The Walking Dead exploded back on the small screen last night, and did we mention it was explosive? In retrospect, one of the more interesting things about the episode was the title, “No Way Out.” There most certainly was a way out, and most of the time, that out involved Daryl and a rocket launcher. Despite the irony of the title, it is the same title used for this story arc in the graphic novels. The arc ends the same way this episode does. Let’s dissect it!
Daryl Fuckin’ Dixon (and Carol!) (and Michonne!): Hell yeah! After about a season of Daryl being too precious to get dirty, he comes back into the season with a bang! Rocket launchers, gasoline, guns, and that dirty leather vest. This is the Mr. Dixon we all know and love. Let’s hope he sticks around. And let’s not forget that Carol finally killed that goddamn Wolf. Fuck that guy. Also, Michonne killed a kid. It was a good thing, sans Carl’s fate, but still… she killed a kid.
Morgan vs. Carol: The one thing about The Walking Dead that I have always loved is thinking about how I would react in the different situations presented. Six seasons in, and it could be difficult to come up with new outlooks, but the writers have a pretty good grasp on Ethics 101 in Morgan and Carol. Morgan, follower of Deontological Ethics, is all about doing the right action no matter the later consequence, because it is good for him. Meanwhile, Carol is all about Utilitarianism Ethics, not always committing the “right” action, but doing what is best for the group and the future. Both are perfectly good ethical compasses, but very different. This will surely play out the rest of the season.
Real danger!: After Glenn made his miraculous, albeit physically impossible and incredibly stupid comeback, we feared that the show had gone soft, reluctant to give any characters the boot, fearing a backlash of swarming fans with “If ___ dies, we riot” t-shirts. This episode made me truly fear for Sasha, Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Gabriel… it was nice to feel suspense again.
Even Rocky had a montage: Finally, all that training (what, like two episodes?) paid off. After Carl is wounded, Rick goes Rambo on the entire town of the undead, walkering the walkers after talking the talk. The whole town joins in the slaughter, and it’s one of the most triumphant moments this show has had after a super depressing season thus far. The slashing montage was a super cool effect, too, giving emphasis to the relentless ass-kicking our group was handing out.
Quote switcheroo: Did you notice The Wolf and Morgan reused some quotes, but in different ways? We really liked when The Wolf said he thought the path was “clear,” perhaps a reference to Morgan’s “clear” stint. Also noted is Morgan’s “I’m sorry” when he kills The Wolf once he is a walker.
Glenn is a cat: The dude has nine lives. He barely made it out alive, not really of his own doing. We can only pray that he and Maggie have a nice long life together from here on out.
SO metal: Fans of the comic book knew this moment was coming based off the way the mid-season finale ended, but The Walking Dead took this moment straight-on, and showed the grotesqueness we needed to gross us out and captivate us at the same time. Even before that, it was great fortune that Abraham brought that rocket launcher with them!
The Saviors are idiots: The first scene jumped right in where we left off in November: the Saviors (Negan’s people in the comics), are trying to jack our crews shit. The scene goes on for some time, and we couldn’t help but think “Oh, God. If the rest of the season is about this, then we aren’t going to enjoy it very much.” Good thing Daryl took care of that one for us.
Rick makes a “new” plan: Do you remember when you were in Kindergarten and firefighters came to the school to talk about the plan for if a fire breaks out? And then you and your family made a plan when you got home because fires are kinda inevitable and dear Lord, who wants to die in a fire? Well, walkers are this world’s fires. So why in the hell is Rick making a new plan in the midst of his two children and his girlfriend’s children being surrounded by flesh eating fiends?! You would think that the Constable would have had plan A-Z planned out with the townspeople, ya know, in case of walkers.
Pregnant Alanna Masterson: First of all, Congratulations, Alanna Masterson! We are so happy you are having a baby! Unlike most shows where women can just walk around with a laundry basket for an entire season, Tara doesn’t get that luxury because a laundry basket would seem really out of place. That does not excuse the fact that she looks really pregnant. Couldn’t Tara be stealing from the pantry or something? No explanation is just letting the elephant sit in the room.
Daryl’s wound: This is sort of an Easter Egg in itself, but The Saviors (Negan’s group) are dirty fighters. One of the tactics they use involves cleaning their blades off with walker guts, infecting their opponents along with wounding them. Let’s just hope Daryl didn’t take a similar blow.
There can be only one: Carol has made it abundantly clear this episode that she thinks Morgan is a danger to the group. Morgan feels that Carol is a danger to his way of life. There’s really only one option for them at this point. Somebody gotta die. They are two of the show’s strongest characters – both in depth and in force – but they are so fundamentally different that one cannot exist with the other nearby.
Talk about sending smoke signals: Look, we can talk about how entirely badass it was to watch Daryl set fire to the grounds of Alexandria and have his own version of Burning Man, but those flames will not go unnoticed. The Wolves already know where you live, and now that Daryl exploded a gang of Negan’s men, you think they’ll just let that slide? This is a big victory, but at a much steeper price.
Sayonara, Sasha and Heath: This is more of a “when will it happen” than a “will it happen” kinda thing. Both Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) and Corey Hawkins (Heath) are already tapped to join other television shows this year – Martin-Green in New Girl and Hawkins as the star of 24: Legacy.
Walking Dead Easter Eggs & Other Tidbits:
The Big One: The elephant in the room here, let’s talk about the most dramatic event of the show. In The Walking Dead #83, while trying to traverse Alexandria, Ron gets bitten, causing Jessie to freak out, and Rick is forced to… separate her grip from Carl’s with his handy dandy hatchet. It’s a shocking moment in both the book and the show. What happens next in the show is even grosser though, with Ron’s errant shot shooting Carl’s eye out (Red Ryder tried to warn you, Carl!). The name of the episode comes from the trade paperback of the same name where the episode’s events happen.
Saviors not welcome: While it happens at the gates of Alexandria in the book, The Saviors’ first visit to try to bully Rick’s people goes just as poorly for them in written form as it did in the show.
“Faith without works is dead”: Enid and Glenn finally make up because Enid read this Bible verse when they were scavenging. If only all teenage girls took the bible so seriously. This verse also coincides with what Gabriel ended up doing, which was serving God through action.
Carl is pretty much 50 Cent: He’s been shot twice now! Like in a major way! He is 2/9ths on his way to Fiddy status. But alas, Carl will never get rich.
Fire pretty!: If Walkers are always attracted to fires like that, why not always set fires? Other than the threat of other humans and possible herds, it seems like a pretty good idea.
Daryl and Glenn: These two haven’t seen each other since they split up in the town, but when Glenn gets in the tanker, he and Daryl don’t even question the serious shit they have been through. They are just apocalypse partners until the end.
Gabriel’s flock: It took a while, but Gabriel’s redemption is at hand. He does right by his flock and locks them on the right side of the church! His speech about God saving them by giving them to defend themselves was the most badass religious thing I’ve heard since Pulp Fiction.
Sasha and the Saviors: Sasha’s conversation with the head Savior was very reminiscent of Bob’s conversation with Gareth in the Season 5 opener. This is surely on purpose.
Hush Comics gives “No Way Out” an A for being an explosive episode that really brought back the passion of The Walking Dead thanks to Greg Nicotero and team being able to capitalize on a pivotable moment in the comic books.
All images belong to AMC and are credited to Gene Page.