Finally… FINALLY we are back to the zombie television show that actually matters (or at least isn’t a complete dumpster fire). One week after Fear the Walking Dead (mercifully) ends, The Walking Dead begins its sixth season.
Is it good?
The episode is separated into the present and past flashbacks by way of the scenes being presented in color or black and white. (My wife and I initially thought there was something wrong with our television).
I saw a few people point out that Lost never needed to change color palettes to show different time periods. To those folks, I would say that Lost also never needed to make sense because we were told everything would be explained in the end… and we all know how that went down.
More importantly, however, Lost had the benefit of its different time periods taking place in drastically different settings. Since this episode’s respective time frames take place mere days apart, the non-linear fashion of the narrative could have become very confusing.
So even though the black and white flashbacks made The Walking Dead occasionally look like a high-end film student project, it was a good/efficient method for differentiating the plot threads.
As far as my review goes, I’ll keep things linear, because I’m a simple man.
The episode opens with Rick blowing Pete’s head off (from the end of last season) and Morgan walking in on the act.
Later, Deanna tells Gabriel that he was wrong about Rick (duh), Tara and Eugene share a tender moment (ugh), Carl and Enid hold hands (AWW), and Glenn reveals what a murderous douchebag Nicholas is.
The next day, Rick and Morgan start to get reacquainted with each other. Things begin awkwardly, with Rick asking his old friend how/why he took up a bo staff and turned into Donatello from the Ninja Turtles. Morgan answers by making it clear he doesn’t approve of the man Rick is trying to be now since they last saw each other.
When it comes time to bury Pete, Rick advocates dumping him in the woods (with Deanna’s approval). Morgan goes with him, still not convinced that his old friend would be so callous about another human life. Unbeknownst to them, Pete’s son Ron followed the pair to see where his father was going to be buried… and substitutes for Carl by doing something stupid that nearly gets him killed.
After saving Ron, Rick decides to give Pete a proper burial. Looks like maybe Morgan was right.
Oh yeah, and they also find a quarry chock full of walkers that are on the verge of breaking out and heading toward town.
The Trump Plan
The town meets to discuss the impending walker stampede. Rick wants to lead them out of the quarry and away from town. Ethan (one of the Alexandrians) wants to build a wall. Deanna decides to go with Rick’s plan.
Rick gathers up a group of volunteers from both his original crew and the townsfolk (while hilariously rejecting Gabriel). The most interesting subplot to come out of all this is that Glenn ends up volunteering to keep an eye on Nicholas (the dude who tried to kill him). As the group begins preparations, Glenn ends up taking a firm/antagonistic mentorship role with his former adversary. It’s a really cool moment for the character, which combined with his impending fatherhood (oh c’mon, we all know that’s the big secret) is in no way shape or form being used by the writers to set Glenn up for something terrible to happen later this season. Nope. Not at all. Glenn is 100% safe.
Ethan has had it with the Ricktatorship. He gathers a group of people together to discuss assassinating the new sheriff. While they go over their options, a sneaky mullet attached to Eugene overhears the conversation… and promptly falls while knocking a ton of things over.
Ethan is about to kill Eugene when Rick walks in and kicks his ass. He has a chance—and a good reason—to kill Ethan, but decides against it. Morgan seems rattled by Rick’s brutality, but also encouraged by his willingness to show mercy. His opinion of Rick is improved even more when he is invited to move in with him.
Later, Rick tries to spit some sympathy game at Jessie and gets completely shot down. I really liked this moment. It would have been way too easy to just have her fall in love with the gruff new man in town who killed her abusive husband. Instead, Jessie’s feelings about the situation are believably and understandably complicated. She knew Pete was a bad man, but still had to have fallen in love with him at some point. She’s not just going to throw herself into the arms of the person who killed him right in front of her.
But Jessie’s also moving forward. She recognizes that not having Pete around is for the better and that it’s time for her to begin defending her own family (procuring a gun and lessons from Rosita). She doesn’t need Rick there to distract her from the task.
While Rick leads training exercise with his crew along with some hearty folks from Alexandria, the quarry is breached (of course). Rick shouts something about “doing it live” (which made me giggle and hope for a Bill O’Reilly zombie cameo) and sets his plan into motion.
Ethan freaks out because he and the other Alexandrians aren’t ready. Unfortunately, their captain is Post Season Four Rick Grimes, the same man who just days ago allowed zombies to attack them so that they could learn how to take down walkers.
But lo and behold, Rick’s plan actually seems to be working. Ethan even apologizes and shakes his hand…and then gets his face eaten off by a walker. Ethan’s screaming leads the walkers off the road, but the group recovers and gets the parade going again.
Then some asshole starts blaring a horn from the town. The walker horde decides to head over to Alexandria for a visit.
Is It Good?
While I loved the scope of the episode, I wasn’t quite sure about the direction. I’m all for non-linear storytelling, but I’m not sure this story really benefitted from it. In fact, I feel like Morgan and Rick re-friending each other would have been much more effective being seen from start to finish.
I also didn’t mention Heath, who was introduced in this episode and seems like a really good character… I’m just not sure how he’s going to fit into things yet. It felt a bit jarring to have all these plotlines play out based on entrenched familiarity between the characters from last season and to have this new guy (who all the townspeople know) just show up.
And don’t get me started on the Abraham/Sasha interaction. Talk about beating a dead narrative horse. We get it. Sasha and Abraham both have a death wish they also want to use to try and save everyone.
All that being said, I really liked the interactions between Glenn and Nicholas and Rick’s interactions with everyone. There are some defining moments you can glean after putting them next to each other:
- Glenn wants to help reform his enemy (Nicholas). Rick doesn’t give a crap about his (Gabriel).
- Just because Rick wanted to do right by Jessie doesn’t mean she wanted or even needed his help.
- Morgan changed a lot, too (see: Ninja Turtle), but he didn’t lose his soul (like Rick is danger of doing).
So while this might not have been the series’ best episode, it was still pretty good— definitely better than that other show that just ended.