Friday , 20 October 2017

Fear not! The Walking Dead returns!

WD face split zombie

The biggest, baddest, boldest, bloodiest and best show on television returns on Sunday to satisfy hungry viewers worldwide. AMC’s The Walking Dead is entering its sixth season (sixth season!) and is showing no signs of slowing down, even as the walkers on the show get more decrepit and rotted to the bone. For those who watched the recently finished six episode premiere season of the spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead, and were disappointed in the lack of zombie action (which isn’t fair considering it takes place as the epidemic is just beginning), The Walking Dead promises to satiate those clamoring for bloody, gory mayhem with its wildest season yet, if that’s even possible. The Gore 4 figures now’s a good time to see where the show stands, along with all the characters, both old and new. {Please note that, if you aren’t caught up on the show through the season 5 finale, “Conquer”, and why the heck aren’t you?, the following contains many spoilers from that episode.}

When last we saw Rick and Co., they were living, for them, a relatively peaceful existence in the town of Alexandria, VA. After their ordeals with the Governor and at Terminus, the gang has received a welcome respite from all the horrors they’ve experienced on a virtual non-stop basis. Here in Alexandria, the citizens live a seemingly idyllic life, away from the madness that is out there in the real world. But as we’ve witnessed, there are threats everywhere – from the outside (the terrorist group of marauders, the Wolves), and from within, not to mention the internal conflicts many of the group face.

WD - Rick, Morgan and cast

The Walking Dead begins and ends with Rick Grimes – this is his story, his journey, his struggle. As Rick goes, the rest of the group follow. And while they aren’t afraid to confront him when he gets out of line, they still look to him to lead them through this apocalypse, and get them to the next day alive and in one piece, not pieces. Appointed constable, harkening back to his pre-apocalypse days as sheriff, Rick takes this responsibility more than seriously. On the surface, and certainly to the residents of Alexandria, who are meeting to decide his fate after his pummeling of wife-beater, Pete, it might appear that Rick is on the verge of becoming unhinged, again. Yet he is the only one who notices a breach in the town walls, and after dispatching a walker and dropping it in the midst of this town meeting, it becomes clear that these people need Rick in order to survive.

A new, yet old, addition to the mix, and one who appears will be playing a vital role on the show, is beloved fan favorite, Morgan. We’ve known he’s been on Rick’s trail for awhile, and after taking care of a couple of ‘Wolves’ and saving Daryl and Aaron from a horde of walkers, Morgan finally has his long awaited reunion with his former friend, Rick, whom he nursed back to health all the way back in the pilot episode. Of course, Morgan happens upon an apparently crazed Rick just as he’s shooting Pete in the head (as decreed by town mayor, Deanna, after Pete killed her husband, Reg). The last time these two saw each other (in episode 3.12, “Clear”), it was Morgan who was completely unraveled, and seemingly lost for good, but now he has a calm, yet warrior-like presence to him. What got him from a zany nutjob to a zen ninja will be interesting to discover. And how these two long-lost friends will agree or disagree with how to deal with menaces from inside and out will most likely be a big part of the show moving forward.

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) - The Walking Dead - Season 4 _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

At Rick’s side, and long time members of the group, are Daryl, Michonne, Carol, Glenn and Maggie. They are all seasoned survivors and warriors, and have been through various losses. While Michonne seems to step into her co-constable shoes with ease, she isn’t reluctant when it comes to setting Rick straight, for his own good, while maintaining her allegiance to him. Daryl, while a leader in his own quiet way, is still more of a lone wolf, though those boundaries he’s created are continuing to come down, as evidenced by his newfound friendship with Aaron, who’s the one who brought the group to Alexandria. Glenn and Maggie have been through it all, Maggie, especially, having recently lost her father and sister, and they need to lean on each other now more than ever. Glenn, having been around since day one, has proven to be a strong leader, yet a merciful one, as his dealings with town wuss, Nicholas, has shown. Then there’s Carol, a one-woman soldier of fortune. She saved the group from Terminus, and now plays the role of undercover happy homemaker. We’ve seen a number of times that she is perhaps the only one who is willing to do ANYTHING to protect the group. Carol has shown the most character growth of anyone on the show, and it’s been a joy to watch.

