AMC’s The Walking Dead began season six with an episode featuring the largest
traffic jam of zombies ever seen on TV. Rick and his fearless group of survivors had to convince the untrained citizens of Alexandria to go outside their city walls and herd thousands of walkers, just days after Rick shot one of their own point blank in the face. With a couple of dead bodies still in need of burial and Alexandrians leery of Rick’s motivations even though Deanna seemed to now be 100% on board with his plans, episode one of the new season had a huge amount of story to lay out. So huge in fact that the episode was expanded to 90 minutes.
In order to easily explain what’s taking place in the immediate aftermath of the season five finale and what’s taking place now, The Walking Dead creative team chose to do the flashbacks in black and white while everything else was in color. It was a bit jarring at first, but after the fourth or fifth switch-over, it quit being distracting.
Recap of “First Time Again:”
In color: Rick says it’s time they take the initiative and take on the walkers stuck inside the quarry’s walls. The group is gathered ready for a fight and watch as the walkers push through the barricades and send a semi toppling off a cliff road. Although it was supposed to be a dry run, Rick makes the plan go live. They’re going to set off flares to bring the walkers into a confined area. In they come, walker after walker, thousands of them.
Black and white: Back at Alexandria, Preacher Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) admits to Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), who’s sitting on the ground near where he husband was killed, he was wrong. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) shows some respect to Deanna’s dead hubby, Reg, while Pete’s family mourns his death (Deanna gave Rick permission to kill him in the season five finale).
Meanwhile, our little group is in bad shape but hanging in there. Tara (Alanna Masterson) is able to sit up and Glenn (Steven Yeun) rushes in with a blooded Nicholas (Michael Traynor). Eugene (Josh McDermitt) makes it back and Tara jokes, “Thank god nothing happened to your hair.” She makes a comment about Noah, but no one has the heart to tell her he’s dead.
“You were right. It wasn’t over,” says Morgan (Lennie James) to Rick. Rick says he doesn’t take chances anymore.
Abraham puts Reg’s wedding ring on top of a bottle of booze as Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) passes by. He flashes her a peace sign; she flashes it back.
Color: They all have their assignments and know where to rendezvous. Rick’s giving instructions over the walkie talkie, reminding them Daryl’s leading the walkers out and will join up with Sasha and Abraham driving a car. Glenn’s job is to take out the noisy walkers at the tractor place before they distract the other walkers.
B&W: Daryl works on his bike in Alexandria while chatting with Rick about Morgan, who is locked up for now. The walkers with Ws are brought up and Rick tells Daryl he’s going to tell Deanna they don’t need to look for any more people outside of Alexandria because they need to take care of themselves. Daryl obviously doesn’t agree, but doesn’t argue the point.
Color: Sasha’s driving and Abraham is asking whether she’s been drinking. They’re doing something huge and they both know it, and he hopes she’s not impaired. They drive up to the three red balloons checkpoint. “All right, here comes the parade,” says Rick over the walkie.
B&W: Rick goes to let Morgan out and finds him practicing moves with a stick. He asks where he learned to do that, and Morgan says from a friend after the zombie apocalypse. Rick apologizes for locking him up but Morgan understands and says they have to get to know each other again.
Eugene is on guard duty when Heath (a new character played by Corey Hawkins) pulls up at the gate. He’s been on a run with his team the last couple of weeks and Eugene won’t open the gate because he doesn’t know them. Finally, he lets them in and explains it’s actually Holly’s shift and he didn’t want to be there. He tells them there are 13…no, 12…of his people now with them in Alexandria. They ask if anything big happened while they were gone and Eugene tells him to talk to Deanna and get it from the horse’s mouth.
Rick and Morgan take a walk and look at the walls while Rick explains the history of Alexandria and says he thinks it might be too late for them to come around. Rick spots the preacher and Tobin digging two graves and tells them they only need one. “We’re not going to bury killers inside these walls,” says Rick. Deanna walks up and agrees, telling them to take the body away and let the trees have him.
Rick tells Morgan he shot Pete because he killed Reg. Morgan says they’re both killers, but obviously Rick doesn’t think they’re the same.
Color: Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Morgan are at one of the main intersections of the zombie walk. Morgan asks if Michonne took one of his protein bars. “I could have sworn there was one more peanut butter left,” says Morgan. “That’s how it is, isn’t it? You always think there’s one more peanut butter left,” answers a very philosophical Michonne.
