**Warning: This Article Contains Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 6b Premiere “No Way Out”**
Let me start off by sending a huge, “Thank you!” to the nerd-love Gods for sending us The Walking Dead mid-season premiere on Valentine’s Day! Plans made. No gift needed. Just me, the dude, some wine, a bowl of popcorn and lots and lots of “Holy shits!”
So, holy shit!
From minute one of last night’s premiere, the trauma began. We started where we left off in Episode 8: Sasha, Abraham, and Darryl getting robbed by a biker gang in the name of the yet to be introduced (but highly anticipated) Negan. The plot thickened when the leader, who really loves poop metaphors, informed them his crew would be following them back to Alexandria to no doubt, rob them some more. As Darryl disappears to the back of the tank with one of the bikers to give an inventory of their supplies, the leader grows impatient with Abraham and Sasha and decides to kill them both. Just as he raises his guns, a missile blasts and takes out the whole seedy biker gang. Darryl emerges from behind the tank holding a bazooka (looking like the badass he is) with a gash on his back from an ultimately victorious struggle with the now deceased biker.
“Nibble on that,” Abraham sums up (referring to the poop metaphor).
In Alexandria, Tara, Rosita, Eugene, Carol and Morgan grapple with how to save Dr. Denise as Dr. Denise and the Hot Wolf (with really poor dental hygiene) attempt to make their way out of Alexandria. When they finally begin their way through the herd, Hot Wolf gets bitten. Dr. Denise convinces him to take her back to the infirmary where she can save him but trigger-happy Carol sees the pair from a window and shoots him before he can make it. In an unexpected act of redemption, Hot Wolf throws himself at the walkers so Dr. Denise can make it back safely.
Meanwhile, Rick, Sam, Jessie, Carl (with Baby Judith), Ron, Michonne, and Father Gabe are holding hands and making a slow journey through the walker party covered in blood and flesh. While the mid-season finale ended with Sam having a moment (yelling, “Mom, mom…”), we begin this one with him getting it together. Rick determines that there are too many walkers to control with weapons, so he convinces the group to head to the quarry to get vehicles, return, and drive the herd out. They decide the journey is too unsafe for Judith and Father Gab assures Rick he will protect Judith in his church. Jessie tries to convince Sam to go with Father Gabriel and Judith but Sam insists on staying with his mom. In what, at the time, I thought was the worst idea ever, Father Gab takes Judith to his church.
As the group continues the journey, Sam begins to hallucinate, hearing Carol’s words in his head convincing him he would die a bloody death. If you recall, Carol threatened him last season when she was trying to get him to keep her secret (that she is really a homicidal ambiguous heroine who hoards weapons). In true little boy fashion, he starts to cry. In true The Walking Dead fashion, he proceeds to get massacred.
The walkers pounce and blood and mayhem ensues. Jessie, understandably traumatized, stumbles into a group of walkers and proceeds to get torn apart as Rick watches helplessly. Things grow even more dire when we realize she failed to let go of Carl’s hand. Rick, still mourning his girlfriend, is forced to free his son from Jessie’s grip by cutting off her hand with his ax. Carl falls briefly and drops his gun. To no one’s surprise, Ron picks it up, aims it at Rick (I mean, the man killed his dad AND chopped his mom’s hand off). Michonne quickly impales Ron with her Katana but not before a bullet discharges and hits Carl in the eye.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
Thankfully, Dr. Denise, makes in back to the infirmary where we are reunited with Heath, Aaron and other Alexandrians, just in time for Rick and Michonne to arrive with a seriously injured Carl. While Dr. Denise works to save Carl, Rick walks out of the infirmary with his ax and goes Tyrese (RIP) on the walkers, massacring everything in sight. Michonne gives Carl a quick kiss on the forehead before running out to fight by Rick’s side. In a touching act of unity, Alexandrians emerge from their houses to fight beside them. Glen and Enid rescue Maggie (with the help of Abraham and Sasha who return just in time) and help Darryl sets the remaining walkers on fire.
The mid-season premiere was gory, emotive, traumatic and just about everything we have come to love (and sort of hate) about The Walking Dead. I’d argue this episode was one of the most traumatic in the show’s six season history. Not only did a whole family get massacred, it also marks the first time we have watched a child get eaten by walkers (Sophia was bitten off camera and Lizzy was done in by Carol). If this is foreshadowing of what is to come for the remainder of the season, I think we can expect the worst. Nothing is off-limits.
This episode’s MVP is a tie between Michonne and Darryl. Michonne kills Ron before he can kill Rick, and she literally slays her way through the walkers to help Rick get Carl to the infirmary (Danai’s performance is insanely DOPE). And Darryl, well, Darryl doesn’t just save Sasha and Abraham’s life, he saves Alexandria.
Biggest Surprises of the Episode: Father Gab and Eugene didn’t die. Both men woman-up this episode. Father Gab not only got Judith safely to the church. He went back out to fight beside the Alexandrians. Likewise, Eugene, recognizing how freaking epic the moment is, insists on fighting beside Rosita. Another big surprise was the Hot Wolf’s redemption.
If The Walking Dead has taught us anything in its six seasons, it’s that the dark side of humanity is society’s biggest threat. While at first it is unclear whether the Hot Wolf is saving Dr. Denise for himself, after Carol shoots him, he throws himself into a walker and encourages her to go making it clear he wanted her to be safe. I didn’t expect much from the Hot Wolf so I was pleasantly surprised by his final moments. Maybe Morgan was right? You can come back.
Biggest Prediction for the Remaining Episodes: Negan is coming for everyone. You don’t just blow up a man’s whole biker crew and get away with it, Darryl. Retribution will come and chances are, it won’t be pretty.
Faye McCray is a writer, TWD junkie and horror/sci fi obsessed blerdette skulking around the suburbs of Washintgon, D.C writing stuff and saying very little. She is the author of Dani’s Belts, a collection of short stories that follow a young college student turned unlikely heroine of the zombie apocalypse. She is also the author of Boyfriend, a novel following a young man as he navigates love and fidelity in college. Faye’s work also appears in the horror anthology, Anything But Zombies. When she isn’t writing, Faye is spending time with her hubby and two young children and leading a covert double life as an attorney. You can find Faye at www.fayemccray.com and on Facebook and Twitter @fayewrites.