Well that was a welcome return to form (for the most part) after a string of mediocre-at-best episodes. But that’s to be expected with Seth Hoffman on scripting duties and Greg Nicotero directing. Nicotero, as usual, provides a firm hand on the tiller, balancing the emotional beats with the gross-out gore (although there’s a bit of a problem with the pacing of this one, as it needed to be dark for the fantastic “setting the lake on fire” scene to really play). Hoffman is tasked with translating one of the more horrifying moments from the comic series into real life and captures both the visceral and psychological horror of what goes down. In the meantime, the results of Carol’s (Melissa McBride) and Morgan’s (Lennie James) ideological conflict comes to a head and while we’re given a glimpse of what could possibly be a changed Wolf (Benedict Samuel), he ultimately gets what he should have gotten long ago: a bullet from Carol. So the big question here is whether or not Morgan’s philosophy actually received some validation or whether the Wolf’s “change of heart” was simply a plot device. To be honest, thanks to the apparent lack of build-up over the half-assed final stretch of episodes before the mid-season break, we have no real reason to believe in his change. Or if we do, we have no reason to attribute that change purely to Morgan’s refusal to kill him. If anything, the Wolf seemed to have developed an instant, one-sided bond with Denise (Merritt Wever). His actions saving her were ultimately self-sacrificial, but that’s generally what happens to people on this show who try to do the right thing. While his initial kidnapping of Denise was for selfish reasons, a glimmer of sentiment made him sloppy and cost him his life. Is this a validation of sentiment or a reinforcement of the pragmatic line of thought that has continuously done battle since Gimple took over as showrunner? One act of sacrifice doesn’t really make up for the shit ton of murder and chaos that the Wolves brought to the table (in a storyline that never really played out properly) – especially since he was apparently the last of the Wolves. Which means that his slight turn in the end was simply a plot device to complicate our reaction when Carol finally puts him down. We’re supposed to question her determination now, particularly after she just told Morgan that she should have killed him when she had the chance. The problem with this is that she’s not wrong. She should have killed Morgan. Morgan is weak. And I say that with love, because he’s one of my favorite characters on the show. But like Dale, Hershel, and Tyreese before him, his purpose isn’t to survive or to change things. His purpose is to fight the good fight and then die. His purpose is to fuel the moral courage of the others, to give lip service to maintaining their humanity, and to allow the audience to hope for something positive to happen somewhere down the line. Speaking of weakness and death, let’s pay some attention to the passing of the Anderson family and the refocusing of Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) attention on Carl (Chandler Riggs). Make no mistake, the Anderson’s were toast from the moment they each first appeared on-screen. The only question was whether or not they’d go out like they did in the comics, and how much emotional stock would have placed in them before we got to that point. Again, we get a bit of a mixed message here. While Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) represented some sort of hope for normalcy on Rick’s part (Rick’s decidedly stalkerly part), there was never any way that another family would end up coming between the father and son story that has dominated The Walking Dead from the very beginning. Carl has vacillated between a surrogate father and his real dad before, but this was the first time Rick seemed to consider rebuilding a new family from the ashes of the old. The tensions there were already at the breaking point, obvious to anyone who really looked, but for narrative reasons, Rick had to be given that glimpse at happiness before having it taken away. At the same time, the loss of Jessie, Sam (Major Dodson), and Ron (Austin Abrams) opened him up for the acceptance of the communal family as the citizens of Alexandria all pitch in to destroy the walkers flooding their town. Rick is the community patriarch but must be emotionally constrained to blood relatives in his personal emotional journey, like some sort of gore-encrusted Odysseus, rushing out into overwhelming odds. This “blooding” of the entire town opens up Rick to accepting his role as overseer while the bullet that Carl took to the eye serves to refocus his attention as caregiver. I doubt he’ll forget who it was who taught Ron how to shoot. Although if we look again to mythology and legend, the sacrificing of an eye is generally seen as a precursor to knowledge, healing, and restoration. In fact, one could almost see the setting fire to the lake as a variation on the Beltane bonfire tradition, symbolizing rebirth, fertility, and life. There’s no May Queen, but Rick definitely serves as the King of the Forest. And rather than celebrating with sex and revelry, we get a heaping helping of zombie slaughter along with a promise of community, crops, and family. Maybe the symbolism isn’t as clear cut as all that, but the fire, along with Carl’s injury, definitely serve as focal points for the narrative and when the morning comes, everyone is bonded, the walkers are no longer really conceived of as a threat, and a new day of storytelling is about to begin. Plus, as readers of the comics know, Jesus is coming. And that heralds the possibility of so many good things that I’m willing to give a pass to the weak spots in this episode (I’m looking at you, Cold Open and EVERYTHING ABOUT GLENN’S (Steven Yeun) STORY). The Walking Dead 6.09 "No Way Out"Paul's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.