Ian and I are going to be breaking down what we thought of this week’s mid season return of The Walking Dead. This is a decent review so kick back, slip off your boots, light’em if you got’em & Enjoy!
The Walking Dead – Season 6 episode 9: “No Way Out”
Okay, ‘Nuff said so let’s dive into our discussion, breakdown and comments on the big TWD mid season return episode…
ROBERT: Okay so Season 6 has been a massive upswing for The Walking Dead in general. The season opening episode was stunning in story, acting, directing and editing. The season opener worked black & white flashbacks into the big story of a massive “herd” of The Walking Dead at a nearby rock quarry & Rick’s plan to move them out. The episode built scene upon scene & lead to a gut wrenching ending, a wonderful cliff hanging ending. That said, the rest of the season keep the high pace, the continued panic of what happened in the season opener right up to the point that it hit’s the Morgan episode where he goes from crazed survivor to becoming a Walking Dead jedi. Then the panic picked up again and lead to what was a HOLY SHIT winter season finale with the massive herd of Walkers come into Alexandria given an old church falling down and through the walls that were keeping them out. Suddenly Alexandria is pure chaos, bad enough they got hit by the Wolves (ravaging gang of non-zombie human crazies), but now the Walkers herd were in town and munching on whoever they can get. We end on Rick making a plan to be covered in zombie guts, pretend to be like a zombie and try to slowly zombie walk to the armory. The winter season finale ends with perfect foreshadowing of this weeks mid season episode by Sam, calling out to his Mom in the middle of the Walker herd.
ROBERT: Okay, so here we go… I’m going to assume you’ve watched the episode and watch TWD, diving in – the episode opening with a BANG with kudos to Daryl & yeah it was super cool scene & given to the most popular character but who fncking cares, it was AWESOME! WHO’S NEGAN?!
ROBERT: From there the episode keeps that type of enjoyment between panic and worry. Rick & the rest of the zombie gut crew changes plans from making their way to the armory, giving trust to Gabriel with his daughter then everything goes to shit. Sam has a freak-out from all the zombies around them given Carol’s words and as foreshadowed, he starts to lose it & within moments he’s Fresh brainfood for a few Walkers. Jessie looses it, screaming and becomes the next Walker victim and won’t let go of Carl. This leads to two things – Rick hacks Jessie’s hand off to free Carl & suddenly Ron has a gun. Ron then lines up Rick for revenge on his father but you can’t do that shit with Michonne behind your back. She slices Ron open which leads to Carl’s eye to be shot out. Okay I’ve rambled enough, Ian what you think up to this point of the show?
IAN: Everyone so often, TWD realizes that it is in fact, based upon material that has already been written. In similar fashion to Game of Thrones, the exact ending for both the source material and it’s tv adaption are still up in the air – It’s anyone’s guess what will happen in the end, who will be devoured by the endless undead horde that is if there’s anyone left when the final scene wraps up.
There are however, some unspoken rules about what shapes the reality of this kind of show – Call it plot armor or fan favourites, there’s certain characters that while anyone can be killed off, they just seem invincible. It’s almost to the point that let’s say the fan favourite characters such as Glenn or Daryl, if something happened to either one – Part of the fanbase would riot which means just dropping interest in an exaggerated sense.
Now being a fan of both the comic and the tv show – I’m all caught up on the comic and now that the tv show is hitting certain key parts, it’s acting as a friendly reminder that I’ve seen it before and this time, the comic did it better.
It’s actually kinda rare in my opinion that the comic manages to outdo the tv show, there’s just some parts that even Kirkman admits were “mistakes” such as Rick losing his hand to the Governor. In fact, the entire show treatment of the Governor made the character stand out from it’s roots, giving a sense of roundness to an otherwise over the top villain. There’s also times where the show seems to stumble and the reality that sometimes actresses/actors just want to move on which when this news is made public, it breaks the sense of realness and tension that breaks the narrative of the show – For example, Laurie Holden who played Andrea was confirmed as leaving the show however in the comic, the character is still alive and an active part of the group.
