by Sherry Lipp
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Season six of The Walking Dead opened with a bang. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), his group, and some of the braver folks of Alexandria stand over a valley of walkers. We don’t know what’s going on or how they got there, but we get the gist that something big is about to happen. Just how did they get to this point? The story unfolds in duel storylines with current events unfolding in vivid color and what led them here in black and white. This episode had a lot to offer with tension built both in action and in character relationships, but the extra-long running time of 90 minutes slowed things down a bit.
I liked that the main story of the episode started some time after the final events of season five. It would have boring to see everyone pontificating on whether Rick is good or bad and nothing else. Instead we see that for better or worse Rick is back in charge. Not everyone is happy about it, but the detractors are too inept to do anything about it. Also Rick has Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) firmly on his side. Her tragedy is his good fortune.
I did really like this episode, but I wasn’t completely blown away. I suppose after five seasons we’ve pretty much seen it all. The walkers aren’t scary anymore, but that’s the point. The undead are slow and falling apart. You can kill them with a well-placed shove, but the Alexandrians are without a clue when it comes to fighting them off. Do such people deserve to survive in this world? Rick doesn’t seem to think so. He’s lost interest in society. The question again becomes whether life is even worth living if humanity has to be lost to survive.
Let’s get to the first what’s cool and what’s not of the season:
Eugene: This world would be so boring without Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Okay, so he hasn’t improved his basic survival skills as much as we had hoped after his heroics last season, but that only makes him all the more entertaining. Best moment: “I fully respect the hair game.”
Jessie has some backbone: I suppose Rick thought he would get rid of the husband (deservedly I know) and swoop in for Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), but she wasn’t having it. I liked that she showed she can think for herself.
The big walker pit: I know I said the walkers aren’t scary anymore, but hundreds grouped together like ants is a different story. Nice foreshadowing of what’s possibly to come.
The horn: What? Who is doing that? A disgruntled Alexandrian? The mysterious wolves? Great ending to the episode?
The not so cool:
Stretched instead of packed: I touched on this earlier, but I really felt like they needed to tighten this episode up. The switching back and forth on the timelines started to wear a little thin. Scenes of people, and the undead, walking have been done to death in this series. We get what’s going on.
Killing off interesting characters too early: Carter (Ethan Embry) could have been more of an overall adversary to Rick, but instead he saved and then killed off in a single episode. I understand they were just proving Rick’s point, but maybe it would have been interesting to have him around.
Not much going on for the rest of the gang: Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the others had a few small moments, but they were more in the background in this one. Carl (Chandler Riggs) was pretty much non-existent and basically only appeared briefly in the flashback scenes. It’s a bit incongruous since Carl always wanted to be right in the thick of things before. Maybe he likes the comfortable life.
I’m looking forward to the consequences of the horn. I hope though that it’s not just that the town is destroyed and everyone has to get back out on the road. We’ve been there and done that.