The Walking Dead, “First Time Again” (6.1) – TV Review

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Walking Dead First

10/11/15, 9 pm (EST), AMC

The return of The Walking Dead is like catching up with an old friend after being apart for several months; you just pick up right where you left off like nothing changed. That’s exactly how the season six premiere felt, though with some bumps along the way. Some time has passed since we last saw Rick put a bullet in Pete and be reunited with Morgan. “First Time Again” bridges the gap of life in Alexandria, and introduces the biggest challenge the group has ever faced. These gaps, brought on via flash backs, vary greatly in their effectiveness.

The opening scene is very chaotic, an ongoing theme from last season. Rick is prepping everyone on their roles to help lead out a herd of walkers away from Alexandria. The herd has apparently grown over time, and was contained to a quarry. The barriers have given away like levees failing flood waters, and the walkers come pouring out. The group doesn’t think they’re prepared since this was supposed to be a dry run, but Rick tells them to stick to the plan as everyone scatters to do their job. Rick continues his march of authoritarianism, though still consults with Deanna.

One of the earlier flashbacks shows us Tara woke up from her coma and appears to be fine. Eugene is relieved to see Tara as she tells him “Thank God, nothing happened to your hair.” Even a coma can’t keep their sense of humor down. Glenn and Nicholas make it back alive, though still injured from their brawl. Maggie and Glenn come together again. Carl and Enid even connect, though someone is watching from the distance. Is it someone else in the camp, or perhaps one of the wolves? Abraham has turned to drinking to deal with what’s going on, and Carol still puts on the housewife routine. Rick and Daryl also discuss not bringing anymore outsiders into Alexandria. Daryl disagrees with this, but Rick is adamant no one new is allowed in.

As I said earlier, some of the flashbacks in the premiere work to give us a sense of what’s going on. We’re introduced to more characters (Heath, Scott and Annie), members of Alexandria who’ve been gone for a couple months gathering supplies or looking for people. Rick and Morgan start to reconnect, though Rick’s inability to trust outsiders forces him to put Morgan in isolation before he ultimately gives him freedom. The two of them hash out how they’re killers just like the ones Rick wants to avoid keeping around, to which Rick ignores the remark. Rick hasn’t been willing to look in the mirror for quite some time now. After the prison fell, he had to come to grips that the group needed a leader who would be ruthless and do what they couldn’t. I like the interactions of Morgan and Rick, but the disjointing of the flash back scenes breaks up this momentum, and left me just wanting to get back to the main threat from the beginning of the episode.

Wrapping up these flashbacks with a couple important ones are Rick going over the plan to take care of the herd of walkers. Most everyone seems to be on board except Carter, who doesn’t think Rick should be calling the shots just because he came in and started bossing everyone around. Deanna shuts him down quickly, and tells everyone to help Rick out. As the volunteers start coming forward, Rick is quickly to say no to Gabriel, who has been causing a lot of trouble lately, especially with Deanna. She even goes so far as to tell him he was wrong to accuse Rick way back when they first arrived. Carter continues to give trouble later on when Eugene eavesdrops on him talking to a small group about killing Rick so they can take Alexandria back. When Eugene is caught and appears to be the first victim this season, Rick intervenes, but doesn’t kill Carter.

Rick’s plan with the herd goes off without a hitch for the most part. Abraham, driving with Sasha, gets out of the car at one point to herd back a group of walkers that strayed from the road. He comes back unscathed much to Sasha’s surprise. His comments about that’s living come off as potentially suicidal, which is interesting considering Sasha spent most of last season trying various ways to get herself killed. She is able to finally move past that dark phase, and I hope we’re able to see her character develop more.

Glenn and Nicholas have somewhat of a reconciliation. Along with Heath, they take down a small group of walkers that threatens to pull the herd off the road due to the noise they’re making. Glenn saves Nicholas, and despite still not trusting him, allows him to finish off the last walker. Realizing how big the cast is, I don’t think Nicholas will become the new Tara, as Maggie so poignantly pointed out earlier to Tara. Maggie’s forgiveness is actually refreshing, considering most everyone else’s attitude. Glenn and Maggie continue to be the moral compass of the group, though I would probably throw Michonne in there even though she still follows Rick. She’s the only one willing to take him out when he gets out of control, and I wonder if she’ll have to do it again.

Not everything goes well, as Carter is bitten by a stray walker. His screams start attracting the rest, though Rick ends up killing him to shut him up. Michonne and Morgan run up right after Rick did this, which looks really bad considering they were there when Rick walked in on Carter plotting to kill Rick. While they buy his argument that Carter was bit and wouldn’t be quiet, they still don’t like that Rick didn’t try anything else, though I’m not sure they would be able to save him from a face bite. Just as everything gets back on track, a horn from a truck or something else rings out as the entire herd starts marching towards Alexandria. Are the wolves responsible for this, or are there others in Alexandria who would rather see it overrun rather than live under Rick’s tyranny?

I like how the premiere tried to juggle how things have gone from the finale to now, but it was very disjointed at times, which is something we haven’t seen from The Walking Dead in quite some time. After a tremendous season five, this does feel like a little bit of a letdown. I hope that isn’t the case, but only time will tell.

The Roundup

  • I’m glad the humor is kept alive and well. It keeps the show more human.
  • Rick’s paranoia still shows through, and I hope we don’t spend the season dwelling on it. We’ve been down that road before.
  • ”I don’t take chances anymore.” I don’t blame Rick, and neither does Morgan.
  • Who taught Morgan his newfound martial arts skills since we last saw him?
  • Daryl’s comment about going out to get more people is protecting themselves has a point, but I don’t think Rick will listen to that anytime soon.
8.5 GREAT

A pretty good season premiere, though I honestly was hoping for something more considering how amazing season five was. There were some bright moments within the episode, so let’s hope we can get more of those as the season progresses.

  • GREAT 8.5
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