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gabriel and zombies

The months have been passing away as winter arrived and now prepares to leave and we, the loyal following of The Walking Dead, have been waiting patiently for the show to return. The first half of season 6 was, IMHO, one of the best of the series thus far. Showrunner Scott Gimple has been able to capture the bleakness of a zombie apocalypse, giving time to both the atmosphere and character development while keeping all aspects compelling enough to have us tuning in each and every week. Now we enter the second half of season six with ‘No Way Out’. But does it live up to what has come before? Read on to learn more, but don’t expect the news to be good.

WARNING! Hella SPOILERS fer dayz, bra. Continue at your own risk.

So we begin this week with a look at what Daryl and his side of the broken crew are doing. As it turns out, Negan (the new, upcoming baddie) has a group of motorcycle enthusiasts intercepting our favorite crossbow-wielding bad-ass. They think they can just grab what they want and leave the good guys to suck shit, but Daryl has a different idea in the form of a rocket launcher. Exit one motorcycle gang.

Back in Alexandria, Rick, Carl, Michonne and their tag-alongs are covered in zombie guts and trying to escape via stealth. They send Gabriel the preacher off with Judith so that they can concentrate on getting out and luring the zombies away, which is a good start. Unfortunately, little Sam doesn’t have the skills to survive and he ends up getting the attention of the walkers. And so he and his mom end up as zombie chow.

negans thugs

Carl’s rival, Ron, takes this opportunity to randomly shoot at him. Michonne is on guard, however, and puts a sword through the kid’s back before too much happens. Well, Ron does manage to put a bullet in Carl’s eye, but shit happens, right?

Meanwhile, the evil wolf guy (whose name I could care less to remember) steals away Denise and makes a run for it. When he ends up getting bit by a zombie, she convinces him to go back so that she can heal him. He agrees, but doesn’t make it all the way to safety. Instead, Carol sees the bastard coming and puts a bullet in him. And so the problem with Denise is solved and she’s back with the main crew.

Shortly thereafter, the remains of Rick’s crew find their way to Carol, Morgan, Eugene and the rest. The Walking Dead team is reunited. Carl gets put on the operating table so that Denise can save him but Rick goes Tyreese-levels of ape-shit on the walkers and marches into the horde with hatchet in hand. This is the perfect excuse for everyone else to join him and, together, with the power of dues ex machina, they kill hundreds of zombies without losing a single soldier.

Naturally, Glenn’s small team and Daryl’s team have to make an appearance, so they show up to distract the zombies as opportune times, thus saving the other warriors from certain death through the power of mega-luck. And explosions. And fire.

In the end, Alexandria is saved! Rick has a revelation about how great the future can be. And Carl twitches his hand to let the audience know that he’s A-OK, albeit one eyeball shy of a pair.

holding hands

So now that the recap is done, it’s on to the review. Warning – My rant will NOT be child-friendly. This episode pissed me off more than anything and rude words shall abound. Please turn your head if you’re easily offended.

I’d like to start off by saying that I am a huge fan of what Gimple has done to the series during his tenure as showrunner. The last season-and-a-half have been my favorites. He manages to capture the bleakness of the post-apocalyptic world and mix in a healthy dose of character development, making for a perfect, delicious zombie recipe. This time, however, something went disastrously wrong.

First of all, what happened to the end of the first half of season 6? We left off with Sam making shittons of noise in the middle of Rick and Co’s gut-covered escape. Now that scene doesn’t exist… They didn’t revisit it, they didn’t explain it… it was completely ignored. It was the biggest point of tension between the mid-season finale and this premiere and it magically disappeared for some fucking reason. WTF?

Instead, they pushed the group along until sundown (how the hell long were they walking??) and then had some zombies chow down on all the characters who aren’t integral to the plot. OMG The Walking Dead! SO SHOCKING! A kid got eaten! And another got sworded! Wow! It’s almost as if you didn’t want to write them into the further storyline but the writers were too bullshit cowardly to actually kill someone we even REMOTELY cared about.

Am I hitting a nerve? Good.

bad conversation

In addition to this contrived bullshit attempt to trim the cast, we have an easy half-dozen dues ex machina moments that pop up to write the characters out of harm’s way via the timely arrival of other characters. No need to live by your own wits and skills here, folks. Just wait long enough and let the tension build high enough and some others will show up and distract the zombies long enough for you to get away and/or slay the bad guys.

All-in-all, the episode played out like a Sy-Fy (not Sci-Fi) original series mixed in with a B-grade action movie, complete with dramatic music to make it seem as if it were actually dramatic and not just a tensionless pile of drivel. All realism was removed in favor of providing the stock Walking Dead elements, as if that would fool audiences into thinking the writers weren’t completely high while putting this episode together. I kept expecting Joel/Mike, Crow and Tom Servo to pop up in the foreground of my screen, letting me know that everything was okay and that I wasn’t just imagining things.

I know I’m in the minority here, as the ratings on this week’s episode have been uncharacteristically high. So if you disagree with me, so be it. Personally, I’m afraid that the rest of the season will run like this week and we’ll be looking at a permanent downgrade of the show’s intelligence in favor of pandering to fan-favorite characters and zombie clichés. Gods willing, this was just a hiccup…

Hate what I have to say? Send me a dirty comment below. Agree? Then make your voice known. In the meantime, here’s a preview for next week’s episode, ‘The Next World’.

Category: reviews, TV

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