TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 6, Episode 9: No Way Out [AMC]

Alexandra Breckenridge Major Dodson Chandler Riggs Austin Abrams The Walking Dead No Way Out

AMC’s The Walking Dead No Way Out TV Show ReviewThe Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 9: ‘No Way Out,’ started with a prologue, of sorts, following up on Daryl, Abe & Sasha (Norman ReedusMichael CudlitzSonequa Martin-Green) running into some cordially menacing road warriors. Fancy threats were issued, a long & winding note of ultimate possessiveness was hit… and the ‘N’ name was finally dropped.

In accordance with the rules of expectations, where a horror/ thriller series (with a penchant for killing key characters almost out of principle) is concerned, Negan’s point-man (Christopher Berry) had to make some kind of impression, for the Saviors’ introduction to the series. While viewers likely wrestled with the executioner’s A, B, or C options, option D left the kind of impression that are sometimes referred to as craters (should have, anyway). While point-man wasn’t quite as annoying as Gareth, the obviousness to his will-he-won’t-he game made the perfect smoke-screen for the actual fire. Bravo.

You gotta appreciate a show that makes a mass killing an LOL moment. Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl, and Carol (Melissa McBride) maintain their top tier status, with this ep, while shaking off any immediate concerns about domesticity slowing them down. The fact that they may have inspired a whole lot of peripheral characters to do the same, however, is what could make this episode a real game changer – and the show likely needs one, to do the new Big Bad any justice; but that’s getting a bit ahead….

The expectations game got a head start on this ep, as of the mid-season finale. Son-of-Porch-Dick-Sam (Major Dodson) had left a lot of people seeing right through him, to thoughts on who else will be taking his… detour, as Rick’s Meat Poncho Train made its way through the mega herd. Thanks to certain levels of convention comfort, having Judith onboard may have offered some viewers a guarantee of safety for the train. That likely changed when Gabe (Seth Gilliam) decided to protect Judith solo; so no more baby in the formula – her power now belonged to him.

Sam seemed… quieter than I remembered; but watching him slowly pick up, from where he had left off, was like waiting for the verse to the long version of the Maude theme. You wonder a bit about whether it’ll happen – but throw your hands up, in acceptance, when it does. From there, the Meat Poncho Train turned into a chain reaction of events; and just like that, the Anderson family just… unraveled. It took a (seemingly endless) while to happen, but Rick managed to do what Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) couldn’t: cut loose. By the time the curse of Porch Dick Pete was complete, however, the showrunners may have exacted a much higher price, for some expected source fan payoff, than most viewers likely expected.

I’d take a moment to point out that Carol might’ve contributed to the Meat Poncho Train wreck; but the Law of Natural Selection might side with her, on this one, so –

Carol wasted no time in resetting to stalk-and-kill mode – despite Morgan’s (Lennie James) effort to engage her in a little post-match understanding. The great irony of the episode is that they turned out to both be right – but neither will ever know it. Well, maybe after the Denise (Merritt Wever) de-brief they might.

Maybe placing value in a domestic’s healing abilities (over just all the stuff he wanted to kill the likes of her to get) opened up Alpha Wolf (Benedict Samuel) to some of that change which Morgan had been telling him about; but I’d like to think that Morgan softened him up for Denise’s imprinting, just a tad. How much she may have influenced him, really, we’ll never know. His ultimate contribution to the battle was to serve as closure to both Carol & Morgan’s mutual failure. Convenient, in its poetic symmetry; but it was a pretty poetic episode.

Poetic license would be one way I’d explain Enid’s (Katelyn Nacon) breakthrough, after being hit over the head with Glenn (Steven Yeun) moralizing, up to this point. It was a little reminder that her stand-alone story wasn’t quite so stand-alone, after all. Tara (Alanna Masterson) having to to be soberingly reasoned down, by a matter-of-fact Rosita (Christian Serratos), might also fit the bill; but I guess Tara had a newly found reason to be off her game, and I did appreciate Rosita being shown as on top of her own.

Sometimes the difference, between stupid & heroic, is timing. For Peter Jackson’s Battle of Helm’s Deep, Aragorn performed a number of acts that would’ve been reckless suicide, had someone not been there to bail him out, and make those acts worthwhile. For TWD’s Battle of the Burning Pond (I hope that wasn’t the town water source – ‘cause Walker stew would be weak sauce for any diet), saving Rick from himself turned out to be one for the town history books – only because most of the initial witnesses didn’t recognize his action for what it was, nor what Michonne (Danai Gurira) & co. followed him out there to do. They saw a stand, not a rescue, and acted accordingly. By the same token, Glenn was stupid – which made Abe & Sasha’s effort seem… cheesy. How cheesy? Big ol’ Evil Dead level of grin on my face, that’s how cheesy (Abe’s ‘that’s what heroes do’ grin was the Hamburger Helper – they knew it was cheese); but that cheese likely left Enid with a lesson in selfless heroics, instead of one on pointless sentiment.

The single greatest moment of the episode didn’t involve RPGs, or well-timed rescues, but was that moment when you knew exactly what the Townies (who had clearly learned to hunker down, after the Wolf attack) were thinking, and were setting up to get going. That turning point, which not only made a Roadie stand credible, but made it a cheer-from-your-chair moment; as, for the first time, battling a mega Walker herd went from an exercise in weeding out the weak, to making the weak strong. It was a thing of beauty – in theme, conduct, and imagery.

I guess I should stop differentiating between Townies & Roadies. From Denise finding her inner Surgeon General, to Gabe making the most sense of his religious principles, to Eugene (Josh McDermitt) recognizing the moment for what it was, to all the nameless faces that – for once – crossed over from the casualty list to the kill count, the new Alexandrians have earned as much.

The great take away from ‘No Way Out’ had to be the single biggest reminder, yet, about not taking anyone/ anything for granted. Not nemesis material (remember Carter, from 6.01?), not post-apocalyptic life mate material. Great lengths had been taken to play up Ron’s (Austin Abrams) stalking of the Grimes, Negan’s point-man toying with ritual execution, and Glenn sacrificing himself; but while each of these played out according to (or against) expectations, they were great set-ups for nifty twists on such expectations. Prior to the episode airing, IMDB had listed Yeun as a guest star. This could’ve been considered a subtle hint, or a clever ruse; but it’s more fun to think of the matter as unresolved – considering the source material.

Heck, Rick’s personal loss, alone (after barely even being gained), ought to have been enough to send thousands of TWD comic books back to their shelves – the Alexandrian arc will not be playing by source rules. Until it does (like it partially did, with this ep); and the books come down again; but the point is that maybe the audience will shake off its own complacency, and just sit back to enjoy the ride.

The show has again demonstrated its ability to avoid having too many comfort zones & formulas. Formula can be overrated (by design), and who wants comfort zones in a horror/ thriller? Tonight’s twist on the source material may have cleared the slate for the Saviors arc. Time to bring home the Negan.

“We can beat ’em. We can beat ’em!”

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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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