It was go time on Sunday night’s “The Walking Dead” Season 6 premiere, as Rick’s group and the Alexandrians had to band together to face the biggest herd in series history.
The episode played out like an on/off switch, setting some scenes in black and white and others in color. The black and white moments were set Before Herd, or B.H. as we might as well refer to them in this premiere recap, covering the time when the majority of Alexandrians were still largely in the dark about the dangers in the world outside of their steel fences. Those B.H. black and white scenes started with the show’s direct pickup at the end of the Season 5 finale, and followed the group as they finally figured out the reason Alexandria had remained safe for so long — a herd the size of a football stadium crowd trapped inside a quarry. Knowing how dire the situation was, and how the growing pack would eventually get through the makeshift barricade keeping them in, Rick called upon everyone, including the scared Alexandrians, to act.
The scenes in color were set in the present as the group faced what we’ll call Herd Time, or H.T., as they attempted to carry out Rick’s plan together.
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Here’s how it all played out on Sunday night’s Season 6 premiere of “The Walking Dead” – “First Time Again”:
As Rick Grimes fires the gun that kills Pete, the color drains from the picture with the blast, turning things black and white. “Rick?” Morgan says, as the screen goes black.
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“I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world. We have to come for them before they come for us. It’s that simple,” Rick says as the picture fades in, in color. He’s atop some sort of quarry filled with thousands of walkers, going over the plan they’ll take on tomorrow to tackle the monstrous situation.
Tomorrow though, is too late. A truck on the cliff slips in. “It’s open,” someone screams. “We’ve gotta do this now,” Rick shouts. It’s go time.
Not everyone is in. Carter, an Alexandrian we’ve just met (played by Ethan Embry), is urging caution. “This was supposed to be a dry run,” he shouts.
Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Ethan Embry as Carter and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (AMC)
Glenn turns to Heath (newcomer Corey Hawkins) and explains they’ll head to the tractor place. Nicholas (who tried to kill Glenn last season) offers to help, but Glenn shoots him down. But Nicholas won’t take no for an answer. “Do everything I say,” Glenn warns.
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“Rick, we haven’t even gone through the whole plan,” Carter says in a panic. But there’s no more time (and Rick certainly has no more patience). Go back if you want, Rick tells the man, who starts running in the other direction. Others run too – in directions that will help.
“Get ready to hit the flares,” Rick shouts. “NOW!!!” Rick screams. The flares go off above the walker pit, as the camera pans wide, showing the terrifying sight – tens of thousands, maybe even a hundred thousand undead.
At the makeshift gate to the pit, where two 18-wheeler carriages are edge-to-edge, the flesh rips off of a walker’s decaying corpse as it squeezes through. Rick shouts for someone to hit the truck, and one of the carriages is pulled back. Whizz! One of Daryl’s arrows pierces through the muck as the decaying walkers start to make their way through the gap.
B.H.: After Reg’s Death
A stunned Deanna sits on the ground where her husband died. Gabriel walks up to the grieving widow. “You were wrong,” she says of his Season 5 warning about Rick’s group.
There’s a happier scene inside the medical house as Rosita helps Tara (who is now awake) sit up. “You guys look like sh**,” Tara quips as Glenn rushes in with Nicholas, and puts him on a hospital bed. Eugene comes in too, and is quickly elated to see his friend Tara awake again. “Thank God,” she says, looking at him with relief. “Nothing happened to your hair.”
H.T.: Facing The Herd
Cut to the present, in color. Abraham guns down a walker from the passenger seat as he and Sasha drive down a dirt road. “You all have your assignments. You know where to rendezvous,” Rick says over the walkie-talkie. “Daryl leads them out. Sasha and Abraham join them at the bottom of the hill. Glenn, you hit us when you take care of the walkers at the tractor place. That’s the one thing we gotta get ahead of,” Rick tells them.
B.H.: Re-Meeting Morgan
As Daryl fixes up his bike on a still quiet Alexandrian street, he and Rick discuss the newcomer – Morgan, who is currently locked up. Rick says Morgan gets why they did it. Daryl makes sure that Morgan told him about the people with W’s on their heads. Talk quickly turns to what they need to do to fortify Alexandria. “And I’m going to tell Deanna we don’t need to go looking for people anymore,” Rick adds. Daryl nods lightly, and turns away. “You feel differently about it?” Rick asks. “Yeah, I do,” Daryl replies. Rick, though, thinks the folks outside the walls need to take care of themselves. Daryl doesn’t say anything back, so Rick moves on to his next task – letting Morgan out.
Morgan is practicing his fighting technique, when Rick walks in and asks what everyone wants to know – “Where did you learn that?” “A friend,” Morgan replies. “Before, or after?” Rick asks. Morgan laughs, and reveals he picked it up “after everything.” There’s some apologizing on Rick’s part for locking Morgan up, but his old friend understands. “Got to get to know each other again, for the first time — again,” he says.
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Eugene is at the gate when some newcomers drive up. “You gonna let us in or what?” Heath asks. Heath explains his team has been on a run for the last few weeks. After pausing to evaluate the situation, he lets Heath and his party in – Scott and Annie. “Anything big happen while we were gone?” Heath asks. Rather smartly, Eugene tells him to talk to Deanna.