In an interview about her depart from the show, Laurie recalled the decision as such:
She said, “There was somebody in charge for Season 3, who thought that it was ‘cool’… to kill Andrea, because he wanted the world to go “Whatttt!?” You know? So it was for shock. It wasn’t a plan, it wasn’t supposed to happen. I found out the day before, and it could’ve been anybody. He just wanted to kill somebody big–umm… you know, for shock. But he never read the comic book, really. So, he did not realize what he was doing, and we had to shoot it. I mean–because… you know, when you’re working on a film, you have to do it, so. It was very sad, because Andrea was supposed to be there for the very end. So, it was sad for me. It was sad for my The Walking Dead family. The man lost his job because of that decision. (source: http://walkingdead.wikia.com/wiki/Andrea_(TV_Series)#Trivia)
With all of that mind, there’s a few things that irked me about the episode. As Robert mentions, there’s a confrontation that carried over from mid season finale that involves three survivors (Sasha, Abraham and Daryl) and the biker gang that works for Negan. The initial purpose of the scene is really just to name drop Negan himself but given that the show has had a very similar encounter (think back to when it was Rick at the mercy of the gang leader, Carl at gun point, Michonne disarmed and Daryl out for the count), there was a raw tension that anything could happen – all three of them could be easily taken out.
Except the plot armor decides to show up – While it’s unspoken that Abraham would make it out ok since it’s not quite his time, it leaves Sasha and Daryl (both characters created merely for the tv show) at the mercy of whether or not the show wants to be like the comics. It takes a sharp turn at the last second, in a weird comedic way as the gang explodes out of nowhere, leaving flaming wreck and burnt body parts scattered about as the glorious fan favourite Daryl steps out from cover with a rocket launcher.
The pandering for Daryl will be hard to top from this point forward as the group collectively shrugs their shoulders, heading back to town.
Next on the list is the bit with Denise and weird wolf survivor guy. I really can’t fathom the purpose of the wolf group at the moment – While my imagination could fill in the gaps, maybe they are outcasts from Negan’s domain, maybe they are introducing them as The Whisperers from the comic but it seems more like they are suppose to represent Rick’s group going completely feral to survive as the guy gives a speech about having to change, to become stronger and isolated to survive against the undead and each other.
It’s almost one of those trope like moments, which in this genre would be akin to someone saying “Hey, I heard a strange noise – I’ll go check it out by myself, you guys stay here.” – Like the mark on his forehead, it could easily just be a D for deceased as it seemed fairly obvious that this guy was gonna become zombie chow.
Now to it’s credit, how it all went down felt pretty grounded – He had Denise as a hostage and she’s the most average person on the entire show, to the point that it’s almost ludcrious how much of a plain jane she is. She really couldn’t be considered that physically attractive, at least considered against the doe eyed Disney princess like features of Beth or the rough but raw attractive side like Michonne. To her credit, she does have some merits as her skills in medicine are pretty vital but she couldn’t hold her own in a fight and as Rick would describe it, she’s soft.
So to the surprise of pretty much no one at all, at any risk of danger being present – Denise is on the receiving end in at each encounter and for a guy that just gave a whole speech about being tough, it turns out he’s mostly full of shit which also seemed kinda obvious. It all gets drawn out as bite from a walker slows them down and just to show how ruthless Carol is, she takes him out just as the pair make it back to the house that the guy was being held in. What did Denise learn? She’s useless on her own which everyone kinda knew already, ok then.
Finally, the big scene that the whole internet is going all hype about despite that it occurred four years ago in the comic book itself. As I said earlier, the tv show sometimes needs to remind the audience that it needs to follow in the footsteps of it’s source material and fortunate enough for them, most of the audience has probably never read the comic so this scene came as a shock.
I have to give them credit that the build up to this scene was pretty good. Carol had her part to play in how it went down and it was almost a throw back to lessons learned from before, it showed characters using what they learned in real time which was kinda neat.
The bad thing about in my opinion was the execution of the scene. In the comic, it’s hard to tell if characters are in motion or not as it’s just still frames and implied movement in most cases. A pull back shot of a character placed in the center of the scene can imply that they have travel-led a certain amount of distance and that it can be assumed that the character is still in motion towards the distance ahead.
As I recall from the top of my head, the comic and the tv show both had the party of survivors going through the crowd with their zombie gunk disguises on to blend in. The difference ends up being in the pacing for both scenes – In the comics, the group starts to slow as Sam begins to panic (which worked well in the tv show with the added image of upclose zombie munching and Carol being the ultimate shit disturber telling the kid that he’s gonna get eaten one day in the most blatant foreshadowing thus far) but it’s when he stops that sets the two apart.
In the show, it just felt way too drawn out – Sam lingers for too long and the rest of the group repeatedly tries to coax him to which the next part is shot in such a strange format that I almost did a double take. The show really loves to do some graphic death scenes, there is such a morbid sense of delight in showing off a character getting torn apart right in front of the viewer’s face as just in the last season, a survivor was pretty much torn apart while pressed up against a glass wall – Our reaction was the same as Glenn as he watched in horror as his friend’s entire chest became an all you can eat buffet for the undead.
