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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6, Episode 1, ‘First Time Again’: Rick Grimes and the Quarry of Doom

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 6, Episode 1, 'First Time Again': Rick Grimes and the Quarry of Doom


READ MORE: What ‘The Walking Dead’ Finally Got Right This Season (And What It Could Improve)

Previously

The Ricketeers were recruited by the sleepy town of Alexandria, but Rick came into conflict with town leader Deanna when she found out his solution to most problems is “murder everyone before they can murder you.” But when Deanna’s husband was killed by an abusive drunk with a samurai sword, she gave Rick the go-ahead to execute the dude in front of an entire town meeting.  Lo and behold, Rick killed the guy right in front of his old friend Morgan, who finally caught up with our heroes.

This Week In Zombie Action

This one’s a corker. Turns out Alexandria has seen so little walker activity because the walkers have all been falling into a nearby quarry whose exits are blocked by semi-trucks. Unfortunately, one of the trucks is on a precarious cliff and could fall any day, so Rick and the gang come up with a crazy scheme to lead the zombie hoard away from town. Then, of course, the truck falls early and our heroes have to go unprepared and ahead of schedule. A good deal of the episode is given watching the plan unfold, and it’s all suitably tense and exciting.

AMC must have really opened the purse strings this season, because we get plenty of overhead shots of the zombie horde’s overwhelming numbers, really driving home just how screwed Alexandria would be if the zombies headed their way. So naturally that’s exactly what happens at the end of the episode, when a mysterious horn blast leads the zombies off track and towards the town. Yikes!

Achievement in Grossness

One of the zombies at the quarry squeezes through a narrow gap and leaves most of his skin behind as he does so. At this point, the zombies are so squishy that one manages to kill itself just by lurching its head against a makeshift wall.

How Far Is Too Far?

The big question of this premiere (and possibly the season) is whether or not Rick’s gone around the bend. The parts of this episode not dedicated to the quarry plan are flashbacks showing what happened in the immediate aftermath of last season’s finale, illuminating the other characters’ response to Rick’s actions. Deanna seems to be completely on board the Rick train, going along with all of his suggestions, including refusing to bury Pete (the abusive drunk) within the walls of Alexandria, an idea whose practicality seems precarious at best.

Rick is walking a line this episode where some of his suggestions are perfectly sound (everyone in Alexandria should be combat trained, because they live in the Zombie Apocalypse) and others are kookaburra (murder everyone who disagrees with you). To the show’s credit, there are plenty of characters not on board with Rick’s “shoot first, ask questions later” approach. Morgan is there to be his conscience, trying to gently steer Rick to less extreme positions. And when Rick orders an end to the scouting for new residents, Daryl doesn’t hesitate to disagree. After “Fear The Walking Deadseemed to abandon any pretense of morality in its Season 1 finale, it’s nice to see that the entire franchise hasn’t followed suit.

Rick’s big conflict this episode is with Carter (played with maximum obnoxiousness by Ethan Embry), who questions the quarry plan and even suggests assassinating Rick to a few townsfolk. Of course, Rick walks in on the conspiracy (“I would have placed some lookouts”) and considers killing Carter, but holds off. Of course, he later explains to Morgan that it wasn’t an act of mercy: “Somebody like that, they’re gonna die no matter what.” Judge Rick has handed down his verdict!

In this case, Rick turns out to be right, because Carter gets his face eaten off by a pretty garbage-looking zombie. And of course he won’t stop screaming, so Rick stabs him to death to shut him up. Morgan and Michonne see it happen, and while they understand why he did it, they don’t seem too psyched.

A Shred of Humanity

Much more than a shred this week! There’s Morgan, of course, trying to keep Rick on track. Plus Glen has forgiven Nicholas for trying to murder him last season, and to his credit, Nicholas seems to really be trying to be a better man, helping Glen and newcomer Heath with a crucial part of the big zombie plan. When Maggie tells Tara what Nicholas did and Tara wonders why Glen let him stick around, Maggie reminds her that she used to run with the Governor. Y’know, the guy who decapitated Maggie’s dad. But Maggie is still glad that Tara’s around. Another good counterpoint to Rick’s ruthlessness.

Tara also gets the line of the night when she wakes up, sees Eugene, and says, “Thank God. Nothing happened to your hair.” Amen, sister.

Meanwhile, Sasha seems to have worked through her PTSD and is in a much better place. Abraham seems to be behaving a tad erratically, something Sasha definitely picks up on. Father Gabriel is still around, and seems to be feeling better as well, but Rick still doesn’t trust him, which is one of his more sensible decisions this episode.

Oh, and Carol is still pretending to be meek, which still rules. But Morgan notices that she’s more than she lets on, because he rules, too.

Grade: A-

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