Gene Page/AMC

The long, strange trip home turns dangerous for Rick, Glenn, and Michonne's group.

October 26, 2015 at 03:13 AM EDT

The Walking Dead is squeezing every ounce of direct cause-and-effect storytelling out of the quarry plan this season, a sensible approach given the sheer scale of that undertaking. So far, it’s resulting in a season that has ping-ponged between the group at Alexandria and the others carrying out the safe zone-saving mission.

As a result, “Thank You,” returns us to the plight of Rick, Glenn, Michonne, and the rest of their troupe, but it may very well indicate this is a group we might not see for another two episodes. And that will be one hell of a while to wait to find out definitive proof of Glenn’s fate.

Yes, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first — Dalton Ross already laid out a good case for why Glenn both may or may not still be alive, so I won’t retread all of that ground. (I will say I’m inclined to agree with him that Glenn is still alive. The way the scene is shot telegraphs that to me, and the mere timing of it within the episode feels off for such an important character’s death. But, yes, it is tough to believe a stray set of walker chompers wouldn’t have at least grazed him in the moment.) But I will say that the focus on Glenn is indicative of how “Thank You” approached following this group as they flee home in the wake of the horn.

Rick takes a back seat to their plan, going off on his own to pick up the RV, but not before he sets into motion much of the strife that will beset Michonne, Heath, and the others as their trip home takes more than a few dangerous turns.

And it’s a journey full of horrors from minute one. The fragility of the group out on the zombie-herding plan, including a mix of familiar faces and lesser-known Alexandrians, is on full display as soon as they make a break for home.

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Rick radios around to alert everyone to the herd. Tobin doesn’t answer. Daryl does and wants to head back to town to help, but Rick tries to dissuade him of it. And the immediate group around Rick is similarly in a panic. Nicholas is having some sort of panic attack, Annie hurts her ankle while following, and there’s some general dissent about whether this is all Rick’s fault.

Luckily, Rick doesn’t hear any of that dissent before telling the group to head home. He offers a bit of warning to Glenn and Michonne — “They aren’t all going to make it.” He wants the two of them to do what they can, but some of them will fall. It’s paramount at least the two of them make it back, a sentiment Heath overhears.

But already one of their numbers, Barnes, falls thanks to a lone walker. It’s a telling moment for the group. The more native Alexandrians look on in some horror as Rick picks their fallen comrade’s body for supplies. It’s a cold, dark world out here, and they’re about to learn what that means.

So Rick heads off on his own while the rest of the group travels in a tight-knit circle through the forest. There’s confusion and concern among them, but Michonne does her best to calm them. “We’re going to catch up with a lot of things, and we’re gonna end them. We’ve got no choice. We’ve got to keep moving forward,” she tells the Alexandrians worried about moving in the same direction as the walkers shuffling toward Alexandria.

And they soon come across a mess of walkers in the forest. Michonne, Glenn, and Heath lead the strike, with a few other Alexandrians doing their best to fight. Except for Sturgess, that is.

NEXT: Michonne finds common ground with a dying man 

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AMC’s zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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