(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you have not watched Sunday’s midseason premiere of “The Walking Dead”)
“The Walking Dead” opened its Season 6 midseason premiere with a bang, to say the least.
The episode picks up where the post-credit scene from the midseason finale left off, with Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) held at gunpoint by a group of bikers on the road who plan to take everything our heroes currently possess in the name of Negan.
But after Sasha and Abraham are nearly killed by the roadside, Daryl saves them with a well placed RPG that blows all the bikers away.
Back in Alexandria, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is leading a group through the streets towards the armory, but quickly realizes that the smarter move is to make for a vehicle to lead the walkers away. He passes Judith to Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who agrees to keep her safe in his church.
The rest of the group doesn’t get far, however, as the youngest of them, Sam (Major Dodson), gets distracted and quickly set upon by walkers.
Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), Sam’s mother and Rick’s love interest, tries to save him but is eaten herself. As she had been holding hands with Carl (Chandler Riggs), Rick is forced to cut off her hand to save Carl’s live.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ron (Austin Abrams) picks up a gun and prepares to shoot Rick, but Michonne (Danai Gurira) runs him through with her sword. Before he dies, however, Ron manages to pop off one shot that hits Carl in the eye.
“When we read that scene, all of us, our jaws dropped and we said, ‘Really?'” Lincoln told TheWrap. “I just remember all of us being sort of shell-shocked shooting it. It was 4:45 in the morning and I had to chop my leading lady’s arm off.”
Rick takes Carl to the infirmary, where Elizabeth (Merritt Wever) quickly sets to work saving his life. Rather than stand idly by, Rick takes a hatchet out into the horde and gets to work.
“I think the thing about Rick is he’s like a shark,” Lincoln said. “He needs to keep moving or doing something, particularly when he feels powerless. And in that situation when he hands his boy over to Merritt’s character, it’s awful. He’s driven into rage. I think that’s the only way he can process what can happen. He has to get rid of this impotent energy.”
Michonne quickly joins Rick, and soon other Alexandria citizens join in the fight. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) save Maggie, and then are themselves saved by Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha. Daryl then uses another RPG to set a massive fire that draws in the walkers.
While a match would have been just as effective, Lincoln says the RPG makes sense for Daryl. “That’s more Daryl Dixon’s style,” Lincoln said with a laugh. “If you’ve got an RPG, let’s use it.”
The episode ends with the streets of Alexandria filled with dead walkers. Rick sits by Carl’s bedside as he lays there unconscious. Rick tells his son that he saw the people of Alexandria rise up to fight for their home and for the first time since he came out of his coma, he has hope.
“It’s such an intense episode and it ends with such a beautiful quiet,” Lincoln said. “Outside you’ve got this new Alexandria, this new family. Then you go inside and you’ve got the inner circle, the old guard. And then you have the inner, inner circle with the father and son.”
“It’s a watershed as well. It’s Rick’s confessional,” he continued. “He doesn’t know what else to say other than ‘I was wrong.’ For the first time since he was shot and woke up in the apocalypse he felt hope. It’s like a reset. It’s day one.”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m./8c on AMC.