Drain the Quarry, You’ll be Sorry!
Season six kicked off with the best premier the show has had since, well, probably the pilot. We saw intense action, great character conflict, legitimate tension, and fantastic visuals.
Let’s start with the last thing in that list, because screw my sentence structure. This episode featured some of the best visual composition since Darabont’s departure at the end of season two. Given of the structure of the episode (flashbacks to a few days earlier), there needed to be a way to make it clear which sequences occurred when. Enter: black and white. Sure, it’s a pretty basic tool, but it was effective. More importantly, however, was that the black and white scenes forced creative filming. While orange may be in stark contrast to blue in a full color film, grey blends in with grey quite a bit in this instance. So props to the director of photography for using creative framing, focus, and lighting to keep the visuals from become a mess. If only this degree of effort was put into all episodes, Walking Dead or other.
This episode also had some great tension to keep us interested as well. This tension was first apparent in the flashbacks, as there were a few backroom plans and murderous plots to add an extra element of danger for our heroes. The tension quickly shifted to the present, as the final conflict had us on the edge of our seats and ultimately dreading what we were seeing on screen.
It was also great to be left in the dark on what Rick’s plan was, and seeing it play out WHILE we learn of the conflict was a fun way to watch the episode. When the plan (inevitably) falls apart, we experienced all the right emotions at all the right times. There was a solid cliffhanger to boot, and there is enough at stake for me to say I am more anxious to see the next episode than I have been in years.
The whole idea of an accidentally-accumulating-
Couple that, too, with the character drama in the episode. Morgan is meeting a new person, essentially. The kind-hearted cop on a quest to find his family is gone…in his place is a hardened cynic would mows down cannibals and doesn’t even trust his own shadow. Morgan served as a sort of bearing, allowing us to appreciate just how much Rick has changed since the first episode. It gave us some intense emotional conflict since we too long for that righteous sheriff of yesteryear, but we also understand how murderous foe after murderous foe can really change a man.
The action in the episode, to round off my reverse listing, was good. Just…good. The standard “zombie on human” combat was consistent with what the show has previously delivered (that is to say: great makeup and choreography, but a bit hammy when someone eventually runs out of ammo and falls to the ground). Seeing Abraham kill just to kill was exciting, but served a bigger purpose other than “We haven’t had a zombie kill on screen in a while.” It had weight to it and was engaging and pitiful (in the best way possible). The zombie quarry may have been a bit ambitious by way of CGI, but the underlying purpose it served to the story was ultimately forgiving. I’d rather see the show create new situations that ring a bit corny than deliver the same thing over and over. It’s a net win, in my opinion, and I’d like to see more instances of that in the future.
All in all, this was not just a great episode, but a great premier. It harkened back to Rick’s beginning of the adventure, while still taking the episode to new places. It was creative, nostalgic, and ultimately fun. It was just the episode we needed to remind us why we stick with these characters, why we care about what happens, and why I f@&%#g hate FtWD so much.
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.