The season 6 opener of The Walking Dead is both a flashback and flashforward. The time jump is framed in color for present and black and white for past, with the black and white story taking us to the Alexandria after the death of Reg Monroe and the execution of Pete Anderson, at the hands of Rick Grimes. This complex situation brings us to the story in color; Alexandria a few months (weeks?) down the line. The juxtaposition allows for a quick and dirty transition for audiences to the new Tribe, who are ultimately trying to build a community during the apocalypse while fighting for their lives from both the living and the dead.
Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…
Morgan has made it to Rick, and it is interesting to see the mess that is Alexandria from his point of view. He reminds me of Dale and mostly Hershel, a moral compass whom the Tribe could sorely use. Rick has always blossomed with a mentor–someone older and wiser than him, who’s ideas he is willing to submit to because he believes in that person’s vision of society as much as their survival skills. Morgan convinces Rick to bury Pete so his sons can find his grave instead of leaving him to the walkers, and it’s a touching moment that reveals Rick’s ability to show some compassion. While Rick’s concern for Jessie and Pete’s son, Ron may be well placed, he crosses more than a few lines with his speech and, no matter how he tries to explain his reasons to Jessie, she doesn’t seem as receptive to Rick’s wooing as she did before she watched Rick kill her (asshole, abusive) husband. Life isn’t always a matter of black and white–the grey areas make up the most of our time on this planet, and Morgan may be able to remind Rick of that.
Present time reveals the Tribe as they are today, faced with the impossible task of wrangling thousands of walkers trapped in a quarry but soon to be overrunning Alexandria. While the iminent threat of the walkers escaping is obviously important, Rick takes to the idea with vigor, which the Alexandria residents don’t take to especially well. Rick’s most vocal opponent to his plan of “parade the walkers twenty miles that-a-way and hope they don’t make a right turn” is Carter, who tries to form a coup, almost shoots Eugene, before mostly falling into line. Rick tests the Alexandrians by ordering them to take care of a small horde of walkers that attack while they work on fortifying the wall. They, of course, choke, including Carter, who Rick is starting to realize isn’t cut out for this whole survival thing. Throughout all this, Deanna continues to defer to Rick, which, in her grief, is understandable, but could be detrimental to the well being of Alexandria. Without someone to bring balance to the Ricktatorship, he has the potential to go dark really fast. While Carter brings up some good points about Rick’s (lack of) sanity, he ultimately proves Rick right regarding his (lack of) preparedness when Carter gets his face eaten by a walker. Although Rick killing Carter to keep him quiet seems a bit harsh, both Morgan and Michonne know that it’s “the way things are” in the dark times they live in, even if it is another step in the direction of the dark side.
Speaking of dark side, Carol has gone deep cover, which is as creepy as it is brilliant. Both she and Rick realize that infiltrating the Alexandrian psyche may help the Tribe survive, but it’s still playing dirty. The best part? Morgan sees her, which will probably either help or hinder him his place in the Tribe heirarchy.
While the walker parade seems to be leading the dead away from Alexandria, a loud horn begins to blow fom the direction of the town. which is probably courtesy of the Wolves. We know that Carl’s new girlfriend is part of the Wolf crew, and we know that they were wrangling walkers and killing their own the last time we saw them. Other than that, the Wolves remain a mystery, but we can only assume, like so many others, they want what Rick and the Tribe have or they want to watch it burn.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9pm.
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