This review contains spoilers.
6.3 Thank You
I’ve been positive about The Walking Dead for a long time. Even the second season, the show’s worst, had plenty of bright spots in it to be positive about. New characters, some very inventive special effects, chaotic zombie action. The show knows what we want, and it gives it to us. So far, the sixth season of The Walking Dead is shaping up to be the show’s best, because I cannot think of another three-episode run that’s been quite as good as this one.
The show has been improving since that second season. The action quotient has been increased in spite of budgetary limitations. The writing has become drastically better, opting to show much more than it tells. The direction has remained good to great, thanks in no small part to upgrading certain folk such as Gregory Nicotero to rotation status. Even the actors have gotten better, partially due to adding good character actors into the mix and the general improvement of familiar faces like Andrew Lincoln and Melissa McBride. For all these wonderful things, there’s a cost. Sometimes, The Walking Dead gives us something we don’t want in the name of drama.
The previous two episodes of The Walking Dead have ended on cliffhangers, but not the frustrating sort, the exciting sort. Normally, I can avoid the urge to binge-watch things, but all I want to do is binge-watch the rest of this season, or at least the next few episodes until things start to calm down as they inevitably must do. When last we left Alexandria, Carol was conducting a one-woman war on all manner of thugs. That remains to be resolved. When we last left Rick and company, half their horde of zombies was heading in the wrong direction, following the sound of the honking semi horn to the mostly-defenseless Alexandria.
The chaos of the zombies leads to chaos among the very people trying to control everything. Rick, Glenn, Michonne, and the rest are faced with a choice: complete the mission or run home to try to save the people of Alexandria? Either way, it looks like people are going to die, and Rick is clear on his end of the bargain. Despite protests from Daryl, Rick’s going to split the group up, going back to get the RV to lure the zombies away while the rest of the gang goes running back to Alexandria, killing walkers on the way. Rick, ever the prophet, tells Glenn and Michonne to get back to town no matter what, and if the Alexandrians get hurt or fall by the wayside, leave them to die and get back to Alexandria and keep the town safe. Rick knows that the Alexandrians are, at the moment, more trouble than they’re worth, even if Michonne and Glenn don’t agree and do their best to make sure everyone gets home.
That sets up a pretty effective split cast, with Rick on his solo adventure and the rest of the gang basically trying to get home without any real help. Of course, as the groups get smaller and smaller, due to zombie attacks, accidental shootings, or just getting separated from one another. The Alexandrians are, by and large, worthless. However, Angela Kang, aside from one guy Sturgess, doesn’t make them that poor as survivors in her script. Heath (Corey Hawkins) has proven his usefulness as a runner and David leaps right into the challenges, in spite of his fear. However, they’re just not tempered enough to keep their cool when faced with thousands of walkers marching towards gunfire, and that gets people killed. Both them and, unfortunately, others.
Between Kang’s script and the direction of Michael Slovis, the doom is on the wall for someone. Multiple Alexandrians fall by the wayside, and when the gang takes a detour into an abandoned town to try to patch up their wounds and attempt to find a car. When the zombies show up and cut off their escape, it leaves Glenn and a seemingly redeemed Nicholas to start a fire and save them. Unfortunately, Nicholas doesn’t have quite the mental toughness, and the more he panics, the more dangerous things seem. This tension progresses throughout the episode, as the number of zombies in the horde grows, and every detour or twist or turn leads to a dead-end and a precarious climb to safety for both Glenn and Nicholas and Michonne and her crew. As the show unwinds, it becomes more and more apparent that someone important is going to die, and no matter how much you root for Daryl to show up and save the day or Rick to show up in the RV to get everyone to safety, it never happens.
I’ve been holding off on just talking about it, but I can’t. Stop here if you haven’t been spoiled yet; however, given that I saw spoilers posted in the comments on AMC’s The Walking Dead Instagram feed, I’m sure folks know by now. Last chance…
The death of Glenn was phenomenally well done. It hurt watching Glenn’s life end, if only because he’s one of the ones I assumed wouldn’t buy it any time soon, particularly so soon after the death of Beth. The dream-like execution of Glenn’s slow fall at the feet of the horde, and the long seconds of waiting for the walkers to stop feasting on Nicholas and turn on him gave me just a brief moment of hope that he’d somehow scrabble his way out of yet another predicament that should’ve killed him.
No such luck this time, and as hearts are eaten, hearts are broken. Glenn doesn’t get a hero’s death in the sense that he does something heroic and saves some lives in the process; Glenn’s not getting the T-Dogg treatment. However, Glenn dies for what he believes in, kind of. He believes that Nicholas is a new man, redeemed, capable of contributing. He’s wrong, but at least he gave the man a second chance, even at the cost of his own life. On a different show, perhaps Nicholas would have proved himself. Not this show, not this season.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, JSS, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan is really surprised that the sixth season of The Walking Dead might be even better than the fifth season, yet here we are. Two great episodes in a row, with hopefully another on the way. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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