Rick gives Morgan an Alexandria post-apocalypse history lesson as they walk toward the steel fence. He tells him about the people too, and how it might be “too late” for them “to come around.” A sound in the distance stops their chat — Gabriel and Tobin digging two graves. “We’re not going to bury killers inside these walls,” Rick tells Tobin, who says it’s not Rick’s decision — it’s Deanna’s. She sides with Rick, insisting they bury Pete outside, as Ron watches from a short distance away.
Lennie James as Morgan (AMC)
H.T.: Standing At The Walls Of Alexandria
“It’ll hold,” Rick tells Michonne and Morgan as they line up by the steel gate, an important spot where they’ll need the herd to follow the fork in the road (they’re behind the steel to make sure it happens). As they wait, Morgan asks Michonne something he has been waiting to discuss with her for a long time. “Michonne, back when you were in that place, where I live, did you take one of my protein bars?” he asks. “No,” she shrugs. “See, I could’ve sworn there was one peanut butter left,” he continues. “That’s how it is, isn’t it? You always think there’s one more peanut butter left,” she sighs, just as the sound of the approaching herd being led by Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, gets louder.
B.H.: A Massive Problem Is Revealed
Out in the woods, Rick suggests he doesn’t want to bury Pete’s body. Morgan says that’s not who he is, and starts digging, but Rick makes him stop – he hears something terrifying. Heading to a cliff top, the men look down and see it for the first time – the pit of walkers. Quickly though, they have to spring into action. Ron, who followed them to see what they were going to do with his dad’s remains, is being chased by the undead. Rick knocks Ron down to safety, while Morgan shoves the walkers off of the cliff.
“I wanted to know where my dad was buried,” Ron says, when Rick asks what he’s doing out there. As they look over the thousands and thousands of walkers down below, Rick realizes this is the reason why Alexandria survived. Most of the walkers ended up in this pit. Before they head back, Rick promises Ron he’ll train him. The young man watches Rick a short while later as he does the right thing (he buries Pete).
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H.T.: Problems At The Tractor Shop
“You have to hurry,” Rick tells Glenn over the radio. “The noise could distract the herd right off the road.” Glenn and Heath quickly get to work – they’ll pry open the door and kill the noise-making walkers. Nicholas is put on door duty, told to open and close it, letting a few out at a time. Heath isn’t so sure of Glenn’s plan, but he shakes off his nerves and gets ready. They pry open the door with a crowbar and… “Sh**!” Glenn says. There’s a steel door inside.
B.H.: Another Town Meeting
“My team, we saw it early on,” Heath tells everyone gathered at the meeting, referring to the walker pit. Back in the early days, there was a camp at the bottom. He thinks those people blocked the pit’s exits when “things started to go bad.” The small group turned, and the sound they created as walkers brought more and more in, Michonne speculates. “And here we are,” Rick says. “One of the trucks keeping the walkers in could go off the edge any day now,” he says. They have to act. Carol (in her cardigan) offers support. “It doesn’t sound like there’s any other way,” she says to help sway the group.
“Maybe there is,” Carter suggests. “Couldn’t we just build up the weak spots?” That’s not an option. The sound of the pit is bringing on more walkers. “We’re gonna do what Rick says, the plan he’s laid out,” Deanna tells her people.
Daryl will lead them out. Sasha volunteers to help, driving a car “right next to him” she says. Abraham promises to go with her, and Glenn lends his support too.
“I’d like to help, as well,” Gabriel says, (he is now back in his priest collar). “No,” Rick says, flatly.
Carter, though, isn’t ready to get on board. “There’s gotta be another play,” he tells those gathered. Things get a little tense until Deanna cuts Carter off. Very quickly, people start volunteering.
“I’ll do it,” Heath says. Nicholas raises his hand. “We have to do this, I need to help,” he says. “Sure you can handle it?” Rick asks. “You need people,” Nicholas responds.
When the show cuts back to the preparations a few minutes later, Carter still isn’t on board, arguing with Rick over every phase of the plan.
H.T.: A Turning Point
At the fork in the road, Rick, Michonne and Morgan fire their flares toward the curve they want the walkers to follow. On the road outside, Daryl, on the bike, and Sasha and Abraham in the car, turn slowly and the herd does as predicted, following them and the direction of the flares.
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon (AMC)
B.H.: Preparations Begin
After heading over with a wheelbarrow of dirt (they’re making makeshift sandbags), Daryl addresses what Rick said earlier about not going out to find more people. That’s a way they can take care of themselves, Daryl smartly points out. “Your call though,” Daryl says before heading off. Carol strolls over with refreshments and offers to help out on the upcoming mission, but Rick wants her to stay behind and get a read on the Alexandrians.
H.T.: Go Time At The Tractor Shop
“Ready?” Glenn asks. “No,” Heath replies, but they have no choice, and no time left to take care of the loud walkers at the tractor shop. Glenn shoots the window out and the walkers start pouring through. Things go well for a moment, but Heath quickly runs out of ammo and gets attacked. Nicholas, to whom Glenn gave the easy job — to call Rick if it went bad — jumps in to help. Together, the trio takes care of every last one. “Let’s go,” Glenn says as the men run off to help at the next spot.
