Valentine’s Day. It is day for lovers, for gang land massacres and…the return of the zombie apocalypse? AMC’s ratings juggernaut, The Walking Dead, Made its triumphant return after its winter hiatus and it came back full throttle. There have been well documented tempo and plot hole issues that have caused some to abandon ship. As for me, I have loved both the comic and the show since their respective starts and the season 6 mid-season premiere has become the gold standard. Let’s break down the highlights of the fastest hour on television.
Daryl has been a fan favorite since the show’s inception and he has the distinction of being a wholly original character since he is not in the source material. Having said that, Daryl has been sort of missing in action the first half of this season as the action has focused more on the Rick/Morgan dynamic. Well the consummate badass returns in a big way at the expense of the newly introduced Saviors. The episode literally starts with a bang.
Gross Out Moment
Covered in Walker guts, Rick’s merry band tries to blend into the horde of walkers that have invaded Alexandria. His new love interest, Jesse, is in tow with her kids Sam and Ron along with Carl and Michonne. As previously seen, Sam is a bit of a wuss and decides to pick the absolute worst time to return to his pansy ways which gets his entire family killed. The gross out comes when Rick is forced to separate Jesse’s arm from Carl’s by way of a rather dull hatchet.
Faithful To The Comic…In A Roundabout Way
Carl’s eye. It is just as nasty as you would imagine.
The Sheep In Wolves Clothing
While Morgan and Carol battled over the life of the captured Wolf, he took the opportunity to escape with Denise as his hostage. While he was unrepentant with Morgan, Denise gets to him on a human level that he thought was gone forever. He displays the central theme of the episode that is repeated over and over: redemption.
What To Watch For
The philosophies of Carol and Morgan are polar opposites. Morgan is a man of peace that does not believe in killing the living while Carol’s point of view is to eliminate any threat to the group, living or dead. This led to a physical confrontation that was more stalemate than anything. I have the feeling we are only witnessing the beginning of this rivalry which will surely end badly for one, or both of them.
Time To Man Up
As I said, redemption was the theme of the night. The following survivors changed their typical modus operandi when pushed to the wall:
- Enid: The teenage girl always on the run finally understands what Glen has been trying to tell her. That running does nothing to honor those lost and the only way to really survive is together. She decides to stop running and help Glen rescue his pregnant wife, Maggie.
- Father Gabriel: Right from the start of his season 5 introduction it has been made clear that the resident man of God is nothing but a coward. Not only did he lock his congregation out of the refuge of his chapel but he has time and again been more than a thorn in the side of Rick and company. He finally has an epiphany that this community is not only worth fighting for but if need be, dying for.
- Eugene: Steely resolve is not a characteristic of Eugene. He prefers to stand behind the front lines while others get their hands dirty. But no more. He convinces himself that the only way out of this situation is with steel in his heart and in his hand as he wields a blade like never before.
- Alexandria Residents: One of the aspects of the community was that while safe behind the walls, it also made the citizens soft. Rick truly believed that there was no hope for them but admits his mistake in the aftermath of the battle when every single Alexandrian comes out of their refuges and helps to destroy the walker crowd and take back their town.
Any show in its 6th season shows signs of fatigue, with screenplays beginning to overreach just for a shock or wow factor that too often comes up short. Not here. This was perhaps the finest hour of The Walking Dead. It had heart, tragedy, redemption and a display of overwhelming heroism that can’t be matched. When the group got overrun at Hershel’s farm, they scattered and ran. When the Governor destroyed their prison refuge, they scattered and ran. Here, the group stood their ground. They will need that courage for the dark days ahead.
5 out of 5 rocket launchers