Our highlights from the first half of the season.
We’ve got a whole two months (!) ’til the return of The Walking Dead. While the midseason finale was a bit underwhelming, we have high hopes for the rest of season 6. Since we’ve got a ways to go till February, let’s talk about Season 6’s best moments.
5. Pit O’Walkers
As much as audiences were anticipating the arrival of the Wolves in season six, just like their counterparts in the comics, the lupine loving antagonists were not particularly formidable foes for our crew. It turned out that the driving force of this season wasn’t an attack, but an ambitious and highly flawed plan that went about fifteen types of wrong for our characters.
In the season opener “First Time Again” we see thousands of walkers trapped in a quarry. It’s a pretty awe-inspiring sight and is what drives the story arc for first half of the season. Rick’s plan –which could have used a bit of work, and maybe a vision board – to herd thousands of walkers twenty-five miles away from Alexandria was destined to fail, but it made for great drama and looked pretty good onscreen too.
4. Suburban Assassin and Casserole Killah
One of our favorite characters and the toughest woman to ever sport a twin-set, Carol Peletier finally let her neighbors know what the Grimes crew and viewers knew all along: You don’t f**k with Carol and live to tell about it.
In “JSS” while the walkers were breaking loose from the herd, in Alexandria the Wolves were making their moves on the unsuspecting (and mostly useless) Alexandrians. Carol had been playing the PTA game with the local ladies, but once the siege began, she tossed her pearls for a costume worthy of Assassin’s Creed and began killing Wolves left and right. For Carol, now was the time to let the mask she’d cultivated fall and embrace her role as the most lethal member of the Grimes gang.
Any time you let Carol loose is a win for viewers (we aren’t even going to mention that lame slap fight she had with Morgan, because both characters are better than that). With Carol at odds with Morgan, and that crazy Wolf on the loose with Dr. Denise, we can’t wait to see her go HAM in February.
3. Aikido You Not
Let’s be honest: No one gets excited about a 90 minute special episode, but in the case of the fantastic Morgan showcase, “Here’s Not Here,” we’ll give the show a pass.
“Here’s Not Here” came the week after “Thank You,” where Glenn supposedly died, so viewers were understandably annoyed (they had NO IDEA how annoyed they were about to be). Instead of answers, episode four took us away from Alexandria and the walker herd for a Morgan origin story. The episode was contained character piece that was not only compelling but helped us to understand Morgan’s evolution and his new philosophy that puts him at odds with his old friend Rick. Morgan clings to Eastman’s philosophy because it represented hope and a return to mental wellness, but as we saw in the midseason finale, the “do not kill” policy backfired in a big way.
Scott M. Gimple talked about spending more time developing characters, and if the show keeps writing rich episodes like “Here’s Not Here,” we can’t wait to see whose backstory is next.
2. All In Their Heads (The Exploration of PTSD)
The Walking Dead has never shied away from exploring the psychological effects that the zombie pandemic had on survivors (Rick, Morgan, etc.) but this season has taken the time to really look at the way PTSD impacts various characters.
With Morgan we saw a man who lost himself after losing his son and wife. He hallucinated and killed the living and the dead because he believed that he had to “clear” away the infected. It’s an understandable reaction, a man breaks down after being plagued by guilt, and the only way that he feels he can make up for not keeping his son safe is to keep the world safe. Morgan is just lucky that he found oatmeal burger loving Eastman to teach him to “clear” his mind and find peace.
Nicholas was a weasel in season five that would rather kill a competent survivor like Glenn than have his neighbors find out how useless he was. After his assassination attempt failed and Glenn (who seriously needs to give the lectures and forgiveness a rest already) gave him a second chance, Nicholas needed to prove that he could be better. Unfortunately, Nicholas wasn’t able to get his PTSD under control after seeing a former neighbor that he had left behind had turned walker. Nicholas didn’t have the support that Morgan had with Eastman, so he took the only way he knew out: with a bullet. It was a cowardly choice for a cowardly character especially since he nearly took Glenn with him, but suicide isn’t a crazy choice in this world.
Both Sasha and Abraham, while maybe not poster children for PTSD, have been battling their own self-destructive demons. They put themselves in harms way to feel something, or get lost in despair, but as we saw in “Always Accountable” both Abraham and Sasha both recognize that they have issues and see them in each other. The key to getting through tough times is with friendship and a hearty dose of gallows humor.
Bland Jessie’s son Sam is the newest PTSD victim. Since the Wolf attack this cookie lover hasn’t been able to leave the second floor of his house, because the first floor was where his mom had to kill an intruder. It doesn’t help that Sam asks Carol (who is, let’s face it, scarier than the boogie man) and she gives him the darkest answer to his question. Sam’s only way of coping is to star in his own David Lynch movie complete with creepy music and hallucinations. This kid is not faring well, and we can only imagine, wearing walker guts is going to turn him even crazier.
1. New Doctor in Da’ House
Dr. Denise Cloyd is a new face for fans of the show, but comic fans already know her as a valuable ally and field doctor. As played by the always engaging Merritt Weaver, Dr. Denise is a relatable character whose fears and complaints are something that viewers can understand, unlike Alexandrian #14 who just whines about Rick and not having enough canned garbanzos.
Dr. Denise also brings humor to the show, which can sometimes veer into grim seriousness. We’d love to see more moments like Morgan testing Dr. Denise’s medical know-how, and her budding romance with Tara in the next season provided that she survives and all (fingers crossed).
She may not be confident in her doctoring skills (yet) but Dr. Denise is a psychiatrist who has a lot of potential patients including her Wolf captor, but Rick, Morgan, Sam and pretty much everyone in Alexandria could probably use some time on her couch. With so much focus on PTSD we have to think that having a shrink on the show is going to be a plot point down the road.
Have Fun Storming the Safe-Zone!
There is never a dull moment on The Walking Dead (except for the mid-season finale, that is) and the wall coming down was no exception. While the Safe-Zone was supposed to be the place where Rick’s crew could finally settle down, feel secure and be a part of a community – in this world there is no safety and that’s the way we like it.
As much as we loved some of the storytelling choices and quieter moments this season, what we love about this show is the chaos. Rick is a better leader when he doesn’t have time to think, and characters shoved against the wall are more interesting. Already we have Negan and the Saviors on the horizon, but back in Alexandria the rest of the characters are either going to have rebuild the walls or find a new home (the Hilltop Colony, maybe), so bring on the walker horde because we’ll be here waiting. Well, not the whole time, February is kind of far and all.