The Walking Dead Premiere Recap: It’s All Fun and Games at the Zombie Parade Until Somebody Loses a Face

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The Walking Dead premiere on Sunday, Oct. 11, featured a zombie parade, a murder plot, and a shocking death as tensions rise in Alexandria Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

12 October 2015

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If you thought that a parade was in order to celebrate the return of The Walking Dead, then good news: The show totally agrees.

That’s why the Season 6 premiere on Sunday, Oct. 11, featured an actual, epic, zombie parade, as fans were treated to the biggest, grossest zombie horde in the history of the show.

It was a clever and attention-getting setup, as “First Time Again” flashed back and forth between the here-and-now concern — a giant herd of thousands of zombies who pose an immediate threat to our favorite gang of survivors — and the not-so-distant past, as everyone in Alexandria realized that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) was the new sheriff in town, in every sense of the word.

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A New Ricktatorship

After losing her son and her husband within days of each other, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) learned a harsh lesson about the dangers of putting your faith in the wrong people. In a flashback, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) finds her sitting at the edge of a macabre reflection pool, made from the blood of her dead husband.

“You were wrong,” she says, which is much nicer and includes roughly 5000 percent less vitriolic cursing than Gabriel deserves.

And Deanna, for one, won’t make the mistake of not trusting Rick again. In a series of flashbacks, we repeatedly see her defer to his authority in multiple matters, from who gets the privilege of being buried inside Alexandria’s walls to how best to deal with the giant zombie horde that’s gathered at a nearby campground. In fact, the only time she sounds like the steely leader we saw last season is when she’s telling her people to fall in line — behind Rick Grimes.

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Old Friends, New Faces, Teen Romance, and Mended Fences

Tara (Alanna Masterson) was comatose through the end of last season, but in the immediate aftermath of Reg’s murder and Pete’s execution, she’s alive and awake. That’s a good thing, because we need her around for the fist-bumps and quips, especially the one where she sees Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and sighs, “Thank God, nothing happened to your hair.”

We also meet a few more Alexandrites who’ve been away on a supply run and return with no idea about the carnage they’ve missed. These new characters include Heath (Corey Hawkins), who rumor has it we’ll be seeing a lot of this season — but considering the show’s abysmal track record when it comes to keeping its black characters alive, it might be wise not to get too attached.

“Anything big happen while we were gone?” Heath asks. (Walking Dead fans, in unison: HA! HAHAHAHA!)

Also worth noting: Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) are tentatively cool despite Nicholas trying to kill Glenn last season, thanks to the former stepping up and falling in line under Rick’s rule. And Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) were mostly absent from this episode, probably because they were off holding hands on a roof the whole time. Aww.

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Uneasy alliances

Ugh, that awkward moment when you shoot an alcoholic murderer right in the face, and then realize that your best bro from day one of the zombie apocalypse had arrived just in time to see you do it. These were the circumstances for the long-awaited reunion between Rick and Morgan (Lennie James), and things are definitely weird and cautious as each man gets to know the other again, and sees himself through the other’s eyes. Both these characters have been changed by the zombie apocalypse, but they’ve also both remained very much themselves in a way that their peculiar friendship reflects.

However, Morgan seems disturbed by some of Rick’s more cold-blooded interactions with the people he’s charged with protecting, particularly when Rick tries to force the soft, complacent Alexandrites into a confrontation with some zombies who stumble out of the woods. It’s pathetic — they’re much too scared and unskilled to defend themselves — and Morgan, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) have to step in and do the killing.

In the aftermath of that little experiment, a man named Carter (Ethan Embry) hatches a plot to kill Rick and take back control of the community. Fortunately, Carter is even worse at scheming than he is at killing zombies, and Rick walks right in on his murder-planning party. Awkward!

“Just kill me,” Carter snivels, but Rick doesn’t. Instead, he invites the man to work with him, and try to survive … but only because he knows he won’t.

“He doesn’t get it,” Rick tells Morgan. “Somebody like that, they’re gonna die no matter what.”

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Rick Is Not Wrong! Also, Herding Zombies!

And that brings us back to the here and now, and the small matter of the 100,000 zombies that Rick and Morgan discovered milling around in a quarry campground not far from Alexandria.

The horde has been barricaded in place by a half dozen big trucks, but they won’t keep ’em in forever. So, at Rick’s insistence, the community creates a plan to lure the zombies out of the campground and down the road, Pied Piper-style, until they’re all parading en masse away from Alexandria and hopefully into a neighboring state. (Take that, West Virginia.) It seems crazy, but it’s actually working, right down to the part where they build a wall that the zombies can rebound off like pinballs around a hairpin curve.

But at the exact moment that the Grimes gang are celebrating the success of this wild endeavor — and Carter has shaken Rick’s hand in a show of trust and friendship — things go badly wrong.

First, a zombie grabs Carter and bites off a full one-third of his face. Rick has no choice but to shiv him in the medulla before his screaming draws the entire herd. (RIP, Carter.)

“We have to come for them, or they come for us. It’s that simple,” Rick says.

Only it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. Because just when it seems like Carter’s death will be the only wrench in the works, another sound rises through the woods. A sound they can’t silence. A sound like a horn. And it sounds like it’s coming from …

Home,” says Rick, and that’s where he heads.

As does as every zombie in the state of Virginia. And, like, it’s a lot of zombies.

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