The Walking Dead is just… unbelievable. I really don’t know how to put tonight’s episode into words. I’d say incredible, but that’d seem like an insult to the episode itself. Up until now, the show has been a complete rollercoaster of quality. We’ve had excellent episodes, then totally boring episodes, and then we get this bombshell of a midseason premiere. (spoilers ahead!)
For the past year and a half, I’ve held Season 5’s premiere as the best episode of The Walking Dead, but it looks like it will now have to share that title with tonight’s installment, “No Way Out”. Let’s start with that opening scene.
Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham are driving a tanker back to Alexandria when they’re stopped by a horde of bikers under the command of a man named Negan. We haven’t seen Negan yet, but his arrival is highly anticipated, due to his popularity from the comics AND because he’s going to be portrayed by the fantastic Jeffrey Dean Morgan. We don’t actually get to see Negan in this episode, but I’m totally fine with that since we got so much more in this action-packed hour.
The bikers force Daryl and co. to relinquish their arms. For a moment, you think they’re about to execute Sasha and/or Abraham. Luckily, Daryl manages to get his hands on a rocket launcher and blows the living f*ck out of the bikers. I was left speechless. It was the same reaction I had when I thought Glenn had died a few months ago. It was epic.
Speaking of Glenn, the worst moment of the episode involved him and Enid. They’ve come back to Alexandria to rejoin their group and to save Maggie (who was left stranded on a platform in the middle of a sea of walkers – because that’s her luck). While searching for weapons in the church, Enid has a little breakdown that forces Glenn to confront her and talk some sense into her. There are walkers everywhere and Enid decides that now is the time to have an existential crisis? She’s annoyed me nonstop this season. I can’t wait for her to be out of the picture.
The only person who annoyed me more than Enid was Sam. I knew that little sh*t was going to cause nothing but trouble in a future episode. And I was right! After slathering themselves with walker guts, Sam, Jessie, and Ron follow Rick, Carl, and Michonne through the army of walkers while Father Gabriel takes Judith to his church. During their trek, Sam gets himself eaten by the walkers. Good riddance. This leads to Jessie having a breakdown and getting eaten too. Okay, that might have been a little much. Rick has a bit of a breakdown but holds himself steady, knowing that one false move could lead to him getting eaten alive by the walkers surrounding him. However, Jessie won’t let go of Carl’s arm as she’s being devoured. Rick has to make the tough choice to sever her hand to save his son.
Once this happens, Ron pulls a gun on Rick and Carl. Ron was another little bastard who should’ve been nixed ages ago. Michonne puts her sword through his chest, but not before he shoots the gun, taking Carl’s eye out, a scene taken almost exactly out of the comics.
If there was a list of “most shocking moments on The Walking Dead“, this would have to be in the top five. For most of the episode, you believe Carl’s a goner, but then he appears to be making a recovery at the very end. Fans of the comics knew this was coming, especially since Carl’s missing eye actually plays a specific part with Negan’s role in the storyline, but it was still pretty shocking for most of us. I’m hoping that one-eyed Carl is a bad-ass. He’s been pretty tough these past two seasons, but I think now he’ll change even more. I’d like to see him become the type of person that Shane became right before he died.
With his son on the brink of death, Rick finally loses it. He takes a hatchet, ventures out into the town, and starts going crazy on the walkers. Another amazing scene. For people who’ve been calling for more action on The Walking Dead, THIS is what you’ve been waiting for all this time.
The episode slightly slows down at several points to address the Morgan/Carol/Wolf debacle from the last episode. The captured Wolf has taken Denise hostage and uses her to assist him out of the city. Meanwhile, Carol tells Morgan straight-up that she should’ve killed him when she had the chance. One of the many reasons to love Carol – she tells it like it is. I side 100-percent with Carol on this. I’m hoping she ends up being the one to execute Morgan in the near future.
The Wolf eventually gets bitten by a walker, and we see a slight change in his personality as he helps Denise get to safety. I’m wondering if the Wolf changed his attitude because he took a liking to Denise and her inner strength, or because Morgan’s influence REALLY had an impact on him. We’ll never know since Carol killed him soon after he was bitten, allowing Denise to escape to the infirmary to save Carl.
My favorite part of the episode was when the citizens of Alexandria see Rick battling walkers, so they all go out to help him. Even people like Eugene and Father Gabriel take up weapons to join in the fight! By the way, I loved Gabriel’s speech right before he heads out with a machete in hand. He declares that instead of God saving Alexandria, He gave the citizens the courage to save it themselves. That’s some Daredevil-level bad-assery right there.
Call it cheesy, but the montage of the citizens banding together to fight the walkers was amazing. This is what happens when someone like Rick is in charge. If Deanna was still around, everyone would just be crying alone in their homes until the walkers ate them. Rick rallied the troops and led the charge. The Alexandrians might just survive if they continue to follow his example.
Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha arrive just in time to save the city (and Glenn right before we think he’s going to be devoured by walkers – sure, let’s pull that shtick again). What’s the solution for clearing a town infested by walkers? Leave a trail of gasoline and burn them! Somehow, this actually works, and the town doesn‘t get burned to the ground. Hey, it’s a show about zombies. I’m not going to get into realism (or lack thereof).
As I mentioned, the episode concludes with Carl showing signs of recovery, though he may be sporting an eyepatch from now on. The town seems all safe and sound, and it looks like a semi-happy ending. But there are still numerous problems to be addressed. Alexandria’s walls are broken down, several townspeople are dead, morale is at an all-time low, Morgan is STILL a passive douche with qualms about killing walkers, and let’s not forget that Negan is going to be wondering what happened to his scouts when they don’t come back. The Alexandrians aren’t out of the woods yet.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season after tonight’s amazing episode. At the same time, I’m very worried that it’ll be difficult for future episodes to hold up. They better not let us down!
Final Grade: A
+ This episode didn’t hold back at all; so much carnage!
+ I loved the scene with all the townspeople rallying together and eradicating the walker army.
+ That opening scene left me speechless.
– I’m worried that it’ll be hard for The Walking Dead to top this episode in the future.
– I hated the scene with Glenn and Enid’s pep-talk; it slowed down the pacing so much.
– I wonder how long until we finally meet the infamous Negan.
How did you feel about this action-packed episode of The Walking Dead? Did you think it was exciting, or was it overrated? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!