Title: The Walking Dead “No Way Out”
Air Date: February 14, 2016
Genre: Serial Drama, Horror
With the massive cliffhanger left for us back in November 2015, the anticipation of a resolution from No Way Out has literally been killing us. Our patience is well paid off, and we receive a darn good episode of The Walking Dead. Possibly one of the most action-packed and death-tolling episodes to date. There were many characters who rose to the occasion and discovered new-found courage while others crumbled under the weight of the chaos surrounding Alexandria. This episode is jam-packed with eventful moments and final goodbyes to some cast members. Saddle-up.
No Way Out picks up right where the cliffhanger left us with Abraham, Daryl, and Sasha heading back to Alexandria (to rejoin the group they have been separated from all season), only to be stopped on the road by a biker gang claiming to be the lackeys of a man named Negan. To those familiar with the comics, Negan is the leader of a group of resilient survivors from Washington, D.C. who has endured an equal amount of trials as Rick’s group in order to remain alive. Tension rises greatly between all these apocalyptic heavyweights as they command Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha to turn over their weapons and goods. Daryl is led around back to the truck to retrieve its contents while Abraham and Sasha are held at gunpoint. Sasha, who has been reckless for a long time after the death of her brother, decides to open her mouth and speak out against the gang. As punishment, they are both about to be shot until, out of nowhere an explosion and flames engulf the gang killing all of them. Daryl emerges as their savior with a bazooka on his shoulder and a readiness to move on to Alexandria. It was frustrating to watch Sasha once again lose her cool and almost get herself and Abraham killed. Daryl once again achieves superhero status and saves members of his group for the 39th time.
We pick up with Rick, Gabriel, Michonne, Carl, Jessie and her two sons Ron, and Sam, covering themselves in zombie guts to mask their living flesh’s odor from ravenous walkers as they proceed to exit the overrun house. Sam, Jessie’s youngest son is still uneasy around the walkers and the imminent danger. We can recall from the cliffhanger that Sam has not stepped up to meet the challenging demands of a kill-or-be-killed world. I was pleased to see in this moment Father Gabriel stepping up and volunteering to take Judith to safety at the church. Rick is forced to make a tough decision whether to trust Gabriel now when he is most desperate to make sure his daughter is safe. Rick agrees and says good-bye to Judith, knowing that there is a high possibility this could be the last time he see’s his little girl. Sam also tells his mom, Jessie, that he wants to go with the reverend to the church and we can see now more than ever that he is in no condition to be out walking amongst the walkers. Jessie consoles him and convinces him to press on – a mistake that would soon bite them in the butt (pun intended).
In a different church, Glen and Enid begin devising a plan to rescue Maggie, who for the last three months since the mid-season cliffhanger, has been trapped on top of a balcony with walkers surrounding beneath her. Enid is once again fighting with her inner demons and is reluctant to help Glen because of the fear of dying herself. Inside the church there’s biblical passage on a wall that reads, “Faith without works is dead.” This sparks a conversation with Glen as he explains to her that they press on and help others because the people who helped shape them and are no longer alive, live on through them. With newfound charisma, Enid begins to help Glen and is motivated to save Maggie. This is the first time in Enid’s character development we see her accept her situation and move forward to do good for others rather than herself.
We then have a tense interaction between the surviving Wolf and would-be doctor, Denise. He reminds her that she was right in her previous statement “You weren’t born this way,” and responds “You’re right. I changed. And I want to make you change too.” Their interaction is one of the most interesting developments in the episode and serves as a nice change of pace focusing on dialog rather than the chaos surrounding them. That’s not to say that these two are exempt… We’re getting there.
The next scene is the most memorable. It’s what got my cousin Greer and me jump up out of our seats in exclamation and grab another beer. It is now dark. Rick and his group are still walking in Alexandria and navigating through the hoard of walkers. Sam begins to panic and remember the advice Carol gave him – if he doesn’t get tougher, he will die. He is scared and overwhelmed and stops the group. He begins to cry and while his mother Jessie is calming him down, in the literal next frame we see walkers tearing into him. The group is forced to watch in silence. Realizing what has just happened, Jessie lets out a blood-curdling scream that attracts the walkers… Just as we see the group start to become mobile, walkers appear and start tearing into Jessie who has just inadvertently rung her own dinner bell. The group, one by one, is being spotted by the hundreds of walker onlookers. Carl is grabbed by a walker and while Rick cuts off the arm of the walker holding him, the gun in Carl’s hand falls to the ground. Jessie’s oldest son picks up the gun and after watching his last remaining family members die, is fueled by hatred of Rick and Carl and the death they have brought to all of this family. He points the gun at Carl and says, “You… you,” as if blaming Carl for everything that has happened. As he is about to pull the trigger, a katana appears through his belly by the hands of Mishone. While he is stabbed he lets a shot off, grazing Carl in the eye with his gunshot. Carl, shocked and losing a lot of blood falls to the ground. This is déjà vu for Rick (season 2 hunting accident) as he once again picks up his wounded son and runs him to safety.
