Season 6 of The Walking Dead has gotten off to a great start, with the group assimilating to life in Alexandria, only to get the rug pulled out from them once again. In so many ways things started to go badly from episode one on, with the pristine conditions of Alexandria being destroyed first by the Wolves and later by a mega walker herd. Season 5 gave promise of salvation and society, and while all of that sounded ideal, I think we all knew given what we’ve seen on this show, it would only be temporary. Still, the drama of everything falling apart has been wonderful, and we’ve had some really impactful story as a result of everything going to hell. The show continues to be suspenseful and enjoying, which is all I could ever ask for from The Walking Dead. I’m really looking forward to the second half of the season, but since we’ll all have to wait a few months for the story to pick up again, here’s a few superlatives and notes i have on the season so far and what I hope to see going forward.
Favorite Character: Morgan Jones
- Having the character of Morgan back on the show was a very nice change of pace for this season, especially considering the changes he’s made to adapt to this world they’re living in. The moment he had with Rick at the end of last season was an amazing cliffhanger, indicating that the relationship between Morgan and Rick would continue to be a focal point of the show. The growth of their characters and their on and off relationship has been key in highlighting the results of living in such a stressful world, one where fear and danger can push humans to the brink of insanity and force them to do things they would never do before. While this dynamic was a wonderful premise, the actual Morgan storyline that developed in season six was far better than I had expected, and was more about Morgan’s growth as a person than anything else, which was refreshing. Probably the best/most artistic episode of the season was the ninety minute Morgan highlight, where we got the back-story behind his new Bo staff skills and how he’s come to a place of peace. The relationship he developed with Eastman was an unexpected, yet pleasant moment in this season filled with chaos, and the death of his friend after he instilled in him this peace of mind and body was equally heartbreaking. Having Morgan come back with this new found respect for humanity casts a deep contrasting shadow on this show, highlighting how far away the heroes of this show have gotten from living a normal life (by necessity of course). In the mid-season finale, we finally saw his efforts to preserve his hold on pre-apocalyptic values come to a head with the post-apocalyptic values of Carol, who has drifted the furthest away of anyone. Their fight, nearly to the death of them both, was a critical moment in this show’s history in my opinion. Morgan fought desperately to preserve the life of a man who wanted to murder people, and carol fought equally hard to kill that man in cold blood, in order to protect people from the damage she thought he could do. If it wasn’t already clear, the Morgan-Carol showdown showed that the values and ethics of humanity had indeed changed for good, and the problems the group is going to face in episodes to come will have to be met with a new value system, a compromise of human ethics and situational needs, or else conflict will tear the group apart. Morgan’s re-introduction has been handled great by the show, and has added an unexpected, but amazing new nuance to the group and his presence is going to force people to think, change, and adapt even more than they already have.
Least Favorite Character: Spencer Monroe
- There are plenty of characters in this world that are smart, that take advantage of their skills to survive, and value the people around them in order to bond cohesively. And then there are characters like Spencer, who have been sheltered and blinded by arrogance, the kind that would not survive on their own, but don’t believe that themselves. I think Spencer is really the poster child for what would have doomed Alexandria if Rick and his group weren’t recruited in, and it’s not hard to imagine that they would’ve been completely wiped out if not for the presence of people who were prepared for the worst. If anything, I think the one moment in this season that really made me despise this character was the moment where he got drunk and eviscerated his mother, Deanna, blaming her for his father’s death, among other things. It’s apparent that he’s not equipped for this world, but that moment made it clear that he wasn’t someone you could expect to adapt anytime soon. It was a very tense moment at the end of the last episode, where Deanna asked Rick to look out for Spencer once she’s gone and while he hesitated, he agreed to look out for him out of respect for her and what’s she’s tried to do. Of all the people in Alexandria, Spencer may be one of the least deserving of protection, but it will be interesting to see if Rick will be able to take Spencer under his wing and make him a useful asset for the team, if only out of respect for Deanna’s memory. I have my doubts about his usefulness to the group, and while I don’t see myself rooting for his success, I guess everyone deserves to find a way through the mess that is their world.
