Written by Gina Sanders. Media by Paige Lunde.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Season 6 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Please read at your own discretion.
Season six of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (TWD) aired from October 11, 2015 to April 3, 2016. As with the previous seasons, season 6 was based on the critically acclaimed comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, and headed by executive producers Scott M. Gimple and Greg Nicotero. The show tells the story of a group of survivors during a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies (better known as “walkers”). The group is centered around Andrew Lincoln’s character Rick Grimes, former sheriff turned leader.
“No Way Out” serves as the mid-season premiere for season 6. The material for this episode comes primarily from volume 14 of the comic book series, also titled “No Way Out.” This episode demonstrates why this show is considered one of the best on television right now.
The episode opens with Daryl, Eugene, and Sasha (members of Rick’s group) being confronted by a new threat– a different group called the Saviors. The Saviors demand their supplies, claiming “your property now belongs to Negan.” After a brief and suspenseful stand-off, the Saviors are eliminated.
Back in their home of Alexandria, other members are dealing with the consequences of the previous episode, “Start to Finish,” where a tower collapsed, crushing the protective gate and allowing walkers to pour in. To get past the hoard, Rick, Michonne, Carl, Jessie, Sam, and Ron cover themselves in guts as camouflage, then journey outside and walk amongst the dead. In this scene, the of skills of the special effects and makeup crews are evident. As the group walks hand-in-hand through the crowd, the audience gets a view of the walkers’ mangled and decaying flesh.
In one of the following scenes, the beloved fan favorite character Glenn finally makes it back home. Weeks before, fans were left with the cliffhanger of his possible death. TWD shows its ability, with this scene, to be a master of suspense. It’s also through this scene that TWD proves it hasn’t forgotten the characters of the past. While talking to Alexandrian native Enid, Glenn reminisces about how past characters such as Hershel, Dale, Tyreese, and Andrea keep him going. For a show that is notorious for killing off major characters, it is a welcomed reminder that they are still remembered not just by fans but by those actually on the show.
The episode’s main action occurs when Jessie’s son Sam panics while walking through the zombies. The “non zombie-like” actions destroy their camouflage and all hell breaks loose. Andrew Lincoln displays incredible acting as he watches walkers start eating Sam and Jessie, whom he’d grown attached to. However, it is when the walkers notice his son Carl, and he’s forced to sever Jessie’s hand from Carl’s with an ax, that we see a true range of emotions across his face. In a rage, Jessie’s oldest son, Ron, shoots Carl in the eye and is subsequently killed by Michonne. As the walkers swarm, the separated community finds a way to come together.
The highlight comes after Carl is rushed to the infirmary. Rick goes into the thick of the walkers and begins to fight them off. From their various hiding places, other members of the group see him and take a stand for themselves. Daryl and company arrive just in time to save Glenn, Enid, and Maggie, as well as set a fire to attract the walkers’ attention. “Like a moth to the flame” the walkers are drawn to the flame and become less focused on the people. Once again, the effects are stunning. The picture of blurred and burning corpses is, oddly, beautiful. The score is spell-binding; it lulls and swells in all the right places. It evokes subtle feelings of fear and triumph in the audience. The actors illustrate panic and then resolve as they run into the streets of Alexandria to take back their home.
The most impressive part of the episode comes directly from the comics. The camera angles switch between different characters as they swing axes, machetes, swords, and baseball bats, killing walkers. Eventually, the camera shifts position to the walkers’ perspective, and we can see the actors’ faces. Determination, rage, pain, and guilt are just some of the emotions visible during this fast-paced and heart-thudding scene. But it’s the final blow, delivered by Rick, that give the viewer a sense of finality.
The last scene is of a group, tired but alive. The threat has been eliminated. Rick gives an impassioned monologue to his son in the infirmary about hope in this new world and what each member of the community can be for one another. The episode ends by panning down to Carl’s hand, which curls in Rick’s, showing the viewer he survives. This episode is a perfect example of why the show is fantastic. The acting is phenomenal, the special effects are visually appealing, the music helps draw the audience into the plot, and past seasons are not forgotten. With episodes like this, I am looking forward to season 7 of “The Walking Dead.”