I was in shock myself watching all members of the Anderson family (Jessie, Ron, and Sam) be devoured in front of Rick. If that isn’t enough to send Rick back in delusional Rambo-mode, what will? Then he has to immediately forget the loss of his family members when his son is shot in the face. Rick rampage ETA: five minutes.
Denise and the Wolf while waiting for their chance to make a break for it, delve further into their conversation of virtues and morals in this post-apocalyptic world. These conversations parallel well with Morgan’s current conflict with Carol. Let us not forget that the two hashed it out in hand to hand combat, and as a result, the Wolf escaped with Denise as a hostage. The Wolf represents a struggle of virtue and goodness. In his time with Denise as his hostage, she represents the opportunity for change. The outcome of their time together will prove whether Carol or Morgan is right – if people like the Wolves deserve a second chance, and if “all life is precision”
While the Wolf and Denise make a break for their escape, Denise is grabbed and the Wolf faces a dilemma whether to save her or not. He decides that Denise is worth saving and in his efforts to free her from the walkers, is bitten. R.I.P. the last surviving Wolf. The Wolf is in shock that he got bit and Denise reminds him that he went back for her because he “changed.” This is the fruition to which Carol and Morgan’s conflict has led. The Wolf shows us that people can still change – even in a world as far removed from the one the survivors are living in. As Denise and the Wolf approach the infirmary, to our amazement Carol shoots the Wolf on sight not knowing that he is a changed man.
As far as gore and savagery go, the next scene takes the cake. As Rick makes it to the infirmary and hands off Carl to Denise for medical aid, we watch Rick quickly slide into what fans call “crazy Rick-mode” once again. He grabs a hatchet and steps into the street to begin slaying dozens of walkers in a rage-and-shock-fueled killing spree. It is in this scene that we see the division of the strong and weak members of the Alexandria suburb. Many spring into action to help Rick and secure the infirmary while many others watch from the windows of their homes in fear and inability to grasp the grizzly nature of the world revealing itself in the streets in front of them. We also see minor speeches from Father Gabriel and Eugene stepping up to go help Rick and kill the walkers.
Glenn and Enid make their rescue for Maggie. I truly thought that Glenn was going to die while saving Maggie. For me, seeing Glenn go down saving Maggie is the way I expect his character to be killed off, so I was shocked to see Abraham and Sasha open up firing-squad style on the walkers moments before Glenn’s demise.
Morgan is faced with the Wolf who is now a zombie and gets to see the ugliness of this world once again. He is forced to take the life of something to which he once gave a second chance. In a way, both Morgan and Carol had to deal with the Wolf who escaped. Daryl causes a large fire to lure the remaining walkers away from the survivors.
At the end of the episode, we watch Carl wake up from treatment and grip his father’s hand. There are hundreds of dead walkers in the street from the multi-man slaughter by the Alexandria residents. There was so much to cover in this episode and great moments that added up to what I believe is The Walking Dead‘s best episode in many seasons.
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- Acting/Characters: Sam was pouty (understandably) and caused the death of his whole family which was irritating. Rick’s monolog at the end is moving as well as Glenn’s motivational speech to Enid.
- Story: Story climaxed as all of the previous episodes build up to this moment. Not a boring moment.
- Cinematography: The setting for almost the entire episode is in Alexandria. Alexandria looks like a high-quality set, and with the way it is shot with close-ups, it creates an open and invadable space, paralleling with the hoard of walkers roaming inside the walls.
- Organization: With the groups divided amongst different parts of Alexandria, we get to see how each group is coping with their unique circumstances. The dialog between the Wolf and Denise frame the story well, as well as providing smooth transitions from group to group.
- Multiple Deaths
- Climax of Story Arc
- Everyone Regroups
- Huge Walker Slaughter
- Great Pacing
- Wolf Dies
- Sam's Screw Up
- Morgan (enough said)