Yes, there are going to be spoilers here.
Well. So there we go. This episode is what I wanted to see last November when The Walking Dead finished up for the winter break. We got everything we expect from a show about zombies in ”No Way Out” – action and lots of death.
The Walking Dead is the only show I get squeamish about when seeing people get eaten alive. Yeah, I know it is fake but the actors really sell it and the gore can be horrific. So when this happens in the space of a minute (even though it was mild by TWD standards) I get icky-icky feelings. Sorry, being alive while you are in the slow process of dying in any capacity is horrific. Icky!
Anyway, when we left our group last year they were surrounded by zombies in Alexandria. Most of the group was separated in different parts of the town while Rick took his people covered in zombie guts right into the horde. We knew this probably was not going to end well but at the time it really was the ‘best’ idea they had at the time. Although, had they known Daryl, Sasha and Abraham were coming back after blowing up a roadblock (Christopher Berry will be missed), then waiting around on top of the house or something might have been better. Hindsight, you know?
Things take a turn for Shit Creek when little boy Sam freaks out, which we knew he would (and I was let down here because at the end of the last episode he was talking as soon as they left the house, yet we start the show here and he is fine). Sam was always irritating (no offense to the actor here, which to be fair he does his part really well for what it was) and bound to die. We all knew it, he just did not belong in this world anymore. It would have been more merciful for Carol to do another ”The Grove” but she is not that proactive.
“I have enormous respect for any show which allows kids to die and shows it.”
Still it was a bit shocking to actually show the kid getting his head nibbled off. Yet I have enormous respect for any show which allows kids to die and shows it (my favourite is still The Blob remake). This happens in life and it makes things more real. TWD has not shied away from this stuff before (Sophia, Lizzie and Mika) but never like this. Sam’s death leaves his mother Jessie in shock (as it would for a normal person, but the normal world is gone) which leads to her dying horribly (I for one will miss this character because I enjoyed Alexandra Breckenridge). Finally, the last of the Anderson family – Ron – picks now to get his revenge on Rick for killing his entire family (and, you know what, fair enough but…) which leads to Michonne stabbing him but not before shooting Carl in the eye. All this in the space of maybe two minutes. Awesome.
Carl getting shot may seem silly, but I know this is exactly what happens in the comics. Rick and Michonne get Carl to the infirmary where he manages to get patched up by Dr Denise (her story with the Wolf went nowhere). Yet Rick is so shocked by losing Jessie (he thought they could have been a family together, and she did make him happy) and possibly his son he goes on a zombie killing-spree. Not a bad way to take out your issues in a zombie apocalypse.
For a while you think, ‘Oh, he’s just letting off some steam’ and ‘that was really stupid’. Yet this moment of craziness ends up motivating everyone else to go out and kick the shit out of the zombie horde. This ends up being really awesome from a visual perspective, yet from a story view it does smell a bit like a deus ex solution. So you could have just killed them all to begin with? Why not just do this from the beginning in season one? They are slow zombies after all?
“We have spent 6 years getting to this point where Rick commands a badass army of zombie killers.”
Part of these are fair points to make, but we have spent 6 years getting to this point where Rick commands a badass army of zombie killers. The groups we meet in season one would have been overwhelmed and eating within minutes. Just think about how far these people have come (seriously, think about all those episodes we have gone through in 6 years). Rick has seasoned veterans who know how to deal when the shit hits the fan (most times), and while the Alexandrians who do show up are most novice, they did just start to get some training and a few of them are just as capable and will be more so the longer they stay with Rick.
So yes, this was perhaps a bit too far-fetched a way out in ”No Way Out” (reminds me of the Kevin Costner film of the same name actually) but we finally get to see Rick’s army in action. In many ways, this is a penultimate episode 6 years in the making. I hope showing them here in action and how capable they are is equaled by Negan’s group (who so far have just been blown up).
Negan is supposed to be a nasty character from the comics (who I know will be excellently played by recent addition Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and we have not seen much of his group. All we really know is they are well armed and organised, which means I expect a huge war to arrive by the end of this season. Anything less would be a huge disappointment. Still, having a bit of a Cold War go on between these two camps would also be interesting (another callback to the Costner flick). We just have to wait and see how the rest of this season goes, but I am hooked.
I want more of this please (thank you ever-reliable director Greg Nicotero)! This is what I want from The Walking Dead: meaningful character deaths, lots of action (mixed with a little down time) and a story going somewhere new-ish (the coming war between Rick and Negan). The mid-season premiere is exactly how to start the show after last November’s OK-but-meh finale. I will be eagerly looking forward to the next episode, although how they top this episode is beyond me.