“The Walking Dead” is back, and it brings with it an absurdly obnoxious structure for its season premiere. We join the gang as they attempt to solve their walker overload problem, and for some reason, Scott Gimple and his team opted to tell the story through a series of disorganized zig-zags between flashbacks and live action. It’s a format that would be hard to maintain even for the usual 44-ish minute runtime, but when used during a supersized episode it becomes extremely distracting. Nonetheless, let’s dive in.
In the flashbacks, we (vaguely) follow the progression of the group’s attitudes and actions following the events of last season’s finale. Rick’s refusal to bury former scumbag/current dead person Pete within community boundaries leads him and Morgan to the discovery of what may be the largest swarm of walkers the group has encountered thus far. Rick lays out a plan to combat this issue; basically, his plan is to use a combination of flare guns and their vehicles to lead the walkers far away from the community. This plan is met with skepticism, particularly by Carter, a person who apparently exists. Carter’s excessive protests, combined with the fact that he just appeared out of nowhere, pretty much instantly establishes his existence as nothing more than a strawman. One could even assume that he will likely be dying soon, and sure enough…
In the end, Carter’s protests are largely ignored, and Rick’s plan goes forward. It actually all seems to be going fairly well, even with Carter’s unfortunate demise, but then we hear a horn off in the distance, leading the walkers right back toward Alexandria. And that pretty much sums up the majority of the action in this episode, somehow.
Really, the only thing of interest here is the dynamic between Rick and Morgan. We already know things are going to go south with them pretty quickly, but we of course have a bit of storytelling left in order to get there. In tonight’s episode we see Morgan insisting that Rick still is the same man he used to be. Rick was the man who gave him the hope to continue on his journey, so for Morgan to give up on him, it’s going to take a lot. They have a few genuinely nice moments tonight; Rick even insists that Morgan holds Judith, who the writers temporarily remembered to include (apparently at the expense of Carl?). However, by the end of the episode, we see Morgan’s faith in Rick begin to fade. He expresses disappointment in Rick for his “trial by fire” method of teaching the weak links of the community how to handle walkers, and is further disillusioned by the callous manner in which Rick euthanizes Carter after a walker bite. For now, he still seems willing to accept that this is just how things have to be now, but the cracks in the foundation of their tentative friendship are already beginning to show.
“The Walking Dead” is not good at season premieres. This is something we know to expect at this point. It’s always going to be a slow burn, involving a whole lot of exposition to get us from where we left off to where we need to be going forward. Adding the distracting episode structure on top of that just seemed unnecessary; hopefully we see less gimmicky formatting going forward, as it simply is not this show’s forte. As much as TWD would love to be artsy or edgy, it’s at its best when it just stops taking itself too seriously.
- How long until Abraham finally loses his shit entirely?
- The Wolves got a passing shoutout, which pretty much sums up their actual presence in the series thus far.
- Eugene to new guy (with dreads) Heath: “I fully respect the hair game”
- Glenn to Heath when Heath talks about how nothing is going as expected: “I was supposed to be delivering pizza, man”
- I don’t know if it’s just for the benefit of the audience or not, but Carol’s whole playing-dumb act is absurdly obvious
- Morgan asks Michonne if she took his last peanut butter protein bar, because it’s important to keep your priorities straight in the zombie apocalypse