Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Rick (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Rick (Photo courtesy of AMC)

“The Walking Dead” returned for its sixth season in the biggest and best way possible. The 90-minute premiere featured new characters, growing conflict and of course, walkers, a lot of walkers. The importance of community is the central theme of “First Time Again,” showing how everyone must work together to achieve a common goal. With the threat of death looming over everyone, the characters are pushed incredibly hard to keep their community standing.

Structurally, this episode is far different than any episode before it. The aftermath of the fifth season’s deadly finale is shown in black and white, while present time is shown in color with the time switching back and forth throughout the episode. This method of switching back and forth worked nicely, showing the contrast between the past and present. Following the highly anticipated reunion of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James), the residents of Alexandria begin to unwind and resettle. Alexandria’s leader, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), mourns the loss of her husband, while Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) wakes up from her coma in the infirmary and learns what has taken place. The scenes with Tara were a major highlight of the episode, showing her positivity and humor; hopefully her character is developed more as the season progresses. Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) keeps up her act as a weak and friendly housewife, while hiding her true identity: a survivor that does whatever it takes to survive. Morgan and Rick slowly reconnect after the last time they were reunited back in Season Three.

Morgan’s insistence that “all life is precious” becomes a splintering point between him and Rick. Clearly, there will be conflict between the two, but there were some touching scenes that point to a positive relationship. Morgan meeting Rick’s baby daughter, Judith, represents a mutual trust between them. Conflict also forms between Rick and Jessie Anderson’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) teenage son, Ron (Austin Abrams). The events of the last season have made Ron distrustful of Rick. While outside of Alexandria, Morgan and Rick discover a quarry filled with thousands of walkers. This discovery prompts Rick to create a plan to corral the walkers and lead them away from the vicinity of Alexandria. A town meeting allows for some survivors to share their worries about Rick’s plan, but Deanna ultimately decides that it must be done. Several people volunteer to help lead the walkers away, including new character Heath (Corey Hawkins).

Another new character, Carter (Ethan Embry), begins to question Rick’s leadership and holds a secret meeting to discuss how they can do away with him. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) eavesdrops in on the meeting, but is quickly discovered which gives rise to a tense scene where Carter points his gun at Eugene and threatens to kill him. Rick instantly puts a stop to everything and turns the gun on Carter asking “You really think you’re gonna take this community from us?” Eugene is quickly rising to be a standout character in the very crowded field of characters. His child-like nature and innocence leads to some extremely humorous moments. Hopefully, he manages to survive the season, as his character has so much potential.

In the present timeline, the plan is underway and everyone has their own specific job. Rick, Morgan and Michonne (Danai Gurira) use flare guns to lead the walkers down their pre-established path. In front of the herd, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) use vehicles to keep the walkers on the path. A group of walkers trapped in a nearby hardware store becomes a noise problem; the sound of the walkers in hardware store could possibly steer the herd off course. Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun), Nicholas (Michael Traynor) and Heath make their way to the store to kill the problem before the herd passes by. Last season, the cowardly actions of Nicholas led to several deaths, however, this season he appears to be making up for everything by stepping up and being more of a team player.

Morgan, Rick and Michonne use flare guns. (Photo courtesy of AMC)
Morgan, Rick and Michonne use flare guns. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

The survivors manage to keep the herd moving down the path until Carter is attacked and bitten on the face by a hidden walker in the woods. His screams of impending death draw several of the walkers into the woods, but Rick quickly contains the situation by killing Carter and ordering some of the other volunteers to fire their guns, therefore leading the walkers back in the right direction. Carter’s death was extremely gruesome and shocking, but I am not sad to see him go as he was a possible threat. As the plan seems to be progressing smoothly again, a roaring and mysterious horn sound begins. Rick and Michonne agree that it seems to be coming from Alexandria. As the episode ends, the camera pans out showing the massive herd of walkers turning directly toward Alexandria.

The big question heading into the next episode is who is making the horn sound? Could there be a traitor in Alexandria? My three biggest suspects are Ron, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who has made his distrust of Rick’s group abundantly clear, and the Wolves, the group of survivors introduced last season who use walkers as a weapon to steal supplies from other survivors. With the herd headed straight for Alexandria, the relative safety and normalcy of life behind the walls is sure to crumble. Difficult decisions will have to be made by each character in order to survive, although not everyone will have what it takes to survive. Rick and Morgan’s relationship will certainly be tested and put to the limits. It is great to have Morgan as a main character this season after making only short appearances throughout the series.

The sixth season of “The Walking Dead” is off to an incredible start and leaves me wanting more. The sheer number of threats creates a deep sense of uncertainty for the fates of our beloved characters. Who will be the next to go? Be sure to tune into “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Editor-in-Chief of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead." Reach him at editor@ninertimes.com or @JeffreyKopp97 on Twitter.

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