The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 3 - Running Out of Things to be Thankful For
The Walking Dead's sixth season is proving to be a powerhouse, but not until now had things felt so hopeless and futile.
So soon after Alexandria initially felt like a safe haven in the latter half of last season, Rick and his fellow survivors may have to face their own share of condemnation. It's common in a series like this, but yet again nothing has felt this dire.
But while this season has shown a focus unlike in the show's past, it does mean that some characters are left wanting. While the narrowed vision is a worthy change of pace, the ensemble cast gets less attention, and fan favourites have been and are sure to continue to be sidelined.
While Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes continues to divide fans into a love/hate tug of war, he continues to lead the series with unrivalled vigour. Late in the episode, the first cracks begin to show in Rick's cold exterior, and the payoff is worth it. As he panics, we panic. But we also recognise that he deserves this revelation.
The characters that are featured here receive hot and cold treatment. Daryl (Norman Reedus) has a strange detour from his ride-along position leading the remaining walker herd, but returns by episode's end to Abraham and Sasha's side. Thus making his role in the episode pointless.
Danai Gurira as Michonne, however, delivers some of her standout work in an all too brief scene in which she demands that Heath (Corey Hawkins) understands just who knows this brave new world best, and what that understanding truly means.
But one particular scene has everybody talking, and perhaps what's most disappointing about it (apart from its ambiguity) is that the focus is less on our ill-fated main cast member and more on the flawed but steadily-redeeming secondary character.
Nicholas' final moments were tragic, aided by a brilliant piece of editing and a well-written lead up to the event. In his final moments, the walker world has rarely of late seemed so dreadfully bleak as it did through his eyes. Add in a quality of acting, and it provides for a brilliant albeit controversial scene (and a potentially defining moment for the season).
Michonne's role in the efforts to repair Rick's doomed plans leads her to guide an ever dwindling group of Alexandrians into a pet shop, and it felt like a return to that claustrophobic, pulsating scene-setting of seasons past. While it lacks the same power, it's certainly a welcome reminder of the show's horror capabilities.
However, there's also something to be said for the overkill that's been evident in every episode, but particularly this one, this season. Alexandrians have been dropping like flies, a particularly numbing experience that adds little to the story. At this point, we get it.
When we think about that particular character and his apparent death (I'll maintain discretion whether or not the whole online world knows that name now), it feels like a loss of hope and morale, and almost but not quite the heart and soul of our core group. His death may not stand, but his assured absense for the next few episodes at least serves a purpose that the opening episodes of the season had been leading to.
That purpose had been to completely tear down that hope and that intent to rebuild, after we and the characters were lulled into a false sense of safety. The tragic demise of said character may not be physical, but a spiritual destruction of the group is at hand. So does he get to come back when they need him most?
Despite its shakey handling of its broad cast in recent times, The Walking Dead has shown no sign of age as it powers on with a ferocity to rival season 5's beginning. The next episode takes us away from all of it to give us Morgan's (Lennie James) backstory. Hopefully this isn't a jarring intermission for an otherwise solid sixth season.