Some of The Walking Dead‘s creators have said that each episode of season 6 will behave like season finales. The season six premiere of TWD, appropriately titled “First Time Again,” started with a powerful opening, picking up where season 5 left off, and concluded with a cliffhanger unrivaled by earlier episodes.
You have been warned.
Rick has a gun pointed to Jessie’s abusive husband Pete, who sliced Reg’s throat. Rick pulls the trigger without remorse. That happens as soon as old friend Morgan appears, witnessing the gruesome execution.
The entire episode is experimental in edit. It’s reliant on monochrome flashbacks that supplement action taking place during the premiere. We discover the reason for Alexandria’s solitude during one of these well-crafted looks into the past.
Alexandria’s protection from undead invasion stems from nearby walkers inability to journey over. This is found out when Rick finds a quarry where hundreds of zombies grunt loudly at each other. The walking dead can’t leave the cliffside because they’re surrounded by massive trucks. Rick and his team understand the dangers of believing that truck walls, however they got there, aren’t a permanent solution or suitable way to imprison the hoard forever. That’s what the core of the episode is about.
Rick, his crew, and the people of Alexandria devise a way to lure the geeks far and away from their walled paradise.
It wouldn’t be an episode of TWD if there wasn’t someone around to question the wisdom of Rick’s post-world authoritarian force. Conflict arises between Rick and Carter. Carter’s scared because he’s not used to the outside world. His prejudice toward Rick and negative emotion overwhelms him and soon after attempts to end the life of Eugene, one of Rick’s crew. Rick spares Carter’s life, later explaining to friend Morgan that people like Carter will become zombified outside the walls.
Morgan luckily interferes with Rick’s normal thought processes. Morgan acts as a voice of reason, even if the voice is only there to back up what Rick has to say.
I feel for Father Gabriel. The poor guy admits he was wrong about Rick and wants to help, but shunned the moment he offers it. Rick sternly exclaims “No,” turns away, and continues the plan of action with other trustworthy members.
Something occurred to me during this episode. Maggie and Tara are buddy-buddy, even though Tara is the reason for Maggie’s father’s slaying. It goes to show you what kind of world these people live in. It was nice to receive humor in the form of dialogue when Tara awoke from injury to an overzealous Eugene, to which she responds “Nothing happened to your hair.” It’s wonderful to see that a show about survival can offer up laughs in its sixth season. Furthermore, it’s amazing to see that the series hasn’t run out of source material to draw inspiration from.
The rest of the good guys we’ve learned to adore are on board with Rick’s quarry plan one-hundred-percent. The plan they agreed on works all too well. Even when they run into a precarious situation, veteran zombie slayers come to the rescue, using wit and sharp aim. Even the meticulously created full-proof plan of action couldn’t predict what happened at the end.
We watch the plan unravel for just under ninety-minutes, and to great success, minus the passing of Carter, which Rick predicted. Right before those who are alive are about to pat themselves, blaring sirens play from their base of operations, leading the droves of soulless bodies straight to their beds.
Using flash backs didn’t feel cheap like in other television shows or movies that give it a try. Apparently, the choice was made in post-production, confirmed by director Greg Niccataro. Each flashback allowed us to experience how each part of the procedure would play out. Instead of boring us with a long planning phase disturbing viewers with talking heads and potentially one stretched out action sequence, the edit proved walking a fine line between the two keeps storytelling fresh. The strongest achievement recognized was feeling like turning pages in a collected graphic novel on screen.
Rick’s team doesn’t have it easy, and they’re still evolving with a new crowd. I’m genuinely surprised that the show didn’t get boring by now. Kudos to the directors, writers, producers, and everyone in between who keep us on our toes by trying new and risky methods of storytelling other networks rarely dare to. “First Time Again” is a lovely reentry into a franchise that finds ways to keep alive.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Lennie James as Morgan and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Gallery – Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC