Written by: Robert T. Trate
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Series Count: Season 6, Episode 1
AMC has launched the 6th season of their uber popular The Walking Dead. The episode picks up a few days after the season 5 finale. We see how Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and company deal with the aftermath of Reg’s (Steve Coulter) murder and the execution of Pete (Corey Anderson). A series of flashbacks, revealed in black and white, is intercut with Rick and Morgan (Lennie James) discovering the reason why Alexandria has remained safe. As it turns out, every walker in the area has found its way into the local quarry. This has saved Alexandria for the time being, but Rick sees them as a threat and only a matter of time before this army of the dead marches their way.
The opening of season 6, “First Time Again”, is a 90 minute episode that really brings us up to speed on the mentality of our cast of characters, as well as the new and newer faces of Alexandria. If one were to binge watch The Walking Dead from the beginning, the events of the season 5 finale, “Conquer”, and the start of this Season would be but a blip on the streaming playlist. We would move on as if nothing happened. For those of us that watch and love the show as it airs, this episode was a lot of filler. What could have been the saving grace is Morgan and Rick getting to know one another for the first time, again. Even that fell short.
The heart of this episode is Rick and Morgan both seeing how the other has changed since their last encounter. Morgan has come to peace with his place in the world and has literally become a Zen Warrior. That story will hopefully be revealed, though probably only to build unwanted suspense between episodes. Morgan witnessed the brutal execution of Pete and it was hard to believe that Rick was the same man he knew back in Atlanta. Through the course of the events with the army of the dead, Rick has to deal with a mutinous member of Alexandria. This leads to a moment where the real Rick Grimes surfaces again for Morgan, the very same Rick Grimes that helped Morgan way back when (we really don’t have much of a time frame on this show). Later, this same mutineer admits to Rick of his mistakes and partakes in the moving of the herd. The mutineer is bitten and starts screaming in pain, thus drawing the herd away from their original destination. Rick puts the mutineer out of his misery and keeps things moving, a decision that anyone watching the show or living in that world would have made. Or so we would think. Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Morgan seem almost appalled at how easily Rick came to this decision. It seems as if a court was being held on whether or not Rick murdered the mutineer. This strange and almost too short moment seemed out of place. If this would have been Alexander Extra #4, neither character would have blinked twice about the incident. Now it seems that trust and respect are both gone from Michonne and Morgan for Rick.
To be fair to the showrunner, Scott M. Gimple, I don’t know where the events of “First Time Again” are leading us. The scenes leading up to the episode’s conclusion where strong, but as the clock ticked down to our final moments, all I could think of was “damn, I have to wait until next week to see how this all plays out”. That is both great and frustrating television.
Additional TWD Comments:
Why must Maggie (Lauren Cohan) stay with Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh)? Is there a baby on the way?
Why are we seeing mini episodes of “Flight #462” during the commercial breaks? I tried to stick with Fear the Walking Dead, but I just didn’t care about anyone after 3 episodes.
Nice to see that Morgan has Carol (Melissa McBride) figured out already. Yet, doesn’t this illustrate just how clueless the citizens of Alexandria really are? Many of them already feel like the additional survivors on LOST. In short, they are nothing more than background filler.
Where was Aaron (Ross Marquand) during this episode? I thought he was a bigger player in the town? He was reduced to extra for the season premiere and newcomer, Heath (Corey Hawkins), moves to the forefront?
The next Walking Dead action figure we need: Heath.
Robert T. Trate's rating of "First Time Again": 3 out of 5 stars