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 review of the next episode, “JSS” – click here
Back to Alexandria once more. I’m only now just starting to review The Walking Dead, jumping in on the newest season. So look out: I’ll get back to the first season, as soon as possible.
With this new beginning, Season 6 starts as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) gives a speech to get everyone prepared – well, after a quick black-and-white flashback to the first time Rick has heard Morgan Jones (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! Greg Nicotero – legendary makeup artists and effects man alongside partner Howard Berger – directed this season opener, so there’ll be plenty of this to come.
More black-and-white flashbacks to more of what we saw at the end of Season 5, after Rick finally went ahead and fought for him, his group, without worrying for the lives of everyone else, as he so often found himself doing.
Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) pours a little liquor out for the dead man he carries. Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) somehow manages not to kill Nicholas (Michael Traynor), bringing him back safely after all; this plays out more through the episode, showing us the compassion of Glenn and their group, as he’s not willing to totally lose himself in the madness of the zombie apocalypse. Smart, or naive? We’ll see as the season gets into gear. So far, though, so good.
Then we’re able to get a look at Morgan’s return. He sits eating with good ole Daryl Dixon (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 so has he, no doubt.
Back 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 black-and-white flashbacks. Rick and Daryl talk about Morgan a little, about what he told them concerning the outside world, the mysterious zombies marked on their foreheads, and so on. We get more and more of a sense Rick is turning cold, colder than ever before. Or maybe he’s simply getting more rational, back to the basics. He and Morgan are slightly at odds simply for the fact Morgan is able to recognize one thing: everyone’s a killer in post-apocalyptica with the walkers.
At the same time, Eugene Porter (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, kind of.
Morgan: “That’s not who you are. I know.”
Rick: “Hey – you don’t”
There’s a refreshing aspect to having Rick and Morgan back in the same place, at the same time, and 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 again – 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 civilization has consisted of fighting for others, taking care of others, et cetera. 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 understanding that, reconciling the two sides of himself. Always Sheriff Grimes thinks it can only be one or the other.
Such greatness when Daryl rides his bike up over a hill, so simple: we can see back behind him on the road there are about a hundred or more zombies headed his way, 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 the piece of shit Rick killed in the Season 5 finale. This is where Rick’s massive plan goes down, where the episode started. That truck which plummeted off the cliff earlier? It was holding back walkers from pouring into the surrounding area and Alexandria itself. Rick, as well as trusty Carol Peletier (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. 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 for the plan, as well as all the other regulars like Glenn and Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). Though, Carter seems to be a little apprehensive about Rick, after the incidents of the finale. However, lots of others from Alexandria soon pipe up to offer their help in hopes of banding together to stop an invasion of walkers from tumbling in through the walls. So Rick lays out the plan in detail for Carter and the others, even if not everyone is totally thrilled with it. Luckily, either way, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), head honcho in charge agrees with Rick and almost all of his ideas/plans.
Again, LOTS OF AWESOME ZOMBIE ACTION! Heads crushing, and so on. When Rick and Co. are leading the hordes down the road, Daryl on his bike holding up the front lines, there are a couple excellent bits of nasty gore. Zombies running into the sheet metal, smashing their brains. Others walking through the bits of face and brains and teeth on the ground, slopping through a tiny pool of blood. So, so fun in a gross way! Always love this sort of stuff. Nicotero has mostly only directed on The Walking Dead, including the Webisodes (plus a TV movie and a short), so he usually does some solid work in his episodes when it comes to showing off awesome special makeup effects.
Turns out Carter (Embry) has been talking about mutiny, taking Alexandria back from Rick. They think he’s dangerous, or at the least Carter does, anyways. In a flashback, we see Eugene spy on Carter + others talking about the 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. More, we get to see how Morgan is a much more dual-natured soul, while Rick remains one or the other: feast or famine, live or die, good or bad.
In the present, though, Carter and Rick reconcile, as the former admits: “You were right” as the plan plays out properly after all. Well, Carter ends up getting chewed by a walker, but everyone else appears fairly safe as it stands. Too bad, I actually love Ethan Embry and hoped he might be sticking around; not the case.
But 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 at some point, too? There’s no telling where anything will go in the world of The Walking Dead. I have a feeling something tragic and devastating will happen at some point in this season.
Rick: “I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world.”
At the finale of “First Time Again”, what sounds like a truck horn sounds in the distance. Everyone stops, their eyes full of fear. The walkers start to move in through the woods, off the roads and where they were being coaxed into going by the crew. A great satirical little moment when the walkers head back towards Alexandria – one of those new sub-division signs pointing towards the little town, saying “You’re almost home”. Amazing final shot pulling back over the highway to reveal the masses and masses, unending, of zombies heading to the quaint little suburb where Rick and the group are fleeing home.
The next episode, titled “JSS” (directed by the amazing Jennifer Chambers Lynch; daughter of David), should be extremely interesting. Stay tuned as I go into Season 6 with you all, Walking Deadites!