Season Six, Episode Nine — “No Way Out”
By Jarrod Jones. With most of Alexandria beefing with each other in one form or another, it’s a tough thing indeed to put even the smallest amount of faith into anyone, especially when your name is Rick Grimes. Problem is,
Dumbhead McSweatStain’s Rick’s miserable little brood have finally run out of options. The wall has come down. Walkers are everywhere. Deanna is dead. It’s all come down to Rick’s fortitude, a hollowed-out pair of roamers, some tarps, and heaps of blind trust that everyone will do their part to keep their big mouths shut during The Great Walker Walk of 2016. Except this is The Walking Dead, and it’s only a matter of time before someone’s weakness causes them to wash right out.
And that’s what Sam did. He washed out. (You can thank Carol’s creepy words of foreboding a season or two ago for giving poor Sam a case of the fidgits.) But what makes matters worse is he took his mother and brother with him. It wasn’t pretty — it certainly wasn’t easy to watch — but the question left before us at the end of the midseason finale (“will everyone make it through the walker horde alive?”) has finally been answered. “No,” the episode responds. “Not everyone will make it out alive. And it all goes to shit a lot faster than you’d think.”
So it’s time for The Walking Dead to once again enter DEFCON 4. Good thing Daryl’s packing serious firepower. Which is a nice change of pace, considering Daryl Dixon’s been handing over far too many weapons to shady-looking jerkfaces lately. Now, the other million-dollar question… who’s Negan? Comic book readers already know the answer far too well. As for the AMC faithful? That’s a question that will have to wait for another week. In the meantime, we’ll just have to leave this bananas-crazy show to do what it does best — methodically thin out the herd — and trust in the promise that the show will do right by its long-suffering audience. But it’s tough to have faith in a show that revels in teases and feints.
WHAT WORKED: If you follow the comic book issue by issue, or plow through the trades as they arrive on shelves, you knew an episode titled “No Way Out” (and a midseason premiere, to boot) was going to be huge. And if you’re not a dutiful comics reader, that’s no big deal, because The Walking Dead delivered big-time to stalwart fans of the show and the book alike. We knew certain things were going down (there was a bit of worry that Morgan might not make it through the night, for example), but we didn’t know how it would unfold precisely. And as far from its source material this show does occasionally stray, “No Way Out” was as close a panel-for-shot recreation Dead usually gets. How Jessie went down may only differ superficially, but the episode got its dramatic particulars out of the way to ensure that — one way or the other — Coral was gonna be down one eyeball by the time the credits rolled. Well done, show.
Daryl’s two-time Commando-level missile launch finally brought the Wee Dixon back into my heart.
WHAT DIDN’T: One thing that simply hasn’t gone away is how “actor-y” all the bit players can be at times. Spritz some bottled sweat on their brow, tell them to breathe like they’ve just done forty jumping-jacks, and then have them regurgitate that same old “all we have is each other” line we hear practically every episode. This week, that bullhonky belongs to Rosita, Eugene, and Tara, who pad the episode’s length by furrowing their brows at each other for a few minutes before the real action begins. I don’t mind the show attempting to get us attached to a few of these folks before they get their innards spilled all over the pavement, but yeesh, somebody needs to either coach these people in line delivery, or better yet, doctor the script so that the lines don’t sound like they were generated in a cliche machine.
BEST LINE(s): Um… were there any? Negan’s solder almost had a dinger with the “eating shit” line, but if The Walking Dead is known for one thing, it certainly isn’t for its clever dialogue.
BEST MOMENT: Rick’s gonna ‘axe’ you a question. As the citizens of Alexandria look on, Rick Grimes takes his day out on the massive herd that has overtaken the quiet hamlet. While the rest of us sat and suffered a few pangs of bitter cynicism after watching Rick’s one chance at love ripped apart in front of his very eyes, Mr. Grimes decided to muster all the anger inside his wiry frame to chop, decapitate, and otherwise remove these bumbling nuisances off of Dr. Denise’s front lawn. That the rest of the crew decided to hop in the skirmish moments after — culminating in one of the most satisfying action sequences in Dead history — only made Rick’s foolhardy temper tantrum that much more cathartic.
EPISODE’S MVP: Rick Grimes. Rick’s had a hell of a time finding a reason to matter this season — with his “let’s get these wawlkers owtta herre, Darrul” plan falling apart within the course of a single episode (this season’s premiere) only to then indirectly cause the well-fortified town of Alexandria to fall into the tenth circle of Hell, Rick’s earned more than his share of would-be enemies (Ethan Embry, we hardly knew ye). But this week charted a sea change in how I perceive The Grimes. He is still a force to be reckoned with. I only hope he knows what he’s about to be up against.
BRAY OF THE DEAD:
– The show’s title comes from a six-issue arc of The Walking Dead comic book. (#79-84)
– Rick shoulda gave wee Judith a nip of whiskey before their little jaunt through the sea of walkers. She looked like she was only seconds away to giving the whole subterfuge away.
– Oh, that was a close one. Just when I thought we were about to be forced to sit idly by and watch another “Glenn’s last stand”, the show righted the ship almost immediately. But seriously. I can’t be the only one sick of this show’s teasing attitude when it comes to Glenn and the Big Adios.
– The second half to this season is already faring much better than the first. I’m only worried this episode was The Walking Dead peaking yet again, leaving the rest of the season to peter out until the finale.
– Talking Dead: Oh, and what’s up with Greg Nicotero — Dead co-executive producer, special make-up effects supervisor, and the director of “No Way Out” — and his nigh-pathological insistence to refer to “comic books” as “graphic novels”? Don’t make me hate you, Nicotero. I already had to learn to hate your compatriot, Tom Savini.
8.5 out of 10
Next: “The Next World”, soon.
Before: “Start to Finish”, here.