The Walking Dead could not have picked a better night than Valentine’s Day to bring us their mid-season premiere. How better to spend the evening settling in for the night after a great day with the one you love. Whether it be Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) or any of the other characters you have taken a shining too this premiere DID NOT disappoint, unless….well let’s jump in to this Valentine themed review and bask in the afterglow.
I will start out by telling you this may be my favorite episode of the whole series. “No Way Out” gave its all to us without holding back just like a true love should. We started out with Neegan’s gang acting as the significant other that just takes without giving, leaving you empty. Just when you thought that Daryl, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) gave their all, Darryl whipped out his rocket launcher and gave the demanding lover so much love. They exploded with pure gore, I mean love — well, no, it was some fantastic gore. The episode started like a Valentine’s date normally ends — with a bang.
Next, we were whisked away to the town of Alexandria where more love was being shared as Rick, Jesse (Alexandra Breckinridge), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Sam (Major Dodson), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Gabriel (Seth Gillam) and Ron (Austin Abrams) walked hand in hand drenched in zombie guts weaving their way through the zombie invasion. Now, before we discuss what went down, we all know that love sometimes results in heartbreak and as fans of The Walking Dead we’ve had some heartbreak and some on and off relationships. This was no different. Just as our crew gets to an area where they can discuss where this relationship is going, Sam remembers Carol’s speech to him about how love, I mean zombies will tear you to pieces. We get a glimpse through Sam’s eyes via terrifying close ups of beautifully made up zombies USING PRACTICAL EFFECTS, I mean what guy doesn’t like when his love gets all made up for him. This touched Sam so deeply that he was frozen and refused to move and began to voice his feelings to which a horde of zombies obliged by sinking their teeth into him. This in turn affected Jesse so that she was unable to let go and she was overtaken by zombies. Rick had some nice flashbacks to his better days with Jesse but Rick is a man who knows when to let go so he chops Jesse’s hand off of Carl’s. In the maylay Carl drops his gun to Ron’s joy as he picks the gun up and aims it at Rick and Carl. Ron is feeling jilted as he just watched his brother and mother become zombie fodder. Before he can get a clear shot off Michonne runs him through with her machete breaking his heart, literally. Alas, the stray shot found its way into the right eye of Carl. What a start!
Without rehashing everything that happened in “No Way Out”, we got to see Glenn and Maggie reunited. A lot of characters, some being extras and some being major characters such as Gabriel and Enid find their inner strength and band together as a town and join Rick in taking the fight to the walkers and attacking them. We get some great direction here as clips of each person fighting are giving a close up as they chop, stab and bash at anything in their way; Nicotero did an awesome job with the direction of this episode.
This fighting scene was representative of Rick’s rage in reaction to what happened to his son and the town’s people really holding to Rick’s leadership and what he and his crew brought to the town, the will and means to truly survive heartbreak and walkers. We also get to see the Wolves leader (Benedict Samuel) and Denise (Merritt Wever) try to make their way out of town when Denise gets caught in a walker’s grasp and the wolf comes back to save her and gets bit in the process. It looks as though maybe Morgan’s work had paid off even though in more heartbreak Morgan was the one that had to end him after he became zombified, but in true gentlemanly fashion, Morgan does apologize before dispatching of him. Through this all Denise reached down and found her inner strength (much like a Mariah Carey love song) to do what needed to be done. She took control saving patients including Carl. Daryl, Sasha and Abe save the day by creating a huge fire that garners the Walker’s attention and causes them to walk into their own demise. Once again we discover Daryl + rocket launcher = awesomeness! The last scene we get is Rick giving a heartfelt speech to his son holding his hand as he lay there motionless. Right before the very end, Carl squeezes his dad’s hand bringing hope for a new day.
We got excellent direction from Greg Nicotero along with a great script from Seth Hoffman. As much as I jested adding in the Valentine’s theme for this review, we really got excellent acting which is why we as fans invest emotionally into this show. Sometimes it makes us laugh, sometimes it makes us cry much like any relationship we have. For a show to do that and have so many of us connect on this level as fans, I say Bravo!
The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 9 “No Way Out” (5 / 5) on the Thug Meter