The Walking Dead: Season Six – The Series So Far

The Walking Dead came racing back onto our screens three Sunday’s ago and with a new series came three things: Hoards of the undead, bloody mayhem and brutal kills. The idea to up the anti on the graphic violence is an interesting choice considering the strength of seasons four and five based on the character driven narratives and exploration of humanity they both encompassed. Having said that, season six has thus far presented fans with a visually-impacting thrill ride that has thrown a lot at its audience very, very quickly.

TWD_603_GP_0529_0021.original

steven yeun as glenn in the walking dead

Who really are these Wolf madmen? Where did Ron appear from all of a sudden? What has happened to Morgan in the time since he last saw Rick? And, most importantly; Has the latter gone completely bat-shit crazy? There are a lot of questions to be answered and thirteen more episodes in which to do so – hurrah. While the series started in a buzz of hectic Walker-sitting and machete-wielding murderers on the loose in Alexandria there was still time for a bit of character development via the always popular background stories. We’ve been able to get to grips with why Enid is so solemn (if the whole Zombie thing wasn’t enough) and had an introduction to one or two new faces. These include Denise, a new doctor in the community, and Heath, an Alexandria resident who is getting to grips with the authority of Rick and Co’ having been out on a run since they arrived.

The most intriguing element so far, thematically speaking, is the idea that Rick is slowly becoming some kind of antagonist to the residents of Alexandria, and even to those he has been with for some time. As Andrew Lincoln steps up as an actor of immense talent, we see a dark side to the lead character who (if we really think about it) lost his mind somewhere in season four. The underlying sub-plot of this has been brewing for some time, as has Carol‘s lack of compassion. The pair have become a kind of terrifying duo that, as an audience, we aren’t sure whether to still root for, or wish people to run from.

Lincoln still predominately leads the show with Steven Yeun as Glenn supporting him in a role that had everyone’s heart in tatters this week. The arrival of new characters always brings an extra dimension to the series and forces new on-screen friendships and shows of camaraderie that – if acted and scripted well – are genuinely moving. Episode one, First Time Again, didn’t match up to the level of intensity and sheer shocks of season five’s No Sanctuary which blew the lid off of previous openers (and apparently this year’s premiere couldn’t quite compete). JSS and Thank You have more than made up for the slow burner of the first inauguration and if writers choose to keep this pace – and maintain the aesthetically impressive action sequences – The Walking Dead’s sixth season could easily be its best yet.

Note: My reviews are based solely on the television series as a viewer with no knowledge of events taking place in the graphic novels.

The Walking Dead – Conquer, review

The Walking Dead came to it’s ferocious season five end this week in a climatic episode that stirred plenty of tension amongst spectators and characters alike. If you are yet to feast your eyes on Conquer, this weeks appropriate title awarded to Kirkman’s finale, expect new foes, a crazed Rick Grimes and a whole load of brutality. In a lot of episodes which have been up and down, episode ten didn’t leave fans disappointed and has set the tone for the nature in which AMC’s triumphant show now encompasses.

The ‘safe’ locale of the walled-community in Alexandria has posed a juxtaposition to the on-the-road narrative of previous installments, and while its refreshing to meet a batch of new people, several episodes have been lacking when it comes to excitement. Monday night saw a return to form with what viewers love most when it comes to WD, and that is the unexpected. In a 90 minute final, its the last five that stay in the mind the most, with a staggering closing scene that reunites old and new friends.

Writers Gimple and Hoffman have successfully given us a glimpse into the emotions of all key characters in Conquer, which has been one of the biggest flaws of the final round of episodes. Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Rick, Daryl, Carol and more all had their share of the teleplay and to be reminded of why we all love them certainly added an enjoyable spin to a generally dark atmosphere. Congratulations to all involved for not making this narrative a convoluted one.

With no more new episodes until season six premieres in October, fans will have to keep themselves occupied with the graphic novels and even perhaps the spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead. A great final for a genuinely impressive show.

The Walking Dead – Spend, review

The cracks are starting to show in Alexandria. Certain members of the community aren’t entirely how they seem and issues such as domestic abuse are being brought in to remind those watching that while this may be a post-apocalypse world, its still the world. These things exist. Zombies or no zombies. Its been an up and down ride with these new episodes; some shining with a genuine intensity that is reminiscent of some of the classic features of this genre (this weeks even reminded me a little of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later). Some struggling to live up to their predecessors. Spend – yes, another ambiguous title – has managed to pick the second half of series five out of its stupor and back to life. The pace is slowly but surely starting to fasten and the enigma surrounding the Alexandria tribe is coming to light. Its exciting stuff, really.

Monday nights episode saw Glenn, Noah, Eugene, Tara and new boys Aidan and Nicholas go on a scavenge for solar panel repair parts. As is usually the case with these things – it doesn’t go well. Be prepared to say goodbye to a main player as questions of morals and reliability comes to light. Back in the walled town, Carol makes a discovery about one of the seemingly wholesome families and Father Gabriel continues to remind us all why we wish Rick had just left him behind at the food bank. There’s a whole lot going on and that seems to be the running theme at the moment – all or nothing. Last week’s Forget may as well of belonged in a pre-watershed family drama, Monday nights fits well and truly in the adult sector. The latter is when WD is on top form.

With only two more episodes to go the plot continues to thicken. Who can be trusted, and who will make the first move in destroying this idyllic life that Deanna  is so desperately clinging on too? The answer to that is no one really knows (well, unless you’ve read the comics but just keep that quiet, yeah?) and that’s the genius in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – the unexpected.