Among the newer members, from the prison on, Abraham and Eugene appear to have put their differences behind them. Abraham is a forceful leader himself, and Eugene has come through when its counted. Rosita is a fierce fighter as well, yet she is probably the most unexplored character on the show. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of what she’s about, and capable of, this season. Sasha, having lost her rock, her brother, Tyreese, was spiraling out of control, and taking it out on every walker she could find, but we hope she has it together now. Tara, the lone remaining link to Woodbury, has survived her recent injuries, and has become an important member of the group as well, both physically, and emotionally.

And let’s not forget Rick’s offspring. Carl has also shown tremendous growth, literally growing up right before our eyes. He has proven to his father and everyone else that he is more than capable. And now he has a potential love interest in Enid, a young girl with a haunted past who is prone to excursions outside the walls. The one member of the group who has yet to show any zombie killing abilities whatsoever is baby Judith, aka, ‘Little Ass-kicker’. But she does provide something essential to the group – hope. As the only member who will have no recollection of a pre-zombie apocalyptic world, she serves as a reminder to what they are all fighting for. And if she does manage to survive for any length of time, it will be curious to see if the producers cast a young child and we get to see her grow up as we did with Carl.

Last of the main group is Father Gabriel. As we can see from the cast picture above, he is placed, not with Rick and Co., but rather, with the people of Alexandria, which is very telling. He sold Rick and the group out to Deanna, and seemed hellbent on succumbing to a walker’s bite, but found the will to live. Whether he can live within the group and accept what needs to be done to survive in this world remains to be seen. As for Alexandria, the town leader, Deanna, has had her eyes opened, after losing her husband. We’ll see if she can work with, and not against, Rick and the gang. Jessie, having also just lost her husband, abuser, Pete, finds herself in a similar place to where Carol once was. Can she step up to become as strong and able as her in time? Aaron, who brought both groups together, seems about as sensible as anyone around. He could find himself serving as mediator between the inevitable clashes to come. And will Nicholas, having been spared by a compassionate Glenn, continue his cowardly ways, or step up to the plate and be a productive and trustworthy member of this ‘society’?

WD - Maggie and zombie

With all the goings on inside of Alexandria, there lurks the constant danger outside its walls, whether from the ever present undead, or this wildcard band of berserkers known as the ‘Wolves.’ And while Rick seems to be in full-on Rick-mode, a Rick-tatorship is out of the question, as there are too many proven members who are integral to the group and have a say in matters, from Carol, Michonne, Daryl and Glenn, to Deanna, and now, Morgan. It’s a strong ensemble to say the least. It’s also the largest cast of characters the show has seen. But as viewers are well aware, that number is certain to dwindle over the course of the season. It’s never easy, or enjoyable, to watch a beloved cast member meet their demise, but it is inevitable with a show of this nature in order to be believable and compelling.

Season 6 of The Walking Dead premieres this Sunday, October 11th at 9/8c with a 90-minute episode – yes! Befitting of its global popularity, it will also be seen worldwide in 125 countries within 24 hours of its U.S. debut. This show is truly an international phenomenon. And don’t forget to watch the immensely entertaining and informative, Talking Dead, hosted by the ubiquitous Chris Hardwick, immediately afterwards for your Dead dessert.

Here’s the extended trailer for season 6 that was first shown at San Diego Comic Con to whet your appetite:

— preview by Brian de Castro

About Brian de Castro

Brian worked at NBC in New York, writing and producing promotion for everything from Saturday Night Live to Letterman, Leno and Conan, as well as The Today Show and Nightly News. A graduate of Rutgers University, the New Jersey native, when he's not working on the Gore 4 website, can usually be found on a baseball field.

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