The Walking Dead: 609 “No Way Out” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
If I had one word to describe The Walking Dead’ mid-season opener, it would be ‘tense’. After a suspenseful mid-season finale last year, we return to see that things are still not okay. Alexandria is overrun by Walkers and the group are scattered, not to mention the Wolf is holding Denise captive. There’s a lot thrown at you and you are quickly reminded how horrific and dangerous this universe is. Nobody is safe, and this episode proves that over and over again.
The opening scene was amongst my favourites. It got the ball rolling through the intimidating scene of the Saviors threatening Daryl, Abraham and Sasha. In this short scene we see the new enemy for what they are; brutal and resourceful. We also got more indication on the arrival of Negan, one of the graphic novel’s most iconic villains. Negan is worse than the Governor, and that’s saying something! From the looks of his men, it looks like Rick is in trouble and another bloodbath is just around the corner. Perhaps this will be the latest game-changing event for the show.
Needless to say that Daryl gets a badass moment where he takes out the entire gang with a bazooka. Prior to this, it appeared that the gang was in control and nearly killed both Abraham and Sasha just for the fun of it, to showcase their strength. It was a tense moment and hard to stomach due to the circumstances and the lack of power on the heroes side.
The rest of the episode consists of concluding the disaster of the Walkers invading Alexandria. What is shocking is how much development there is through the brutality involved. There is the shocking turn of events of seeing the entire Anderson family killed off in one scene. Though the death of Sam, and probably Ron, was to be expected and not too much of a shock but the way it happened was completely unsettling.
As indicated throughout the first half of this season, Sam wasn’t adjusting to the reality outside. He enclosed himself and his mother, Jessie, didn’t help him out and instead almost encouraged him to remain in this state. From that moment we all knew he was a liability. Then we had Ron blaming Rick for killing his father, despite the clear evidence suggesting his wickedness. This story-arc had had Ron slowly become a semi-villain, or at least a major obstacle, by having him get closer to Carl and trying to kill him to get his confused revenge.
This past season has done well at developing characters, especially with integrating Rick’s group into Alexandria and having the Alexandrians come to terms with the reality beyond the walls. The Anderson family has had its share of progressing with this idea and ‘No Way Out’ ended this in the most dramatic way possible. This event left Rick speechless. First, as indicated at the end of ‘Start to Finish’, Sam began to freak out due to Carol’s words to him in the previous season. This ultimately got himself and his mother killed. This then led to Ron finally taking his chance at killing Rick. Michonne, of course, kills him but not before a shot was fired that inflicted Carl.
The title really had meaning. There was “no way out”. In one scene three characters die and another is shot. It just goes to show that nobody is safe. I did feel sorry for Jessie as she was a good character and a hopeful love interest for Rick; I mean the guy deserves a break. But sadly her own actions prior to this scene sealed her family’s fate. If she hadn’t allowed Sam to come along with them then they would’ve been fine. A good piece of foreshadowing.
The rest of the episode had me tense because I had no idea what would happen and who would be left alive by the end of it. I was starting to believe that even Rick wasn’t safe. Then I started to think about actors that have been working on other projects and grew concerned that their time might be up. There was even another moment that made me convinced that Glen was going to die (again) but luckily his nine lives aren’t up yet. It would’ve been too traumatising, especially since we only just got him back. Glen and Maggie deserved to be reunited.
Surprisingly, continuing on from ‘Start to Finish’, Gabriel finally snapped into place and found his place within the group. I was hesitant when he asked to look after Judith but luckily this all paid off. He finally proved himself. Later on he did this again by joining the others in fighting off the horde. His religious speech beforehand was actually inspiring. Even Eugene joined in after finally decided to stand and fight with everyone else.
Despite the extreme peril, this episode brought the survivors together and taught them to stand together and fight. In doing so, against all odds, they took down the horde and reclaimed Alexandria. I was beginning to believe the town was lost, like the farm and the prison, but this time round Rick pulled it off. But I do believe the horde was just a small taste of the brutality yet to come.
Another point of development was the relationship between Carol and Morgan, two characters who are on completely different pages. Carol happily admitted that she should’ve killed Morgan whilst Morgan proved that Carol’s resolve is weakened by her humanity. This led to the Wolf’s conclusion which ended rather ambiguously. Despite his clear insanity there were scenes between him and Denise that showcased a more complex character. He appeared lost and didn’t seem fully sure about his own brain-washing. His attempts to brain-wash Denise seemed quite strong and influential but ultimately it was Denise that brain-washed him.
He showed signs of humanity by returning to her and ultimately got bit. Denise tried to help him but he ended up being shot by Carol. It left things open as to whether he had a change of heart or was simply trying to save Denise because of selfish desires, or a strange affection. This then made me worry as to what Morgan will do next, having seen the Wolf killed. Will he try to kill Carol and stir up more trouble? It’ll be interesting to see how Rick deals with his rebellious attitude.
I can’t go without mentioning how impressive the practical effects were for this episode. Director Greg Nicotero did an amazing job at capturing the different emotions throughout. The make-up team also produced some of the best stunt dummies seen to date. Also they did a good job at making Sam’s death extra gruesome by having the young actor in the killing shot.
Despite being on its sixth season, the show is still growing strong. I will admit that my interest was starting to wane between the second half of Season 4 and the first half of Season 5. But with the introduction of Alexandria, the show has gained a new lease on life. The episodes have been full of tension, gripping action and brilliantly crafted character arcs. This week did a great job of raising the bar higher than ever before, to the point where a child and his mother were mauled by walkers one after another.
‘No Way Out’ made me incredibly tense throughout and the adverts really did help in calming my nerves. It just shows how far the show has come, how much the characters have been put through hell and how they are still surviving, despite the continuous loss of life. A lot has been lost already in this season and we have another seven episodes to go. I really can’t wait to see what happens, though I’m dreading every moment of it.