Expectations were high with The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere “No Way Out,” and it did not disappoint. Dealing with this invasive herd of walkers required trying a new approach, as well as relying on traditional hand combat. Whatever approach is used, it always works best when everyone comes together. In “No Way Out” The Walking Dead lets in a little hope and satisfaction, along with massive death and destruction.
“No Way Out” was directed by Greg Nicotero and written by Seth Hoffman, both series executive producers. Director Greg Nicotero has shown us he can be a man of action with the season 5 and 6 premieres “First Time Again” and “No Sanctuary,” while also giving us slower, more thoughtful episodes in “Conquer,” “Remember,” and “What Happened and What’s Going On.” In “No Way Out” Nicotero uses his directing skill to keep things fast-paced and suspenseful. Writer Seth Hoffman previously collaborated with Nicotero in “Conquer,” and recently shocked us with the Wolf invasion in “JSS.” You can’t really go wrong when these two guys work together. “No Way Out” was an action-packed episode filled with explosions and zombie carnage.
Similarly to previous midseason premieres of The Walking Dead, losses tighten up the cast and narrow the scope of the story. The death of Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), Ron (Austin Abrams), and Sam (Major Dodson) gives some gravity to the episode. We can’t help but mourn Sam. We wanted to see more of Sam and Carol (Melissa McBride) together, but it looks like the cookie monster did her part in terms of contributing to this outcome.
Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) finally shows some compassion and bravery by taking care of Baby Judith and then joining the fight. We might even start to like this character before they finally kill him off. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) also steps up his game, noting that “no one gets to clock out today.” It’s nice to get a little comic relief from Eugene and even better to see him use the fighting skills he learned from Rosita.
Carol and Morgan remain at odds, with Carol even going so far as to comment, “I should have killed you.” This radical statement seems aligned with what we know about Carol – if you’re a threat to the larger community she thinks you should be eliminated. The moral of the Wolf’s story isn’t clear. Perhaps the Wolf could’ve changed as Morgan believes. His behavior with Denise appeared to be altruistic at the end, but it’s hard to understand his motives in such a fast-moving situation. Yet, his actions did put Denise in unnecessary danger, which is kind of Carol’s point. Even if people can come back from the brink, saving them may not be a luxury they can afford.
The moral of the Wolf’s story isn’t clear. Perhaps the Wolf could’ve changed as Morgan believes. His behavior with Denise appeared to be altruistic at the end, but it’s hard to understand his motives in such a fast-moving situation. Yet, his actions did put Denise in unnecessary danger, which is kind of Carol’s point. Even if people can come back from the brink, saving them may not be a luxury they can afford.
Was the captive Wolf the last of his kind? We really don’t know if the Wolves remain any kind of threat. Did they all die in the attack on Alexandria or are there others who will eventually attack again?
The cast has developed a great rhythm that strengthens the individual performances. Andrew Lincoln was a standout as his character Rick Grimes leads his group and then fights back the walkers. Nicotero focused in on Grimes’ reaction both when Sam and Jessie were being attacked and as Carl is being treated in the infirmary, which provided the viewer a more personal perspective of the chaotic events occurring. Lincoln’s performance in the final scene, as Rick sits by his son’s bedside, allowed the audience to feel the hope that he portrayed so effectively.
The moments between Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) reaffirmed that Glenn’s worldview hasn’t been altered since the dumpster incident with Nicholas. With Maggie’s pregnancy, it’s likely that his belief in the importance of connecting with and helping others will only be strengthened. The scenes between the Glenn and Enid during the last few episodes seem to be leading to a transformed Enid. It also seems to be building towards Glenn and Maggie becoming parental figures for young Enid.
It was heartwrenching when Maggie (Lauren Cohan) first sees Glenn and realizes that he’s alive, but in mortal danger. Though it was only a moment, Cohan made us connect to Maggie’s fear. We feel a bit shortchanged to have missed their reunion. Here’s to hoping that moving forward the series gives Maggie and Glenn some of the warm and grounded type of moments we used to see between them. If The Walking Dead wants to build on the reestablishment of hope, it’s Maggie and Glenn together that can create this feeling more than any other characters.
“No Way Out” has an epic feel because of the story, engaging performances, zombie violence, references to past characters, and the ability to overcome some pretty daunting odds. “No Way Out” gives us massive walker carnage, and it feels so good. These guys deserve a win. All the tension building up between characters needs to be released somehow.
In “No Way Out” we find resolution to the story of the walker herd that dominated the first half of The Walking Dead Season 6. The series finds a way to reinvent itself again, which is what has kept us engaged over six seasons. Despite the potential danger on the horizon with Negan, “No Way Out” gives us a satisfying ending that actually feels pretty good, while pointing us towards the restoration of hope in second half of Season 6.
See full recap of “No Way Out” here.