I promised myself this year I’d review each half of the walking dead season separately as they increasingly seem to be telling an almost complete block of story in each half, rather than continuing over to the next. For the most part that’s true of the first half of season six, it seems to be set all within just a couple of days, focussing each episode on just a small sub-section of the every growing cast of characters.
As per usual with Walking Dead that structure can be frustrating. It’s interesting to see characters either by themselves or in unusual groups, but it’s very limited and frustrating for the characters and combinations not involved. New characters just aren’t making the impact that the old ones did, increasingly with the people from Alexandria it’s hard to keep them distinct and care about them when you know most of them are fodder. The always wonderful Merritt Wever about the only exception and the whiny teenagers were particularly tiresome.
I would normally avoid spoilers in reviews, but I decided that Glenn’s storyline was so important to the quality of the season that I couldn’t review without commenting. I think the show made a huge mistake playing with the audience by dragging out the question of whether Glenn was dead or not. Using such a manipulative cliffhanger, and then drawing out the resolution for so many episodes just felt like a cheap trick, betraying loyal audience members. Once people are talking about whether a character is dead based on whether the actor got a goodbye tour and montage real on the spin-off discussion show, something has gone wrong with your writing. Then, to eventually clumsily save his life undermined the brave work the show has previously done in making sure no one is safe.
Once again, I’m also disappointed that they’ve accelerated through a storyline. I felt short-changed previously when we got to spend so little time in the Prison once it was running as an established community, similarly here we’ve barely arrived at Alexandria and started having hope and showers before the streets are filled with bodies and screaming again. I really wanted to see whether Rick’s group of hardy survivors could change the way they lived and settle into this environment. Instead they set up that conflict and then proved that Rick was right and they should not change, rather than the more interesting question of whether they could change.
Overall, I guess I was disappointed by this half season. It’s still an excellent show, with entertaining and interesting storylines and characters, but it just doesn’t quite seem to be working for me as well as it has in the past. I wish I had the patience to avoid spoilers for long enough to group the episodes for longer binges as I think then the pacing wouldn’t be so frustrating.