The Walking Dead, review

Them, this weeks episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead is possibly one of the worst of the entire fifth season. It seems I was alone in thinking last weeks was pretty genius, with the general consensus that the dream-like aesthetic was out of place and for a premiere of part two of the series, it lacked spark. If you weren’t a fan of What Happened and What’s Going On you won’t love Them either. Come on Kirkman and co’, don’t let us down now.

While part of the zombie genre is inherently known for gratuitous gore and non-stop action, The Walking Dead hasn’t always stuck to that formula. Some of the best episodes have been conversation driven, with past reminiscing and analyses of the rapid decline of a civilized world always present. Coupled with Walker battles, this is when WD shines. This weeks episode offered little in the way of either. And to think, they want to make another six seasons. One of the biggest problems is the familiarity of the locale – a change up is needed, and the promise of Washington DC is something to look forward to. If you read my weekly updates, you’ll be aware that I am true fan – whatever I’m reviewing, I always try and tackle from a positive perspective (no one likes a naysayer), and while there were one or two positives to last nights episode, I was definitely left somewhat disappointed.

Narrative-wise a lot of walking, a lot of unhappy faces, and some bad weather were all thrown in for good measure. Norman Reedus, in a silent yet poignant scene, encapsulated the loss that all of the group feel after the death of Beth and Tyreese, and his role as Daryl continues to be one of the best of the ensemble cast. The final moments set the tone for the next episode, introducing a new character who claims to be a ‘friend’. This is just one bad episode in a collection of ultimately great ones. Let’s have faith that The Walking Dead won’t lose its way.

The Walking Dead – Crossed, review

We are seven episodes in to season five of The Walking Dead, thank goodness there are nine more because, with the quality of what we’ve seen so far, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t wish this show was on every week…all year. Featuring (surprisingly) extreme violence, and some of the most intense scenes, and twists, of the season so far, Crossed reminds me. You. Us, how enthralling, thrilling, exciting, and damn shocking at times AMC’s The Walking Dead is. Every week I rave about this show (it probably reads all a bit samey now), but genuinely, there is nothing else to say – apart from praise.

andrew lincoln in a promotional still for amc's the walking dead

andrew lincoln in a promotional still for amc’s the walking dead

Crossed see’s the first episode the season where we are allowed insight into all three stories; Beth at Grady Memorial, Maggie, Glenn, Eugene, Abraham and the others at a crossroads (waiting for an unconscious Eugene to come to) and Rick, Daryl and their crew as they leave the church for Atlanta. The combining of the whole cast was a rather well thought out structure, and meant that everyone who loves this show was able to see a few minutes of screen time from their favourite character. For me, it’s Andrew Lincoln as Rick and Norman Reedus as Daryl (pretty much everyone’s treasured personalities) who provide the best moments acting wise and support a cast of still fantastic actors, but both just have that extra something that makes them so believable in the roles they uphold. Seeing the progression of Reedus’ Daryl from a violent, drug-taking thug to a sympathetic and beloved member of the group has been one the greatest components of the entire show, and many are of the opinion that if he went, we’d go too.

The unexpected seemed to be the theme in this weeks episode, and the cast ran with it. Big on action, and full of violence that (for one of the first times since season two’s well Walker) had the power to make you cringe. Seeing the horror of what has happened to these brain-dead, lowly antagonists – the Walkers, was a clever element to add to this weeks installment (you feel sorry for these people who have become monsters) and one which reminds you of the terrible actions from the living as well as the dead. Narrative-wise I won’t give the game away, but expect to be clinging at your eyes, not wanting to watch whats happening, but wanting every episode right now. With only one more episode left this year, the makers have upped the anti, for all out war.

 

The Walking Dead; Consumed

With only two episodes left this year The Walking Dead  team are stepping up their game; filling gaps in the plot and bringing together characters from different groups. Consumed, Mondays offering, focused on Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (played by the beloved Norman Reedus). The two have had an interesting relationship throughout the entire series, which at one point seemed as though it may evolve into romance. Consumed, shows us that these two are more of a mother and son combination, which is a rather delicate and well-played out partnership, with both Reedus and McBride giving viewers some of their best work during their scenes together.

norman reedus at daryl in the walking dead

norman reedus as daryl in the walking dead

This is the third week in a row we have been away from Rick and the others, and by now the groups presence is being missed. Consumed focuses on Daryl and Carol’s (notice their names rhyme?) foray into Atlanta to follow up a lead on Beth‘s (Emily Kinney) whereabouts, along the way expect plenty of Walker action, and of course, as has become tradition, the trading of some heartfelt back stories. The past two episodes have certainly still been some examples of WD at its best, but generally not the best when it comes to season five. While the combining of different groups, and the separation of certain characters is proving interesting, the sharpness of its predecessors and intensity of the danger the Walkers pose (which is sometimes forgotten due to their slow walking and obvious lack of brain cells) is missing.

An important aspect this week is character development, specifically for McBride’s Carol who stands precariously between the barrier of love and hate. Looking back on moments that brought her character to this position makes for a clever technique in swaying the audiences affections towards her, meaning by the time the episode comes to its final minutes you are left reeling at whats to come for her. The shows ability to swap between time (the earlier scenes in this weeks installment are set before last weeks episode) and place means its almost impossible to become bored with WD, and the strength in acting (particularly from Reedus, who never over-acts as Daryl) is really rather refreshing. In particular watching the change in Carol from season one to now, from a naive and scared woman to a hardened fighter who often lacks sympathy with her fellow survivors, has made for one of the most (surprisingly) riveting elements of The Walking Dead.

Not the best we’ve seen so far, but certainly not the worst.