Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Walking Dead Returns with a Fiery, Gory Vengeance

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[MAJOR SPOILERS for episode 6×9 of The Walking Dead; also cw for violence, gore, and zombies]

The Walking Dead midseason premiere seemed to have it all: fire! death! dismemberment! zombie hordes! tearful reunions! It was a jam-packed hour of television, so let’s get started.

The episode picked up right where the midseason finale left off, with Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha blockaded by a group of Negan’s men. I rolled my eyes a little, because I was ready for them to get back to Alexandria and help the others with the walker horde, and hey guess what? For once the show didn’t disappoint! Daryl takes care of things in true Daryl fashion, and the gang is on the road once again.

big badaboom!

“Let’s get you patched up at home,” Sasha says to Daryl, completely oblivious to the audience cringing from the dramatic irony.

Meanwhile, back in Alexandria…

Rick and co. are making their way through the horde while covered in zombie guts. Father Gabriel volunteers to take Judith to his church to keep her safe…and Rick says okay, sure, take my baby, man who’s proven himself so reliable in the past. I love that plan!!

Gabriel leaves, and soon Jessie’s younger son, Sam, really starts to lose his marbles. He’s yelling, flipping out, and of course he becomes walker chow. Jessie screams her face off—at which point walkers bite her face off. Rick is holding her hand, and apparently I guess it was necessary for him to hack her arm in half with his hatchet? He couldn’t just let go? Whatever. Gore, yay.

In the chaos, Jessie’s older, squirrelier (and that’s saying something) kid pulls a gun on Rick. Michonne takes him down, and in his death spasms he gets a shot off. It hits Carl, poor bb Carl who keeps getting accidentally shot because the zombie apocalypse is Very Dangerous for Many Reasons.


Rick grabs Carl and follows Michonne as she clears a path for them to the infirmary.

Oh, right, that’s another thing. If you remember from the midseason finale, Morgan knocked Carol on the head, and then the Wolf guy Morgan was trying to…reform or whatever…knocked Morgan on the head, then took Denise as his hostage as he went out to face the horde.

This whole sequence was a little…weird. It seems like, after about 2 seconds of acquaintance, he’s trying to recruit Denise to the Wolf lifestyle. But then when she gets attacked, he comes back to help her, only to get bitten himself. They try to make it to the infirmary, but Carol appears and shoots him before they can make it. Wow they were super close to the infirmary the whole time.

like RIGHT across the street

Apparently some of Morgan’s words sank in, or Denise’s did, since suddenly Wolf guy was acting at least somewhat selfless (risking his life to save Denise), despite preaching the opposite philosophy only seconds earlier. I guess it was supposed to be kind of deep and meaningful, but honestly it all happened so fast, and the Wolf guy was so generic, it all fell sort of flat.

Dr. Denise shows up at the clinic only minutes before Michonne, Rick, and Carl. Rick sort of snaps and runs outside to go on a rampage amongst the walkers. Michonne soon follows, along with the Alexandrians in the infirmary—minus Dr. Denise, who is obviously needed inside. Carol, Morgan, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara see them in the street and come charging out to join them. In the church Father Gabriel finally realizes all the praying in the world won’t do a damn bit of good without some action (to paraphrase what he tells his parishioners), and he grabs his machete and joins the fight.

Elsewhere, Glenn and Enid are trying to rescue Maggie from her tower perch. There’s a scene in a church where Glenn gives Enid yet another speech about family, community, etc, and this time it seems to sink in. Enid climbs the tower to help Maggie while Glenn distracts the horde. We think Glenn is a goner AGAIN, but then Deus ex Abraham (and Sasha): they appear on the top of the wall and shoot all the walkers going after Glenn JUST in time. Whew.

Glenn Rhee, you lucky bastard

They all wedge into the front of the tanker truck like sardines, and Daryl drives toward the pond in the center of town. He pours gas from the truck into the water then shoots it with his grenade launcher! There are explosions! Fireballs! Jets of flame!

big badaboom 2: electric bugaloo

Walkers apparently missed one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s most important lessons: “Fire bad, tree pretty;” because they shuffle toward the explosions en masse. Rick’s slaying crew follows, and eventually the entire horde is dead.

The episode ends with Rick talking to an unconscious Carl. Rick has hope again, he says. He thought the Alexandrians could never adapt to the new, walker-infested world, but with the carnage they just inflicted, he thinks maybe they can. They have a chance now.

Like I said: jam-packed episode. Mostly a very good episode, for that matter, but there were a few logical inconsistencies for me. Like, if they ultimately just killed all the walkers with knives, machetes, hatchets, what have you, why didn’t they just do that to begin with? For all their attempts to plan and plot, ultimately they did the easiest, most direct thing they could.

I love that the entire cast was finally back together. I understand the need to break everyone up into little groups; that’s a large cast to try to write for every week; but having everyone together again felt like old times, back when I really, really loved this show. Of course we had the new kids, too, but as Rick pointed out, they really proved their mettle.

In other news, as much as I despise the death of female characters (especially on TWD, which is notorious for it), I wasn’t too broken up about Jessie. She and her kids seemed like cannon fodder from early on, and their deaths weren’t a surprise at all. I’ll be glad to see the end of Rick’s pining glances, and the ridiculously heavy foreshadowing that her kid Ron was Up To No Good.

Speaking of ridiculously heavy foreshadowing, theories abound that these Glenn-death teasers are all leading up to his TRUE death, at the hands of Negan in the season finale. It’s possible. It happened in the comics, after all. My problem with that (besides the fact that I love Glenn, and I LOVE Glenn and Maggie) is that, just like with female characters, this show has a terrible habit of killing off POC. I get that Glenn’s death is in the source material, but uh…Andrea’s isn’t, and that happened.

There were a lot of “come to Jesus” type moments in this episode. By that I mean character arcs that had been hinted at throughout the season (and even some in season 5) finally reached fruition: Eugene insisted on joining the fight, even though Rosita said he didn’t have to; Father Gabriel realized he couldn’t be passive and afraid any more; Morgan killed the Wolf-dude walker; the remaining Alexandrians put themselves in danger to save their town because shit got real.

This was a midseason premiere, but in some ways it felt more like a finale. Arcs were closed. Everyone is gathered together. The horde is mostly gone, though the walls are still down. The looming threat now is Negan. The man himself won’t be making an appearance until the season finale, so it’ll be interesting to see how the show fills the time. The Walking Dead has a bad habit of destroying a season’s pace with a poorly-timed flashback episode, or an entire episode focusing on a character no one really cares about.

Let’s hope the midseason premiere’s momentum doesn’t crash into a brick wall of heavy-handed storytelling in the weeks to come, because so far, mostly so good.

Body Count

  • Negan’s Men (8)
  • Jessie & kiddos (3)
  • Wolf guy
  • Carl’s eye
  • Rick’s cynicism
  • roughly 20 bajillion walkers

Total: 12.7 +/- 20 bajillion

Images courtesy of AMC, made by me

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