The Walking Dead returns for its sixth season with a double length episode thriller “First Time Again.”
I’ve had a love hate relationship with The Walking Dead the past 5 years. There are times the series shows signs of true gripping thrills and brilliance, but those times are often marred between endless stretches of mediocrity and pointless drama that makes me wonder if they even have a concept of plot advancement beyond four or five episodes out of the whole season.
In “First Time Again”, right off the start, I had an unbelievable urge to throw a chair at my tv for the more than blatant ripoff of the black and white flashback motif from so many properties, including Breaking Bad. While imitation is flattery, it’s also still copying. Fortunately, I found that the flashback sequences strewn throughout the double length episode were quite effective in keeping the audience engaged between the immediate events after the season 5 finale and the current plan in action.
In the present time, Rick has rallied the town to build a walker channel to guide the river of undead from their rock quarry holding pen Lake Walker before the semi truck dams break and flood the town with carnage. Of course, before they can get any practice in, the trucks give and they have no choice but to immediate set their plan into action and hope for the best. For the most part, the action contained in the present day goes off without a hitch. To be honest, for a segment involving thousands of undead shambling their way down the road like a biblical flood, it was more or less uneventful with all parts of the plan working as intended.
The majority of the episode’s content takes place in the past in black and white, with the immediate aftermath of Rick executing Pete for killing Reg in the season 5 finale. If the town was on the fence about Rick before, they are completely afraid of him now, especially under tacit approval of grief-stricken Deanna. Even a short uprising starts under builder and naysayer Carter before the Ricktator barges in to quell the rebellion immediately.
The flashback scenes really do have their hits and misses. While interspersed with relevant present day scenes to give them a little bit more context, most of the back and forward really doesn’t provide any additional benefit or insight to the group dynamics. We see the swift actions of the Ricktatorship as Rick teeters between dark and light as he pushes his plan though the town despite any of their objections. The biggest insight has to be from Michonne and Morgan as the look on just a step removed from Rick and see that the man they used to know is no longer there. I am glad that the black and white allowed us to keep track of what was in the past and what was going on in the present, as other shows often forget that we need to have clear markers for time coherence.
For premieres, it was a pretty strong showing for The Walking Dead, but we have to expect that after six seasons. The true test is will the show carry this momentum onward though the rest of the season, or will we end up with another half a season of the cast wandering around the forest contemplating their lives?
As we move onto the next episode, we’ll get to see the carnage as the flood of undead rolls back into the town thanks to a mysterious horn that literally undoes all the work they gained so far. Based on the previews, I’m expecting a lot of action, but then I have to wonder where they will go from that point. There was mention of the new enemy faction “the Wolves”, whom are slated to be the villains of this part of the season. Was it a spy that set off the horn with the intention of wiping out the town? Will the soft people of Alexandria be fodder for the flood while team Rick make it out relatively unscathed?
- Eugene literally just let these random people he didn’t know into the town unquestioned.u
- Man that Gabriel is a jerk. There are characters we hate on tv, but I can’t think of one I hate more.
- I can’t wait for that fool kid Ron to get his face chewed off
- I’m not sure what Nicholas is trying to prove right now, but I’m pretty sure he’s gonna get another important person killed, but maybe not before Glenn feeds him to the walkers.
- Morgan can read Carol pretty well though her “unawares home-maker” routine.
- Little ass kicker is getting big.
- Even when Rick gives the townsfolk a chance to take on a small group of walkers, they immediately fall apart. Sheep for the slaughter.
- The black and white scenes seemed to be lit and filmed in color and then transferred to black and white. They were incredibly difficult to watch in some scenes due to poor color grading in my opinion. Hopefully we won’t have to go though it anymore for a while.