Though viewership totals were down, The Walking Dead season 6 premiere episode beat out both Empire and Sunday Night Football by a solid 10% in the ratings. Not too shabby. My personal opinion: Fear the Walking Dead put a bad taste in viewers’ mouths. The sheer amount of people who continually tune in for AMC’s TWD marathons are evidence that there is no such thing as being inundated with zombie culture. FTWD, on the other hand, was evidence that if mishandled, viewers may become bored with it. But, enough of that. We’ve been waiting for months, so let’s get down to the business of discussing TWD!
Hopefully I waited long enough for most of you to watch the episode (I mean, for Pete’s sake, it’s Tuesday already). But, for those who need to get caught up or who just want a refresher, you can always Click Here for a spoiler-filled play-by-play of the episode.
At 90 minutes long, the first episode kept a brilliant pace from start to finish. Frankly, it could have gone on another hour at that rate and I wouldn’t even have noticed the time flying by. Things went wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey, switching back and forth from the new ‘present’ to the time immediately following the events of the season 5 finale, our ‘past’.
I felt bad for Gabriel. His crisis of faith last season has earned him the distrust of so many. It was nice to see that he, Sasha, and Maggie came out of their little prayer circle somewhat better adjusted or at least ready to accept and try to heal. But, from Deana’s, “You were wrong” to Rick’s knee-jerk, “No. Anyone else?” when Gabriel offered to help, it’s evident that he has a long road ahead of him before reaching redemption.
Carol has gone so far into ‘deep cover’ that I am becoming nervous for her. Lest we forget, Morgan met up with Rick, Michonne and Carl during the time at the prison. Carol telling him that she has been with Rick since Atlanta only confirmed to Morgan that she is full of shite with her Susie Homemaker facade. He knows what they’d been through, per Rick. He now knows this woman is a fake. The question is, what will he do with that knowledge? Blow her cover? Compromise her situation? Go along with it all? We shall see….
My heart is also going out to Abraham and Sasha. As we pointed out last season, from the time they arrived at Alexandria, Abraham has been out of sorts. All he has known has been the ‘fight’. He is hurting, he is lost, and oddly, he finds the most comfort when his adrenaline is pumping. Whether it was taking charge of things on the construction site, or assisting Sasha on their current mission, Abraham is most at ease when he is doing something deemed productive. “Living” is what they called it. Sasha, who very quickly lost both her brother and boyfriend has felt hopeless. Her one reason for living seems to be revenge on the undead. She is at her best when there is a gun in her hand. Do you honestly think her motivation for joining this dangerous mission was to protect Daryl? Do you really think she felt an obligation to protect Alexandria? No. Sasha just wants the walkers gone. Period.
Glenn…oh, Glenn. You are becoming the moral compass. Be careful, my friend. Remember what happened to Dale and Hershel. Counsel cautiously. It was truly moving when Maggie compared Nicholas to Tara. People do things when they are scared, when their backs are against the wall. Maggie believes in second chances, as does Glenn. I just hope their compassion doesn’t come back to bite them in the ass later (no pun intended). And, I can already tell that I am going to adore Heath. Excellent casting job, by the way.
I enjoyed the subtle humor and the bits of nostalgia peppered throughout the episode. Aptly titled, “First Time Again” had a very When Harry Met Sally feel to it. It’s amazing how much history had been shared between Rick and Morgan, having spent all of two separate days together in the past. And here they are now, knowing one another’s true character, yet starting a relationship almost from scratch. The yin and yang of the zombie apocalypse.
Speaking of parallels, I loved Ethan Embry’s role, Carter. The character of Carter was representative of Rick Grimes. Carter is the man that Rick would have become, had he spent 2 years in the protected environment of apocalyptic club med as Carter had done. Carter was still a cautious person, he asked questions, he needed to analyze and think on things. Sound familiar fans of seasons 1 and 2? On the flip side of that, we have watched Rick become Shane. He is shooting first, asking questions later. He is making the ‘tough’ decisions. He isn’t ‘taking chances’ anymore. Rick’s determination and get-them-before-they-get-us attitude regarding the walkers in the quarry were extremely reminiscent of Shane’s attitude about the contents of Hershel’s barn. Also, when Shane wanted nothing more than to kill Randall because he might possibly pose a threat to their group and Rick repeatedly needed to ‘think on it’, was a parallel to Rick’s handling of the Pete situation. I couldn’t be happier that Alexandria is about to fall, because Rick is a half-step away from evolving into the Governor (tell me you haven’t seen/heard the similarities). Rick telling Morgan that people ‘like’ Carter aren’t meant for this world and won’t survive is exactly what Shane said about Rick. Talk about wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey. That being said, I wish Carter would have lasted longer, though hopefully his brief time with Rick will be enough of a reflection to restrain Officer Friendly for a while.