Best Storyline: The fate of Glenn Rhee
- In the sixth season of any show, there is a risk that viewers can tune out, that storylines can become predictable and cliché. But, the reason why The Walking Dead has stayed successful is that it continues, to surprise and shock fans, with its twists, emotional earnestness, and brutality. All of these attributes came into play when one of the most beloved characters of the show, Glenn Rhee, was caught up in a tough situation, surrounded by walkers with an unhinged Nicholas, who took his own life and sent Glenn into the herd, where it appeared as if he was eaten alive. This was by far the most shocking moment of the season, a surreal instance where one of the fan favorites was taken out, isolated and alone with no one around to help or even report back about his fate. The fans of the show took to social media in drones, really shaking up the fan-base with speculation about his death, and about whether or not we had actually seen correctly. It created a great deal of controversy and speculation, and I took to my blog to do a special piece discussing his “death” and examining the evidence to decide whether or not Glenn was truly dead. My conclusion was that Nicholas fell on Glenn, and we saw them devouring him on top of Glenn, giving me reason to believe we would see Glenn alive again. One of many gut-wrenching things about this show is how they make you wait for characters’ fates, and with Glenn’s fate in the balance, the show drew out his story for many weeks, playing out the stories of Morgan, Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, and Maggie and Aaron before bringing any resolution to Glenn’s fate. From a production standpoint, this was a wonderful way to drum up suspense and interest in the show, which is really necessary as any show gets older, and the wait for answers made the show just a little bit more intense to watch. After a few weeks, we finally got the answers we wanted, as we saw the scene play out just the way I predicted, with Nicholas being devoured on top of Glenn, and Glenn working his way under a tight dumpster, and waiting out the herd’s movement to survive his ordeal. It was almost unbelievable to see Glenn escape a most certain death, but it was plausible enough to enjoy and appreciate sincerely. The show hit a home run with this story; they executed it to perfection, and let the fan base speculation enliven the show. This was definitely the highlight of the season from a story perspective.
Worst Storyline: Abraham’s troubles and Sasha counseling him
- This season has been great so far, with great action, suspense, and dialogue throughout, but there was one incidental pairing that really just fell flat to me. Abraham and Sasha were together in the car driving the walkers away, when Daryl, on his motorcycle, decided to take matters into his own hand when things seemed to be going to hell at home. The resulting scenes had Abraham and Sasha drifting off course, out of contact with everyone else, and consequently discussing their mental states, with Sasha pointing out that Abraham was sliding into the kind of reckless apathy that she was lost in once her brother died. The whole thing kind of fell flat for me though, and if I’m being honest, I tuned out a lot of their dialogue. I think both characters are dynamic, and they bring something of value to the group, but together they don’t interest me at all. They’re both mired in a deep apathy, as their respective reasons for hope had been pulled out from under them, but I’m not invested in them helping each other through their issues, because it just doesn’t work for me. I think we’d get much better material from Abraham confronting his issues with Eugene and Rosita, and I think Sasha’s best scenes have been opposite Maggie, as they’ve been able to help each other find purpose. It’s weird, because this show has always been great at crafting impactful story out of incidental pairings, seen most effectively in season four, but this pairing was the first point in time I was left completely uninterested in an episode. Luckily, Daryl has rejoined them, and the three of them are in for a hell of a story with a new villain threatening their livelihood. There’s hope for their story to improve going forward.
- Deanna on her death bed
- Tovah Feldshuh was amazing throughout her entire run as Deanna Monroe, but her deathbed scenes were especially captivating. Her final moments with Rick and Judith were wonderful, as she basically passed the torch to Rick with a very moving speech. What was even greater was her final dying moments with Michonne, which really brought me back to Michonne’s final moments with Andrea. It was a similarly touching final moment, where Deanna explains the quote she wrote on the town plans, “Dolor Hic Tibi Proderit Olim.” She translated it for Michonne, telling her to be mindful that someday this pain will be useful to you. It was such a great scene, and I think it will truly be a moment that will give Michonne some added strength going forward to not just protect, but truly lead her people the way Deanna did. On top of all this, Deanna’s final scene, attacking the walkers in a final blaze of glory was about as sensational as anyone on this cast’s final moments have been.
- Finding out Glenn was alive
- After waiting weeks for some resolution for Glenn, it was such a victorious feeling as a fan of the show to see that Glenn made it. Not much really needs to be said here, one moment made the entire wait worthwhile. It just went to show there’s hope for (temporary) happy endings.
