***Beware spoilers ahead…oh and a few walkers are on the road too.***
Episode one, The First Time Again, simultaneously presses pause on character arcs, while fast forwarding through the remaining Alexandria story-line, to begin the next chapter. We begin right where season five ended, with Rick’s group disrupting the frail Alexandria peace, presently secured by their walls. During the finale, walkers enter the gated community, through the cracks in the structure. Seriously, a person can only hide from reality for so long, especially during a zombie apocalypse. The looming, outside threat slowly escalates throughout this season’s premiere. The writers construct the episode around two paralleling story lines, one set in the present, and the other in the very, very, near future-slow clap for originality. We see our central characters regroup after the epic town meeting that took place in the finale. Meanwhile, we observe them uniting with the Alexandria townspeople to lead a ginormous heard of walkers away from town…away from their home.
The use of black and white certainly made this episode a lot better. The story line following the town hall meeting are in black and white. Thus, creating an uniquely cinematic perspective on this horror saga. These scenes felt very reminiscent to watching a Twilight Zone episode, about a gated community fearing “the creatures” beyond their walls. Rick’s group, are the reckless outsiders who have taken over, spreading fear throughout the town. The moment that really stood out was when Eugene (Josh McDermitt) gets caught overhearing a small group plotting to rise up against Rick’s leadership. “Do you have any idea who you’re talking to,” asks Rick as he steps in to protect Eugene from Carter (Ethan Embry). Ironically, this line bleeds into Rick’s character arc with repairing both his relationships with the Alexandria townspeople, and his old survivor ally, Morgan (Lennie James). Do these two survivalists truly know each other anymore? Has too much time passed, too many lives lost, for either of them to remain who they once were at the beginning? During the second half of season five Rick lost his faith in humanity, so when his group found shelter within Alexandira’s walls, he had one mission…takeover. After revealing his true killer instinct and finally acknowledging that the walkers are the real enemy in this world, Rick wants to make peace…no, he needs to for survival’s sake.
While, Rick repairs his relationship with the townspeople, we intermittently witness them working together; leading a ginormous walker heard far away from their fractured house. This is brilliantly done, as one storyline builds to the beginning scene, while the other escalates to a startling ending. Note, the storyline set in the very, very, near future is in color, supporting a clear visual distinction between the two arcs. This visual queue acknowledges the tonal differences between the two plot lines. The present storyline is filled with anxiety, tension, and fear, all these emotions are heightened through the use of a black and white filter. Meanwhile, the near future storyline features a collective action-life. “Listen doing something as big as this…that’s living,” explains Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) to Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) as they slowly drive the walkers away from town. Characters from both sides find redemption for past crimes by helping to protect their shared home.
“Listen, I don’t take chances anymore.”- Rick Grimes
“And you shouldn’t.”- Morgan Jones
Too late…Rick took a chance, but when an effort to protect your home, leaves it unprotected then only bad things can happen. You’re almost home, is found on a sign for Alexandria that’s being run over as the heard of walkers are redirected back to Rick’s home. During the remaining minutes, just when you begin to believe that there mission is a success, a loud alarm goes off, re-directing the heard back to the gated community. Did another outside threat invade, while everyone was distracted by the walker threat? Isn’t that what Rick was afraid of this whole time? The moment you begin to live again, build a home, create a community…is the moment when you drop your guard.
By Sarah Belmont