THE Walking DEAD
Divide and conquer
Our overview of the latest instalments of zombie action.
UK Broadcast Fox, midseason break
US Broadcast AMC, midseason break
Episodes Reviewed 6.01-6.08
Thanks to box sets, ubiquitous catch-up services and social media, where spoiler-etiquette demands the immediate disembowelling of anyone who hints at plot points less than 600 years after broadcast, watercooler TV is becoming an endangered species. It’s a testament to The Walking Dead’s ability to get people talking that even in its sixth season it remains a show you have to watch live, or risk falling well behind on the conversation.
This was especially true of season six’s first half, which experimented with a compressed time frame and split-perspective format that frustrated as much as it thrilled. It’s not the first instance of The Walking Dead dividing its cast, but it’s a big problem when major players such as Daryl and Michonne barely feature, while the holding pattern the show fell into half way through the run felt particularly irksome when all anyone wanted to know was “WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO GLENN?”
But, man alive, were those first three episodes spectacular. In fact, we’d rank the trio of overlapping tales about Rick’s ill-fated plan to redirect a colossal zombie horde away from Alexandria and an unfortunately timed attack by the Wolves among the best run of episodes the show has ever had. It’s a rare example where weekly breaks between episodes were not only welcome, but essential – attempt to watch “First Time Again”, “JSS” and “Thank You” back to back and you’ll barely breathe for three hours, culminating in Glenn’s gutwrenching dumpster dive.
That controversial Glenn cliffhanger could prove a make or
How long can the show keep up the settlement cycle?
break moment for the show. The Walking Dead has always prided itself on the fact that anyone could die at anytime, but does Glenn’s miraculous survival mean that the big five (Rick, Daryl, Michonne, Carol and Glenn) are safe, especially outside of season finales? It’s not the first time The Walking Dead has pulled a fake-out death – Carol seemed to cop it in season three – but refusing to reveal Glenn’s fate for quite so long led most to assume that of course he survived.
What was great: a rare flashback episode where we finally learnt why Morgan has sworn off bloodshed, featuring exemplary guest stars John Carroll Lynch and Tabitha the goat. Its placement was perfect – a blissful change of pace after the carnage of the preceding episodes. It’s just a shame the remaining episodes failed to capitalise – four examples of serviceable but far from thrilling storytelling that focused on character, but offered scant insight.
Showrunner Scott Gimple has revealed that the second half of season six will be “very, very different from the first half in tone and the line-up of characters”, with a plot-driven structure centred on external threats. With Alexandria lost (for now) it seems likely the gang will hit the road again, but how long can the show keep up with the settlement cycle before it starts to bore?
That’s part of the reason why this first half of season six felt so welcome – experimentation is an important reason why The Walking Dead is an unqualified phenomenon. It might not always hit the mark, as these eight episodes prove, but for a show about shambling corpses it’s got a surprising amount of life left in it yet. Jordan Farley
Let’s see 118 118 get them out of this one.
Once they were like you and me.
Leave it Kev, he’s not worf it!