[Some mild spoilers ahead!]
You may have pledged your love to various partners and lovers on Valentine’s Day this year, but the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead will steal your heart (or, if Michonne has anything to do with it, stick a sword right through it). The first episode of the highly anticipated season 6b was nothing short of first class, and in my opinion it’s what fans who dropped out as viewers after season 2 always hoped it could be.
As a diehard The Walking Dead fan myself, I’ve stuck with the show through thick and thin, boring storylines and bullshit, character deaths and red herrings, and this episode (as well as the first half of season 6) makes it all worth it, give or take a few minor hiccups.
‘No Way Out’ picked up where the previous episode, ‘Start to Finish’ left off and we were teased mercilessly with the introduction of Negan’s people. Remember that bazooka that Abraham dangles off the edge of a fence to retrieve, endangering his life in the process? Yeah, that comes in handy.
Meanwhile, Tara, Rosita and Eugene help Carol and Morgan to their feet while the Wolf amongst the swarm outside plots a way over the wall with a helpless Denise. Needless to say, this doesn’t exactly go to plan for the young Wolf as he puts himself in danger to save her. I can’t give him much credit for that, however, as we will never know if it was because he needed her to heal him or if he genuinely grew fond of her. This is the same guy who attacked Alexandria and is a huge part of why it’s now overrun with walkers, though, and you’re not Morgan so you can make a logical, educated guess about his character.
As a fan of both the series and the comics, I understand and appreciate that they’re separate, but it’s a real treat to see a famous scene or line from the comics come to life on the small screen. Two particularly heart breaking (and gory) scenes from the original The Walking Dead were taken on board and executed (pun intended) in a way that was so well done I wanted to kiss my laptop. On that note, Chandler Riggs (who plays Carl, or ‘CORAL!’ in the show) has really come into his own as an actor and gave a great performance in the episode alongside the always fantastic Andrew Lincoln. The kid had a one word line at the end of the episode and he absolutely nailed it.
Some fan complaints in recent years have been that the designated badasses of the group have gotten a little too soft to be believable. Daryl and Michonne are often brought up as prime examples of this, but nobody could say that of either of them after ‘No Way Out’ as both demonstrated a stone cold ability to end anyone that messes with their people in truly explosive fashion. It was an episode all about unity, and even the most cowardly among Rick’s group and the Alexandrians decided to step up to their responsibilities.
Despite the great episode (in my view it was the show’s best premiere since episode 1) there were a few niggling issues that can’t be overlooked. A major problem involved a core character who was, yet again, dangled in front of our emotions for some cheap shock value. I was genuinely gripping my face in horror at the thought of losing him, convinced that he couldn’t be saved from certain death again. As is usually the case when watching this show, however, I was wrong. Although I’m relieved he’s still part of the story, I do feel that viewers are getting impatient with all of this ‘boy who cried wolf’ stuff the writers seem to be flinging at us.
‘No Way Out’, and the first half of season 6 as well, has raised the issue of Rick’s group, yet again, bringing death and destruction to all who encounter them. It’s easy for us, as viewers, to see our favourite characters as the heroes, the good guys, the ones who will bring balance and civilisation to the world, if the world survives at all. However, it is increasingly apparent that that may not be the case; the group continues making increasingly questionable moral decisions, facing up to the cruel realities of this apocalyptic world which suggests that it’s no longer possible to be a good person, just a person who does good and bad things.
The premiere was surprising, exciting and fast-paced with some memorable and intimate interactions that brought new dimensions to relationships, particularly between Carol and Morgan. The effect that Carol has had on Sam came to its inevitable and nasty conclusion when his nightmares became reality and Carol established herself as an even more dangerous character than previously thought when she landed some truth bombs on Morgan’s shoulders.
Overall it was a solid return to the show with shock, gore and zombie galore as well as stellar performances all-round.
What did you think of the episode? Do you disagree? Let us know in the comments below!