S6-E1: “First Time Again”
“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.” – Rick Grimes
It’s been roughly six months since they wrapped up season five of The Walking Dead and the show took its annual hiatus from TV. Well, last Sunday, the show made its much anticipated return. So was it actually worth the wait?
In my opinion, yes and no. Look, let’s be honest. We all know what the first episode of every season is usually about. It’s about reintroducing the characters, backtracking to explain old storylines and get new viewers up to speed, and laying the groundwork for events that will transpire later on as the season progresses.
But last year’s season premiere started off with a bang (literally). It was wild, chaotic, and unpredictable. It also helped set up for the final chapter of the Terminus storyline. This year’s premiere, while it did have its moments, failed to live up to my expectations a bit.
That’s not saying this was a bad episode. I’ve seen far worse, even from The Walking Dead. But there was just something missing from this episode. I can’t quite put my finger on, but I’m sure others have felt the same.
That doesn’t mean I’m throwing in the towel. I’m a patient man. I give every show a fair chance, and I know the episodes will pick up more steam as the season develops. In fact, the ending of this episode had the biggest impact and made me really want to see what’s coming next. And that’s the goal, isn’t it? To make sure your viewers want to tune in week after week to see what happens next?
But that’s enough rambling from me. Let’s get down to it, shall we?
Since the story jumps back and forth between the past and the present, we’re not entirely sure how much time has passed since Morgan’s (Lennie James) arrival, but judging by Rick’s bandages, not much.
But enough time has passed for Rick to accept Morgan into the fold. Enough time has passed for Nicholas (Michael Traynor) to see the error of his ways and start trusting Glenn (Steven Yeun) and listening to his strategies instead of devising his own. And enough time has passed for some of Alexandria’s residents to start plotting against Rick.
When thinking of words to describe the season premiere, intense was the first word that came to mind. It opened strong, slowed down in the middle, and then really picked up towards the end. But walkers aren’t the only cause for tension or trepidation.
Rick has changed so much that even a casual conversation with Daryl (Norman Reedus) feels unnerving. There’s no way to tell what Rick is thinking at this point in the series. But he seems troubled, angered, and ready to snap like a weathered tree branch in the path of a hurricane.
We know that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has changed a lot since his brief stay at Terminus. He’s not Officer Friendly anymore. He doesn’t trust anyone outside of the group. In fact, he doesn’t even seem to trust anyone who opposes him or has differing opinions.
He doesn’t even trust Morgan once he resurfaces. Morgan is the man who saved Rick all the way back in the first season. The man who took him in, gave him shelter, clued him in to what was going on the world. And though their time together was brief, Morgan wasn’t a stranger or an acquaintance to Rick. He was a friend, a man Rick trusted and respected.
And Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) seems to have come around to Rick’s way of thinking. She bends to his will and consents to every command he gives her people.
There are two main stories featured in this episode. First, we are fully introduced to Carter (Ethan Embry), an Alexandria resident who has doubts about Rick and questions his every move. Carter holds a meeting with a few other locals to discuss taking Rick out of the equation.
Then Carter shows his true colors when he turns a gun on Eugene, who overheard their entire conversation. What follows is a tense, gut-wrenching scene as Rick stumbles on their secret meeting and catches Carter red-handed. He could’ve dropped Carter there, but for the moment, he showed that the old Rick is still inside of him somewhere.
And just as fast as we were introduced to Carter, we also witnessed his demise. Rick killed him and Morgan saw the whole thing. In all fairness, Carter was bit on the face and there was no chance to saving him. Rick did the right thing by ensuring he wouldn’t turn into a walker. But did he know he was doing it for the right reasons?
Morgan doesn’t seem to be sure of the answer. They’re both killers, he and Rick. Morgan just hasn’t gotten used to it yet. Rick is paranoid, confused, obsessed with control, and I’m not sure if Morgan fully trusts Rick or accepts what he’s become.
And not too far from Alexandria, the group discovers a horde of walkers trapped in a quarry below a hill, stymied by two semi-trailer trucks. Rick notices that one of the trucks could go off the edge of the hill any day and send them straight in their direction. So Rick devises a plan to guide the walkers from the quarry, steering them as far away from Alexandria as possible.
Only, as you could imagine if you follow the standard Walking Dead formula, it doesn’t go quite as well as they planned. Now an army of walkers are heading straight towards Alexandria. But are the walkers actually the least of the group’s concerns?
As this season progresses, we’re bound to see more of the Wolves and learn of their origins. But who are the Wolves exactly? What do they want? Do they have a leader? And right now, one of the biggest questions on everybody’s mind is, will we see the introduction of Negan this season?
One thing’s for sure, Negan’s impending arrival doesn’t bode well for some of our favorite members of the group.
Oh, one final thought before I wrap this up: Abraham and Eugene deserve their own spinoff. Cancel that awful Fear the Walking Dead program and give the mustache and the mullet their own show!
“I fully respect the hair game.”