After an impressively strong start, season six of The Walking Dead has spiraled into dumpster fire territory. After a few months off, the show returns to complete the later half of its 2015-2016 campaign.
Is it good?
Daryl, Take the Wheel
(Shout out to my internet friend Julie Manfredi for the subheading)
We open with the coda from the last episode… twice. I was already prepared to lose faith in this one when Negan’s messenger delivers some of the best lines and villainous swagger we’ve seen this side of The Governor.
“If you have to eat shit, best not to nibble” pretty much has to be made into a t-shirt.
The fact that it’s said right in Abraham’s face—and that he goes along with it—is also kind of terrifying. By the time The Messenger is threatening to kill him and Sasha, I genuinely believed their lives were in danger. Well, mostly Sasha since she isn’t in the comics, but I was still scared.
Unfortunately for Negan’s thugs, they sent Daryl to the back of the truck to unload the weapons. This situation resolves itself in the most awesome way imaginable: Daryl kills his captor, grabs an RPG, and blows all the bad guys up.
Gabriel’s Path to Being Tolerable
Back in Alexandria, Rick and the crew he left Jessie’s house with continue sneaking through the walkers in their zombie juice suits. He eventually realizes that they need to find another way to get the walkers out of town. While he comes up with a new plan, Gabriel offers to take care of Judith.
I totally would have said no, but Rick decides to offer up his helpless daughter as a way for the cowardly preacher to prove himself. Then Jessie suggests that Sam go with him, which is promptly rejected.
I know this was supposed to be a tense moment, but it made me laugh. Can you imagine a trio consisting of Sam, Gabriel, and Judith trying to survive a horde of walkers? If we were placing bets, the smart money would definitely be on the baby.
To Sam’s credit, though, he insists that he can keep going with Rick’s group. I’m sure that’ll turn out well…
Meanwhile, Glenn and Enid make it to the church and start looking for weapons. Or at least Glenn does. Enid stares up at a Bible verse written on the wall and daydreams about how delicious a turtle would be right now.
Glenn gets frustrated and gives her a big speech about how you can survive anything (if you’re a major character and the writers don’t have the guts to properly kill you off).
Blah blah blah, people you love, blah bla blah, keep fighting, blah blah blah Enid decides to help and finds a gun.
Let’s move on, please.
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid
While Rick’s group continues lurking through the walkers, Sam hears Carol’s voice in his head from the time she talked about what the undead could do to him. Despite having moved through a walker horde for what had to be at least a couple hours, Sam chooses this exact moment to freak out and starts calling for his mom.
The zombies attack, with one actually going for Sam’s brains (poor walker is going to starve). Then Jessie flips out, causing the walkers to attack her. As if things weren’t bad enough already, she’s also holding Carl’s hand and refusing to let go. This forces Rick to saw off his new girlfriend’s arm while a montage of them meeting plays over it. This is pretty close to how she dies in the comics, although Sam the Walking Birth Control Argument is a TV-only character. Ron is the one who dies in the books.
The Ron we know on screen does things a little differently. Since Jessie’s womb is apparently an incubator for creating terrible children, he decides that this is the perfect time to take revenge on Rick and shoot him.
Thankfully, Michonne hears the TV audience’s screams and runs the kid through with a sword…but not before he errantly fires his gun and shoots Carl in the eye.
Aggressive Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing
Remember that Wolf with the disgusting teeth? The one who looks like he hangs out at arcades a lot and follows Nickelback on tour? Well he’s still got Denise captive. He also seems to be genuinely concerned for her safety. After forcing her to run with him in an attempt to escape the town, she gets attacked by walkers. He stops and rescues her, getting bit in the process. Denise pledges to save him and leads him back to the infirmary.
Meanwhile, Carol continues to be pissed off at Morgan, going so far as saying she should have killed him along with the Wolf that kidnapped Denise. She eventually heads outside and makes good on half that, shooting The Wolf and his budding character arc dead in the street.
Denise makes it back to the infirmary just in time to meet Michonne and Rick, who bring Carl in for some badly needed medical attention.
Rick Loses It…Or Does He?
Once Carl’s on the operating table, Rick goes back outside and begins to kick names and take ass. Michonne joins him. So do Heath, Spencer, and Aaron.
Back at the church, Gabriel sees what’s happening outside and decides to give the baby to someone else. Then he starts crying, pisses his pants, and runs away.
Just kidding. He makes a dramatic speech, picks up a machete, and gets out there to join in the fray. It’s a bit of a stretch to believe he’d do this, but also kind of cool, so I’ll allow it. A few minutes later, Carol’s group joins in the zombie hacking fun. Even Eugene. A very over the top yet exceptionally well edited fight montage ensues.
Judged in a Lake of Fire
Meanwhile, Glenn gets cornered trying to save Maggie and almost dies. The audience rolls their eyes because we all know that unless you actually see a barb-wired baseball bat go into his skull, Glenn is immortal.
Then Daryl, Sasha, and Eugene show up, firing weapons and being predictably awesome. Daryl kicks things up a notch by pouring gasoline everywhere and starting a massive fire, drawing the zombies away from the group and toward their own demise.
The next morning, Rick sits by Carl’s bedside, begging his now comatose (and cyclopean) son to wake up.
Is it Good?
Well it definitely wasn’t bad. This wasn’t a perfect episode by any stretch, but it was a heck of a lot of fun.
I was a little disappointed that The Messenger character from the opening was killed, but the way it happened was fantastic. Not only was it a viscerally great scene, but it also provides even greater motivation for Negan to put his foot on our protagonists’ necks when they finally meet.
The scenes in Alexandria were a little melodramatic, but at least they completed or enhanced some character arcs in narratively beneficial/believable ways.
- Jessie dies protecting boys much weaker than her.
- Ron self-destructs.
- Rick has to make more sacrifices. One is something he comes to terms with on his own. Another is the unexpected fallout from a previous decision.
- Gabriel sucks a little less.
- Carl tries to be the better man and ends up losing an eye for it.
- The Wolf finally shows some humanity, resulting in the loss of his own life.
- Carol does what everyone thought she should od, unknowingly stopping a redemption/change in someone that she didn’t think was possible. (I sort of hate this since it makes Morgan’s argument somewhat valid, but it was still very well executed).
- Eugene steps for up real despite his genuine (and still present) fear.
- Sam dies. Poor kid never stood a chance.
Gabriel’s turn towards being less of a coward/jackass was a bit of a stretch, but not nearly as ridiculous as Enid’s. It’s nice to see that in addition to Glenn’s superhuman ability to avoid zombie bites, he can also change a person’s outlook on life with a by-the-numbers ‘This is Why We Fight’ speech.
And speaking of Glenn, someone needs to tell the show’s writers that they’re wasting their time putting him in dangerous situations. They lost all credibility on that front with the dumpster fake out. They could be priming us for a future meeting with Negan/Lucille, but until (or if) that happens, Glenn can go skipping through a walker horde while singing show tunes and I still wouldn’t fear for his safety. Not anymore.
*steps off soapbox*
Ahem…but aside from that, this was a solid episode. Not excellent, but compared to what we saw before the break, it was fantastic. Let’s hope things keep trending upward towards April’s season finale.