Wow, The Walking Dead really knows how to make an entrance. This week’s mid-season premiere treated viewers to a whole lot of hacking, slashing, shooting, and even a rocket launcher. The end of the episode sees Alexandria saved – Rick rallied everyone in town to attack the invading Walkers, and with the help of Daryl’s squad returning, they managed to kill all the Walkers while sustaining no casualties.
Which is incredible – and downright unbelievable – when you consider just how many people died while walking hand-in-hand. Basically, Rick’s whole new family just bit the dust – or rather, were bitten by dusty, dirty zombie creatures. Sam and Jessie both got eaten, which really made Ron testy and trigger-happy. So Ron shoot Carl’s eye out, and Michonne turns Ron into a brat-kebab. All this death is concentrated in the first half of the episode, along with the death of Wolf-Man. Denise managed to get away from Wolfy, as Aaron and those other Alexandrians you probably forgot about come to her aid. Glenn, who apparently is immortal, nearly got torn apart, until Abraham, aka “The Human Dumpster Glenn Climbed Under,” starts shooting. Even the creepy new Negan squad introduced post-credits last season only got a scene of screen-time before Daryl blew them up. Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome when Daryl blew them up. But why make their entrance so mysterious if they didn’t even last for ten minutes?
Maybe “favoritism” is the wrong word. But this is a The Walking Dead episode where only new characters die, while returning characters get off mostly unscathed. Carl did lose an eye, but Ron has lost his father, mother, brother, and inner organs in under one season. Meanwhile, you have a lot of characters charge into a crowd of vicious man-eaters and only break a sweat. Even Father Gabriel, a noted wuss, manages to totally escape harm while carrying a baby (though clearly the show wants us to care more about him, so he’s likely dying in the near future). But especially as Rick praises the fighters of Alexandria in the final scene, it makes me wonder how they seem so disposable to the writers. Maybe these deaths are just to prepare us for the heavier ones Norman Reedus hinted at. Maybe it’s just to thin the herd a bit for Negan to run through more opponents. But it seems shocking that, out of all the people who could have died, it wasn’t those fighting for their lives, but those slowly walking through a group with a strategy that never seems to work the way it’s supposed to.
As far as what’s next for this The Walking Dead half-season, it seems the gang is determined to stay in Alexandria, so there will be even more wall-building than before. Somehow Negan’s gonna have to stumble across his exploded friends in order to be a threat, but with all the hype around his entrance, I’m sure that won’t take long. Now that Rick actually cares about the Alexandrians, he’ll likely shake up his “let them die hanging on wires” policies, but will the people follow him now that they’ve seen him go crazy hatchet Hulk on Walkers? Leave any of your predictions in the comments below, and also let me know if any of you will miss Gabriel.