Welcome back to Season 6! Last time on The Walking Dead, we were left with a pivotal moment when tension at Alexandria was at its highest that Rick had to put a bullet into Pete due to a difference of opinion which can be said as an absolute understatement. Soon after, we were dealt with the arrival of Morgan once again in Rick’s life. The episode “First Time Again” deals with the aftermath of the events since, and growth of the residents of Alexandria, both new and old.
When I saw the opening scene of the episode, it was rather shocking. I don’t think I have ever seen that many Walkers in any known episode. Plus the writers then provide a somewhat understandable reason to why the Walkers never came by Alexandria all this time. Apparently this huge quarry acted as a sort of basin which effectively trapped the Walkers and the loud noises of said Walkers diverted the attention away from Alexandria. I give props to Greg Nicotero, the special effects director who in the corresponding episode for the after-show, Talking Dead, explained the neat way that he put together a combination of both practical and CGI effects into creating about 1000 Walkers. This really gave me and probably many other audiences a real fright and a sense of immensity of the challenge that our protagonists will have to face.
The use of time jumps and flashbacks with the contrast of Black and White with Colour was used well in the episode. This was a different change-up compared to other opening seasons. The Black and White was used to convey a sort of message that these are still dark depressing times, such as seen between the clashes of the new and old residents of Alexandria have between each other like the Carter (Ethan Embry) vs. Rick arc as well as a platform for the smaller intimate scaled moments in the episode such as seen with the dynamic of Rick and Morgan. This is contrasted with the normal colour moments which tended to have much more action and bigger moments in the episode like the handling of The Walker parade throughout the episode.
It’s no doubt that the crew we knew for the last five seasons have their work cut out for them when it comes to raising the Alexandrians to be efficient survivors in the Zombie Apocalypse. There seems to be still a lot of distrust among the people here. One example is Glenn and his dynamic with Nicholas (Michael Traynor). The scenes of them along with Heath (Corey Hawkins) killing Walkers in an abandoned shop, when contrasted with flashbacks illustrates that Glenn doesn’t want to quite believe in and trust in Nicholas just yet. He still hasn’t quite forgiven him for the death of Noah last season and it still shows in the present time especially when Glenn always tell Nicholas to hang back.
The same could be said for Rick and his character in this episode and most likely this season as well. The sub-plot of Carter vs. Rick drives this home. Rick as well as the audience by now always knew that some people are just meant to die out in the new world they live in now. It was no surprise that Carter dies in this episode. What was interesting was how Rick efficiently puts him out of his misery. It’s very much far removed from the character we knew in early Season 1 who apologized to a Walker before killing it.
I also like the way this distrust would play into how the cliffhanger will probably play into the next episode. Somehow a loud car horn sounded itself off in the closing episode, diverting the Walkers towards Alexandria. It is likely that one of the mysterious antagonists known as the Wolves were the ones perpetrating this. This would no doubt create some insane levels of chaos where the probability of someone dying is just too damn high.
The writing in the episode took a much different turn as well. Usually Daryl’s the one who tends to be a little funny at times but however Abraham’s the one who had some interesting moments in the episode, especially with regards to his scenes in the Walker parade. The interplay with Morgan and the rest of the cast was well written. The scene between him and Carol was just brilliant as well as him and Michonne. It really develops the characters well as we see what they grew into now compared to what they were in earlier seasons.
Overall, “First Time Again” was a solid opening episode. It lacked the big bombastic action that Season 5’s opening episode had but it delivered when it came to the characters.