“I’m god damn sick of being nice.”
After what feels like a very short hiatus, The Walking Dead is back for its first completely Rick-free season. The second half of the last season proved dropping the main character from the show was something it could survive, but as we move into seasonal double digits, is the loss of Rick still something we can live with?
With a continued increase in the roles of the supporting cast (namely Michonne, Daryl, Carol, and Negan) the show continued it’s ensemble feel from the end of last season and keeps the viewer’s interest because of it. Negan is perhaps the most interesting of these characters as, not too long ago, he was the arch-nemesis of the Alexandrians. Now he spends his days picking tomatoes under armed guard but it won’t be long before he’s free and on the frontlines of the whisperer war. Comic readers will recall it was Negan who kills Alpha in the comics, decapitating her and taking her head to Rick as a gesture of goodwill. But the show is setting up perhaps an even more intriguing showdown; Alpha vs Carol. Both are mothers shaped by the apocalypse and Alpha is responsible for the death of Carol’s adopted son, Henry. The glare the pair give each other at the end of this episode is chilling and will no doubt have repercussions for the Alexandrians for crossing into Whisperer territory. Carol seems to have taken on a bit of Michonne’s comic plot also, disappearing for weeks on a fishing boat. This won’t be permanent I’m sure; her ongoing feud with Alpha will no doubt pull her back into the group.
Daryl continues to warm our hearts with his awkwardly sweet romance with Connie. I hope nothing happens to either of them, it’s such a nice moment within the gloom of the rest of the show and Daryl deserves to be happy after everything that’s happened. Norman Reedus is obviously loving the new, happier, more talkative Daryl and it’s becoming easier and easier to see him taking over Rick’s position. Something I’ve not seen many other reviewers discuss, however, is the character of Kelly, played by Angel Theory. In ‘Lines We Cross’ there is a discussion between her and her on-screen deaf sister, played by real-life deaf actress Lauren Ridloff about Kelly’s progressive hearing loss. It felt slightly out of the blue and a bit random but in actual fact it’s based upon Theory’s current, real-life battle with progressive hearing loss. To better represent the deaf and hard of hearing community, Theory and the showrunners wrote her hearing loss into the show. The meta-ness of this might make some question it but I think it’s fantastic and proves that TWD has some of the best representation (especially of the often underrepresented groups like the HoH community) on television.
After tuning back in for The Walking Dead, you might have been slightly surprised to see the first shot of the new season was of a USSR satellite orbiting the earth. You may have even thought you were on the wrong show. But no, the crashing satellite played a big part in this week’s narrative, including in how it was structured. The show was split into sections, showing each group’s day leading up to the satellite crash. It didn’t add a whole lot but it was a neat touch and allowed us to get a good look at the various groups before all hell broke loose. The satellite added some cool backdrops for the gang to fight the walkers in, Daryl’s axe kills being my personal favourite of the week. The show just looks generally ‘better’ most noticeably in the scale (hello lovely drone shots) and the upgraded CG (the blood is amazing in this episode). I’m a little worried about next week as it seems to be an episode wholly centred around the Whisperers. They’re great don’t get me wrong (Samantha Morton is always outstanding as Alpha) and I’m looking forward to the introduction of ‘Gamma’ but are they not just a little too gross to be spending a whole episode’s run time with? It looks as if we’ll get to see their reaction to the satellite crash also, which should be interesting. So far though the new season is off to a cracking start, with enough fun, drama, and zombie gore to keep us entertained. A warm welcome back to the biggest show on TV.