Episode Title: First Time Again
Original Airdate: 10-11-15
Not exactly picking up right where we left off, Rick, part of his group and some Alexandria residents are planning to lead thousands of Walkers out of a rock quarry the next day. Suddenly, one of the 18-wheelers keeping the Walkers trapped topples into the quarry, and everyone is in action mode. Though they were just doing a “dress rehearsal,” they have to follow through with the plan immediately.
Then the episode goes back to the end of Season 5, and jumps back and forth with past scenes in black and white, and present scenes in color for the rest of the episode. (But I’m going to recap it linearly from this point.) The day after Rick killed Pete for killing Reg, Deanna declares that Pete cannot be buried inside Alexandria’s walls, so Rick and Morgan, who are very cautious around one another, take him a few miles west to bury him, when they see the quarry full of Walkers. Rick determines that if the Walkers ever made it out of the hole, their only path would lead them straight to Alexandria’s walls. After some discussion and debate back in Alexandria, Deanna agrees to Rick’s plan to lead them out. One Alexandrite, Carter, is very anxious about the idea and doesn’t trust Rick or his leadership skills. He even tries to stage a coup, but is overheard by Eugene. When Carter threatens to shoot Eugene, Rick storms in and straightens him out.
Rick and Morgan talk about how they need to get reacquainted, because things have changed and it’s not safe to take chances anymore. Everyone starts preparing for the Walker-thon by setting up barriers around the area, so they can drive the Walkers down a certain path, away from Alexandria. Rick and Jessie have a moment where she clearly wants little to do with him after he killed her husband. Tara is out of danger after an explosion last season left her on death’s door. She finds out about Noah’s death and that Nicholas was responsible, AND that he lured Glenn into the woods to try to kill him. Angry, Tara wants him exiled, but Maggie tells her Glenn has given Nicholas another chance, and reminds Tara that she was on the other side of the fence when the Prison fell, so people can change.
Then everyone is doing a walk through of the plan when they must take action. Using flares and Daryl on his bike, plus Abraham and Sasha in a car, the horde follows the path as planned. Several things go awry, and Carter ends up getting bitten, but eventually the Walkers are heading away from Alexandria and things are looking up when suddenly the sound of a loud continuous horn draws their attention toward the direction of the community. The episode ends with an overhead shot of thousands of Walkers making their way to Alexandria.
So I admit I was a bit confused at first when the episode jumped right to the action of this Walker-filled quarry issue, without any resolution of what happened in the finale of last season, but they didn’t leave us hanging for too long. I’ve read a lot of complaints by fans not liking the back and forth, but I enjoyed it. After five years, I found it refreshing. And what better time to use this type of story telling than the premiere? With a bit of patience, we were eventually brought up to speed. I also think the back and forth added some mystery of what was missed, and that if the episode simply picked up where we left off last season and was told straight through, then it might not have been as interesting. So I appreciate the effort to change things up a bit.
As for the actual plot itself, I liked it. Rick killing Pete left a lot up in the air for the people of Alexandria. It’s easy to understand why none of them would trust the crazed new guy, but as Rick has stated repeatedly, they don’t know what it’s really like outside the walls. With the threat of a massive horde they have to choose to trust that Rick and his people know what to do, or they rebel…then fall in line after Rick threatens them, like Carter. And though he’s hardened a lot, Rick has come back down to a familiar level of normal.
The episode was straight action, as one might expect with a horde like that big, but the intensity was there. I certainly felt my pulse racing more than once (fyi FTWD), but none more so than when Glenn, Nicholas and new guy Heath were taking out a store full of Walkers, so the Walkers in the horde wouldn’t be distracted toward the direction of the store by the noise. I’m genuinely terrified for Glenn. Like I said in my Season 5 finale review, he has had too many close calls, and one day it will be his last. I’m wondering if he will last the season, or maybe he’ll be the ultimate victim in the mid-season finale, since that’s when Maggie’s family members tend to die. I just have a bad feeling.
The only thing I can really complain about is the lack of action on Daryl’s part. He just putted around on his motorcycle for the entire episode, except for a moment or two in the “flashbacks.” He’s better than that. But I am pretty sure, if they write it well, I will love the relationship between Michonne and Morgan. There is very little humor on this show, so when they actually do write a joke, it’s appreciated, and their exchange over Morgan’s last peanut butter power bar was cute.
Overall, I enjoyed the premiere. It wasn’t nearly as action packed as last season’s premiere, but that’s a tough one to beat. I’m still wondering about the “Wolves” that were set up as an impending threat, but all in good time. Maybe they’re the ones blowing the horn near Alexandria. I guess we’ll find out next week…or maybe we’ll have to rely on that patience some more.