The second half of season 6 of The Walking Dead seems to be a reminder that this is a series based on a comic book. The actual Walking Dead comic has always had a better handle on characters than the show, but some of the more ridiculous aspects certainly look even more ridiculous when seen in live action. That is not to say this was a bad start to the second half of this season, as ‘No Way Out’ was plenty entertaining, but it’s hard to care much for those who were eaten by walkers when you have an opening featuring Daryl, an RPG and a whole bunch of body parts.
Honestly, after Daryl killed a tank back in the prison days, it seems like the writers are finding more and more ways to troll the audience with the silly things this man is capable of. We kick things off with an incredibly tense sequence involving men from Negan’s camp, but before things get too out of hand, Daryl has successfully stealth-killed a guy mere feet from the other tough Neganites and blown up the rest of them in the episode’s most shockingly hilarious moment.
The episode’s second most shockingly hilarious moment is the death of Jessie and her entire family. This is the kind of sequence where I have to wonder if the writers really expect much emotion to come out of the audience or if episode director Greg Nicotero watched this scene and thought he nailed the drama. From my perspective, this plays like great dark comedy. Obviously Sam and Ron could not be long for this world, given how they’ve reacted to their situations, but the way this show just destroys the two of them and Jessie for good measure was laughable.
Not only did we lose these characters (RIP Major Dodson), the show immediately forgets about them, as we now have to deal with Carl. Ripping a scene straight out of the comic, Carl loses and eye (thanks Ron) and Rick and Michonne race to get him help. Luckily things worked out for Denise, who had her own problems to deal with.
As you may recall, Denise got in the middle of this whole Wolf ordeal. After Carol and Morgan knocked each other out (it’s more complicated and silly than that), The Wolf took Denise and made a break for it. This episode shows the conclusion of that journey, which gives us enough time to realize Morgan’s ridiculous remedy for craziness worked, but not well enough to keep the Wolf from getting shot by Carol. Things will surely happen from there, but for now, Denise is safe and ready to save lives.
In the midst of all this, Glenn and Enid (the spin-off no one is looking forward too) spend time hatching a plan to rescue Maggie. Glenn’s description seems far more complicated than the end results, as we simply have him yelling at walkers, while Enid helps Maggie down. Fortunately for Glenn, Abraham and Sasha arrive on the scene with machine guns. And this all eventually leads to more Daryl ridiculousness, as he uses the fuel truck to burn a bunch of walkers.
The big thing about this episode is seeing the town of Alexandria come together in an effort to take care of the zombie horde themselves. No more elaborate plans to lure them out, just a whole lot of hacking and slashing. It actually works quite well cinematically, as Nicotero takes the opportunity to give us a lot of cool zombie kills, along with some very slick comic book-style shots of the individual characters in action. There is rarely a time when I complain about the production value and technical capabilities of The Walking Dead and this episode is no exception.
Thematically, ‘No Way Out’ may be a pretty shallow episode, with a laughable handle on what would seem to be some very significant losses in the midst of a fight for survival. On a visceral level, however, this show certainly does what it does best when it comes to a display of action. It is certainly not a fault of the actors, as they are giving it their all. Despite a somewhat repetitive handling on each subplot leading to the ‘kill ‘em all’ approach that supplies this episode’s end, we get the requisite introspection and one-on-one dialogue exchanges where characters explain their obvious motivations to one another.
It’s the fact that so little of it seems to matter on a show that bounces around what central idea to stick with so often, aside from how screwed the world is at this point, which makes it hard to care. That in mind, Rick’s realization (taken right out of the comic) that Alexandria could become a place full of lean, mean zombie-killin’ machines was a solid scene. Especially given how we watch Rick emote so effectively over his now one-eyed son, we can only hope the gravity of other future situations feels as significant.