The Walking Dead, S6 Ep9 – No Way Out

It’s a Bloody Valentine’s Day as The Walking Dead returns from its mid-season hiatus.

The episode begins with a bang (literally) as the first few minutes pick up from the prologue to the second half of the season, with Sasha, Daryl, and Abraham confronted with a group of mean bikers who claim to be working for Negan. Just before the leader of this nasty crew shoots Sasha and Abraham, the whole group goes up in flames as Daryl uses a rocket launcher. Awesome.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep9 - No Way OutThen we return to Alexandria, which is still overrun with walkers. We watch how several groups of characters try and deal with this sticky situation. Rick and his family are wandering around, covered in walker guts. Carol, Morgan, Tara, Rosita, and Eugene are holed up in a house while the surviving Wolf and Denise bide their time. And there are a bunch of people in the infirmary. Then there’s Glenn and Enid, who try and get supplies from the town church so that they can save Maggie, who remains alone and surrounded by walkers.

There’s a lot going on, but somehow The Walking Dead manages to balance these simultaneous story lines and still give the characters some big moments. Granted, not everyone gets enough screen time or the treatment they deserve (the tense confrontation between Carol and Morgan leads nowhere and the Wolf suddenly starts being concerned about Denise only to be shot down by Carol). Glenn and Enid’s scenes also drag along quite slowly. There’s also a strange transition from daytime to nighttime, as it seems like the characters have been stuck in their respective positions for hours without anything significant happening.

But when the focus is on Rick and his doomed group, the episode really stands out. When the first half of the season ended, we saw Sam crying out in fear to his mother, and I thought that we would see the immediate consequences to this understandable but dangerous reaction in the middle of a crowd of walkers. But apparently, all the Andersons survive until nightfall and continue to hold hands with Rick, Carl, and Michonne as they try to execute a plan doomed to fail.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep9 - No Way OutThe scenes that started out in unsettling slow motion then began to pick up the pace in a tragic way, as the dominoes began to fall for the Andersons. Sam finally freaks out about being surrounded by monsters and of course, the noise he makes leads to his grisly end. His mother, understandably distraught by the carnage she just witnessed, lets out a wail of sorrow that also leads to her being devoured by walkers as Rick watches on helplessly. Unfortunately, she has her hand clamped on Carl even as she dies, and Rick thinks quickly enough to hack Jessie’s hand with an ax in order to release Carl. All this is too much for the horrible Ron, whose reaction is frustrating but understandable. He aims a gun at Rick and is prevented from killing him by Michonne, who stabs him with her sword. But the gun still goes off and hits Carl in the eye.

Whew. That’s a lot to take in while still being surrounded by hungry walkers. But Rick picks up his injured son while Michonne slashes their way to safety.

“God will save Alexandria because God has given us the courage to save it for ourselves.”

The remaining townspeople of Alexandria finally prove their worth by rallying to Rick during his mad rampage. The scared but determined people fight walkers side by side and together, they manage to win against the horde. It’s an epic and memorable slash fest that stands out as one of the most action-packed episodes of The Walking Dead, and that’s saying something. There’s even a brief but intense walker-slaying montage showing each of the characters unleashing their fury.

For a moment, we almost witness Glenn’s death (again) but Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham arrive in the nick of time to save the day, bringing with them machine guns and way more fire power. The reinforcements make all the difference and the huge fire they create consumes most of the walkers.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep9 - No Way OutThe episode ends on a note of exhaustion and triumph as the bloodied survivors take stock of their work, and the once cloistered townspeople of Alexandria finally get a taste of what it had always been like surviving beyond the walls. A forlorn Rick sits by Carl’s bedside and speaks hopefully for the first time in a long time. He realizes that he wants to build a new world for his family, and he wants Carl to be there to witness it. Carl will be there to see it (albeit only with one eye).

The Walking Dead is back, and returned with an epic, bloody walker massacre that brought characters and disparate storylines back together in Alexandria. After defeating a massive horde of zombies, all the characters will have some chance of respite before the next big hurdle. But I’m guessing trouble won’t be far away.