I’ve been busy binge-watching The Walking Dead over the summer in order to catch up and having been incredibly disappointed with its spinoff show, Fear The Walking Dead, I was looking forward to seeing where Season Six would take us. Would it be an improvement on the previous seasons which haven’t quite yet managed to live up to the quality that was the first season of the show, when the pacing and tense atmosphere was at its best? And one thing that The Walking Dead has always excelled at has been the season premieres, so it was no surprise to see that First Time Again was another strong episode that arguably had the biggest cinematic feel to it yet.
The story was told in two halves, with the use of black and white to separate the flashbacks from the main event which was something I wasn’t expecting. In the past, we caught up with the events between the end of Season 5 and the start of Season 6, whilst in the present, we learnt how Rick and the surviving occupants of Alexandria were planning to draw a large group of zombies away from their location, and when I say “large group of zombies,” I mean “really large group of zombies,” because it was an insane amount of undead humans that we saw in the premiere, almost bigger than anything that we’ve seen previously. The scale of the threat facing Alexandria is clear and the plan that was put in place to stop it was an audacious one. Act as bait to make sure that the zombies follow them away from the town, which is a plan that went about as well as one would expect. The loud, blaring horn at the episode’s end was a fantastic way to finish the premiere, and now the only bad thing about being up to date on the series is that I can’t immediately jump into the next episode to find out what happens next. If the show can maintain the strong quality that First Time Again gave us, then Season 6 stands a chance at becoming one of the stronger seasons of the show. It also gives us a question to answer until we return next week, and that’s who blew the horn? Who would put their lives at risk? It’ll be interesting to see how this is resolved for sure come next week.
Rick established himself as the resident dictator of Alexandria in First Time Again, which further continues to mark the change for the character since we first saw him as the man waking up from the hospital bed in the pilot. He’s manipulating the future of the town and its inhabitants under his command and nobody’s really saying anything against it from the normal lot of survivors, even if the Alexandrians, and in particular Morgan Jones (Lennie James), may have their own problems. It’s a very interesting new theme for the show to explore and you can tell it’s something that’s going to feature heavily in the upcoming episodes to come. Rick is slowly starting to turn into the Governor 2.0, and there’s a lot of potential there for things to go even more sideways than they already have.
Even if the conflict with Carter and Rick may feel like we’re retreading what we’ve already covered in the previous season, First Time Again was a very solid start with an inventive use of flashbacks to keep the episode interesting and engaging, with an interesting cliffhanger to keep us hooked. Now let’s see whether or not the show can keep its consistency for the rest of the season.