The final episode of the first half of The Walking Dead’s sixth season aired last night, and it finally revealed what happens to our favorite heroes following the events of the last few days. All of the action in these first eight episodes takes place over the course of a few action-packed days for the people in Alexandria, with each episode showing us a just a small part of the story. The characters are now spread out over a few miles, with each group having to deal with different problems in their quest to reunite with the others.
That’s why episode 8, the mid-season finale, might seem slower on the action side than you’d want it to be. Just as was the case with previous episodes, it too only tells a part of the story, building up to bigger events in the near future.
If you haven’t seen much of this season of The Walking Dead, then you should stop reading now because there are plenty of spoilers ahead.
Episode 8 starts with a mini zombie apocalypse. After the church tower collapsed on a section of the wall surrounding Alexandria, hundreds upon hundreds of walkers entered the town. Everyone has to act quickly and run, as there’s no way to them out in the open. People take cover and hide in the nearby houses as walkers take over the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Glenn and Enid see everything from the distance, shortly after having released the balloons that confirmed to Maggie and everyone else that Glenn is very much alive.
There aren’t any scary fights with walkers this time around either. The greatest danger for humans seems to be other humans.
Deanna is the only zombie victim in this episode, but her character has grown since meeting Rick’s group in season 5. Deanna isn’t just the political leader from Alexandria, and the events of the past few days — including the death of her husband, the Wolves’ attacks and the reality of the walkers roaming by — have turned her into a stronger woman who’s willing to kill to ensure the survival of her people. And that’s how she gets bitten, helping Rick after the walkers invade Alexandria.
Rather than take her own life at the end to avoid the experience of turning into a walker, Deanna takes out a few more zombies before being overrun.
Speaking of strong women, Carol proves once again that there’s nothing she won’t do to save her family.
In spite of the walkers roaming around them, Carol chooses to face Morgan over his newly discovered secret. Carol found out that he kept a member of the Wolves gang alive, hoping to turn him into a better person. And she now wants to kill the prisoner, even if that means killing Morgan in the process. In the ensuing fight – Carol is more than a match for Morgan’s martial arts skills – the lone Wolves member manages to escape, but not before capturing the town’s doctor, whom Morgan brought in to treat his captor’s infected wound.
More people fight in another house as well, only to create more problems for a bigger group that is hiding in there (Rick, Carl, Judith, Michonne, Gabriel, Deanna, Jessie, Ron, and Sam). This time, we’re looking at Carl and Ron, the two teens who have unresolved issues.
Ron is still mad that Rick killed his father – the fact that humans are killers is a recurring line in this episode – and is equally annoyed that Enid and Carl have grown closer. Using the gun Rick gave him during training in episode 7, Ron tries to kill Carl, but the unexpected church tower collapse prevents that. Ron tries to do it again in the house where they’re hiding, and the two end up fighting. The ruckus draws the attention of the walkers, who storm the house and force everyone to go upstairs.
The only escape for the small group is getting outside without a fight by cutting open two zombies and covering themselves with the walkers’ entrails… even if that means leaving the now-doomed Deanna behind. The group covers themselves in blood and guts, so zombies can’t detect their human scent, and walks right through a herd the house.
The trick seems to work just fine – we’ve seen this happen in previous seasons – but Sam is too young and too scared to keep his cool under such pressure. The episode ends with Sam repeatedly calling out for his mom louder and louder, even though she’s just a few steps ahead of him, holding his hand. Around them, there are walkers who will likely react to the sound – but only in episode 9, which will air on Valentine’s Day 2016.
Of note, you can watch the first two minutes of episode 9 right here.
There are plenty of other interesting tidbits from the episode. We learn that Eugene, who’s still very much a coward, is the one who cried for “Help” over the radio, while answering Daryl’s call. A previous episode ended with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham in a truck making their way toward Alexandria after having run into trouble themselves. They try to reach Rick with the radio, at which point the mysterious “help” was heard.
Glenn has to convince Enid to go to Alexandria and try to save their friends after witnessing the wall’s destruction, and he sees that Maggie managed to escape the attacking walkers. Early in the episode, she survives a death-defying fight with walkers racing toward her, and they almost managed to pull her off the ladder as she tried to climb to safety.
Michonne spends quite a lot of time with Deanna in the house before exiting in undead camouflage, and the dying leader reminds Michonne that she needs to focus on herself and what she wants. Deanna has a similar heart-to-heart with Rick as well, reminding him that all of the people in Alexandria are his people, not just the group that he brought in, and that everyone deserves to be saved.
The only main characters who have not yet reached Alexandria during this crazy battle are Daryl, Sasha and Abraham. In a teaser trailer for the second half of the season, we learn that a group of bikers stops their truck, asking them to give up all of their belongings. Why? Because the van, guns and everything else in their possession belong to Negan, the lead biker says, though Negan doesn’t make an appearance in the trailer. The next human villain of the show is thus introduced. Of note, he’s the guy who is supposed to kill Glenn at some point in the future according to the comics, and he leads a group of dangerous people.
Episode 8 might not be the grand mid-season finale some were looking for, but it certainly has everything it needed to keep us on the edges of our seats. Rick & Co. have two major problems to deal with. They must either clear Alexandria of walkers or leave it in search of a new sanctuary. Meanwhile Negan’s group is the second major problem, and the two will likely collide shortly. Of course, there’s also at least a rogue Wolf wandering around, and he’ll undoubtedly come into play again as well.