Monday, October 26, 2015

Preparedness Review of The Walking Dead Episode 603: Thank You


Episode 603:  Thank You


Glen (to Rick over the radio, echoing the first time they met):  Good luck, dumbass.

Synopsis:  The horn at Alexandria is still blowing, drawing the back half of the herd that way.   Rick's small crew races ahead to figure out a way to get back to the settlement and draw the walkers back to the intended path.  He runs ahead to get to the RV used in a previous blockade while the others keep going for home.   Along the way, several members are injured or taken by walkers and the group is forced to hide in a pet store.  Glenn and Nicholas are trapped by walkers, and Michoone and two others barely escape.  Rick gets the RV into position to draw the big horde, but is forced to fight of some Wolves escaping from their attack on Alexandria.  The RV then refuses to start just as the Walker herd makes it to his position.  Michonne, Heath, and one other wounded survivor manage to make it back to Alexandria.

Thank You is one of the most harrowing episodes to date, because no matter how hardened our warriors leading the fight are to the rigors and horrors of this world, no matter how refined their skills, there are simply too many walkers to destroy with the resources at hand, and the crew falls apart because, put simply, none of the Alexandrians trust Rick.

The episode begins with Rick's side of the road crew running to get ahead of the pack of walkers.   They pause for a moment to catch their breath, and Rick tells Daryl, Sasha and Abraham to stay the course with the original plan and draw as many walkers as they can away from them.   Daryl is not happy about it.

The Rick-tater in his natural habitat.
Rick then tells his team that they are gong to have to make for the town while he doubles back, gets the RV used to buttress one of the barricades that channeled the herd away from the town, and uses it to draw the pursuing herd away from the others.   He passes command to Glenn and Michonne, and tells them to keep moving, but know that some of them are not going to make it.  Heath overhears this and gets upset, but there is no time to waste.  One of the Alexandrians, who blames Rick for the whole mess (and he would be right) is attacked by a walker and dies.  Rick takes his gun and food while the rest of the group watches.  The horn stops, finally, and the group parts ways, each to continue its part of the mission to save the town.

Glenn and Michonne are leading the group when a small pack of walkers attack.   The Alexandrians panic, and one named Sturgess fires wildly, hitting a guy named Scott in the leg before man-screaming and running away.   Nicholas again freezes up, and a walker bites another man, David, on the shoulder. Meanwhile, Daryl abandons the original mission to get back to Alexandria, leaving Sasha and Abraham alone.  

Glen and Michonne's group try to find a working car, as they now have a man wounded in the leg and a woman with a bad ankle.  Nicholas admits it was the area where he and Aiden abandoned four others in their crew to their deaths, and while they are searching, they find walkers feasting on Sturgess.   They retreat to an abandoned pet store and formulate a plan.    They decide to set fire to a feed store nearby to distract the herd so they can escape.   Rick is still running for the RV, and kills a trio of walkers.   They have now lost contact with Tobin and the other crew from the other side of the road.  Rick cuts his hand in the fight.

Back in the pet store, Annie and Scott, the two injured people, argue that they should be left behind because they are slowing the group down.   Heath refuses to hear it, and says they don't leave people behind.  He and Michonne then have a pointed conversation regarding Rick's comments, and Michonne points out that he's never been covered in so much blood that you didn't know if it was yours, a walker's, or your friends.  Despite his experience on runs, Heath has never witnessed the brutality that Team Rick has in its travels.

Rick gets to the RV and races down the road to head off the herd, while Michonne and David, the man bitten on the shoulder, exchange a conversation in which David asks her to take a note for his wife of three months, Betsy.  Michonne refuses, telling him he will get home to say goodbye.  The street outside is filling with walkers, and suddenly, walkers in a back store room of the building begin pounding on an interior door.  Michonne kills them, but the walkers outside hear, and they are forced to flee.  Annie falls and is consumed by walkers.

Nicholas and Glenn's last stand.
Glenn and Nicholas reach the feed store after killing a walker who was one of Nicholas' old crew,only to find it already burned to the ground.   They race down an alley as the main herd piles into town, and get trapped in a dead end.  They climb on top of a dumpster, where Nicholas, in a final, desperate act, tells Glenn "Thank you,"  then shoots himself, causing he and Glenn to tumble into the crowd of walkers.  Glen is shown hitting the ground, then screaming as walkers begin feasting.  The way the scene is shot, though, it's hard to tell if they are feasting on the body of Nicholas on top of him or Glenn himself, and there is no wide shot to reveal the results, either.