So back to the current scene where Sam stands trembling on the spot, there’s a certain amount of distance between the entire group and the horde that they are blending into. Quickly, a massive amount of zombies flood on to the scene, he is completely blocked out of the scene as the group reacts but it becomes clear as why they chose to shoot it this way as the other thing visible is his hands which are in tight grip with Carl.
There’s barely a moment that passes when the exact same framing and shot happens to the mother – this straight on view of emptiness to being completely covered. Cue some flashback memories to remind the audience that the character being eaten had some kind of importance to Rick in a romantic way despite the show really not hitting those plot points that heavy but hey, everything is going crazy like the group’s reactions.
Rick starts chopping away as the flashbacks fade away as we had to take time for him to emotionally feel what just happened while the zombies can’t be bothered from their two meals but still, there’s an implied danger as the recently deceased won’t let go of Carl’s hand. The final bit felt kinda strange as Ron responses to Jessie being hacked up by Rick by grabbing her gun and it discharges seemingly off to the side.
My nitpick is about what comes after the fallout as Ron grabs Jessie’s gun and before he attempts to fire at Rick, he seemingly discharges it at the ground as Michonne impales him from behind. In great nod to the comic, we see the damage done as the bullet has landed firmly in Carl’s right eye.
For some reason however, the show decides to rush through the source material pretty quickly. I get that an average issue is incredibly short compared to a 45 minute show but I felt like that since they had the extra time to work with, the whole speech from Rick to Carl which leads to Carl responding after being severely injured was again a nice nod to the comic but too soon, they could have had some more time to show Rick’s grief of how the plan to survive went to hell.
Overall, the pacing of the events sometimes doesn’t translate that well and that normally, the tv show doesn’t feel so restricted to own up to it’s comic book roots and that while some elements felt right as a nod to the show, if you already knew what was going to happen – the act in itself felt kinda empty for the impact it should’ve had. I feel like that it seems like that if something doesn’t work in the comic, it’ll be altered to suit the show so it felt strange that they would try to recreate the scene when it didn’t feel the same tension wise except for some key parts which actually worked out pretty well, it was a mixed effort in my opinion.
ROBERT: Okay. Wow. Ian just decided to kick the can over and take this to another level of review. Awesome. Gonna let him roll with that because his points are well thought out & explained. I have a few points back:
Denise. This Ian, I have issue with:
“She’s useless on her own”
No. Denise is NOT useless on her own. She didn’t back down from the Wolf, she ran with him & even stepped UP to him to offer to SAVE him. She pushed away zombies as best she could, did she back down there? No? Should she have? Backed down, maybe never even gotten up with the Wolf to flee? No. She got up and stood up to him amongst all the zombies. Even when Carol shot the Wolf away, Denise was taken back. She wanted to SAVE the selfish Wolf. That takes a hell of a lot of fncking courage and strength given what he said to her, holding her hostage.
No Ian. Denise is NOT useless on her own & her scenes with the Wolf showed all her strength and it also showed that you didn’t have to be the one chopping zombies or blowing up bikers to be strong. You needed to be strong to stand up to what’s happening around you and do what you can. The moment when she gets inside the house, sees Rick bringing Carl in, takes the minute to catch her breath before ordering everyone for prep was the beauty of her inner strength. Plus I think she’s the hottie on the show.
Alright. So that’s where we are next in the episode, Denise makes it safely back to the house. Moments before the big Sam, Jessie, Ron, Carl scene – Carol has her inner demons battle on her decision to kill or not kill Morgan when she found out about him trying to save the Wolf. Carol lies to herself in Morgan’s earshot that she should have killed him but her face, to me, gave away the battle inside her that she’s glad she didn’t go there or have to go there. Glad Morgan is alive and that perhaps she might be a bit too far gone but doesn’t know a way back. Then Carol gets to ventilate the Wolf and free that stress.
Inside the house, Denise orders whosoever there for prep like the only Doctor they have should before Rick brings Carl inside. After dropping off Carl, another favorite scene of mine happens, Rick goes all out, balls to the wall Savage – goes out and starts hacking away at Walkers. Michonne soon follows after Denise lets her and others follow. This is what I enjoyed seeing. Rick inspires everyone to fight for their lives.
Okay, lost in all this was the Glenn & Enid, hold up in the official church looking for ammo, weapons and a plan on how to save Maggie. Glenn has a talk with Enid and at that moment has become the next Dale, Andrea and Hershel all in one. He makes that bond with the girl and quickly they’re off to save Maggie.
