The Walking Dead Season 6 Premiere Recap (Spoilers)
The dead are back! The Walking Dead’s 6th season premiere kicked off with a solid opening salvo, proving there’s still plenty of life in this ongoing zombie saga.
If The Walking Dead was simply about killing zombies in the most gruesome ways possible, the show would eventually get stale after the shock value wore off. Instead, it’s the evolution of Rick and co., both as individual characters and as a growing community which keeps the show from going past its expiry date.
As much as the episode title “First Time Again” references Rick and Morgan’s relationship, it also speaks to the viewer’s perspective of the show. There’s a familiarity with these characters we’ve come to know over the years. We can still see the core essence of who they are at the same time how much they have grown and changed.
One reason why “First Time Again” worked is because it bridged the gap between the events of last season’s finale using flashbacks. Unlike some other premieres that had a lengthy time jump between seasons, it was important to address a number of matters after Rick executed Pete and Morgan arrived at Alexandria. It would have been a neglectful oversight had the premiere completely picked up some time later, glossing over the details.
The premiere ratcheted up the tension from the moment we saw the mega herd in the quarry. It also got me thinking what the heck is going on? Although the flashbacks slowed things down a bit, by cutting back to the herd corralling scenes the premiere maintained some level of tension throughout the extended hour and a half run time, much better than if events were depicted chronologically.
More than an exciting plot device, the mega herd is important in other ways. It’s good to get an explanation on why Alexandria was sheltered from the zombie apocalypse. It also reminded us of how vulnerable and incapable Alexandrians are if it wasn’t for Rick’s group. Most importantly it shows how Rick’s group have progressed in terms of their experience and community resources that they could even attempt to pull off what would have been impossible for them a season or two ago.
I’m excited that Morgan Jones (Lennie James) is upgraded to the main cast. Even with relatively little screen time, Morgan is a richly drawn character. Lennie James has a great on-screen rapport with Andrew Lincoln. After Rick initially puts Morgan in precautionary custody, I liked the scene where Rick invites Morgan to stay in his home and hold Judith. It’s a warm welcome to the family moment despite their differences.
I’m also glad that Morgan serves as a gentle moral compass for Rick without it leading to a direct confrontation at this point. We’ve already done the Rick versus Shane story line, we don’t need a Rick versus Morgan stand-off. Morgan can still see the old Rick within, the man who wouldn’t shoot first ask questions later, similar to how he reads Carol like a book. I did find it odd how Carol mentioned she was getting shooting lessons from Daryl when in “No Sanctuary” she was already a badass, gun-toting Rambo. Or maybe she was still “in character” as the suburban housewife.
The other part of the premiere focused on two tangential story lines. As Rick put it, Carter (Ethan Embry) is man who just isn’t going to change and he’s going to get himself killed one way or another. On the flip side, can Nicholas really change as Glenn hopes or is it just a matter of time before his old self does something dangerously stupid again? Carter is an annoying character yet he had some valid questions and his plan to take back Alexandria using force (i.e. killing Rick) wasn’t all that different from what Rick considered doing last season.
The Walking Dead premiere left us with an exciting cliffhanger. It would have been anti-climatic had the herd simply walked along the highway out-of-town. With the chaos and calamity that’s about to strike Alexandria, the stakes this season are raised very quickly.
Overall, “First Time Again” is a strong premiere. We got a good sense of where the characters are at and how Morgan fits into the picture. Hopefully, this season can keep up the quality over the full 16 episodes.
Did this premiere do enough to get you excited for the new season? What do you think about Morgan upgraded to the main cast? Is the real reason Glenn wanted Maggie to stay inside Alexandria is because she’s pregnant?