Welcome back, The Walking Dead. Last night’s mid-season premiere was a wild one, full of action and lots of narrative movement. Unfortunately, logical connections seemed to be missing, as though the episode — and the new plot threads — felt rushed. Some of it felt forced and some of it didn’t make any damn sense. Ultimately, however, I think outgoing showrunner Glen Mazzara got where he wanted to go, he just took a few shortcuts to get there.
Let’s jump straight to it.
1. Just Follow My Lead, Little Brother — The episode opened where the last episode left off: The Governor pitted Merle and Daryl against each other to fight to the death. I’m not sure what most people were expecting to come out of the scenario, but Merle appeared to have a plan to save both himself and Daryl before the prison gang arrived and saved them both.
My biggest beef with last night’s episode — including the illogical leaps we’ll get to in a moment — was the opening, which was not particularly well executed. The quality of the directing in any given episode usually doesn’t trigger any bells unless it’s done poorly, and the execution of that stand-off and the erupting chaos was not well conceived. It looked cheap, like it was either rushed or didn’t get enough time in post-production. But it served its purpose: To separate Merle and Daryl from The Governor. But it LOOKED like a scene shot on a sound stage with dry-ice fog being pumped in.
I will say this, though: DO NOT F*CK WITH DARYL’S WEAPON.
2. Hines Ward! — He only got three seconds of screen time before he was killed, but it was kind of fun to see Zombie Hines Ward. I wish he’d been wearing a Steelers jersey, though.