Last year, there were a whole lot of fans complaining that Rick Grimes, the leader of the band of survivors at the heart of AMC's The Walking Dead, had grown too whiny, too henpecked, too hesitant. He wasn't resolute or aggressive enough, the thinking went, to be the leader in an adventure series.
Of course, The Walking Dead is not really an adventure series; it's a survival series that has bursts of adventure. It could be argued that the Rick we saw last year was a perfectly good "peacetime President," taking the time necessary to make the hard decisions and being careful not to unnecessarily take things to the next level.
That aspect of the story, though--the peacetime angle--has always had some trouble connecting with a segment of the audience. The criticism has been heard for years as it regards Robert Kirkman's Image/Skybound comic on which the series is based, but it was truly pervasive in reading fan and critical responses to the second season of the TV show.
In any event, any fans who doubted Rick's wartime credentials were served a pretty severe wake-up call tonight.
It's been percolating even before tonight, of course--last week, we got a glimpse of Rick who seems to have the sudden conviction of a religious man that this prison is The Place To Be. This week, that continued as Tomas challenged him and Rick turned him down flat at every turn, refusing to negotiate with him and giving only as much ground as he could in order to not be forced to kill anyone unnecessarily.
The "fight" between Tomas and Rick will likely be one of those moments that fans replay in conversations, their heads and their DVRs for a long time. Once it became clear that there was no reasoning with Tomas, Rick didn't bother trying anymore. It wasn't like Shane, who got chance after chance and who took advantage of that situation and almost killed Rick because of it. This was decisive, proactive, immediate. It's exactly what fans have been asking for from Rick, and it was a bad-ass move besides.
Following it up by leaving Andrew to be chewed up by walkers was just the cherry on top.