If you haven’t watched the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead, then I would suggest not reading any further, because there will be spoilers. You have been warned.
I think that we all may need to take a breather after that one. AMC’s The Walking Dead returned from its midseason hiatus with a bang, quite literally. It was an hour packed with action, death, blood, heartache, but also hope. After the somewhat disappointing and lackluster midseason finale, “No Way Out” was exactly what the show needed to gain the audience’s attention and keep them craving more. The episode offered plenty on the scene of gore and death, and despite the unsettling and devastating events that took place, the episode ended on a hopeful note, something that is very much-needed in a world where the dead roam the earth.
Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham
The episode opened where the midseason finale had left off, with the motley trio of Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham encountering some unwelcomed company. Traveling home after having been separated from the remainder of the group trying to lead the walkers away from Alexandria, the trio’s journey is halted by a group of men on motorcycles, and as is usually the case, they are not the kind of people that one would want to run into. Forced to surrender their weapons to the head honcho man, they are informed that their property now belongs to Negan (remember his name…I think it’s safe to say that he will be playing a major role later on).
The group seems to be in a pretty dire situation, guns pointed at both Sasha and Abraham as Daryl is led to the back of the truck. But don’t fret; Daryl wears angel wings for a reason, and it is his ingenuity that saves the group when he uses the RPG launcher that Abraham had found in “Always Accountable” and blows up the group of bikers.
Denise and The Wolf
When we last saw Denise, she was being whisked away by The Wolf, and her circumstances hadn’t changed when the midseason premiere began. Hiding from the walkers roaming the streets of Alexandria, though, allowed for Denise and The Wolf to have a sort of heart-to-heart conversation, where Denise expresses that the man wasn’t born the way that he is now, that he had changed into what he is, and that he still has the chance to change into a different person. This short speech proves to be not only important to these two characters, but by the end of the episode, it seems to hold even more importance (more on that later).
Seeking a way to escape, Denise and The Wolf seize the first opportunity that they get, and they sprint towards the guard tower. The Wolf reaches the ladder that would offer him almost guaranteed survival, but he hesitates when he sees Denise stopped by a walker, instead choosing to save her and in the process getting his arm bit by a walker. Big Bad Wolf still? I think not. Promising him that if they get to the infirmary she can save him, Denise and The Wolf take off running. Unfortunately, The Wolf never makes it there, shot by Carol in the process, but he ultimately saves Denise a second time by pushing a walker out of her way.
Carol, Morgan, Tara, Rosita, and Eugene
Trapped in a house together, the tension within this group is high. During the midseason finale, Carol and Morgan had been fighting over whether or not to keep The Wolf alive, and in the process, they were both knocked unconscious. With The Wolf now gone and Denise having been taken with him, both characters feel a sense of guilt, but neither is willing to admit their fault. Morgan, believing that all life is precious, cannot bring himself to kill another human, even if they present a threat to himself and those around him. He believes that everyone has a chance to change, just as he had changed. Carol, on the other hand, has hardened herself to adapt to the world that she lives in, and she has taken it upon herself time and time again to save those that have become her family even if it means sacrificing a part of herself in the process. While Carol may appear indifferent to killing on the outside, it is taking a toll on her on the inside.
Meanwhile, Tara, Rosita, and Eugene are in a different room. Tara is worrying over Denise. It appears as if the kiss that they shared earlier in the season may have developed into something more, but Rosita is adamant in not leaving the building, knowing that doing so would be walking straight to their deaths. Eugene seems to have other plans, however, as he expresses his desire to go out and fight, a suggestion that is quickly shutdown by Rosita. Eugene, seen as one of the weakest in the group ever since he was first introduced, has yet to gain the trust and respect of his group members.
