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You probably all know that Season 6 of The Walking Dead is right around the corner…of the security wall, and OH NO, THE GATE WAS LEFT OPEN! That impromptu performance references something that happened in Season 5, but you might not remember that if it’s been a while since you’ve seen or thought about the show. I’ve got just the cure for you, and I’m not even a medical professional.
Here are the five things that you should refresh yourself with before watching the Season 6 premiere this weekend, as each one plays an interesting part in the super-sized episode, which definitely sits in the upper echelon of Walking Dead episodes to me. It’s huge, it’s got structure and there’s always something going on. I'm keeping this spoiler-free for the premiere, though all of Season 5's events are up for grabs.
Morgan is Back!One of the things that plays into making Morgan a fan favorite character, beyond Lennie James being great and knowing his comic history, is how sparingly he has been used over the past five seasons. His mysterious trek to Rick & Co. in Season 5 paid off swimmingly in the finale, which callously reunited Rick and Morgan at the opposite ends of where their personalities were in the Season 3 episode “Clean,” when Morgan was stacking bats in his belfry. The premiere handles Morgan’s immersion into Alexandria and Rick’s daily life more expertly than I expected, and it allows several angles of that kinship to stand out. It makes one think that Morgan and Lennie James will never outstay their welcomes on this show.
Glenn and Nicholas’ FeudI don’t think anybody watched the second half of Season 5 and said, “Wow, my new favorite character is totally Nicholas. This guy is definitely not the worst.” Nicholas is a total coward who was at fault for multiple characters’ deaths, and he had it out in the woods with Glenn, who could have easily put an end to Nicholas, but turned the other cheek. The question is, of course, does that decision end up helping him out in the long run, or will it blow up in his face, possibly in the shape of a bullet? If you’re expecting this tête-à-tête to have a stereotypical solution, have an open mind, because it’s more off the beaten path.
We’re Meeting New PeopleEverybody loves new characters! And The Walking Dead is one of those shows that features a rarely interrupted stream of introductions for characters whose futures are almost always hazy. There is no exception in Season 6, which kicks off with a handful of new-to-us Alexandria residents, and their combined existence is explained naturally enough. We’ve got comic favorite Heath, played with spunk by Corey Hawkins, whose drollness in a scene with Eugene is an early pleaser. Then there’s Ethan Embry’s Carter, an amalgam of different comic characters who hasn’t taken too kindly to Rick’s leadership role within Alexandria. There are more, with other Alexandrians playing more prominent roles, and it was kind of amazing to see just how many wheels are spinning in this community.
Alexandrians Aren’t SurvivorsThere’s a reason why some people in Alexandria have and/or had a problem with Rick: he’s got a miniature God complex that is slowly taking over. Nobody likes new leadership when that new leader is a violent dick, but that plays directly into why Rick is so strict and hardnosed to people whose behavior he disallows. Most of the community’s residents luckily (and skillfully, as far as the wall goes) have no idea what it’s like to live out in the wild for an extended period, and Rick knows that their relatively pampered lifestyle is more of a drawback than an asset. Not everybody understands at first, but this kind of change is naturally easy to find a fault in, until it counts.
A Zombie Herd Is ComingFor you to “remember” this one, you’ll have to have at least watched the Season 6 trailer and read one or more interviews where showrunner Scott Gimple, Robert Kirkman and effects guru/director Greg Nicotero talk about how many walker extras were used in this season’s herd threat. There are over 600(!) of them, and while it’s obvious some CGI wizardry was used in places, the massive throng of rot sometimes looks like an impenetrable wall and at other times looks like a never-ending line of destruction. Beyond being extremely rewarding to look at, the herd’s presence informs nearly all of the elements of the premiere (and presumably beyond), and allows for the perfect amount of blood-and-guts action with nice character beats.
Here’s hoping you enjoy the Walking Dead premiere as much as I did when you watch it on Sunday night on AMC.