Last Sunday the hit AMC show The Walking Dead exploded back onto our screens with the first episode of the second half of its sixth series, titled No Way Out. And it was possibly the best episode yet. Warning ahead – this review will have spoilers so if you haven’t caught up yet, look away now.
The first half of the season left us as Alexandria was overrun with a huge herd of walkers. The cliffhanger was Rick leading a group of people outside into the walkers, all wearing sheets covered in walker entrails to disguise them, and ended with Jessie’s youngest son Sam, calling out to her through all the walkers.
No Way Out picks up from the after credits scene from the 6.08 as Sasha, Daryl &Abraham are confronted by a group of men on motorcycles who say their property “belongs to Negan”. Any fans of the original comic series knows who Negan is – the most notorious villain of the franchise. He’s known for his foul mouth, charisma and Lucille – his weapon of choice (it’s a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire). Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been cast to bring the infamous character to the screen, though he won’t be featured until the series finale. It’s been a while since The Governor, the last major Walking Dead big bad, so the arrival of Negan has delighted fans.
Back to the episode,where the story then picks up right where the mid-season finale left off. Wearing the bloodied disguises, Michonne, Rick, Carl & Judith, Father Gabriel, Jessie and her two sons are walking through the mass of walkers inside Alexandria’s walls. Disappointedly, the episode seems to skip the shocking moment of the youngest son, Sam calling out to his mother as they walk. But that disappointment doesn’t last long, as the brutally of the show hits home fast. As Sam starts to cry, he’s jumped and bitten by a bunch of walkers, right infront of Jessie – who’s own screams then get her killed too. It’s a tragic end for the brilliant Alexandra Breckenridge, who played Jessie from her first appearance in season five. She served as a victim from her husband, a loving mother to her damaged sons, a carer to Judith & a love interest for Rick. There’s a lot of opinions about this character but I thought she was great, and had some of the best character development of the series. And her killing a w woman with scissors scene was SO GOOD. There’s a beautiful montage from Rick’s point of view of Jessie, which is shut down quickly as he realises she’s still gripping hold of Carl’s hand – forcing him to hack her arm off. The montage is then geniusly repeated with a red wash over it, as Rick is forced to move on from the possibilities Jessie held for him.
And then, holy shit – CARL’S EYE GETS SHOT OFF. Ron, in his teenage angst and having just watched his family die aims a gun at Carl, and just managed to pull the trigger before Michonne rams her sword through him. Of course, everyone was glad to see Ron go, but at the expense of Carl (who is just starting to become a likeable character) it brought a lot of conflicting feelings about too.
The other character’s storylines all piece back together as the episode continues. Glenn manages to make the angst runaway Enid see the light, and she helps him in a plan to save Maggie, who is stranded on a watch tower surrounded by walkers. Lauren Cohan as Maggie has perhaps the most heart wrenching performance of the episode, as she screams for Glenn as he fights of hoards of walkers.
Luckily, Glenn is saved by Abraham, who has finally been able to return to Alexandria with Sasha & Daryl. It’s actually a massive relief to have everyone in the same place again for the first time all season,which surprisingly has all only taken place over a couple of days. There’s also a whole plot line with Denise and the W Man who has taken her hostage. They discuss changing your personality, with the W Man meaning changing to be like him. But by the end of the episode we see it can be reversed, as the two almost form a friendship when he goes back to save her from a walker. Just as he starts to begin his redemption, he’s killed by Carol. I’m a bit funny about Carol at the moment, though she is a brilliant character. She’s in a very fixed modest about what needs to be done to survive which has been very damaging to those around her – and unintentionally led to the death of the Anderson family (and I guess, Carl’s eye being blown up). She’s been so badass, but after Rick sent her away for similar reasons in season four I feel she hasn’t learnt her lesson and I am WORRIED.
The most intense & amazing part of the episode was the montage of the group fighting walkers. Even formally scared characters such as Eugene & Father Gabriel fought, in a brilliantly edited sequence of face on views of the characters killing the walkers, with the camera acting as the walker. It was a really powerful scene that demonstrated how much each character has progressed to get to this point, and it was a brilliant way to start the second half of the series.
The episode then ended on a massive plan formed by Daryl to save the town & rid them of the walkers – setting the lake on fire. It was a crazy huge scale scene & was gorgeous shot, showing the walkers wading into the lake & lighting up. This epic finale to the battle was followed by a really touching scene between Rick & Carl – as Carl is bandaged up & unconsious. It’s beautifully written, Rick telling his son not to give up because he has so much more to live for. Andrew Lincoln yet again stuns as the emotional father and yes it did leave me with a tiny lump in my throat.
It can hard for a long running show to continue producing good episodes, but this episode proves once again that The Walking Dead knows what it’s doing.
Unlikely heroes of No Way Out:
- Father Gabriel
- The W Man
This post is highly appropriate because I’m currently in my hotel room after spending the first of two days at Walker Stalker Con London – a massive convention for fans of The Walking Dead. I’ll have a blog post all about that up tomorrow!
If you haven’t seen the episode, I highly recommend it. If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead at all – go start season one pronto.