‘The Walking Dead’ Gang Faces Their Biggest Threat On ‘First Time Again’
Here\'s every big moment from the season six premiere.
We’ve already told you how epic “The Walking Dead” season six premiere was. We recounted every insane moment at the packed Madison Square Garden premiere. And now, you’ve finally gotten a chance to glimpse the jaw-dropping kick-off to what creator Robert Kirkman called, “the most intense season” yet.
So let’s unpack all the big moments on “First Time Again,” which basically break down into Rick (Andrew Lincoln) vs. everyone else… Sorta.
How incredibly huge was that horde of zombies trapped in the quarry? How crazy a visual was it, terrifying and hilarious at the same time to see them sliding down an incline, trapped behind trucks, unable to get at the sweet fleshy treats waiting for them in Alexandria?
And how just simply terrifying was that final shot that revealed the full scope of the threat headed their way, as one half of the horde broke off and headed straight for home?
We’ve seen Rick execute a plan before, both in the attack on Woodbury and the attack on Terminus, but nothing quite at the scope of the Great Walker Redirect Of… Whatever year we’re in at this point. Rick, quite simply, has taken charge. Or as Carol (Melissa McBride) notes while they’re setting up the fence that will turn the walkers away from Alexandria, and towards some unsuspecting other folks: “[Deanna’s] in charge now. But you’re in charge.”
Sure, things go horribly wrong as they’re wont to do on “TWD,” but Rick’s plan is huge, well coordinated, and if it wasn’t for those outside elements would have gone surprisingly great.
We couldn’t hardly wait to see Carter (Ethan Embry) appear on the show, and then Mr. ’00s romance turned out to be the thorn in Rick’s side for an hour and change. Beyond Carter’s dialogue essentially boiling down to, “I am a foil! I am a foil and I will object to this thing!” he had two key scenes that revealed more about Rick, than the eventually cheek-bitten/brain-stem stabbed Carter himself.
The first was when Carter was trying to foment rebellion in the kitchen, only to be discovered by Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and then Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rick. Rick grabbed Carter’s gun, forced him down, and asked if he really thought he could take Alexandria from his group. And it seemed like Rick would have shot him in the head if Daryl hadn’t spoken up… But I think there’s something different going. Last season Rick was pushed to the edge and beyond, but here he pulls back and offers Carter redemption, a place in Alexandria if he’ll just help out.
We’ve wondered with Rick was turning into the Governor? Here, it’s pretty clear he’s not.
Then again, maybe he is, as he doesn’t hesitate to stab Carter in the back of the neck when his screaming starts to attract the walker horde. Morgan (Lennie James) sees it happen, as does Michonne (Danai Gurira). They both clearly know this was the right thing to do… But what they don’t like is how okay Rick is with the deed.
The key art for the season, as well as the trailers and commercials, seemed to be setting up an Alexandria Civil War between Rick’s camp and Morgan’s camp. And we may still get there, but this episode was more about taking two guys who were forced into extreme circumstances previously and getting them to finally understand each other.
Only thing is, Morgan may not like it, even if he understands it. What’s most interesting about this potentially widening philosophical divide is the small degrees between Rick and Morgan. They’re both warriors now, they both understand the need to protect those they love. But where Rick will do the deed and grimly move on, Morgan wants to do the deed, and then take a moment to reflect. Let’s see how far this takes them in the coming weeks.
Speaking of divides, Daryl is very much on Rick’s side… For now. Daryl wants to head out of Alexandria to pick up more people, saying that having a bigger population
protecting their own. Rick, meanwhile, wants to circle the wagons, make sure the people he’s already overseeing are up to par. “It might already be too late for them,” Rick tells Morgan at one point in the episode… Which seems to imply that dead weight might get cut loose.
If it comes to that? Daryl may split from Rick, possibly forever. And that also shows how much Daryl has grown, from the racist loner who only needed his brother; to the most compassionate member of the Grimes Gang.
If anything, this is Michonne versus what she wants to do with her life. Of all the folks in the Grimes Gang, she most wants to find a way to return to her pre-apocalypse happiness, to hang up her sword and once again try to live a life that’s not all about killing. Rick represents the opposite of that, a life where you always have to be vigilant, always patrolling walls and taking care of the next threat.
If Morgan offers another way, will she join him? Heck, they’re already sharing protein bars (or maybe not — stay tuned for our post-mort on the ep with Greg Nicotero to find out what really happened to the last peanut butter one).
This was — in what was already a surprisingly laugh out loud episode — the funniest moment on the show. Rick Grimes shut down Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) with one perfect tweet.
Seriously, at this point, is Gabriel worth anything to the group? He’s going to have to prove himself somehow, and fast.
There’s a lot of incredibly complicated stuff Andrew Lincoln shows off on Rick Grimes’ face during the episode, but nowhere was it on greater display than his scene with Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge).
Having already shot her husband in the face, Rick tells her son he needs to learn how to use a gun, to protect himself, and he’ll teach him. This is the Claimer side of Rick creeping through once again — and happily, Jessie shuts it down calmly. Coming into her house, he explains why she needs to train, why they need his help. And at every turn, she plainly explains how it can’t be him.
She’s already gun training with Rosita, and will then train her kids. She will protect her family, she’ll take care of it. Rick is not their dad, and not her husband… And needs to stay out of their lives.
What makes this scene so complex is how here, we see Rick struggling with the weight of the crown. You can only bark orders and be in charge for so long, until someone smarter calls you on your s–t. That’s exactly what Jessie does in this scene, and it marks another difference between Rick and previous dictators on the show: he eventually sees reason.
That’s why there’s hope for him, right? Because unlike the true animals, he’s not really going to take what he wants. He’s going to protect his “family,” but not at the cost of his soul. At least, for now.
Never Mind Rick, Let’s Talk About Carol
Oh my god Melissa McBride. Was there a Carol scene in this episode that didn’t completely rule? From playing a “terrified” housewife during Rick’s town hall meeting, to passing out water, to her dripping with sarcasm, “well aren’t you sweet” to Morgan when he points out he knows more is going on with her, Carol figuratively killed this week.
Eventually, her veneer is going to drop, and Agent Flowers is going to rear her dangerous head. But for now, let’s enjoy one of the most beautiful, hilarious and “terrifying” performances on TV.
Also, Some Other People Were There
There was so much on this episode it’s hard to capture all of it, but other highlights? Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) human decency redeeming Nicholas’ (Michael Traynor) betrayal that happened, like, five minutes earlier. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) bonding over kind of wanting to die, but not really. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) bonding over not murdering Nicholas.
And of course, Eugene and Heath (Corey Hawkins) not exactly bonding over their hair.
There were even more character moments to unpack, though, and that’s what made this episode particular wonderful: there were over 18 cast members, and everyone got a moment. This is a far cry from where the show was even two years ago, with characters staying silent for weeks at a time, everyone talking about the same thing incessantly… Like the one main character who didn’t do much this week — that would be Carl (Chandler Riggs) — the show has really grown up.
…And then we get to the cliffhanger, when a horn — presumably at Alexandria — blares, turning half the walker army off the road. Are they being attacked by the Wolves? Did someone set a trap? Or did someone back at “home” accidentally crash a car? Carl, we’re looking at you.
Whatever it is, we’ll find out next episode… And even if everything is fine back at the town, there’s thousands of walkers headed their way, which means things are about to get real bad, real quick.
Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.