Honestly, Rick’s plan would have worked if not for the sabotage. The responsibility is really on Heath and his group. They admit that for nearly 2 years, they’ve known that the quarry had been blocked off by trucks at both entrances and that there were walkers inside. Had they ever bothered to go by and check again, perhaps they would have seen what was building up sooner. That quarry is actually the one thing that protected Alexandria up until this point. The truck falling out of place, however, opened up a road that would have led straight to Alexandria. By attempting to herd and divert the walkers, forcing them to turn east rather than west, they could have avoided what’s coming. But again, saboteurs abound!
Who do you think is honking that truck horn and leading the walkers home? Is it Gabriel, feeling spurned? Nope. He is seeking redemption, not to kill anyone. Is it Ron, bitter at Rick for killing his father in cold blood and for having a son (Carl) who is macking on Ron’s girlfriend (Enid)? Nope. It’s one thing to want to get back at Rick, it’s another thing entirely -and unproductive one at that- to lead 30,000 walkers to the place where you, your mother and little brother are living. My money is on the Wolves. They have Aaron’s bag that was left behind at the trucks which contained maps and detailed photos of Alexandria. And hey! That means they have access to trucks. We know it took a little time to properly construct their walker highway; just consider all that needed to be done, the distances covered, and…well…the healing factor of the cuts on Rick’s face. Time had passed, my friends, you can be sure of that. All of that time would have been adequate for the Wolves to come scope things out, sit back, watch and wait. They would have wondered what in the world these people were working on. They would have seen the pit of walkers. Then they would have seen the cities strongest, fastest, and best warriors head out for the day leaving a vulnerable community behind. We know that the Wolves have no fear in dealing with the walkers. So…distract them. Send a few hundred or thousand even, towards Alexandria. Let the walkers do the dirty work. Wait a week or so, some will have walked on. Then swoop in, clear the place, and boom: Alexandria is yours.
What the Wolves didn’t count on, however, are the badass women back home that are armed and ready to fight. Booyah! This is going to be good! We have at least one third of the walkers still following closely behind Daryl, Sasha and Abraham. Another third is headed directly into Alexandria. And, it’s safe to assume that the other third scatters and wanders aimlessly for our survivors to have to randomly be faced with at various point throughout this season.
The sheer amount of work and risk involved in this herding maneuver only served to make me angrier about FTWD. As I said in my finale recap of that show, I am calling complete bullshit on Salazar’s walker wrangling. The man had seen two–TWO–walkers that week (the neighbor who came in and ate the dog, and the Asian woman next door). Based on his experiences with two walkers, and traveling with a dysfunctional family and their whiny teenagers, Salazar releases 2,000 walkers (that’s the number the soldier told him) from the arena and walks them by flashlight to a militarized zone. I’m all for suspending disbelief, but there is nothing that can make me suspend it here. Nothing. He was walking at a casual pace, with enough time to converse briefly with the guards. These weren’t decrepit, rotting corpses. These were fresh walkers; walkers that still had muscles on their skeletons, walkers that moved much faster and retained muscle memory (remember season 1 of TWD?). And how could Salazar control which way they would go? I’m sorry, but that finale episode really irked me. He’s all ‘hey guys, watch this’, meanwhile the good folks at Alexandria prep for who knows how long, still questioning whether or not they can even pull it off. Nope. FTWD had better get is act together next season.
All in all, this was a fantastic way to start the season. There was humor. There was tension. They are already setting things up for what’s to come. The show slumped a little between season 3 and 4, but they brought it back around in season 5. And, it’s obvious the showrunners are bringing their A-game for season 6.
Start placing your bets now on which main cast members will die this season.