is the second half of a diptych begun by last week’s “JSS.” It opens with the air horn from the truck still blowing as Rick and the herd gang run through the woods. There is strife in the ranks.
Before I begin the recap in earnest, there are some serious spoilers below, obviously. For those of who have been reading the comic for years, there is one massive change that some of us may like, but I think is a complete waste of a character arc. If you disagree, let’s talk. I’m open to a conversation, even if this particular conversation must remain tentative based on Gimple’s message to Talking Dead.
That said, this episode does well in giving us the strained interactions between two Original-Group and Alexandrian pairs. First, there are Michonne and Heath, and then there are Glenn and Nicholas. One of those Alexandrians starts to see the world as it truly is, his blood-covered face reflected in muddy water. The other Alexandrian opts for a quick exit that seemingly causes collateral damage.
So, preliminary thoughts aside, spoilers galore below.
The episode spends most of its time with the group led by Rick, Michonne, and Glenn, not that Rick sticks around for long. Eventually, he gets to the RV from the first episode of this season.
A random guy whom I can’t recall seeing before confronts Michonne, saying that Rick has basically killed them, that they are done. He finally gets moving again after Michonne gives him a stern talking-to and an even sterner look.
Shortly thereafter, Rick lays down the law to Michonne and Glenn, telling them to kill anything that is ahead of them, to keep on going, and that not everyone will make it, but they need to keep going regardless. Heath overhears this, and he is not happy.
And then the random guy screams, as he has apparently been snuck up on by a walker from out of nowhere. We see him lying on the ground, the walker on top of him biting his larynx (how he’s still screaming, I’m not quite sure). The walker is dispatched and then Michonne kills the random guy who is bleeding out by stabbing her katana through his forehead. Again, Heath is not happy.
After that, Rick leaves them to draw the breakaway group of walkers by himself because he knows he has protagonist immunity. Michonne and Glenn lead their group, consisting of Heath, Nicholas, Annie who is already limping and being helped along, David, who tried earlier to help Michonne keep the peace, a bald guy named Scott, and Sturgis, he of the floppy hat who bails at the first sign of trouble after accidentally shooting Scott. Of course, David, the Alexandrian who was helping to keep the peace earlier by telling others to think about who they’re trying to get back to, gets bitten on the right shoulder.
This episode moves along steadily, looking like it’s going to turn into a bit of a bottle episode while the group hides out in an abandoned pet shop. Glenn decides to set fire to another building to draw the herd’s attention. Nicholas knows of a feed store and ultimately decides to go with Glenn.
This gives Michonne and Heath a chance to talk about what Rick said earlier. Michonne clarifies how he, someone who has been making runs outside the walls of Alexandria since the beginning, still has no idea what it’s truly like out there.
Then, there’s a banging from the back. Two walkers are trapped in a hidden store room. Michonne kills the first, but it knocks some things off the shelf, drawing the attention of the herd to the door. The group decides to make a run for it. Mostly, that is. As the herd converges on them from all sides, Annie trips, tells the group to keep going, and empties her gun at the encroaching teeth. She dies at the bottom of a walker mound.
Meanwhile, the feed store has already burned down. Glenn is trying to come up with another place to burn, while Nicholas is quickly shutting down and walkers start closing in. For the first time in a while, the show makes the panic of walker mobs in blind alleys palpable. More on this narrative thread in a minute.
Heath and Scott, whose shot leg is all the worse for wear, are able to make it over fence. Michonne and David provide cover until the last possible second then start climbing the fence. The walkers tug at their boots. Heath unloads his gun into the walkers grabbing at Michonne, and she is able to get to the other side, while David slips and gets pinned to the fence as the corralled walkers chow down.
Jumping ahead a bit, the episode ends with the wolf that stole the gun last week rushing aboard Rick’s RV and nearly shooting him. He and Rick tussle as another wolf grabs him from behind. Rick is able to kill them both, finds a jar of baby food in one of their pockets, and sees people creeping alongside the RV in the side mirror. He grabs a machine gun and fires through the sidewall, killing them all. Then, in a different scene, Daryl re-joins Sasha and Abraham, and we get a bird’s-eye view of the main herd. But back to Rick, now the RV won’t start and a mob of walkers is bearing down on him.
But the reason for the “potentially more accurate title” for this episode, stems from Glenn and Nicholas, who get backed up to a fence behind which there are more walkers. They shoot their pistols and eventually get atop a dumpster. The walkers are inches away from grabbing them. Nicholas, who has been looking emotionally unhinged all episode, tells Glenn “Thank you,” and blows his brains out, splattering the right half of Glenn’s face in a spray of blood. Then they both fall off the dumpster, Glenn landing first, with Nicholas on top of him. The camera shoots pretty close to Glenn’s face, as blood gushes and intestines are pulled out like sausage straight from the extruder.
I don’t see how Glenn can survive this if the blood and viscera are actually from Nicholas. Even if that is the case, there’s no way he could get out of the pile-on unscathed. At this point, that would piss me of more than this decision by the showrunner.*
Now, readers of the comic know Glenn meets a violent end, an arguably more brutal one because it comes not from the mindless walkers but from a sadist who is merely making a point, so this change is massive. Honestly, I don’t see what the show gains from this.
So, that potentially more accurately title for this episode? “Scott Gimple, sir, kindly go f*#k yourself!”
* ETA: yes, Glenn and Rick were able to use walker blood and guts smeared all over themselves to shamble through Atlanta, but they were never flat on their backs at the bottom of a scrum. And, yes, Glenn may have merely been getting covered in the fountain of Nicholas’ blood and entrails, but why wouldn’t the walkers standing over his face not see and begin devouring him before he is effectively Nicholouflaged?
If Glenn is, indeed, dead, then a major character gets a shitty death. If he is not, then the show ruins the in-universe credibility and feels cloyingly manipulative.