The Walking Dead “No Way Out” Review (Season 6 Episode 9)


Previously on The Walking Dead . . .

– The wall came crashing down at Alexandria, which allowed the herd outside to take over the community.

– After losing Deanna to a bite, the group led by Rick decided to use the Season 1 trick of zombie gut camouflage in an attempt to escape the horde.

– Daryl, Sasha and Abe were confronted by the Sons of Anarchy who, in The Walking Dead universe, work for a mysterious figure named Negan.

– Glenn looked on in horror, with Enid in tow, as he spotted Maggie all alone on a tower with a large crowd of zombies aggressively pursuing her.

– Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Morgan found himself in a world of trouble with Carol, as she discovered his secret wolf. In an effort to save the wolf, Morgan knocked out Carol and his reward for his generosity? Being knocked out by the wolf, who kidnapped Denise – much to the horror of Eugene, Rosita and Tara.

With so much at stake, there was no doubt that the season premiere of The Walking Dead would be action packed and that the likelihood of casualties would be high. Before getting into my review of “No Way Out,” a few housekeeping notes –

Howdy!
My name is Jocelyn and I’m so excited about taking on reviews of The Walking Dead for TV Equals! Although I’m new to reviews for the show, I have been reviewing other shows for TV Equals for awhile now. I’m currently reviewing Shameless and Teen Wolf. I am a long time fan of the show. I’ve watched every season (repeatedly) and I have read the comics. I will limit my comments to the show only. If something from the comics plays out on the show, as it did in the mid-season premiere, I may note it. Although I am a fan of the show, I do find that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. For the most part, I am always entertained and I think The Walking Dead has one of the most talented ensemble casts on television. However, I do get frustrated with continuity issues, plot holes and some of the timeline shenanigans by the writers and showrunners, so expect a mix of praise and criticism.

And now for the review . . .
The writers did not disappoint in picking up on the action from the mid-season finale and giving viewers an episode chock full of adrenaline-inducing action. It’s a small thing, but my favorite part of the episode was the closing moments when we found all of our favorite survivors in the same place – finally. Of course, the journey there for each of the groups wasn’t too bad either.

Grenade Launchers Solve Everything!
Actually they don’t. But in the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead, the grenade launcher Abraham found sure did come in handy. The episode opened up with Sasha, Abe and Daryl being confronted and shaken down by the Sons of Anarchy. For those who have not seen Sons of Anarchy, it’s a show about a bike gang – hence the reference. The Sons demanded that the trio turn over everything in their possession, after which the bikers would escort the trio back to their home so they could observe how they were living. It was pretty clear that this was code for, “take us to your home so we can continue to rob you of your possessions.”

According to the leader, the gang was “claiming” the trio’s possessions in the name of Negan. Evidently, everything belongs to Negan. In addition to taking people’s property, the group also believes in making an initial impression by killing one person in the group in order to set the tone and send a message. That’s quite the ice-breaker. For plot reasons, the leader decided not to shoot first and ask questions later, which conveniently allowed Daryl enough time to take down one of the gang members and eviscerate the group very efficiently thanks to the grenade launcher.

After narrowly escaping a very dangerous situation, the trio heads home – more on that later. Although the grenade launcher was a very convenient way to avoid having to kill off Sasha, Abraham and/or Daryl in the opening moments of the episode, I thought the scene did a good job at introducing viewers to just how ruthless and dangerous Negan’s group is. I absolutely believe that, but for the grenade launcher, the bike gang leader would have killed Sasha and/or Abe. I do no think there was anything Sasha could have said to get them out of that grim predicament.

A Message In The Madness
After seeing his wife in peril in the mid-season finale, Glenn rushed off with Enid to a nearby church in order to find tools to help them rescue Maggie. This scene felt much less about conveniently finding a gun and ammo and more about Glenn’s message to Enid about loss and keeping the people you’ve lost with you at all times. That’s all fine and well, but I do worry when characters on The Walking Dead step up to be the moral center. As we’ve seen with Hershel, Dale and countless others, being the moral center is often a deadly curse on this show.

I also found the church scenes a bit odd because it was hard to get a sense of exactly where Glenn and Enid were in relation to the Alexandria community and the horde. With their scenes rapidly switching from daylight at the church to nighttime when the duo returned to help Maggie, it was hard to gauge where Enid and Glenn ended up. The shift from day to night suggests it might have been pretty far, which raises more questions about whether Glenn would really be comfortable going so far away from Maggie – even if it was to get materials to help her – if he knew there was a chance that too much time away might have had fatal consequences.

Glenn and Enid return and enact their distract and save plan. I give a lot of credit to Lauren Cohan, who was so convincing in the fear and terror she displayed as she thought that Glenn was sacrificing his life for hers. As a viewer, it was hard to buy into the urgency of the situation thanks to the writers fake out with Glenn earlier in the season. Unsurprisingly, Abe, Sasha and Daryl arrive just in time to take out the walkers surrounding Glenn.