- Maggie coming to grips with Glenn possibly being dead
- I talked about the show’s ability to really work magic with incidental pairings on the show, as groups expand and contract over time, and I really think the producers and writers did great work with the Maggie/Aaron scenes. Maggie, fearful of Glenn’s fate, decided to take off on her own to find him, but Aaron would not let her go alone. She reluctantly let him help her, especially since he knew a second way out of the safe zone. The climax of their scenes were when they got to the end of the sewer pipe they travelled through, and saw the herd of walkers directly beside them. Aaron, stricken with guilt for his part in aiding the Wolves to locate them, was ready to go on a suicide mission to get past the walkers, but Maggie broke down and stopped their journey abruptly. It was stunning to see her come to grips with Glenn’s fate then and there, and her monologue was one of the greatest scenes of the season in my opinion. What makes these scenes even greater was the ending of their episode, when Maggie saw the green balloons in the air and knew that was the sign she was begging for. It was another one of those rare hopeful moments in the show, and Lauren Cohan’s acting in that whole episode was some of the best we’d seen from any of the long term characters all season.
5 Things I Want to See in the Second Half:
- Morgan and Carol finding some middle ground between their mentalities
- Their showdown at the end of the mid-season finale was some of the most intense conflict of the season involving main characters, and the premise of their clash hits at the heart of the show and the heart of the group’s very existence. Morgan’s newfound anti-violence creed is refreshing for the show, and after seeing his journey back from the brink, it’s hard not to back the lifestyle he’s trying to live. As for Carol, her ruthless has gotten to be quite appalling, especially given the effect it’s seemingly had on young Sam Anderson. Her quickness to jump to violence helped save lives in Alexandria, but it could also be seen as a hindrance to the group ever developing a rational civilization again. I think going forward, the two of them will need to find some common ground between their extremes if they want to co-exist with the group as a whole, because their conflict could easily be the end of one or both of them if hostilities continue.
- Glenn and Maggie reuniting and getting a pregnancy storyline
- The drama of Glenn’s disappearance sort of elevated his character from a secondary hero to someone who could really carry story in a big way. That coupled with Maggie’s great episode and her pregnancy reveal has the possibility to set up for some amazing story for those characters. We’ve all seen the Rick/Daryl/Carol show for a while now, and while they are sort of the main characters, I think it’s time to really focus on the strength of the Glenn and Maggie pairing. If they could get front and center story, I think season six could end on a real high note. I really want to see their story elevated going forward.
- Negan becoming a true nemesis for this group to contend with
- Ever since The Governor’s story came to a screeching halt at the prison attack, we haven’t had a true nemesis for this group, but that may be changing. In the end scenes of the last episode, we got introduced to Negan, who stopped Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham from travelling back to Alexandria. It was a short glimpse, but seeing the way that character carries himself, and knowing a few anecdotal things about the comics’ character, I think we’ve finally seen the introduction of another ruthless villain for the group to contend with. Having someone for them to focus their energy on could be a bonding force for the Alexandria group and all the factions that exist within it, so I’m looking forward to where the story goes from here with Negan and his group, and the threat he’ll pose to their livelihood.
- Resolution between Ron, Carl, Rick, and Jessie after all that’s happened between their families
- With the exception of the Morgan/Carol showdown, the second tensest moment of the mid-season finale was when an unhinged Ron tried to kill Carl. It was a shocking moment in the show, and probably one of the most dangerous situations anyone had been in this season not involving getting eaten alive. Going forward, this can’t be swept under the rug; it’s going to have to be addressed in full. If Rick and Jessie are indeed going to be a pairing of sorts, then work will have to be done to repair the relationships between Carl, Ron, and Rick. It’s going to be an intense moment when what happened is revealed, but it could also lead to some intense drama. I’m looking forward to see how the show handles this; I have a feeling it’s going to be great!
- Daryl kicking ass and taking names again
- In many ways I loved Daryl’s highlighted episode this season; his story with the survivors in the woods was touching and showed a great deal of growth and courage for his character, but the ending of his interaction was one of those horrible Walking Dead moments where we’re all reminded that you just can’t trust people anymore. The way Daryl went out of his way to help the three strangers he met when he realized that one of them was sick was admirable; it was a situation where you could clearly see Beth’s influence on him living on. But the fact that he got robbed blind for his kindness by Dwight, and later by Negan was a real one-two punch in the gut. But, the good news about these events is that it’s most likely going to wake up the beast in Daryl, and I think for the second half of the season we’re going to see him start kicking ass again. At least this is my hope going forward; it’s just not in Daryl’s nature to stay down for too long. If the season is going to go in the direction I think it will, Daryl is going to be a critical soldier in the good vs. evil showdown between Alexandria and all the forces that are going to try to destroy them. Daryl is the real hero of this show, and I hope he gets the last word when all is said and done.