Maggie, Glenn, and Enid
Things still weren’t looking good for Maggie during “No Way Out.” Injured and stuck up on a guard tower that is surrounded by walkers and very close to collapsing, it seemed as if the “Last Greene Standing” wouldn’t be standing much longer. Thankfully, though, Maggie has a devoted husband that would do literally anything to keep her alive, and with the help of Enid, he does just that.
The unlikely duo of Enid and Glenn first appeared shortly after Glenn had come out from hiding under a dumpster, and Enid didn’t make things easy for Glenn. Fighting him along the way as he brings them back to Alexandria, Enid is not just being an unruly teen, but she is rather a teenager who is struggling to cope with her losses and trying even harder to prevent losing anything more. Glenn seems to strike a chord in her, though, and Enid finds herself questioning what Glenn had told her about the people she had lost still being with her. In a tender moment between the two, Glenn confesses that he has lost people: his parents, Dale, Hershel, Tyreese, Andrea, but that by continuing to move forward and live, he is keeping them alive. A part of the people that they have lost lives on inside of them, but when they stop fighting, that part dies. As Glenn states, “they’re still here because you’re still here.”
Finally accepting Glenn’s words, Enid agrees to help, and when Glenn wants her to stay inside, she refuses, using Glenn’s own words against him. The two fight their way through the herd of walkers and to Maggie, Enid climbing up to help her as Glenn leads the walkers away. Can’t Maggie and Glenn ever just have a moment of peace and happiness?
It has been a widely accepted fact that Father Gabriel is a coward. He is a priest that left his flock to die terrible deaths, and it is something that haunts him. He is the man that ran to Deanna and turned on Rick and his group, calling them the devil and that they were not worthy of the safety that Alexandria offered. Father Gabriel was not a very likeable man, that is, until the midseason premiere.
Covered in walker guts and making his way through the shambling bodies of the dead, Father Gabriel doesn’t allow his fear to guide him. He stays strong in his will, and he brings Judith to safety at the church. Leading prayer and observing what is taking place outside, Father Gabriel has a redemptive moment that very well may change the way that the audience views him. He had been praying for God to save them, but he realizes that God has given him and the people within the church the courage to save Alexandria. He decides that he will no longer idly sit and wait for someone else to take charge, but rather he takes matters into his own hands and leads a group outside to fight.
Rick, Carl, Michonne, Jessie, Ron, and Sam
You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20 (pun intended), and looking back now, allowing Sam to continue on with his mom instead of going to the church with Father Gabriel definitely was not the best decision, and if Sam had stayed behind, many characters would still be alive. To start things off, as soon as they stepped foot off of the porch, Sam was calling for his mom, afraid of the scene before him. That was a pretty good sign that he should have gone with Father Gabriel, but Sam insisted on staying with his mom, not wanting to leave her side. As their walk through the walkers continues and Sam witnesses the true horrors that had been lurking just outside of the walls of Alexandria this entire time, including a child walker, he begins to hear Carol’s voice in his head telling him about the monsters and how they would eat him. Sam becomes frozen with fear, and nobody can get him to move. It didn’t take long before a walker got him, and all hell broke loose after that.
A scream of horror escapes from Jessie as she watches her youngest son being devoured by walkers, and her scream only attracts the attention of more walkers, who quickly sink their teeth into her. The problem is, Jessie is still tightly holding onto Carl’s hand and refusing to let go. Snapping out of his state of shock as he sees his son seconds away from being walker food, Rick doesn’t hesitate to use his trustworthy axe to chop off Jessie’s arm and free Carl. This only serves to anger Ron, who had already held ill feelings towards both Rick and Carl (Rick had killed his father after all, and had grown increasingly close to Jessie, and Carl had begun to spring up a relationship with Ron’s girlfriend Enid). Drawing a gun on Rick, Michonne’s katana slices through Ron’s chest, but it is only milliseconds too late because Ron manages to pull the trigger, and the scene that comic book readers had been anxiously waiting for finally happened: Carl is shot in the eye.
