Warning: Major spoilers for those who haven’t seen the season 6 mid-season finale
Thinking back to the season 2 finale “Beside The Dying Fire” where the group was faced with a walker horde for the first time, it’s amazing how much everyone has learned since then. At the time, it wasn’t known that if you just went into a building and made no noise, then the walkers would simply keep going and pass you by. That is, they don’t have a psychic 6th sense and just know that people are inside. Perhaps if Rick and Co. had known this in season 2, they might have simply gone inside Hershel’s house instead of popping off shots and racing around in cars like idiots.
Fortunately, the team has learned a thing or two since that fateful night and so, knew that when the walls came down in last week’s “Heads Up,” their safest bet was to simply go inside their houses. However, the key is to keep quiet once inside and not draw attention. For most of the Alexandrians, this seems to work in tonight’s episode, but for some, not so much. Of course, this is assuming you can even reach your house which is not the case for some of our beloved characters.
“NO WAY OUT” HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN
First, what about that creepy opening with Sam? You have the record player playing “happy” music in the background, all of the toys, everything signifying innocence, purity and peace. Then, the camera zooms in on the ants coming through the window, and there you see them engulfing the half-eaten cookie. Wow. If there ever was an ominous scene, this is certainly it. Oh, and by the way, the song that is playing is “Tip-Toe Through The Tulips” by Nick Lucas, another big omen of what’s to come. Stay tuned.
Tonight’s mid-season marks the first part of the comic-book arc that is titled “No Way Out,” where the Alexandria Safe Zone is overrun by a mega-horde, and Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) group is thrust once again into the midst of uncertainty. Fortunately, as soon as the walls come down, Rick wastes no time and instructs everyone to race to their homes, lock the doors and just stay put. For the most part, this seems to work. Every redshirt that we are able to see appear to follow Rick’s orders and quickly head for their homes. We don’t really see, but I suspect most of them made it.
However, there are some exceptions, unfortunately. First, there’s Maggie (Lauren Cohan). As we may recall from last week’s episode, she was near the watchtower when it collapsed because she ran to the front gates after seeing Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) green balloons. So, when the walls collapse, instead of running for home, she seeks refuge in a nearby guardpost. Good news — she makes it up the ladder and to the top. Bad news — the entire structure is unstable just like the watchtower, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the walkers are able to tear it down. Hopefully someone like Glenn makes it there in time to rescue her!
Then, there’s Rosita (Christian Serratos), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). The first thing we learn is that it’s Eugene that Daryl hears calling for “Help,” as he finds a radio while the threesome seeks refuge in a garage. Truth be told, I was pretty pissed with Rosita and her attitude in last week’s episode. She’s nowhere the best fighter in Alexandria, and she had no business going off on Eugene like that. So, as you can imagine, I am beyond thrilled to see that Tara and Eugene are the ones who step up and try to keep everyone calm while it’s Rosita who loses her sh*t. Tara gives a fantastic speech and pep talk about how they’re still alive, and not all is lost yet.
In the meantime, Eugene begins attempting to break the lock to get into the adjoining house. Rosita may be tough (or talk like she’s tough — the jury is still out on that one), but Eugene is the smart one, and 10 bucks says he’ll be able to break that lock and save the entire group.
RIP DEANNA AND THE TORCH IS PASSED TO RICK
Truth be told here, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I first heard the rumors that they were going to gender-swap the comic-book Douglas Monroe. In fact, most of my readers probably recall that I was pretty damn mad. While I can’t count Douglas Monroe as one of the my favorite Walking Dead comic characters, I did like him and thought that he served as a very effective, courageous leader of Alexandria. Aside from his skirt-chasing ways, he was ethical, level-headed, charismatic, and most of all, very brave. Douglas Monroe wasn’t scared of any man — whether alive or one of the undead.
