Season 5 gave us The Walking Deads best season, with deeper characters, more engrossing storylines and an altogether better production. Now with the season 6 premiere arriving, it’s up to the writers to improve or sustain the show that lost its way a while ago, but has, for the most part, got its mojo back.
Off this first episode alone, I’d say that its indeed a success, albeit with the usual few flaws that doesn’t quite make it a stand out. The episode sets itself out immediately by dividing the episode into two halves, black and white scenes set shortly after the end of the last season, and scenes with colour set as the group enact out a large scale plan, with cuts constantly going back and forth between them.
It’s a bold way to start the season, and ingenious enough to make it a memorable start. Whilst by the end of the episode, this conceit becomes a tad grating, the episode has made up for it with a fair amount of story, character and good ol’ fashioned zombie splatter.
This episode mainly focuses on Rick and his continued descent into moral bankruptcy, as he’s faced with taking charge of the people of
Woodbury Terminus Alexandria. His plan to lure an almighty horde of Walkers away from their safe place gives the episode some vigour, as we see the before planning stage, and the execution of said plan, all the while as we cut between the past and the present, building momentum.
This, as good as it is, gets tired the longer the episode goes on. With an extended length, we often cut back to the present for barely any time before going back to the past. This is where the biggest problem with the episode lies, particularly because it’s insistence on staying with this plot for the entire run, means that a lot of everything going on is about spectacle and an awful lot about Rick
Rick losing his cool is a prominent part of the show now, last season it caused some major ripples, now it is apparently leading to greater issues. Andrew Lincoln continues to sell this greatly, in particular in his manic state. A particular moment shortly after a walker attack shows an interesting moral dilemma that is presented in a fashion so as to show both sides of the coin.
He and the rest of the cast do a good job performance wise, keeping things morose whilst bringing levity, there’s a great group of characters now, some get short changed here, but I don’t doubt they’ll all get their chance to shine in the upcoming weeks. They’re a few great character beats for certain characters this time, which keeps things from feeling stale, and even though Rick is still very much the main character, we have plenty more people to root for and agree with.
The cinematography is well done, and grimy as usual, with brighter imagery and stark colours. The gore is as disgusting and marvellous as usual, the soundtrack is well done and the writing is funny and layered.
Overall, it’s an exciting season premiere, with no unnecessary deaths, an interesting storytelling technique, and potential to get better in the coming season. It has its problems, it’s too long, too drawn out, and too much focus is on Rick and his downward spiral, but it’s great to have this show back, now that it’s on good form.
Rating: B 8/10
Here’s some more spoilery thoughts:
- I like the massive horde, and of course there was going to be a big distraction horn from those new bad guys that lure the walkers away as a cliffhanger.
- I thought Tara had been bitten for a while. Or had she? I wasn’t clear.
- Ooh Carter got his face ripped off. Loved it when Rick killed him to shut him up. It was a panicky scene and I’d say he made the right choice.
- This shot looked like a last supper reference
- I like that the episode had a full circle, and the black and white stuff caught up to the very beginning of the episode.
Rating: B 8/10