TV Recap: The Walking Dead, ‘No Way Out’

Walking Dead Season 6 Poster
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

No Way Out Plot Summary:

Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Abraham (Michael Cuddlitz), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) are confronted by a group of men who work for a mysterious man named Negan. Meanwhile in Alexandria, all hell has broken lose as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) tries to lead a group of survivors to vehicles in order to evacuate the walker-filled town. Of course, no plan on The Walking Dead ever works perfectly.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Here’s a truthful admission: I did not care for nor did I really pay attention to the first half of season six of The Walking Dead. In fact, I barely watched it. As someone who has been with this show since the first episode, and did the first ever review of this series on Pop-Break, it pained me to admit that I did not care at all about last half season. I caught up with what I needed to know through The Talking Dead and YouTube highlights. Nothing about the first half of this season really appealed to me.

I found myself watching the midseason premiere, ‘No Way Out,’ only because our regular reviewer has moved onto a position in the television world, leaving a vacancy on the site.  I didn’t even watch the premiere live, I watched HBO’s Vinyl instead.

Why all this backstory?

Because within the first five minutes of ‘No Way Out,’ I was hooked. They had me on the edge of my seat again. I was a fan once again. Like the famous saying goes, ‘Just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in.’

‘No Way Out’ is quite possibly one of the most intense, violent, and compelling episodes in the past few seasons of The Walking Dead. Sure, the series is no stranger to episode-long epic explosions of violence, but this time there was an air of danger, fear, and unpredictability that the series hasn’t seen in ages. At any given moment it seemed like a number of characters — Carl (Chandler Riggs), Glenn (Steve Yuen), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) were destined to meet their maker. And that’s what the show had been missing.  Yes, a lot of ancillary characters have been knocked off in the past season or so, but it’s been a while since you’ve felt any of the core characters were ever in peril. [Note: I never thought Glenn was going to die last fall]

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The death of Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her entire family came off as a complete shock. The execution (no pun intended) was brilliant. Everything was muted, and happened in a slow, near dream-like pace. Like we were all witnessing this outside our own bodes. Watching Jessie and her youngest boy go down so brutally and some quietly was absolutely horrifying to watch. It felt like a dream sequence that was all in Rick’s head at first, but no this was the real deal. Poor Rick, the man can never catch a break. He’s got to chop off Jessie’s arm in order to save Carl, and then Carl gets shot in the eye!

Yes, comic book fans they finally did it. Carl has lost his eye. The gore of Carl’s bloody eye socket might be one of the top most disgusting visual effects the series has done. Yes, with all the gore and viscera and eating of body parts, just seeing they bloody hunk of where an eye used to be was disturbing.

The episode also allowed for some of the more fringe characters namely Denise (Merritt Wever), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and even Father Gabriel to evolve and/or cement themselves as vital players in the game. Seeing Gabriel finally take action was something we’ve been waiting for for what seems like years. His line about God saving Alexandria because “he gave them the power to save themselves” was an awesome line, and Seth Gilliam delivered it perfectly. Enid and Denise were finally given roles to prove themselves to be capable, and vital members of the team. Denise is particularly interesting because we see a character that is a born leader, but also capable of being strong and compassionate. This could lead to a lot of interesting conflicts/interactions with Rick, and the rest of the “leadership” characters like Michonne and Carol.

Michael Cudlitz as Abraham
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

And then there were the townspeople. Finally! After a season plus of just seeing them as defenseless or useless wastes of space, they finally took to the streets to defend themselves. The juxtaposition of Father Gabriel’s monologue to people running into the streets with weapons to help Rick and his small force of walker slayers was one of the better editing moments we’ve see in the series.

Also, how awesome was that Sam Raimi-esque montage towards the end of the episode showing every character hacking and slashing at the walkers. Chills.

‘No Way Out’ was an extremely strong episode of The Walking Dead, and one that fans who’ve been frustrated by the series can use as their gateway drug back into the show.

Of course, the major problem is this — where do we go from here? The series has had a history of not being able to follow up on episodes like this. Are we going to see more in-fighting and mistrust in Alexandria, or are we going to hit the road for another series of trudging do-nothing episodes? Or, will we be surprised and see the show go in a new direction? Negan (to be played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is coming, so how will this impact the series?

There are a ton of questions to be answered, and this reviewer is back in for the ride.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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