Oh Rick, my favorite bearded, gun-toting Sheriff-slash-zombie killer, how I miss you. It’s been so long.
I really wanted Fear the Walking Dead to grow into an adequate substitute to hold me over these last few weeks until the real deal returns to our screens, but it wasn’t mean to be; poor Travis has nothing on Rick Grimes, and the show was sub par, to my great disappointment. But don’t fret – soon enough all of us TWD fans will be glued to our screens with anticipation, and everything I’ve read/heard/seen of the Season 6 premiere promises to deliver.
And it’s a tall order, if you ask me. Last season’s finale was possibly the best so far – and on a show where everything gets flipped on its axis every 8 episodes, an earth-shattering finale is not a simple feat to accomplish. Yet somehow our favorite group of survivors managed to do just that – with the help of an old familiar face we’d been waiting 5 whole seasons to see again.
The show’s history has made it pretty clear that any place that seems idyllic at first glance is hardly ever what it seems. Whether it’s a farmhouse, a prison, a church, Terminus or a self-sufficient suburban gated community, the peace and quiet never lasts too long. Either by the hand of our very protagonists or by the occasional villains – each of them worse than the one before, it seems – chaos is never far away. And we wouldn’t want it any other way: it’s what makes the show so fascinating. It’s the stuff of cliffhangers.
And boy did we get a cliffhanger in the 16th episode of Season 5! A bloodied Rick takes care of business, but his actions since arriving in Alexandria suggest he might be losing it just a little bit. Morgan shows up to save the day, while a pack of nasty Wolves are being built up as the main villains next season. Daryl and Aaron’s bromance, Sasha’s descent into what could unravel as either a zombie-murdering spree or a full-blown psychotic break, Gabe’s betrayal and remorse, Carol’s double life as harmless housewife/ruthless fighter, Deanna’s losses, the Alexandrians’ reaction to it all – there’s quite a lot to tackle, and I’m looking forward to every last bit.
So what are we expecting? I’ve tried to gather information about this season without learning any spoilers (easier said than done), so I can’t really know for sure. But there’s a lot of questions I want answered, maybe not right from the get go, but definitely as the season progresses:
1. Is Rick insane? I would argue that no, or at least no more insane than you and I would be if we’d been through what he has. The poor guy can’t catch a break, it seems. He was appointed Leader of this mismatched group of people right from the start, and seemed to resent it at first. When he finally decided to actually become one, not everyone was willing to follow, least of all the late, lamented Shane. A few seasons later, so much has happened to challenge his view of humanity, that he finally falls in line with what Shane had been saying from day one: it’s kill or be killed in this brave new world. So formerly sweet-spoken Rick has taken it upon himself to force his leadership on the formerly happy town of Alexandria. He will save them whether they want to be saved or not. Whether Deanna will support his claim remains to be seen; she might have happily appointed him in charge of doling out justice for the death of her husband last time we saw her, but if this attitude is going to last is anybody’s guess.
2. This hinges largely on Rick’s mental state, as Morgan’s own now seems to be intact: Will Morgan fall in line? Last time we saw him before Season 5, he wasn’t in his right mind. Hopefully a series of flashbacks will shed some light into what intervened, but for now, all we know is Morgan is a zen warrior. He doesn’t want to hurt people and he definitely has the skills to survive. If he doesn’t appreciate Rick’s choices (and the look he casts Rick in the closing moments of the finale suggest that he doesn’t, although to be fair he doesn’t know the whole story), will he openly challenge him, provided he remains in Alexandria?
3. What’s the deal with the big bad Wolves? How many of them are there? Will they launch an attack on the safe (for now) community? Is there a leader? Do they want to take residence in Alexandria or simply destroy it and everyone in it? Will they use their armies of Walkers to do the dirty work for them? At this point, all we know is that a group of bad guys are hoarding Walkers into containers and using them as traps. Last time we faced a similar conundrum (Terminus), the situation was building up towards something of epic proportions all season long but was resolved quickly (and violently, of course). Then again, if we take the producers’ assurance that the show reinvents itself every 8 episodes, we really don’t know what to expect this time.
4. Contrary to past seasons when some time had lapsed between the events of the finale and the start of the new season, this season’s premiere seems to promise to pick up where we left off. This means everything the main characters have gone through will still be fresh and largely unresolved. Between Carl, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Sasha and Carol, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Daryl, Aaron, Deanna, Gabe and everyone else, there’s so much to deal with: the loss of several beloved characters, the shift in power, the previously unbeknownst to Alexandria threat of people and/or Walkers at the gates. How will they all fare? Who will we lose next? We were spared the death of one of “our own” people in the finale, but no one’s safe in TWD.
5. This seems to bother a lot of the show’s more critical viewers, but so far it seems to work in terms of pushing the plot further, so you won’t hear me complain. However, the question remains: will they finally learn from their mistakes? I’m not even referring to the big decisions being made, the major plot points; I’m talking about the things that, had they been handled differently, might have averted disaster. To wit: will they finally start talking to each other, instead of keeping things secret? Last season, Maggie had eavesdropped on Gabe and Deanna’s discussion. She knew his misgivings about Rick & Co, but decided to keep her mouth shut about it. This led to many of the events culminating in the bloodbath of the season finale, but it still seems unbelievable that she wouldn’t share this with Rick or Michonne (or Glenn, for that matter). Similarly, will they start making use of tried and tested good ideas instead of coming up with new (sometimes bad) ones? Early on in Season 1 they learned that the Walkers don’t recognize them when they’re covered in zombie guts, thus making them able to walk among them undisturbed. Yet this cool trick was only utilized once since then. It seems to me that if something as simple as smearing gore all over your clothes helps you get by undetected by the myriads of Walkers out for your brains, you should try it more often. Especially now that running water is in supply!
6. Which brings me to an inconsequential but disturbing detail: they’ve been living in Alexandria for a while now, with clean clothes, working showers and all the amenities required to look/feel/smell presentable. Why are they still wearing their filthy old outfits? With the exception of Carol and her floral jumpers, everyone else is still walking around in the same drab, worn-out clothes they’ve had on for months. And don’t get me started on Rick’s boots. I know fashion is not your main concern when you’re fighting for your life,but I’m sure they can manage to look just as menacing and wild with a nice clean pair of jeans and fresh underwear.When you get out of bed in the morning, how hard is it really to just put on a fresh shirt?
Just one more day till all our questions are answered. Or maybe none of them will be, and instead we’ll come up with a few new ones. Either way, I’m counting down the minutes.