In the weeks since The Walking Dead’s Season 6A finale, we’ve been given a lot to ponder as we brace for the inevitable confrontation our group will have with the infamous Negan and the Saviors in Season 6B. All I can say about that for now is that I think actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s casting is a fantastic choice, based primarily on his physicality and screen presence. Since I don’t read the comics, my knowledge of Negan is quite limited, but I know he’s going to be the scariest thing this group has faced, surpassing even the sadism displayed by The Governor, and that guy was terrifying. Morgan should be perfect in the part.
Season 6A covered a very short span of time in its eight episodes, mostly tackling the same couple of days from a variety of different vantage points. It was largely successful in doing so, going back to its elegant season premiere, but it was certainly a series of episodes that would benefit from binge watching. Often that can’t be said about this show, because it’s really too depressing to marathon, but in this case, you just want to know what happens to your favorites, and being able to speed along to those answers might be more rewarding than having to wait a week in between.
Starting with the flashback episode that showed us how Morgan became the anti-killing aikido master that he is in the show’s present, let’s examine what happened of significance in the back half of Season 6A:
Morgan went from “clearing” (that is, killing everyone he ran across, human or zombie) to being kept in a cell in the home of a mysterious stranger. When he first spoke to the man, it resulted in this classic exchange that started with the mystery man’s question:
“What’s your name?”
“Well, that’s a stupid name. It’s dangerous. You should change it. “
Yes, the introduction of Eastman, Morgan’s short term captor who in time became his mentor and friend made what could have been a tedious 90 minute episode utterly fantastic. John Carroll Lynch is an incredible actor. After they’d developed a trust, Eastman told Morgan the story of his family’s killer. He’d been a forensic psychologist who counseled prisoners on the verge of parole; One of the serial killers he’d refused for parole escaped specifically to murder Eastman’s family, happy to be re-captured. Eastman eventually admitted that he’d built the cell Moran sat in for the killer, and that he killed him slowly and painfully, which brought him no real solace or closure aftetr all. At that point, he determined that All Life is Precious and vowed never to kill again.
Naturally, just as they were venturing out into the world, Eastman was bitten trying to save Morgan from a walker, and after his death, Morgan vowed to carry the mantle of using aikido and avoiding killing. The Wolves present a big challenge to that belief system, and Carol becomes the one to challenge Morgan on this, first when the Wolves attack Alexandria and murder everyone in their path and then later, as the walkers invade and he traps them in a basement with the one Wolf he captured. The Wolf has put them all in danger, and it’s Morgan’s fault. It’s obvious this mentality is not really a safe one in this world; while one can try to limit the killing they do in the hopes of keeping their humanity intact, one has to be prepared to defend themselves and those they love against people who would harm or kill them. When it’s every man, woman and child for themselves and you see dead bodies on a daily basis, death just becomes part of life.
Morgan’s ways also leave in imminent danger Tara, Denise, Rosita and Eugene. When Tara, along with Rosita and Eugene, attempt to save Denise from the Wolf hostage, whom Morgan has asked her to treat for possible injuries and infections, Denise doesn’t die, but ends up a hostage. Poor Tara; she just can’t hold on to a girlfriend in the apocalypse. Plus, she always seems to get stuck looking after Eugene.
Rosita may be losing her man, too, since Abraham and Sasha spent this whole stretch of episodes (which, again, has been about two days) together as part of the plan to divert the zombie horde away from Alexandria. It’s after what appears to be an ambush by members of The Saviors that Abe and Sasha hole up in a storefront office and alert Daryl to their location with some well-placed graffiti. While Abraham finds some cool military gear and a bunch of cigars, he also finds the words to ask Sasha if she wants to hook up which, to my mild surprise, she totally does. But even though they could die at any moment, she won’t do anything until Abraham has broken up with Rosita. At least someone still follows basic relationship protocol.
For his part, Daryl, trying to double back to the group, meets some people on the run from The Saviors. Even though they initially tied him up and refused to believe a word he said, he still helped them escape their captors and even invited them into Alexandria, only to have them steal his bike and crossbow. NOT COOL, GUYS. You don’t mess with Daryl Dixon’s crossbow or his bike. This is a man so beloved that his fans attempt to bite him in real life!
Ultimately, though, the trio was reunited and drove a fuel truck toward Alexandria, until they were stopped in their tracks in the middle of the road by members of Negan’s crew. This was featured in a prologue that aired outside of the episode proper (sorry, AMC, you can’t trick us into watching Into the Badlands; we have the internet!), but it sets the table for season 6B in ominous fashion. We’re not sure what’s going to happen to anyone when we see them again.
At least we know we will see Glenn again, since he miraculously (that’s an understatement!) survived his fall into the walker mosh pit by slinking under that dumpter while they all chowed down on Nicholas. He stayed there overnight until he was able to fend off the last of the horde and come out, only to come across the very sullen Enid almost instantly. She practically threw a water bottle at him, but ran away with no intention of looking back. But Glenn, ever the one to rescue those less inclined to be seeking such things, refused to let her disappear for good. He eventually got her to head back toward Alexandria with him, even helping him use the helium tank and balloons they’d left on the road for signaling purposes to alert Maggie to his survival. When they see how overrun the walls to Alexandria are and surmise that they cannot safely get back in (yet) Enid has this pearl: “The world is trying to die. We’re supposed to let it.” Of course, Glenn refuses to see things that way, especially with his pregnant wife on the other side of the wall. We leave him determined to get in and Maggie determined to live after scrambling up onto a platform to escape some grabby zombies. Mama strength is no joke, kids. It can make you do incredible things!
The rest of the group’s stories seem to revolve around Rick. Deanna, Jessie, Carl and Ron, Michonne, even Father Gabriel. These people are all in his orbit as the walls come down and the zombies come in, making the town look like a Golden Corral at suppertime. Deanna, newly invigorated to fight back but not quite having the process down pat, gets bitten in a skirmish and knows she doesn’t have long. After a scary scene that made it appear as though she may have turned and was about to feast on baby Judith, Deanna made peace with everything and everyone she needed to. The pragmatic leader who also served as everyone’s mother figure offered some prescient words to Michonne: “Someday this pain will be useful to you.” She refused to be put down by anyone else, but rather wanted to do it herself. She was last seen screaming, taking out as many walkers as she could in her final moments.
The other big flies in the ointment are Jessie’s kids, Ron and Sam. Just days after their father was killed by Rick, the youngest (Sam) is justifiably rattled, holed up on the second floor of his house, scared of his own shadow. His brother, on the other hand, is getting Rick to teach him about guns, all the while planning to use these skills to off Rick’s son. Is it payback for his dad’s murder, or just jealousy because Enid seemed to like Carl more? Trapped in the house together as Rick and Jessie planned for what to do with the growing threat lurking outside their door, Carl told Ron his dad was an asshole, which may have been the worst timed insult ever. Ron and Carl fought, drawing the walker hordes to the noise. Aside from trashing Jessie’s place, this also forced Rick to accelerate and/or change the plan: everyone in this group had to cover themselves in walker guts and brave the walkers just to get away from them. But even after all the trauma associated with that, Sam might still manage to get them all killed with his timid shouts of “Mom!” as they try to slide thorough undetected. This is yet another thing we have to wait for Season 6B to see the results of. Will Sam get everyone eaten, or can they just maybe toss Ron out there and everyone else run for the hills? Isn’t that really the best solution?
We’ll see you in February for what we’ve been promised will be a brutal but satisfying second half of season six. Until then, stock up on canned goods, and practice your archery skills. See you soon!