Thirty seconds into season six of “The Walking Dead” you’ll be asking yourself, “What is going on?”
Within a minute, you’re sure to be grinning.
This is what fans have been waiting for.
Tech Insider has seen the first new episode of “The Walking Dead,” returning to AMC Oct. 11, and season six wastes no time launching into a huge action sequence which plays across the entirety of the premiere.
I can’t say much, but back in March, at the end of season 5, “The Walking Dead” showrunner Scott Gimple told fans, “for a good while now, humans have been the bigger threat. At the start of our next season, that will change.“
Gimple delivers on that promise.
If you’re up to speed with Robert Kirkman’s comic series, you know what’s coming, and the season six premiere sets things in motion perfectly. (To be honest, it’s moving things along quicker than anticipated.)
Executive producer Greg Nicotero, who’s also responsible for the ever-decaying look of the zombies on the show, returns to the director’s chair for the premiere, so you know you’re in for a good ride. He’s delivered some of the series’ best episodes. Season 3’s “This Sorrowful Life” and season 5’s premiere “No Sanctuary” stand out.
This is Nicotero’s 12th episode directing. He and Gimple have worked together on the previous two season openers, which have both been positively received.
While the season six premiere doesn’t top the anxiety-ridden drama of the season five opener (seriously, how do you compete with an escape from murderous cannibals?), it certainly goes bigger.
I can’t divulge too much more about the episode without giving much away.
So what can we tell you?
The Ricktatorship is back!
You don’t want to mess with Rick. The fan-given moniker alluding to the way Rick governs over his group — generally it’s Rick’s way or the highway — lives up to its name in episode one. There’s a scene with him where he gives a speech which may make fans of the series shiver in glee.
If you’ve seen the lengthy San Diego Comic-Con trailer, you’ve seen a hint:
And while you’re excited and rooting for Rick, there’s a part of you that may start wondering whether you’re still rooting for the right side. It’s slightly reminiscent of how fans binge-watching AMC’s other hit, “Breaking Bad,” began to struggle with justifying Walter White’s decisions toward the end of the series.
However, unlike Walt, Rick has a few voices of reason on his side.
What a sight it was to see Morgan (Lennie James) reunite with Rick during the season five finale … at quite possibly the worst moment he could reunite with Rick: Rick had just killed a guy, RIGHT after Morgan gave an entire speech about all life being precious. Talk about awkward.
Creator Robert Kirkman has already said Rick and Morgan’s interactions will be integral to the story this season and that’s extremely evident in the premiere.
The return of Morgan from seasons one and three adds a somber voice of reason to the group which may have started to disappear the longer Rick and his crew were on the road, living off of instinct. His scenes with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) have always been some of the series’ best. Fans have a lot to look forward to from his interactions with the rest of the gang, particularly Michonne (Danai Gurira).
For viewers, the return helps show the group from an outsider’s perspective. Morgan is someone who has survived the apocalypse, and on his own nonetheless. The guy has a zen-like vibe. Now, that he’s in contact with the two very different groups — the laid-back, inexperienced Alexandrians and Rick’s ragtag supergroup of trained zombie warriors — he’s perhaps the most reliable narrator on the show.
Eugene is so awkward, it’s hilarious.
There’s really not much else to say about Josh McDermitt’s character. His scenes really stick out in the premiere.
A few new characters are also added to the bunch.
Be on the lookout for Heath (Corey Hawkins, “Straight Outta Compton”), another big character from the comics whose casting was announced back in June.
Yes, Daryl will be there.
“The Walking Dead” has a habit of focusing more intently on select characters in single episodes due to the large ensemble. That’s not the case here. You’ll get a nice amount of screen time with most of the characters.
To be clear, the season six premiere is not the series’ finest. It gets a bit predictable.
There’s a particular style in which the episode is done which adds intrigue and mystery to the set up of the premiere. (Again, spoilers, so I can’t say more.) It’s brilliant for the episode’s first half, but once viewers figure out what exactly is going on, the allure starts to fade after the 30-minute mark.
Despite that, the episode, titled “”First Time Again,” has some great moments and will get you excited for where the season is heading over the course of the first eight episodes.
We’ll leave you with this: Fans, this is a good time to go back and get reacquainted with the “No Way Out” volume — issues 79-84. In fact, be on the lookout for a verbal wink to it in the season premiere.
“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC Sunday, October 11 at 9 p.m.
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