A quick review of the Season 6 premiere of “The Walking Dead.” And is a major death hinted at?

I tend to obsess a little about spoilers, so I’m reluctant even to describe the plot of the Season 6 opener for “The Walking Dead.”  The story I thought we’d see absolutely wasn’t the story we saw, and the very first scene should be a terrific surprise for the viewer.  Suffice to say, this episode was fantastic — I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

After five seasons, even a diehard fan of the program can ask about its screenwriters, “How long can they keep this up?”  This is a horror subgenre that’s hard to keep fresh.  But the show still succeeds.

The writers are trying, and it shows.  I suggest that this actually is sometimes a pretty smart show.  A nice amount of thought has gone into the major action set-pieces since the start of Season 5 — everything from strategy, tactics, terrain, diversion, leadership, and even differing levels of training for new or seasoned combatants.  When one protagonist refers to our heroes’ adversaries as “an army,” I began looking at this episode as … “military horror?”  Is that even a thing?  Anyway, it’s a refreshing change for fans of zombie horror who are tired of the spate of second-rate movies on Netflix — those typically show attractive twenty-somethings in vague battles, cheerfully rattling off dry one-liners while swinging impact weapons, despite their lack of any training or experience.  This episode offered horror fans both exploding zombie heads and an intelligently staged battle to follow.  Nice stuff!

Also present were the other things that people love about the show — great character moments, surprise character development, and terrific dialogue.  The exchange between Morgan and Carol was goddam beautiful, and it makes me rethink my longstanding (and unpopular) criticism that this show sometimes struggles with characterization.

The suspense and tension tonight were absolutely perfect.  I was on the edge of my seat until the end of story.  And the final surprise development and cliffhanger there really drove me nuts, even if I have a pretty good idea why it occurred.

There is one question here that I am embarrassed to ask.  I’m afraid I’m going senile.  Am I the only fan who absolutely does NOT remember the character of Ron?!  I … I thought that Alexandria’s Hester Prynne here had only ONE son, young Sam!

Hey, one more thing — if I’m onto something here, I’m going to be damn proud … and I don’t think this counts as a spoiler, as it is only an unconfirmed suspicion on my part.  We see an erratic Abraham manically and cavalierly battle some zombies here.  When asked why he was behaving strangely, he replies that he’s “taking the bull by the balls.”

He sounded a hell of a lot to me like the erratic Roger manically and cavalierly battling zombies during a fateful scene in George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978).  He keeps blurting, “We got this by the balls, we got this by the balls!”  And both scenes involve people getting in and out of vehicles.  The 1978 sequence ends poorly for Roger because of his carelessness.  Does this mean that Abraham is likewise doomed?


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