AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 1: “First Time Again”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a recap & review of the Season 5 finale, “Conquer” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “JSS” – click here
With this new beginning, Season 6 starts as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) gives a speech to get everyone prepared— well, after a quick black-and-white flashback to the first time Rick has seen Morgan (Lennie James) in a long time. Things get dicey pretty quick once a tractor trailer slips off a cliff and throws a wrench into Rick’s whole plan. Immediately there are hordes and hordes of zombies just pushing their way towards Rick and the crew. Loving the walkers already!
More flashbacks to the end of Season 5, after Rick finally fought for his group without worrying for the lives of everyone else, as he so often found himself doing.
Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) pours a little liquor out for Reg. Glenn (Steven Yeun) somehow manages not to kill Nicholas (Michael Traynor), bringing him back safely— later, Nicholas actually vouches for Glenn’s abilities to another Alexandrian.
We get a look at Morgan’s return. He sits eating with Daryl (Norman Reedus), having another little talk with Rick now that they’re reunited. Of course, Rick has changed a lot since their last meeting. Morgan understands. Because he has, too.
In the present, Rick has everyone running like clockwork. They’re systematically working their way down roads, past rows of cars, shooting flares to create diversions for the rows of undead traipsing around.
More flashbacks. Rick and Daryl talk about Morgan a little, about what he told them concerning the outside world, the mysterious zombies marked with Ws on their foreheads, and the guys Morgan met with the Ws on theirs. We get more of a sense Rick is turning colder than ever before. Or maybe he’s simply getting rational. He and Morgan are slightly at odds simply for the fact Morgan recognises everyone’s a killer now.
At the same time, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) gets to meet a few people he and the others haven’t had the chance to meet yet, other Alexandria residents, such as Heath (Corey Hawkins) who seems nice enough. He and Eugene bond awkwardly over hair.
“That’s not who you are. I know.“
“Hey— you don’t.“
There’s a refreshing aspect to having Rick and Morgan back in the same place, at the same time, more or less on the same page. Because what this allows is a sort of mirror-like reflection of the two men. They’re both very similar, but Morgan has a strange type of clarity, most likely gained after spending so much time alone, withdrawn from the world outside. Unlike Rick, whose entire existence since the fall of civilisation has consisted of fighting for others. Not to say Morgan hasn’t fought, but Rick has shouldered far too much weight he didn’t necessarily have to to all in the name of being a ‘good man.’ Whereas Morgan accepts that part of being a good man sometimes in this new world is also being a bad guy, when necessary, Rick still has a hard time reconciling the two sides of himself.
When Daryl rides his bike up over a hill, we see behind him on the road are about a hundred or more zombies, following the sound of his engine rumbling. Incredible little moment! Such a wild and exciting, albeit brief shot.
A big part of this season opener is the quarry. Rick and Morgan stumble across it when they go out to bury Pete, whose oldest son Ron— resentful of what Rick has done to his father— keeps an eye on them and nearly falls over the edge of the quarry before Constable Grimes saves him. This place is where the episode started. The tractor trailer that plummeted off the cliff? It was holding walkers back from pouring into the surrounding area and Alexandria itself. Rick, as well as trusty Carol (Melissa McBride), tries to tell everyone it’s best to take care of the problem and get it done— only a matter of time before the worst happens. The community’s been safe partly because the quarry funnelled most zombies into the pit.
Luckily, most everyone agrees. Carter (Ethan Embry) would prefer to reinforce the wall, having worked on the original structure. Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are each game, as well as all the other regulars. Carter seems to be a little apprehensive about Rick, after the incidents of Season 5’s finale. Lots of other Alexandrians soon offer help. Either way, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) agrees with Rick and almost all of his ideas.
When Rick and Co. are leading the hordes down the road, there are a couple excellent bits of nasty gore. Zombies running into the sheet metal, smashing their brains. Others walking through the bits of flesh, brains, and teeth on the ground, slopping through a tiny pool of blood.
So, so fun in a gross way!
Turns out Carter (Embry) has been talking mutiny. They think Rick’s dangerous, or at least Carter does. In a flashback, Eugene spies on Carter + others talking about mutiny. Carter is about to put him away with a shot to the head when Rick, Daryl and Morgan show up. Instead of returning the favour and blasting Carter, Daryl’s appeal to Rick shows mercy. We get to see how Morgan is a dual-natured soul, while Rick remains one or the other: live or die, good or bad. Although they do enjoy being in each other’s company again. Sweet scene shows Morgan holding baby Judith, too.
In the present, Carter and Rick reconcile, as the former admits: “You were right” when the plan plays out properly. Well, he ends up getting chewed by a walker. And his screams start drawing zombies off the road. Rick has to put him down. Too bad, Father Gore loves Ethan Embry and hoped he might be sticking around— not the case.
Can Rick begin to accept his own dual nature instead of leaning too far on one side, or will his inability to do so prove fatal for him/those around him? No telling where anything will go in the world of The Walking Dead. A nice contrast to Rick is Glenn, who refuses to give up on Nicholas. And Nicholas proves himself worthy on a run with Glenn and Heat, helping out when they’re near overwhelmed by the dead.
In the final moments, what sounds like a truck horn sounds in the distance. The walkers start to move off the roads in hordes. A great satirical moment when the walkers head back towards Alexandria— one of those new sub-division signs pointing towards the little town says YOU’RE ALMOST HOME. Amazing final shot pulling back over the highway to reveal endless masses of zombies heading to the quaint little suburb where Rick and the group are fleeing home.
“I know this sounds insane,
but this is an insane world.“
The next episode— titled “JSS” (directed by the amazing Jennifer Chambers Lynch, daughter of David)— should be extremely interesting.