Okay now THIS was my one pet peeve – nightfall happens quickly in this episode and it’s for the big climax at the end. Due to it being a 1 hour show, they rushed the timeline.
Glenn and Enid go to save Maggie but she’s about to fall, the wooden guard tower is being shaken by Walkers so Glenn becomes the distraction so Runaway can save Maggie (although the saving looked EASY, just step over to the metal sides to the wall?!?) but of course this puts Glenn in trouble and just as he runs out of ammo…
IAN: Ok, I was probably way too harsh about Denise – She’ll have her moment to shine later if it sticks this close to the comics.
The weird thing is that I was taken back by how much Denise was struggling when Wolfie and her were trying to make a break for it – Twice, she was trying to keep them back with exposed arms and those hungry hungry zombies latched on til Wolfie saved the day. It’s just unintentionally hilarious that every other character is so capable in combat – a quick stab to the head, easy.
It felt like they were really trying to push the whole “Alex made people soft” in an overly obvious way. I don’t expect her to get the kind of transition that Carol went through – She started off as the fretting and submissive person that wanted it just be over, growing with every conflict into this person that will tell off a kid just to solve a problem but it took many seasons for this to happen, it was just a natural progression that I feel now that the source material and tv’s gap is getting tighter – She has her ending already written in the comics so Denise won’t likely grow that much.
ANYWAY MOVING ON.
The whole nightfall threw me off completely. I don’t even get how it happened, I don’t remember them hiding out and it wasn’t even getting close to nightfall. If anything, the evening would have actually been pretty impactful to the whole Sam/Jessie part – Just the clear visible carnage as Rick has to step up, the fading light being the hope that is being chewed up by the zombie horde, pretty poetic and obvious for a tv audience, huh?
The whole Glenn/Enid saving Maggie was alright – I’d hope that they won’t just use Enid as fodder later on when Negan shows up. Isn’t it something that they build up this tension of Glenn biting it once again in the same season? It’d be a real shame if Glenn didn’t get conveniently saved but hey, most of the audience knows what will happen when a certain BIG MAN shows up to pay Rick’s crew a visit.
The last stand with everyone throwing down against the zombie horde was pretty cool – Even Heath gets in a kill.
Finally, Rick’s speech to Carl was one of those moments where the show expands upon a detail in the comic, it had more weight to it since you can hear the guilt in Rick’s voice, pleading for Carl to be ok. Interesting side note, the actor for Carl grew out his hair on purpose so that future scenes would be easier to film – I guess we might not get pirate patch wearing Carl Poppa (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUsD6guCOL0&ab_channel=DJM5Musicc)
There’s one last thing that I’m wondering about – Morgan is unique to the show, he’s a survivor like Rick but way more zen. He’s also one of the few people that is pretty good in material arts/hand to hand combat. The next arc right after No Way Out in the comics presents us with one of the more popular comic characters, a man with a mysterious connection to the outside – Jesus aka Paul Monroe.
I have to wonder if having Morgan around will be the intended fill in for Jesus – Considering that Negan plays a larger role in being the big bad antagonist, will we really need someone to act as a middle man for the conflict that is going to be setup for the future? Hell, I really hope they have the tiger for Ezekiel when he shows up.
ROBERT: Ian has a great wrap-up of the entire episode. I too enjoyed Rick’s speech to Carl and the touching moment. I enjoyed the moment Glenn lives but it does makes me wonder if this is his last season. I’m betting Negan will end Glenn’s luck for the big season finale. Overall I enjoyed the episode from all it’s crazy, zany moments – I mean, this is a show about Zombies, we can only make SO many comments & criticism, right?
Sadly to damper Ian’s comments about Jesus, I believe he’s been cast for the show but I do believe that both Jesus and Morgan can continue as I think things will just go DARKER & WORSE given our suvivors have to deal with Negan and The Wolves along with more Walkers.
NEXT WEEK – “The Next World”
We are teased to a Rick & Darryl Road Trip episode. Nothing could possibly go wrong for them, could it? Right? Check out out:
Was Negan watching his biker crew getting blown up to bits OR Is it a tease to Jesus OR did someone in production Fnck up?!
Check out all the conspiracies & wonder…
— Vinnie Gorham (@VinnieGorham) February 15, 2016
Very enjoyable Mid Season Return of TWD!
Was it over the top? Sure. Was it all it could have been regarding the comic book tie-in with Carl? Likely not. Was it still enjoyable despite the luck of Glenn? Hell YEAH! Savage Rick rallying everyone together FTW!