B&W: Morgan wants to bury the killer in the woods but Rick just wants to leave him. Morgan says that’s not who you are to Rick, but Rick tells him he doesn’t know him anymore. Morgan starts digging a grave and Rick stops him, hearing loud noises. They hear – and see – thousands of walkers in a quarry. They’re trapped there and while they’re captivated/repulsed by the sight, in runs Pete’s son Ron who almost falls over the edge of the quarry as he’s chased by walkers. Rick saves him before he goes over, and they all stare down at the walkers.
Color: Daryl slowly leads the walkers away from Alexandria on his bike.
B&W: Rick, Morgan and Ron look out over the walkers. Ron says he wanted to know where his dad was buried and that’s why he followed them. Two trucks block the passage of the walkers on the road out of the quarry, which has kept them from making it to the walls of Alexandria. But, they’re starting to make their way up the road to the blocked trucks. Rick tells Ron not to go out there again because he can’t protect himself, even threatening him in order to try and keep him safe.
The threesome head back to the car, but when they get to Pete’s body Rick stops and digs a grave.
Color: Glenn, Nicholas and Heath are charged with taking out the walkers making all the racket at the tractor shop, and they have to do it fast because the noise could disturb the herd off the road. They decide to let a couple out at a time, although Heath’s not sure about that plan but Glenn says they have to. But when they open the door there’s a metal pull-down door behind it that makes it impossible to let just a couple out.
B&W: At a town meeting Rick proposes that since walkers are slipping through the exits at the quarry, and the exit with the trucks sends them east right at them, they have to do this soon. Carol (Melissa McBride) says it doesn’t sound like there’s any other way. Carter (Ethan Embry) suggests that maybe they can just build up the weak spots. Rick says the sound is drawing more walkers every day. Daryl, Sasha and Abraham will take a bike and a car and lead them out. Rick will have people at two ends managing them. Glenn volunteers and then the preacher volunteers, but Rick turns him down. Walkers herd up so they’ll follow a path, says Rick. Carter argues with him and wants to know why they should follow him after all of his screaming, waving of guns around, and after he shot a man in the face. A couple more volunteer and when Nicholas volunteers, Glenn shakes his head no but Rick lets him volunteer. Rick says the plan will keep them and their families safe, but Carter demands to hear the exact plan again.
Color: All of the key spots are marked with balloons. Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham are super close to Rick, Michonne and Morgan’s location (within 100 feet). Rick continues to shoot off flares.
B&W: They map things out and Carter wants to know all of the answers. What happens if they slip through? Eugene suggests a plan using extra wall material. Rick tells Carter he needs to help them figure it out.
Color: On they come, turning the corner in front of Rick. They’re so close to the makeshift walls now that they start running into them as they turn, watching the flares light up the sky. Some bash their heads against the wall and drop dead. Others make the turn and keep following Daryl down Redding Rd.
B&W: Everyone’s working on putting up the temporary walls, including Carter. Daryl thinks that going out and finding more people is taking care of themselves, and he tells that to Rick (obviously this has been weighing heavily on Daryl’s mind). Carol wanders over with coffee, but Rick thinks she should stay back and figure out how people feel now.
Color: Glenn and Heath have to take on all the walkers while Nicholas hangs back.
B&W: Tara’s finally told the truth about Noah and about how Nicholas lured Glenn into the woods to kill him. But, Maggie also tells Tara that she remembers how they used to be on different sides of the fence, but now they’re allies. Tara says she’ll follow her lead when it comes to how to handle Nicholas. They hug it out and Glenn looks on, smiling.
Color: Heath and Glenn shoot out a window and out come the walkers, with Heath and Glenn shooting them as quickly as they can. One almost gets Heath but Nicholas saves him. Then one almost gets to Glenn and Heath saves him. One’s left and they let Nicholas get it.
B&W: Carol brings Morgan some water. Morgan wants to know if Carol was a cop, too, like Rick.
Color: The walkers follow the car and bike but there are a few looky-loos. Abraham leaves the car to take care of them and Sasha calls him an idiot. Abraham tries to get them to follow him and succeeds. He’s bloody, but fine. Climbing back in the car, he talks about Reg the night he got shot. He was a mess, as was Pete. Pete’s face was blown up like Pompeii. He laughs that he might still have some of his brains in his ear. All the walkers are back on track.
