Season 6 of The Walking Dead promises bigger and more action packed episodes than any previous season. However, this is always the promise from TWD crew before every season premiere, and for the most part they’ve always delivered. The season 6 premiere was no different – lots of drama, lots of guns and, of course, lots of zombies – more zombies than we’ve ever seen before in fact. Of course, TWD is first and foremost a zombie show, but zombie killing is definitely not why I keep coming back week after week, year after year. It’s the characters, primarily Rick Grimes, who I’ve always touted as “the biggest badass on television” even back in the day when Heisenberg was slinging Blue Sky out there in Albuquerque. But now that Rick is for all intents and purposes the conductor of Alexandria, his dominant actions over some community members, as well as over some of his own group, seems like simple bullying.
We rejoin Rick and the Alexandrians in the midst of a zombie themed operation. Thousands of walkers have huddled in a massive quarry far outside of Alexandria, revealing why the Alexandrians, pre-Rick, have not encountered many walker-related issues. The zombies are held in the quarry by massive eighteen wheelers. which block both exits. Rick’s operation, crazy as it sounds, is to push the trucks out-of-the-way, freeing the zombies, and guiding them safely away from Alexandria’s path. Rick predicts, maybe a paranoid one, that the trucks will fall, sending thousands of post-humans towards their community. Sure enough as the episode opens, Rick’s foresight proves correct putting his master plan in motion.
The plan itself, and the ensuing action, is less important than how it’s conceived. The episode is told in a Tarantinoesque manner with events of current day being told before the events that led up to the action. To differentiate between the two timelines, events directly after “the meeting” and preparations for Rick’s plan are shown in black and white to contract with present day events which are shown in color.
Obviously, other community members did not embrace Rick’s plan to free thousands of zombies and possibly put Alexandria in harm’s way with open arms. Carter especially, a character who we have not yet seen in the community, opposes Rick throughout the episode, even going as far as planning to kill Rick to “take back the community.” Though Carter’s ideas seem extreme (and way ill-advised considering who he’s up against), he does exemplify the shaken state of Alexandria with Deanna still in mourning over Reg’s murder. The Ricktatorship is back in full force and more aggressive than ever.
The disdainful way Rick speaks to all over community members rubbed me the wrong way throughout. One specific moment, probably the biggest in the entire episode, was when Carter, brandishing a gun, confronts Rick about taking the community back from him. Rick quickly disarms Carter, then asks him, “do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” as if Rick is the most important survivor in the whole apocalyptic world. With coaxing from Daryl, Rick doesn’t execute Carter, reasoning that people like him are going to die in the world anyway – a sentiment that later comes to fruition when Carter gets half his face bitten off.
I understand Rick has gone through a lot – walkers, psycho neighbors, cannibals, dead family members, etc. – but others in his group have gone through just as much, if not more, and are holding on to their moral side. I think Glenn and Maggie will emerge as contrasting leaders opposing Rick’s brutality around the community. It speaks to how strong of a moral compass they both have not killing, and even working with, Nicholas after the fact he led Glenn into the woods to kill him. Glenn sees how scared people in Alexandria are of Rick’s new lifestyle changes. Rick believes in survive or die. Glenn believes in gradual rehabilitation.
Daryl and returning character Morgan directly, but nonviolently, oppose Rick’s decisions. Rick wants to eliminate new members to the community stating “we need to take care of ourselves.” Daryl, whose job it is to find new members, tells Rick he feels differently, believing finding new people is taking care of themselves. In another instance, when Rick sees walkers headed for some less experienced community members, he commands them to take down the walkers on
their own, urging his group to stay back. Seeing the community members struggle, Morgan jumps into action followed by Michonne and Daryl, much to the dismay or Rick. These may look like small isolated incidents of disagreements between family members, but with the muscle Rick is flexing lately, it could the start of something larger against him.
It’s unfortunate that we didn’t see more instances of Rick’s judgement being mistaken or of his authority being opposed. The walkers did eventually get free like he said and Carter did die by his own inexperience like Rick guessed. Rick’s plan worked, though by the end of the episode we hear a loud foghorn coming from the direction of Alexandria totally ruining everything they worked for. Like I said, I love the character of Rick Grimes, but only when he’s flexing on the bad guys like The Governor, like Joe, and like Gareth. I hope we’re not seeing Shane 2.0 here.