Scooping his son from the ground and into his arms, Rick and Michonne begin to make their way to the infirmary. This image is almost a direct callback to season 2 when Otis had shot Carl and Rick is running across the field desperately trying to reach Hershel’s farm and save his son. Thankfully, just as in season 2, Rick is able to make it in time and Carl is able to receive the medical attention that he so desperately needs.
Strength in Numbers and a Lake of Fire
The Walking Dead has proven time and time again that there is strength in numbers, and “No Way Out” was no different. Enraged and emboldened by Carl’s injury and the deaths that he has just witnessed, Rick abandons Carl in the infirmary, entrusting his son in the hands of Denise, and rushes outside, his axe in hand. Whacking away at the walkers, he is soon joined by Michonne, Heath, and Spencer. This seems to encourage other Alexandrians as they all begin to rush out of hiding to help, including Father Gabriel and Eugene.
The horde of walkers is seemingly endless, though, and taking down that many seems like an unlikely task. So who shows up to save the day? Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham in their trusted Pattrick’s Fuel Company truck. Backing the truck up to the lake in the middle of Alexandria, Daryl begins to empty the gasoline from the truck into the lake. Clever, Daryl, very clever…I like where this is going. What does he do next? He makes use of the RPG launcher again and sets the lake on fire, drawing the attention of the walkers who stumble into a fiery death.
The rest of the group continues fighting against the walkers that remain on the streets, and in an unusual and unique moment, The Walking Dead does something that it hasn’t done before. Instead of giving the viewer the typical omniscient point of view, the viewer is thrust straight into the action of the scene, receiving the brunt end of the force being inflicted upon the walkers by the characters. The viewer becomes the walker that the characters are fighting, and they witness what a walker would witness in its final moments as it faces down the fighters, who are violently slashing at the camera, a.k.a. the walker/viewer.
To start with, many of you are probably angered and annoyed with Sam, which is understandable. But, Sam was just a child who, up until recently, hadn’t known what the world was like outside of the walls of Alexandria. He had been living within the safety of the walls, and very little had changed for him since the beginning of the apocalypse. Suddenly a group of strangers had shown up to the gates of Alexandria and everything had changed for him so suddenly that he never had the chance to process any of it. His father is killed, albeit, he isn’t the best father, and he is faced with the cruel hard facts the new world, and it’s something that he can’t handle.
The midseason premiere bore witness to many underdogs stepping up to the plate and proving their worth. Eugene, the man who had lied about knowing a cure just to garner the protection of Abraham, finally shed his fear of walkers and fighting and charged out of that building with guns blazing, ready to take down walkers and protect those who had been protecting him. Father Gabriel did the same thing, and the two men redeemed themselves in this episode. Furthermore, the Alexandrians whom Rick had been so certain were dead men walking and would never be able to adjust to the world, proved him wrong and fought back with a vengeance.
The sense of hope that begins to blossom throughout the episode is brought full circle in the final moment of “Now Way Out,” when Rick is sitting next to an unconscious Carl and giving an emotional speech:
“But today, I saw what they could do, what we could do if we work together. We’ll rebuild the wall. We’ll expand the walls. Everything Deanna was talking about is possible. When I was out there with them and it was over, when I knew we had this place again, I had this feeling. It took me a while to remember what it was because I haven’t felt it since before I woke up in that hospital.
“I wanna show you the new world, Carl. I wanna make it a reality for you. Please, Carl, let me show you.”
And before Rick has the chance to say anything else, Carl’s fingers slowly grip his father’s.
“No Way Out” was a tragic episode, but there was an overriding theme of regaining hope in the otherwise hopeless world that they live in.
- Negan’s group of men
- Jessie Anderson
- Ron Anderson
- Sam Anderson
- The Wolf
- Dozens upon dozens of walkers
Special #RIP to Carl’s eye. Hindsight is 20/20.
Don’t miss an all-new episode of The Walking Dead Sunday at 9 EST on AMC.