Episode Title: No Way Out
Original Airdate: 2-14-16
I think my heart rate has slowed enough to write about last night’s episode, but if my words turn to gibberish, just know I’m having another aftershock. Yeah, it was that good.
We left the group scattered throughout Alexandria, and the surrounding area, after a herd collapsed part of the wall. This episode picks up with the stinger of the mid-season finale as Daryl, Sasha and Abraham are stopped by ten guys on motorcycles demanding everything they have, because their property now belongs to Negan, an infamous villain from the comic. While Daryl is dragged to the back of tanker he boosted to hand over anything else they may be hiding, the leader toys with Sasha and Abraham, over whether or not he will kill one, or both of them, until he and all of his buddies are suddenly blown sky high, as Daryl managed to quietly dispose of his chaperone, then take the bad guys out with the handy rocket launcher (for lack of a better term) Abraham picked up during their detour. Looks like Negan will have to wait a bit for his introduction.
Back in Alexandria, Rick is leading several survivors through the herd, as they are masked in Walker guts. The last episode ended with Jessie’s youngest son, Sam, calling to his mom in the middle of the herd, but apparently the surrounding Walkers didn’t take note, as this doesn’t attract any attention (except from loads of pissed off fans who mocked the kid mercilessly for the past ten weeks). The group makes it to a slightly safe spot so that Rick can change the plan from going to the armory to heading out to the quarry to get cars in order to round the herd up. Gabriel volunteers to keep Judith safe in the church, and the others start to make their way out of Alexandria. However, Sam begins to hear the warning Carol gave him last season, when she threatened to leave him for the Walkers, and he stops. As the others plead with him to keep moving, he is attacked by several Walkers and gone. Jessie, seeing her youngest son being eaten in front of her, starts screaming and refuses to let go of his hand, so she is soon on the menu, greatly upsetting Rick. To make matters worse, Jessie was holding Carl’s hand in the line, and now he can’t free himself, so Rick cuts her hand off, Carl falls and drops his gun, which Ron, Jessie’s older son, grabs and points at Rick, clearly blaming him for the death of his entire family. Thankfully Michonne takes care of him with her katana, but he still manages to fire the gun, which catches Carl in the face, more specifically through his right eye. With Michonne slicing and dicing her way through the many undead in front of them, Rick manages to get Carl to the infirmary.
Thankfully, Dr. Denise is there ready to go to work. Though the Alpha Wolf left with her at gunpoint in the last episode, he didn’t get very far, and even turned back to save her life, but was bitten in the process, and finished off by a trigger-happy Carol scouting the scene on a nearby balcony. After leaving Carl in Denise’s care, a shocked and distraught Rick, goes back out into the herd, armed only with his ax. He starts taking them out one at a time, which inspires the other survivors to come out of hiding and join in. So we know all the Alexandrites who weren’t even featured in the last episode (Aaron, Heath, Spencer, Eric, etc.) are still alive and now fighting.
Meanwhile, Glenn and Enid make a plan to save Maggie from her teetering guard tower. Glenn distracts the many Walkers as Enid climbs up to get Maggie to follow her back down. Just as it looks like Glenn is once again Walker food, and this time in front of his pregnant wife, Abraham and Sasha save the day with some very big guns. Once inside the gates with the tanker, Daryl releases the gas (or whatever highly flammable liquid was in the truck) into the nearby pond, setting it ablaze with his new favorite toy. The giant blaze distracts many of the herd, as they walk mindlessly into the flames, taking some of the pressure off Rick and the others still battling it out on the street.
The episode ends in the light of the following morning, with the streets filled with dead Walkers, but no humans. Everyone is slumped around the walls of the infirmary, as those who need medical attention receive it. While holding the hand of an unconscious Carl, Rick talks about how the people of Alexandria were ready to fight for the town and it’s a new world that he is excited for Carl to see if he’d just wake up… and then Carl squeezes his dad’s hand.
Um…wow. Whatever the mid-season finale left wanting, this episode certainly delivered. I should have known what a ride it would be with the opening scene ending literally with an explosion. The tension was amazing, and only got better with each passing minute. It’s good to see everyone reunited once again, with relatively minimal casualty.
Of course, we knew Sam would die. Or maybe we just really, really hoped for it. Ron also seemed like a definite target. Jessie also died at this point in the comic, but I liked her and was half hoping she’d make it. I only give her half, because I know she would have been miserable if she had survived and her two sons didn’t, and would have definitely blamed Rick, eventually. As horrible as those two kids were, a mother’s love is just too damn strong, y’all.
Above all the tension and mayhem though, two performances that stood out the most: Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Danai Gurira (Michonne). Lincoln had his emotional plate full this week. First the apprehension of watching Judith leave with Gabriel, not knowing her fate, especially if he failed. Then the horror of seeing his new (sort of) girlfriend lose her son, then herself, very quickly followed by the true heartbreak of seeing his son shot…again. Then just the pure badassery of going into the dark night to fight the herd, at first alone. And finally his monologue to Carl at the end. Just all the feels throughout this entire episode.
With Lincoln very front and center, it might have been easy to miss Gurira’s more subtle, off-to-the-side moments, but I didn’t. After Rick delivers Carl to the infirmary, it was Michonne that gently took off his gut-drenched camouflage. Then before she eagerly runs out to join the fight in the streets of Alexandria, she quickly, yet lovingly, kissed Carl on the forehead, though he is completely out of it. And at the end, after all the fighting was done, she comforted Judith while Rick was with Carl. They were moments that camera didn’t linger on for long, but that made me love her even more, as if that were possible. She’s great at the killing, but she such a deeply caring character that rarely gets to show such range and it is always a welcome sight when she does.
So that was definitely worth the mid-season wait. The only thing I’d like to have seen was a better reunion between Maggie and Glenn (I don’t think they even had a millisecond of physical contact, even the next morning), because even though it’s only been two days for them, it’s been months for us. But I guess there will always be time for that later. Now time to start really worrying about Negan; he’ll be here by the season finale.