THE WALKING DEAD - SEASON 6

PrintE-mail Written by Luke Channell

“I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world,” states Rick (Andrew Lincoln) at the beginning of The Walking Dead's sixth season. It's certainly a fitting opening for a season that features more zombies, more bloodshed and more fatalities than ever before.

First Time Again picks up from where the dramatic Season 5 finale left off as black-and-white flashbacks show the residents of Alexandria in the aftermath of the bloody town meeting. In the present, Rick and Co. discover a quarry jam-packed with walkers and Rick devises a plan to divert the undead away from Alexandria's direction. This season premiere is a thoroughly satisfying opener, providing impressive spectacle, bursts of explosive action and engaging character interplay. The intelligent use of black-and-white footage also adds an intriguing visual depth to events.

The first half of Season 6 solely deals with the fall-out of Rick's plan and a simultaneous attack on Alexandria by a murderous gang called The Wolves. This tight focus helps sustain a palpable sense of danger throughout and allows each of the now extensive cast to receive a decent amount of exploration. Rick's multifaceted relationship with both Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) and Morgan (Lennie James) particularly stand out. In fact, Morgan becomes one of the most interesting characters, adding an emotional weight to the show. His stand-alone episode Here's Not Here, which explores how he went from psycho to pacifist, is a season highlight. A contemplative, compelling and insightful study of what it means to be human in a world leached of its humanity, Here's Not Here is a surprise gem.

The only misjudgement of this first half of is the deceitful handling of one character’s fate but an unpredictably brutal and altogether thrilling mid-season finale more than makes up for this. No Way Out sees the residents of Alexandria stand-off against an overwhelming horde of walkers and it's television at its very best - filled with jaw-dropping developments, gripping action and a dizzyingly entertaining edge-of-your-seat montage.

Unfortunately, The Walking Dead has long been characterised by inconsistency and that doesn't change here as an impressive beginning of the season gives way to a lacklustre and ponderous second half which sees the group expanding their connections with other communities. While on a supply run, Daryl {Norman Reedus) and Rick encounter a masked individual named Jesus (Tom Payne), a member of the Hilltop colony, who is interested in beginning trade with Alexandria. Rick and Co. soon discover that a violent and authoritative group called The Saviors are exploiting Hilltop's resources and conflict soon ensues...

There's a distinct lack of narrative drive in this latter half and the show spends too much time pre-occupied with setting The Saviors up as the next big bad for Season 7. Consequently, The Walking Dead gets somewhat bogged down in lethargy and doesn’t match the sharpness of the season’s opening nine episodes. Despite this, there are some thoughtful considerations on the consequences of violence on the human soul and Carol (Melissa McBride) is at the forefront of these existential questions. Her character has undertaken quite a remarkable journey from a helpless, vulnerable widow to one of the strongest and most versatile survivors in the group. She remains one of the most unique, intriguing and complex characters in The Walking Dead and on television today.

The season finale Last Day on Earth, which introduces one of The Walking Dead's most notorious villains, is the season's most major disappointment. It's an extremely poorly-executed, bloated and directionless episode which builds to one of the most infuriating and cheap cliff-hangers you are likely to encounter. The only positive is that Jeffrey Dean Morgan looks fantastically evil as Negan, it's just a shame his introduction is so laboured and clumsy.

All that aside, with Season 7 looming, we're intrigued to see where the nefarious Negan will take The Walking Dead next.

Special Features: Inside The Walking Dead / The Making of The Walking Dead / In Memoriam / 601: Out of the Quarry / Guts & Glory: The Death of Nicholas / Strength In Bonds / Negan: Someone to Fear / The Face Of Death: Iconic Walkers of the Season / Deleted Scenes

THE WALKING DEAD - SEASON 6 / CERT: 18 / SHOWRUNNER: SCOTT M. GIMPLE / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ANDREW LINCOLN, NORMAN REEDUS, STEVEN YEUN, LAUREN COHAN, CHANDLER RIGGS, DANAI GURIRA, MELISSA MCBRIDE / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 26TH




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