The Lone Wolf
Although it was frustrating to watch the drama between Morgan and Carol unfold in the middle of a zombie herd during the mid-season finale, I appreciated what the conflict represented. Both Morgan and Carol have had their lone wolf moments, in which each has made an arguably questionable decision for what he/she believed was the greater good. For Carol, it was her choice to kill Karen and David during the great flu outbreak at the prison because she thought it would help the disease from spreading. It was a total lone wolf move and one that led to her exile from the group for awhile. Conversely, Morgan pulled the lone wolf move when he decided to spare the life of one of the Wolves and keep him at Alexandria without the rest of the group’s knowledge/permission.

After discovering Morgan’s stow-away wolf, a conflict ensued between the two very strong personalities. No matter how you feel about the choices made by Carol and Morgan, there is no denying that Lennie James and Melissa McBride are extremely talented actors and that scenes between them are amazing to watch.

Before Carol shot him several times, the stow-away wolf appeared to have turned over a new leaf while trying to escape with Denise. This transition felt a bit rushed and somewhat random. I was okay with him representing someone who was not inclined to change, despite Morgan’s best efforts. It was hard to read whether it was Morgan who got through to him or if it was his very brief time with Denise that resulted in his change and we will now never know because he is long gone. There was some discussion about his motivations on Talking Dead, but I don’t think you should have to watch the aftershow to understand what happened in an episode. That aside, I am okay with this being a bit of rushed ending by the writers. There was simply not enough time to play out the transition in the mid-season premiere and frankly, I’m more interested in the aftermath between Carol and Morgan.

Team Grimes
In the closing moments of the mid-season finale, we saw Team Grimes cloaked in zombie guts and entering the herd. Sam, bless his heart, decided that was a good moment to stop and say “mom, mom.” I was pretty sure that Jessie and sons were toast, but I thought it would be because of Sam’s whole “mom” bit. I was a little frustrated that we did not get to see what happened in those immediate moments after the group went outside. How exactly did they get Sam to shut up and go?

Another surprising moment was Rick’s decision to put his trust in Father Gabriel and send Judith along with him to safety. In the last few episodes, all we’ve seen is Rick’s utter contempt for Father Gabriel. Nothing about the exchanges between the two suggested that, even in the most dire circumstances, Rick would trust Gabriel with his child’s life – especially his most vulnerable child. I suppose desperate times call for desperate acts, as Rick allowed Gabriel to take Judith to safety.

Speaking of people with whom the characters allow to spend time with their children, unbeknownst to Jessie, allowing Sam to spend time with Carol was probably not the best idea. Once again, the fast transition from daylight to nighttime was a little confusing, as I would like to have a better sense of just how long it took for Sam to finally freak out. Poor Sam was haunted by the zombie faces and Carol’s words, which led to him becoming a zombie appetizer. Shocked by the site of zombies munching away on her youngest, Jessie soon became the entree at the zombie’s three-course dinner. Having lost his entire family, Ron’s anger and resentment resurfaced. He threatened Carl and Rick with a gun, which earned him a sword through the chest courtesy of Michonne. And with that, Ron was the desert to the family style dinner served to the zombies thanks to Jessie and her kids.

As Ron went down, he fired off a few shots and hit Carl in the eye. As a comic book reader, I knew there was a possibility that Carl might lose his eye to an errant gunshot. I suspected that it would happen at the hands of Ron when Rick decided it was a good idea to let the angry teen learn how to use a gun. Even though I saw it coming, it did not take away from the horror and shock as Carl turned to Rick and revealed his wound. The scene was setup and directed really well. Likewise, Andrew Lincoln (Rick) and Danai Gurira (Michonne) did a great job at portraying shock, urgency and determination as they powered through the zombies and rushed Carl to the medical station for help.

As longtime fans know, Rick can be darn near unstoppable when it comes to protecting his kids. I loved how his decision to go out and face the zombies, with Michonne closely behind, gave the Alexandrians the kick in the pants they needed to face their fears and get to stabbing. The scene in which we watched the characters one-by-one, slashing and stabbing away at the zombies was excellent.

Once again, grenade launchers saved the day. Daryl created a big, fiery distraction, which brought an end to the herd. The group gathered together and tended to their wounds while Rick spoke to Carl about the promise of a new world and a new life.

Stuff, Thangs and Other Observations . . .
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– Although I was not afraid that Glenn would die, I did get nervous as Sasha and Abe sprayed the walkers with bullets. Did anyone ever worry that they might mistakenly hit Glenn?

– It will be interesting to see if Michonne harbors any guilt for how her stabbing Ron inadvertently caused Carl’s injury. Most people would understand that it was not her fault, but Michonne loves those Grimes boys so much that it would not be surprising to see her feel some guilt. There were so many amazing character beats by Lincoln and Gurira. I loved Rick’s nod to Michonne right after she stuck the sword through Ron, as well as Michonne kissing Carl on the head before she headed out after Rick. Both actors conveyed so much without uttering a word. Those are the moments that bring me back each week.

Survivor Of The Week
This week, the award goes to two characters – Father Gabriel and Eugene. At long last, both characters put their fears aside and kicked some zombie butt. Both appear to have turned a corner, so I hope the writers will stay the course.

Until Next Week!
What did you think of the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead? Sound off below and keep it spoiler free!

*Gif from giphy.