TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 6, Episode 1: First Time Again [AMC]

Lennie James Ethan Embry Andrew Lincoln The Walking Dead First Time Again

AMC’s The Walking Dead First Time Again TV Show ReviewThe Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 1: ‘First Time Again,’ started immediately where last season’s finale left off, then faded into black… and white, and history. When it faded in, to a colored present in progress, progress looked grim. The new cast members were already in play, and I assume a shot, lingering on Walkers slipping through a truck barricade, was meant to convey a sense for the never-ending hoard headed for Alexandria.

When the other shoe dropped, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) ordered a complex plan into operation – ready or not. As far as one unfamiliar face was concerned, it was definitely not; so with a rivalry also in progress, it seemed, the various enactors went to work.

Did Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) make a Bill O’Reilly meltdown moment reference, leaving the quarry?

Back in the black & white, there was some resolution to last season’s closing events. Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) called Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) on his Roadie assessment error; Glenn (Steven Yeun) covered for that piece of shoe, Nicholas (Michael Traynor); Tara (Alanna Masterson) was a sight for Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) sore eyes, while she felt the same about his hair; and Abe was left pondering letting go of certain things, after burying Deanna’s husband, Reg.

The crisis in color reminded me of a more grounded Attack on Titan sequence, in its execution (the anime otherwise being more soul crushingly grim & gruesome, believe it or not); but while it was relatively direct & straightforward, it allowed for individual element dynamics to be expanded upon, going forward & backwards in time (and coloration).

Black & white Rick was out to kick away the ladder beneath him, after getting his people to Alexandria – though I’m not sure any ironic comparison to Gabe (who pretty much attempted the same thing, last season) was intended – but while Daryl (Norman Reedus) registered his objection without resistance, Morgan (Lennie James) would prove to be a more formidable (albeit passive) obstacle. ‘First Time Again’ was as much our re-introduction to Rick, as it was Rick’s re-introduction to Morgan.

The new characters weren’t just coming out of the background, thankfully enough. Black & white Heath (Corey Hawkins) was formally introduced by way of a typically awkward run in with Eugene, at Alexandria’s gate – having been part of an expedition that completely missed Rick’s Roadies hitting town. The other new face, Carter (Ethan Embry), would be the one to watch, however.

With Deanna having largely abdicated emergency powers to Rick, Carter seemed intent on standing between Rick, and total warlord status. His direct attempt at doing so, at least in black & white, shed some light on where Rick now stood, regarding the Townies. Rick no longer wanted to save the Townies from themselves; he would let natural selection do that for him.

Ron Anderson (Austin Abrams) was having a hard time. His father (Porch Dick Pete) was an outcast – even in death – and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) was gravitating towards Carl (Chandler Riggs). Despite having to be rescued, he was not about to be lectured by the guy that killed his dad. His mother, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), had to make that clear to Rick; but they proved that Rick was still willing to get some Townies up to code. Maybe Rick wasn’t as far gone as he was telling Morgan – or himself.

As for which Townies win Rick’s Darwin Award, the time skip device made for a nice spread, as both Nick, and Carter seemed on the road to redemption. At one point, black & white Glenn was opposed to Nick even being included, in Rick’s emergency plan (“Don’t do it, Cartman. Goddammit, Cartman!”); but Maggie (Lauren Cohan), privy to what Nick has done, cited Tara’s entry to the Roadies as a case for giving him a shot. Rick, on the other hand, was actually able to reason Carter on board; but changing colors kept us guessing as to where the pair would stand, by episode end.

It wasn’t just the state of the Townies in question. Abe’s concern over Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) fatalism was turned back on him, and Morgan called out Carol’s (Melissa McBride) sleeper agent status, by way of innocent observation. That exchange inspired nervous laughter (did Morgan really know who he was meddling with?); but Carol playing the terrified-but-supportive plant, during Rick’s town meeting emergency plan pitch, was just hilarious.

More so, than the seeming role reversal between Sasha & Abraham, was an apparent reversal between Morgan & Rick. At least, I hope it turns out to be a role reversal – if Rick turns out to be the new Shane, instead of the original Morgan, things could get really bad. I am, however, worried about Morgan being more Dale/ Hershel than original Rick (which would make him a marked man, on this show); so I’m hoping him being a warrior monk will make all the difference.

‘First Time Again’ revealed the circumstances behind Alexandria’s low-incident status. The best laid plans sometimes get the horn (I’m voting feral canines at the wheel); so it was hard to imagine the showrunners would pass on an opportunity to put the screws to the community. There was a noticeable increase, to the narrative/ visual scope of the episode (to say nothing of all those extras, for the largest Walker herd, yet), which suggests that the Alexandria arc may be more expansive, than insular. This won’t be the Prison Arc, all over again (knock on wood).

The color/ time jump device allowed at least a full arc of rivalry, between Rick & Carter, to be resolved in a single episode. As much as I appreciated the show sidestepping an otherwise obvious, drawn out conflict – and the whole will-they-won’t-they reconcile/ come to a head subplot – a part of me kind of wanted to see how many different avenues they could have taken with Carter’s character. That’s what you get for taking any character, on this show, for granted.

“You always think there’s one more peanut butter left.”

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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