Well, then when the gender-swapped Deanna Monroe was introduced, while I was excited that they cast such a well-respected and talented actress like Tovah Feldshuh for the role, I wasn’t exactly impressed with the character. While she is liked by everyone in the safe zone and very well-spoken, she really has no clue of what life is like on the outside. This in itself does the Alexandrians a big disservice because if you don’t know your enemy, you can’t prepare for any potential attack. And, even if she knew of the outside world, Deanna Monroe still hasn’t demonstrated any valor and fortitude that I would expect of a true leader.
Well, that all changed tonight with Deanna finally stepping up and demonstrating that she can be strong and a far cry of the cowering woman who freaked out at the sight of the horde heading towards the safe zone in “Now.” Unfortunately, this new-found courage ultimately gets her killed. You may have been wondering what Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), etc. have been doing. Well, they, along with Deanna, Father Gabriel, Jessie, Ron, Sam, and Baby Judith hide out in the Anderson house, and it is at this time that it is revealed that aside from being cut on a saw, Deanna has already been bitten. And, how does Deanna respond?
Well, shit — Deanna Monroe
Best. Quote. Ever. Anyways, she knows she’s dying, and if it had been anybody else, they might have ended it right there. But, she decides to take the hard road and try to make a difference before she leaves this world.
By this time, Ron also has a meltdown and attacks Carl, which in turn attracts walkers to the house. Not having too many options and taking a page from the playbook of the season 1 episode “Guts,” Rick covers everyone with walker goo, and the plan is to walk outside along with the horde and right through the gates. Well, everyone but Deanna. With walkers now inside of the Anderson home, Deanna decides to go out guns-a-blazing (literally), gunning down every walker she can, while Rick and the group make a run for it.
I’ve lived my life from start to finish — Deanna Monroe
RIP Deanna Monroe. I, for one, will greatly miss you.
Now, as you may know from the episode “Guts,” for this approach to work it is critical that you say absolutely nothing and make no sudden movements. Move like a walker, act like a walker, that’s the key. But, of course, someone screws up, and that someone is Sam. He begins crying out for his Mom, and we really don’t know what happens next because the scene cuts out and the episode ends there.
And there’s your big cliffhanger. Will Rick and the group make it, or will Sam’s cries “out” everyone to the walkers? And, if the walkers make them (and I’m fairly certain they will), who will survive? All of the comic readers out there know how all of this will play out, and without giving it away, all I can say is you better have your butts on the couch for the 6B premiere because the scenes will be, by far, some of the most intense (and disturbing) of the series thus far.
MORGAN, MORGAN, MORGAN WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!
Okay, when we saw for the first time the new-and-improved Morgan (Lennie James) in the post-credit scenes in season 5 and in the season finale, I actually jumped up and did a dance right in my living room. Not only does Morgan lives, but he’s totally bad-ass now. A complete walker ninja. Then, when he appears again and saves Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) from the Wolves’ walker trap, I still thought the guy was super-cool and pretty much a post-apocalyptic God. But, honestly, since then, this dude has started to really grate on me, and his whole “all life is precious” is starting to look more like a threat to the Alexandrians than a respectful way of life.
While I do admire what Morgan is ultimately trying to do with the Alpha Wolf and understand he is simply trying to follow the ways of his mentor, Eastman, there is one crucial factor that Morgan has overlooked — Eastman was alone in the woods and was putting no one else in danger if his rehabilitation plan for Morgan were to go sideways (well, Tabitha was there, but I don’t think a goat counts). But, Morgan is a member of a community now, and there’s other people to think about. He’s not alone back in that apartment in King County where we saw him in “Clear.” Plus, once you’re a part of a community, you can’t keep secrets, especially one of this magnitude. Either way you look at it, Morgan is wrong.
And, tonight, the true ramifications of Morgan’s actions are seen, full circle. After overcoming her initial fears, Dr. Cloyd (Merritt Wever) decides to embrace Morgan’s “let’s change him” mentality and offers to help. Big mistake. After finally sneaking into the basement where the Wolf is held, Carol (Melissa McBride) is adamant and wants to kill him. Of course, Morgan isn’t about to let that happen, and so, a huge fight erupts, which ends with Morgan knocking Carol unconscious (boy, there are going to be some serious Morgan-haters after this episode!). While Morgan is preoccupied, the Wolf is able to get the upper hand and knock out Morgan as well.