Corey Hawkins as Heath and Michael Traynor as Nicholas (AMC)
B.H.: Something’s Not Quite Right Here
“It’s Carol, right?” Morgan says after Carol hands him a cup of water. “You been with Rick long?” he asks. “Since Atlanta,” she says, smiling sweetly. And then, Morgan asks if Carol was a cop too. “You’re always watching. You always seem ready,” he says. She walks away, clearly a little rattled by his astute observation.
After looking over the preparations, Rick walks up to Deanna and says sorry for her loss. He also lends his support to her decision to back his plan to tackle the herd. “What else?” she asks him. She’s ready for more Rick-guidance. People need to be armed inside the walls and trained. A moment later, Rick hears something and tells everyone to get ready. Walkers are coming. But… he has everyone hold back, as he tries to instruct Carter and a pal on how to fight. “Use your shovels. The guns will draw more,” Rick says. But they aren’t ready, so Morgan and Daryl rush in. Rick and Michonne pitch in too, while the Alexandrians stand there doing nothing. “You said you don’t take chances anymore,” Morgan says, looking at Rick, a little displeased with what just happened.
Sometime later, Eugene heads into the storage area for some food supplies when he accidentally overhears a conversation he shouldn’t. Carter is meeting with Spencer, Tobin and some of the others about taking down Rick. “We kill him, before he kills us,” Carter says. Shocked by what he’s heard, Eugene drops a jar, and falls to the floor. “He heard,” Carter says, walking out and aiming a gun at Eugene.
Josh McDermitt as Eugene (AMC)
Just then, the door opens. “What the hell’s going on?” Rick asks, as he comes in with Morgan and Glenn. “I’m taking this place back from you,” Carter says. Rick quickly turns the tables on Carter, who lands on the floor with Rick’s gun pointed at his head. “You really think you’re going to take this community from us?… Do you have any idea who you’re talking to?” Rick asks. For what it’s worth, Carter tries to save the people he was meeting with, saying it was all his idea. Daryl starts to intervene, but Rick puts his gun down, and asks Carter to work with them on the walker problem.
H.T.: The Big Moment Arrives
As the herd stumbles its way down the road, Glenn, Heath and Nicholas run through the woods and meet up with Rick. “It’s working. You were right,” Carter says, reaching out his hand to shake Rick’s. But it’s not over yet. Rick gives the group another set of instructions, and Carter offers to take the front.
Carter runs through the woods, when things take a bad turn. A walker reaches out from behind a tree, grabs Carter, pulls him close and bites his face. The herd breaks in Carter’s direction as he screams bloody murder.
B.H.: A Welcome Houseguest
“Get your stuff,” Rick tells Morgan, tossing him house keys with one arm, while he cradles baby Judith with the other. They’ll stay under the same roof. “You want to hold her?” Rick asks his friend. In an adorably sweet moment, Rick introduces his baby girl to Morgan (Michonne watches the introduction happen).
The two men discuss what happened with Carter at the armory/food storage house and how Rick chose to let him live. “I wanted to kill him… so it would be easier, so I wouldn’t have to worry about how he could screw up, what stupid thing he’d do next,” Rick says. “He’s just somebody that shouldn’t be alive now. I wanted to kill him, but all that hit me and I realized I didn’t have to do it. He doesn’t get it. Somebody like that, they’re gonna die no matter what.”
H.T.: Carter Screws Up
And Rick was right. Carter wasn’t careful, and now, his screams are ruining the plan for everyone. Rick runs over, pulls Carter off of the walker, kills it, and then tries to calm Carter down. But he won’t stop shouting, so Rick has no choice. He stabs Carter in the back of the head. Then, he sends Morgan to tell the others what happened while he gets the plan back on track (with the help of others who fire guns to get the herd back on the road and in the right direction).
B.H.: Jessie Sets Boundaries
Jessie is taking stock in the armory at night when Rick walks in to get more flares for the next day. “Ron told me what happened,” Jessie says, before telling Rick he can’t be the one to train her son. She’ll learn from Rosita, and then she’ll train her sons herself. “I am gonna fight, Rick,” Jessie promises.
“This is the finish line,” Rick tells the group the next day at the spot they’ll break off from the herd, with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham taking them the final 20 miles away from Alexandria.
A few moments later, the story catches up where the episode began. “I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world. We have to come for them, before they come for us. It’s that simple,” Rick tells the group.
H.T.: What’s That Sound?
As the herd reaches that finish line Rick talked about, a sound begins blaring in the distance. “It’s a horn or something. It’s pulling them back in, off the road,” Glenn tells Heath.
“Whatever that is, it’s far. It sounds like it’s coming from…” Michonne says. “Home,” Rick says, finishing her sentence. Everyone begins sprinting. The walkers are headed toward Alexandria.
“The Walking Dead” Season 6 continues Sundays at 9 PM ET/PT on AMC.
— Jolie Lash
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