Both incidents provide a little insight into the change that’s occurred in Rick since the tumultuous end of season 2. Time has hardened him in a way that has seemingly not yet touched Tyreese, and has surprisingly not completely reached his son, who, moments before stumbling upon the gatecrashers, was steeling himself and Beth (Emily Kinney) for the likelihood that the party headed to Woodbury would not be heard from again. Carl is smart enough to keep the strangers at a safe distance, but still, he reacted with compassion in a moment that experience suggests should have gone another way. It’s an emotion that’s led Rick into territory so dangerous, he’s all but abandoned the notion of the needs of others. And considering the suffering the former lawman has gone through these first eight episodes, the fact that he’s even straying from the prison to help those who may already be dead is something of a revelation.
One would like to thing that the party Rick leads to Woodbury in search of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is based on compassion, that it shows the level of commitment Rick has to those who put their trust in him – but there’s something about Rick this season that suggests he’s headed to Woodbury to put the hurt on whoever took what’s his. Make no mistake about it: Glenn and Maggie are his people.