A Sashurai’s Review: The Walking Dead – Season 6×01 (Eugene fell asleep at the wheel again)

TWD 6x01

It’s never too late to go zombie epic in the height of Halloween’s most illustrious month of macabre and resurrection. The Walking Dead, king of the serialized zombie tale makes its return by stuffing more disgusting decaying zombies then there has ever been in a single episode. For Rick and those that remain, survival means going on the offensive and dealing with a threat that could wipe our their entire community like locusts in a storm. Rick always has a plan, but does everyone believe in it? This is the season to find out.

By it’s 6th entree, TWD has experimented in the grizzly chaos of many strongholds and human villains. The premiere has tremendous focus on building the suburban folk into zombie killing survivalists and the flashback story method, thus far has proven to be a good switch to standardized story telling in this universe. Oddly enough, what I’m most impressed with is how the music portrays the intensity and sheer largeness of scope here. It was like a mini-inception with hard thrashings of mega synth. As a whole, it was an enjoyable first episode that continues to mix the hard focused killing and the permutations of human distrust, culminating in yet another easy choice for someone like Rick who, simply put, doesn’t take chances anymore.

After Morgan arrives to witness Rick executing Pete, the episode turns into a present day/flashback scenario where all past scenes are in black and white while all present scenes are in color. In the past, after Morgan is taken in, he and Rick take Pete’s body outside of the community into an area where they discover a quarry where there are potentially a thousand zombies or more slowly trickling through the semi trucks that have kept them inside. Rick determines both that the community hasn’t experienced bad zombie herds due to this and that the herd will eventually break out. Rick convinces the community to lure them out and away from their homes and the next several flashbacks are dedicated to setting up this plan. In the present, the plan is set in motion and the zombies are set loose. They follow Daryl on bike, along with Sasha and Abraham in a vehicle. The plan becomes derailed though when a loud horn coming from back at the community signals the zombies in its direction. Rick and crew are unable to redirect the zombies as they disperse into the forest.

It was monstrous seeing that many zombies trails through the road like that starting in that quarry, but with any series eclipsing past 5 years, it’s time to go bigger and better than ever before. For the zombie effects, every little bit counts from how they move and screech to the lengths they’ll go to for food including tearing their faces and skin off getting through smaller holes and the like. The physical effects remain top notch in this show. Many props to the initial zombie that first squeezed through, It was bloody disgusting and crazy to watch.

In detailing Ricks mentality and choices that he makes, the bulk of it revolves around his need to teach the community what it means to survive in the world they exist in. Some of his earlier confession with wanting to kill Carter for trying to start up a mutiny returns when Rick dutifully kills Carter after he’s bitten in the face. Maybe he would have kept him alive if he wasn’t screaming, but Rick made the call while Morgan and Michonne watched, excepting the result in docile fashion. I never believe Rick is above petty squabbles that involve life and death choices, and in a way it makes him extremely dangerous as he feels he’s the most experienced person to make that judgment regardless of the situation. The stronger the loyalty the longer you have to prove your worth to him, otherwise, people like Carter will get a slim chance to own their role or get swallowed by the undead.

Many of the other pairings offered minor subplot, most notably was Glenn dealing with Nicholas and keeping him in check while they subdued a small zombie threat at a walled up store. There’s an honest attempt to prove himself again and for the most part I’m not really questioning it. I believe he will until that fateful day when he either sacrifices himself or does something naive because he wasn’t ready and Glenn let him do it anyway. Feels very text book predictable right now, but I’m not expecting him to survive through the entirety of season 6.

I’m glad Abraham is essentially squashing Sasha’s death wish, by staying with her and verifying it himself. Her attitude was too distant and solitary and almost made her more of a liability to the crew than anything because of her unpredictable nature and revenge spree against the zombie horde. I’ll think she’ll be much more focused this season.

If I had to make a surface guess on who hit that horn, I’d say Father Gabriel. Just based on his quiet resentment and distrust of Rick and his plans. If it’s not him than it’s someone or something else which could an interesting twist if it was a very simple accident and no one knows who or why. If it was sabotage, then Rick will likely kill whoever it ends up being.

FAVORITE MOMENT

It’s short, but that shot of Daryl driving alone over that small hill and up comes the mega lot of zombies behind him. The music and presentation combined was a very slick and well shot moment. These are far and few between as they should be, but every now and then you have to just let Daryl look like a badass and show this world still has some style every now and then.

CHARACTER MVP

As much as Rick paraded around his sense of necessary survival, I actually like how Glenn handled himself and his group in this premiere. He’s grown a lot as a character and I’d say he’s nearly on par with Rick in terms of making hard decisions or necessary ones at that to survive. He’s not cold persay, and his relationship with Maggie will likely trump any major decisions that affect her, but all in all, I like how much he’s stepped up over the seasons.

ENDING THOUGHTS

Good to have Heath on board. Every comic-character appearance is a welcome one. I just hope they do Jesus justice because he’s the closest thing to a ninja this show will ever have.

I can’t say this enough, but the effects and music was glorious this time around. We’re so used to the stale atmosphere where the soundtrack only comes out during real crucial moments, but this was a bang from the get go. Wonderful job all around.

The black and white flashback storytelling was interesting and definitely relates back to the comic style of the same name. Everything printed is in black and white as well and in some ways helps desaturate the gore but also help bring in the complexity of the drama. So much more gets accentuated in the looks those characters give and the words they say. Most importantly, I think was when Carter finds Eugene overhearing their plan and when Rick disarms Carter with intentions to kill him. It had a flair of seriousness that I think was better capitalized in black and white then in color.

As excited as I am to hear about Negan becoming a real like character on this show, I just have say, what about the tiger? Are they going to getting a tiger for this show too?

OVERALL SCORE

A strong 8 out of 10. Though a show like this is about the drama aspect and kill-or-be-killed mentality, had this episode been the present all the way through from beginning to end with no let up, that would have been perfection. Still, this was an amazing episode which solidifies their mainstay as a great program that is still relevant even when every zombie story has been beaten with a barb-wire bat. Rick may be hard but he’s realistic and knows that survival comes with taking care of yourself first and of course loyalty to the group. But now a big snafu has occurred and it’s a great cliffhanger to really start this season off right. Let the Halloween season commence!

No more words

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