UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 9 (No Way Out)
Hack and Slash9
Bite and Tear9
Synth and Bass9
Neil Brazier | On 14, Feb 2016
This is a spoiler-free review. Already seen Episode 9? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
The Walking Dead explodes back onto our screens with an episode that will wholly satisfy fans after its lengthy mid-season absence. It’s not as though the show really has to try and entice viewers to watch, but recent opening and returning episodes of seasons past have certainly packed an emotional punch to the zombie gut and No Way Out continues that trend.
When we last left the zombie apocalypse, Alexandria was overrun with walkers and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) had decided to cover some survivors in undead innards to try and slip through the horde. Outside the walls, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) met face to face with a group of bikers who report to a man called Negan – the newly cast Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the next big bad guy. The situation for both groups looked bleak with no escape; No Way Out addresses each scenario with glorious aplomb.
All the players get some screen-time as the episode shares the characters’ different perspectives of the invasion from their hiding places. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) are still dealing with the results of their conflict, which resulted in Denise (Merritt Wever) becoming a prisoner of the Wolf. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is still struggling to win over Rosita (Christian Serratos) and prove he’s not a coward. Glenn (Steven Yeun) is attempting to save his wife, who is teetering on a platform above a batch of clawing zombies. What we get is a lot of action, chopping swiftly between each one. The pacing never allows you to settle, not that the score would let you – it never subdues, only softens and crescendos, creating nervous tension as it pulsates throughout.
No Way Out features action aplenty but also manages to incorporate character development into its narrative. Episodes in the past have tended to be one or the other, but here the Alexandrians grow as they only can when faced with hundreds of the undead roaming what were once safe streets. Yet, as the show has continually suggested, the greatest threat might not be the zombies but themselves. Abraham and Sasha tread the safety line dangerously close in the opening sequence and as we saw in the final shots of Episode 8, Sam (Major Dodson) could spell the undoing for Rick and family.
With the action comes violence – delicious, zombie-thrashing violence – and just when you think you’ve seen everything that the Walking Dead could ever do to dispose of a foe, they go and up the ante yet again. There are even beats to those who are following along with the graphic novel, from which we’ve seen a fair amount of deviation before (the episode title actually refers to volume 14 of the books). The final flurry of shots of slaughter on the streets look as though they have been ripped right out of the comic book, as they flip-book quickly on top of one another in a cacophony of assault.
During one pause, Rick gives an impassioned speech, which feels like the ending of a chapter. The Walking Dead marketing team have made a point that almost anyone could encounter death at any time and No Way Out fully endorses that; there are moments where you will even fear for the loss of the untouchable Grimes and, yes, Daryl. The result is a mid-season premiere that feels like a season finale – which can only bode well for the episodes ahead.
The Walking Dead Season 6 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. You can also buy and download it on pay-per-view VOD.
Spoilers and further consideration
– As we expected, Sam ends up the cause of death for the Anderson family. With Carol’s words still ringing in his ears about monsters, he freezes to the spot, unable to carry on. But the death is so well played out that despite being standing in the middle of a plethora of zombies, the attack is almost unexpected.
– As the walkers approach, the score softens, the action slows down and it becomes an almost beautiful dream. Then, we focus on Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), framed centrally, and although her screams attract the attention of nearby zombies, it, too, comes as a surprise to see walkers engulf Jessie from all directions of the shot.
– Now for the moment straight from the comic book pages. After some colourful memories flash in Rick’s mind – a total juxtaposition from the grey-blues of the action at hand – he chops off Jessie’s hand to free Carl (Chandler Riggs) from becoming the next victim, his colourful visions turned blood red. What follows is some truly incredible television as Ron holds the Grimes family at gunpoint.
– The question we want answering is why didn’t Michonne chop off Ron’s hand instead? The shock from the katana blade ripping through his body causes the gun to go off and again we are greeted with a tragically beautiful shot of Carl. It’s an intense few minutes that occur right in the middle of the episode – suddenly, a family has been wiped out. The terrible events force the Alexandrians to come together to battle the horde, which is hard to watch from anywhere other than the edge of your seat.
– There may have been a slight ounce of remorse from the Wolf when he realised he was bitten, but he had no time to act on it, when he was finally shot by Carol. When Morgan finds his zombified corpse, he apologises, but was it meant for the Wolf, for Carol, or for himself?
– If anyone had seen the opening four-minute video that AMC published earlier in the week, you’d fully have expected Abraham and Sasha to have met their end. Thankfully, Daryl saves the day with a blast from the rocket launcher. It’s an incredible jolt to a nerve-racking scene and saves Abraham to give his funny quip later on ,when they turn up just in time to save Glenn. From all the horror that The Walking Dead throws at us, it still manages to create a giggle or two.
– Is the Alexandria community now united? Rick has seen promise in their ability to all work together; they can fight when they need to. They really are going to need to, though, should Negan find the charred remains of his group scattered on the road…
Photo: Gene Page / AMC
Need to catch up with AMC’s zombie series? See Where can I watch The Walking Dead online legally?