Michonne's group runs into a dead end as well, and David is unable to climb up to the top of the fence and is killed by the walkers, spraying Heath with blood as his body is consumed.  Michonne, Heath and Scott escape, and stumble through the woods.  While crossing a creek, Heath sees his own blood-soaked reflection.  He realizes Michonne is right; he hasn't been to the edge like Team Rick has.  They get the Alexandria's gates, and realize the settlement has been attacked.

Michonne gets her sword on.
Rick arrives at the designated place with the RV, but cannot raise Glenn on the radio, but gets hold of Daryl to tell him he will have the breakaway herd back on track soon.  He tells them they have to continue the mission and trust Alexandria can defend itself.   While he is waiting, the Wolves who Morgan let escape in the previous episode attack him.  He kills two of them in the RV with his pistol and then kills the other three sneaking up the side with the AK-47.  He finds a jar of baby food in one of their pockets, and knows that Alexandria is now under attack.

Daryl rejoins Abraham and Sasha, but when the herd arrives at the RV, Rick is unable to start it.  Thousands of walkers are appearing out of the woods, and he is defenseless and trapped.

Preparedness Discussion

Thank You underscores the need for physical fitness and conditioning in preparedness.  There is a lot of freaking running in this episode.   I mean a lot.   Rick runs, Glenn runs, the whole crew runs.  It seems like Rick runs for at least a couple of miles to get back to the RV.  I have let my own physical fitness suffer over the last six weeks as I have confronted a busy work and personal schedule, but I have resolved to get back on track after watching this week's The Walking Dead. Everyone should be working to increase our physical conditioning.   Start slow, and work your way up.  Take a brief walk every day, or join a gym and hit the treadmill.   You may not have to outrun a walker herd, but what if your car breaks down in an area without cell service?  You may have to walk quite a while to get to find help.  For that matter, proper exercise mitigates the risk of health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

On the road again ...
That being said, running in the woods the way the crew was, whether they have proper footwear or not, is a mechanical injury waiting to happen.   There are hidden rocks, stumps, holes and vines that can conspire to make footing treacherous.  If you are being chased the way our characters were being chased, you really don't have a choice, but know that every step is fraught with a potential for injury.  Proper footwear can help.  Invest in quality walking shoes, trail shoes, or boots, depending on the terrain.  If you travel for work and usually wear dress clothes, keep a set of street clothes, with quality socks and shoes good for walking, in the trunk.  That way, if you do have to abandon your car in order to find help, you can do so without crippling your feet.

Another shortfall with this group was a complete lack of cohesion.  Once things went south, the Alexandrians and Team Rick immediately fell into discord, with some of the Alexandrians blaming Rick, while others decided to stick with the mission.   The emergency of the walker herd escaping had not allowed them to work together in order to function as unit, and the decline in morale and effectiveness is telling.  As preppers, we should be working with like-minded people to form a supportive network.  The lone-wolf approach is a myth.  No one can do everything and cover every possibility in a field so wide and so diverse.  People with different sets of skills and abilities can make a positive difference in a survival situation, but you should plan on making that happen now, before a disaster.   If you plan on working on tactical skills, now is the time to do it when you can laugh about your mistakes and go to the local Arby's instead of doing it for the first time when your life is on the line.  No one becomes a talented shooter overnight, or learns how to move tactically is a team in a few hours.  It takes practice and good instruction.

Speaking of which, the inability of so many small groups in this show to set adequate perimeter security is simply stupefying.   Looking back, I realized that through much of the series it was Daryl and Abraham doing this job.   Without them around, Rick should have been more mindful of this and ensured the crew was facing outward and scanning for threats on there rest break.  Daryl, likewise, most likely would have seen the small heard coming before they were on the group.  Simply put, where Team Rick's members each had a particular skill set that complimented group survival, the Alexandrians do not, to their detriment.

Finally, I have to address the apparent death of Glenn.  I have watched the scene several times now, and I just don't know from the way it was shot if that is Glenn being munched on, or Nicholas lying on top of Glenn serving as a zombie buffet.  Even if it was Nicholas, it's hard to see how Glenn could survive it, because once they are done with Nicholas it's time for some Glenn munching.  Unless he manages to somehow crawl under the dumpster I don't see it happening.  It's a tragic end to a great heroic character.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 603:

  • Increase your physical fitness with regular exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise.
  • Always understand when moving through broken terrain with speed comes the potential for injury.  Invest in proper footwear and make sure you keep good walking shoes in the trunk of your car, just in case.
  • Invest in creating relationships with like-minded people and working together to solve common problems.  One might focus on how to stay secure whether on the move or in a static position, so that your resources and your lives are safe.
  • People with critical skills are going to be incapacitated or be unavailable in a crisis, so cross-train and learn another person's job in the group.  

Next Week:  Morgan does some introspection, staff twirling, and body burning.  Sounds like a party!

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