Before we begin, beware of spoilers ahead.
Oh man, us hardcore The Walking Dead fans waited a while for this prestigious series with its brilliant ratings to return and now it has, how do we feel? General viewer consensus has been mixed with some in awe and others reeling. I’m kinda’ middling.
The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be (yes, another splendid episode name) began where season six left off; new bad guy Negan was poised and ready to kill and us audience members were finally made aware of who met his beloved barbed wire bat named Lucille. FYI, anyone who wields a bat for sport is probably not to be trusted. It was with an achingly slow pace that we finally discovered it was Abraham and Glenn who met their end – goodbye Michael Cudlitz (a personal favourite of mine) and Steven Yeun. It’s fair to say that the killing off of the latter series veteran will upset many.
jeffrey dean morgan in the walking dead
The episode was split into malevolent monologues from Negan (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and grotesque moments of ultra violence. For a series known for its impressive special effects this is a whole new level of gore – some might say too much. The Walking Dead has always been so good at balancing sentimentality with its emotive writing, The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be succumbs to the spectacle of brutal violence and loses its humanity. That, you could argue, is the point as we get to know Negan and see a shift in the dynamic of Rick‘s group but for a season premiere we – as a loyal audience – expect more.
Andrew Lincoln is a treasure as always, he could lead this popular series on his very own as he embodies group leader Rick, and this first episode is carried predominantly by him. We are slowly but surely seeing a strong leader unravel and this is an intriguing thematic element in itself. The Walking Dead shines when it’s writers focus on human drama and its exploration of humanity in general never misses the mark.
This is a welcome return from The Walking Dead and surely it can only get better from here, but for a series that is known for its stellar openers this falls incredibly short considering its farewell to two key characters.
AMC’s The Walking Dead is back. After a three month break the excitement for fans (including me, of course) has been building the past week and yesterday, we were finally graced with episode nine of series five – What Happened and What’s going On (not a great title, but we’ll forgive the writers for this one). A reflection episode of sorts, this new installment focused on just a small number of the group (an interesting choice considering we’ve been away for a while) and reminded audiences of the adult nature, severe violence and emotional tone that now engulfs the popular series.
I recently commented, in an article I did for Screen Relish (bit of self promo, forgive me), that The Walking Dead had graduated from Freshman to Senior in its excess of brutality and elevated dark subject matter (lets remember zombie fare isn’t always the most serious of stuff). What Happened and What’s Going On exemplifies this change perfectly. This is represented by the episodes editing, which deserves an applause; stylish and cinematic, unusually haunting and even a little scary. Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and co’ have stepped up their game and continue to provide audiences and fans with some of the best television in recent years.
promotional still for the walking dead
The narrative is pretty simple this week – Rick, Glenn, Tyreese, Michonne and new boy Noah travel to Richmond, Virginia in the hope that the walled community Noah‘s family were inhabiting is still there. As you guessed, its not. What unfolds is an episode that reflects on what the group have gone through so far, and how it is individually effecting them. Chad Coleman as Tyreese is at the centre of the brilliance of this weeks drama as he struggles to come to terms with the ever-rising number of events that have de-humanized those around around him. With a return from some of the characters who are responsible for these happenings, the surrealist, dream-like aesthetic of this newest offering from The Walking Dead team is an introduction for the trials that will unfold for the group in episodes to come.
The only criticism would be the divide of the group. With focus only on five characters, favourites such as Abraham and Daryl were certainly missed and an episode featuring the entire cast has been scarce for some time. With a shock exit and a stellar return, fans can rejoice that The Walking Dead is back on our screens.