B&W: The walls are slowly going up. Rick apologizes to Deanna about Reg, saying he was smart and kind. “He was a good man,” says Rick. He goes on to say people need to be armed inside the walls. People need to be trained. As they’re building the temporary walls for the big plan in come walkers, first two and then many more. Rick tells the townspeople to kill them as a test but the townspeople are useless and Rick and his cohorts have to finish the job.
Back at Alexandria, Eugene is getting food from the supply room when he overhears Carter talking about Deanna and Rick. Carter thinks they have to stop Rick by killing him before he kills them. Eugene drops a can and Carter finds him and is ready to shoot him in the head. In comes Rick, Daryl, and Morgan. They see Carter with a gun still to Eugene’s head. Rick easily disarms him and says, “You really think you’re going to take this community from us?!” Carter says it was just him and to kill just him, not the other six. Daryl wants to take the gun from Rick, and Rick says he’s good and hands it over. He tells Carter to work with them and try to survive.
Color: The walkers are still following Daryl and the group has now met up, leading the walkers away. Rick says they need to finish it and act like cops at a parade. The walkers walk on, pretty much sticking to the road and it’s nearly a zombie traffic jam because there are so many of them. One gets Carter and now the walkers are breaking off into the woods because he’s squealing like a pig. Rick wants everyone to fire their guns and get them back on track.
B&W: Rick asks Morgan to stay with them and gives him the keys to go get his stuff. “I know you, Morgan, even if this is the first time.” He asks if he wants to hold the baby and Morgan laughs and says yes. Michonne looks on. Morgan says he believes Rick is still the same man he was when they first met, and Rick admits he wanted to kill Carter because then he wouldn’t have to worry about him doing another stupid thing. But it hit him when he realized he didn’t have to do it that Carter doesn’t get it. “Somebody like that, they’re going to die no matter what.”
Color: Carter’s screaming and Rick kills the walker and then kills Carter. He’s a goner anyway. Morgan looks on. The gunfire is bringing them back on the road. Up walks Michonne. Rick sends Morgan and Michonne back out on point. And once again the walkers follow Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham.
B&W: Pete’s wife is in the armory and Rick walks in needing flares. He says he was letting things be, and that’s why he hasn’t approached her since killing her husband. They talk about Ron in the woods and how he shouldn’t have been out there. She says Rick can’t talk like that to him or touch him. Rick wants to teach them how to handle themselves, and she says she’s actually already learning and will teach her own children. She will fight, and Rick sort of smiles.
Color: Rick and Michonne keep the walkers in line.
B&W: Rick’s explaining to the group at the beginning of the dry run where the finish line is. Abraham asks Sasha if she volunteered for this assignment because she wants to die and she says no.
Color: Abraham, Daryl, and Sasha are still in the lead.
B&W: Rick says to clear out the equipment sales area of the tractor shop (in color time that’s what Glenn, Heath, and Nicholas had to do) because he doesn’t want any distractions.
Color: Walkers walk, survivors track them in the woods.
B&W: Rick waxes philosophical. “I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world. We have to come for them before they come for us. it’s that simple,” he says.
Color: Walkers keep…you guessed it…walking. Rick’s alongside them and hears a really loud horn, like a train. It’s pulling the walkers off the road toward it. They don’t know what it is but Rick and Michonne run toward the noise. It’s back by Alexandria!!!! And now more than half the walkers are heading that way. The horn keeps blowing.
Review of Season Six Episode One:
“First Time Again” acknowledged that the best laid plans of mice and zombie apocalypse survivors don’t always work out as intended. The reason Alexandria has remained a safe zone was revealed this episode, but by the final few minutes it was apparent that Rick’s big plan to lead the herd away actually resulted in putting Alexandria in direct danger from the flesh-craving undead. It wasn’t his fault and surely there was no way he could have predicted some idiot would sound a horn and draw the herd to Alexandria, yet the fact the walkers are heading that way is because Rick led them out of the quarry and onto the open roads near the walled-in town. Of course, they would probably would have made it there anyway as the blockades at the quarry were coming apart.
Episode one of season six was one of the better season openers for the popular AMC series, and everyone, with the exception of Chandler Riggs who plays Carl Grimes, was able to be a part of key scenes moving their characters and the series forward. And as far as effects and action, episode one lived up to expectations in the number of walkers killed in creative/gruesome ways. Overall it was a terrific way to kick off season six and proved Andrew Lincoln might not have been exaggerating when he said every episode this season is good enough to be a season finale.