The scene ends with the lone Wolf dragging poor Denise out of the house and onto the streets, which we know is about to be flooded with a sea of walkers. This sucks in about a dozen different ways. Alexandria is being overrun, and Carol and Morgan are out like a light and so, can’t defend themselves. One upside is like I said at the beginning of this article, walkers aren’t drawn to a building unless they see or hear something, and so, as long as Carol and Morgan remain quiet, they should be fine (we hope!). Second, what about Dr. Cloyd? Alexandria just lost a doctor, and what’s more, something tells me they’ll be needing an M.D. on a very large basis very soon. The good news is this asshole Wolf **does** know walkers, and understands how to navigate them (remember, they hoard the things in those trucks). So, as long as asshole Wolf doesn’t decide to throw Denise to the walkers to save himself, I’m thinking she might be OK.
Bottom line. Morgan = idiot jerk. The big question is once this is all over (and assuming Morgan survives), what will Rick do? Will he exile Morgan or will he give his friend another chance?
OH HELL F*CKING YEAH, NEGAN IS IN THE HOUSE
Unless you’re a hermit and have escaped social media entirely for the past year or so, you’ll know that THE most-anticipated character in the comics is super-villain Negan. He’s been discussed, he’s been teased, and then finally just 3 weeks, it was announced that the role had been cast and that Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be portraying the series’ ultimate baddie.
Since then, it has been rumored that Negan won’t be making his first appearance until the season 6 finale, but there has been speculation about how much build-up would there be regarding the villain’s group of survivors, the Saviors. Well, tonight in a post-credits Easter Egg, we got our first official mention of Negan.
Some people may have been surprised that Daryl, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) doesn’t make it back to the safe zone before the episode’s end, but as it turns out, they are currently a tad bit busy. While on their way back, they are stopped by an unknown group of bikers. The leader steps forward and demands they all get out of the van. He goes on to say that they want the van, all their weapons, the porn under the seats, and pretty much everything. And, the last thing he says is “Everything now belongs to Negan.”
Holy f*cking shit!! We got our first official mention of the most iconic character in The Walking Dead series! Totally unexpected and so f*cking cool! It also pretty much confirms that the group of baddies that Daryl ran into and who were after Dwight, Honey and Tina in “Always Accountable” were likely Negan’s Saviors, as is this group of bikers. This was already a very good episode, but honestly, this single scene pushed it into the fantastic range. Well-played, well-played.
Now, for the comic-book readers like myself, you know exactly who Negan is and are probably doing back-flips about now. But, for the general audience, you may be a tad bit confused as to who this Negan is and why he’s so important. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until at least February to find out. But, for those who absolutely cannot wait and don’t care about being spoiled, check out the below link to my “Negan Primer” that will tell you all you need to know about this character and why you should be super-excited about his arrival.
All in all, a fantastic mid-season finale. It was non-stop action, and every second of the entire hour was intense, making you bite your nails over what was going to happen next. Granted, the writers left us with a massive cliffhanger, and now, we have to wait over 2 months to learn the fates of our beloved characters. However, the “No Way Out” arc isn’t one that can be quickly done, and in fact, spans multiple issues in the comics. That said, would you really like to see the safe zone overrun in the opening scene and then, have the entire event over in 60 minutes? I personally wouldn’t, and I don’t think you would either as that approach would make it almost anti-climatic. The writers have done a very good job building up the suspense and leaving the most intense scenes for the 6B premiere. And, of course, I don’t think I need to say more about that post-credits scene. Basically a very strong “A” episode and a nice bridge into 6B which will likely focus on rebuilding and the next threat — Negan and his Saviors.
The Walking Dead returns for the 2nd half of season 6 in February 2016.
Critic Grade — A+
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com