Television Series DVD
The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Believe it or not, I’m finally all caught up with The Walking Dead. We’re well into Season 7 of the television series, but I decided to pick up a copy of Season 6 and review what got us this far while the show is on winter break.
The Walking Dead: Season 5 ended in rather grisly format – Jessie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) abusive husband (Corey Brill) attacks Rick (Andrew Lincoln), accidentally killing the founder of Alexandria, Deanna Monroe’s (Tovah Feldshuh) husband. Rick is forced to kill Pete Anderson in front of the entire town and Morgan (Lennie James), his old friend who has recently found Rick again. The town is struggling to understand these newcomers to Alexandria when this tragedy takes place, causing animosity and distrust.
But that’s the least of Alexandria’s problems – a horde has found itself trapped in a rock quarry not far from the town. They are trapped behind trucks, but more keep coming and soon, the barricades will let go. Rick has devised a plan in which several members of the group lead the horde away from Alexandria, but before they can properly practice, Rick’s worst fears are realized and the barriers break. No longer on a dry run, the group must hope that the plan they constructed works.
Meanwhile, Alexandria finds themselves under attack by a clan of fanatical murderers known as the Wolves. The citizens of Alexandria don’t quite know how to handle this attack – good thing some of Rick’s group have stayed behind and can address the situation. Unfortunately, one of the Wolves has crashed a truck into the watchtower, causing the truck’s horn to sound. Guess what that loud distraction is going to do to Rick’s plans for the horde?
Yup, you guessed it, the plan goes awry and now Rick’s group finds themselves split up, trying to keep the horde on it the right track, but, in the case of the team of Michonne (Danai Gurira), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Nicholas (Michael Traynor) and the others, discover they are surrounded. Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) become separated when they are attacked on the road. Rick sends Morgan back to Alexandria while he tries to continue to lure the horde away.
They Michonne returns to Alexandria a few people light, thanks to the horde, leaving Maggie to believe she may have lost Glenn forever. Rick returns as well, the horde right at his back. All that the group can do now is try to fortify the walls of Alexandria in an effort to keep the horde out, but you know those walls aren’t going to hold. If they did, this show wouldn’t still be on, right? Of course, somehow the people survive the horde attack. Though they lose the town matriarch, they gain confidence in facing the walkers.
But now they face a new threat. Coming across a man named Jesus (Tom Payne) while they are out scavenging, Rick learns about a community known as the Hilltop. Jesus persuades him to check the community out as they could probably help one another. Pumped up by all they have survived, Rick believes that they can confront the Hilltop’s nemesis known as The Saviors, a blood-thirsty crew who take whatever they can, kill whoever they want and come back for more on a regular basis.
A plan of attack is devised and executed, but things don’t work out well in the end. Rick has severely underestimated the size and severity of The Saviors problem. Carol (Melissa McBride) comes out of the situation realizing she no longer wants to kill. While out on a run for medicine, one of the Alexandrians are killed by someone Daryl let survive weeks ago. Setting out for revenge, he and the people who try to stop him find themselves surrounded. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), pregnant since the beginning of the season, fears she is losing her baby. The crew, hoping to get Maggie to Hilltop in time to save the baby, also find themselves surrounded by The Saviors and meeting the man in charge. Who will Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) punish for their insolence?
Has it occurred to anyone that Rick makes some pretty bad decisions? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing his decision to steer the walkers away from the community. That was a necessity. But maybe it could have been done a different way. Everyone always seems to think that Rick’s way is the ONLY way and when someone refutes it, the rest of the group pounces. But what if that one or two detractors was right? Just because they couldn’t think of another way, does that mean that there wasn’t one?
And so, we follow Rick’s plan. Only that leaves Alexandria open to attack by the Wolves…not that Rick could have known about the Wolves, but there it is. They lose a lot of people that day and then the entire community is attacked by the horde anyway. Rick ends up losing a love interest and some kids in addition to a whole lot of townsfolk, all because it was his plan that had to be followed. If Daryl, Abraham and Sasha hadn’t returned when they did, more would have died. Instead, the people of Alexandria learned how to fight for their town. So, we ignore Rick’s mistake because it taught him and the original Alexandrians that they were strong enough to overcome the horde.
Now, some time after the horde, the town is doing well, but they are in need of provisions. Daryl and Rick get lucky and find a fully stocked truck, only to lose it to a mysterious man called Jesus. If you are in their shoes, do you let the truck go and hunt somewhere else? I would, but I’m not poor decision maker Rick who decides on principal to hunt Jesus down and take the truck, only to lose the truck to the drink and have to lug an unconscious Jesus back to Alexandria. That leads Rick to the ultimate in bad decisions – helping the Hilltop eradicate their enemy.
By now, Rick has become super arrogant. Just because your people have survived some pretty rough stuff, that doesn’t mean you are in any condition to go up against an unknown entity. You have no idea how many Saviors there are, yet you agree to take them out…not take them on, because you are so cocky that you think you can take this group out. Never mind that The Saviors have been tough enough to take on anyone they come across. Did it occur to you that there may be a whole lot of them or that they might be better prepared and better armed? Nope, because you are Rick Grimes and you can handle anything…except this.
There’s my criticism of things…the Glenn’s dead, but not dead story arc really didn’t faze me. I knew he wasn’t dead. The angle was all wrong for what we were witnessing the walkers eating. That and the fact that the powers that be were starting to become rather faithful to the comic book. I knew that Glenn’s death would probably come much later and be much more emotional.
You see, what I had begun to notice is that the cast was getting to large. When this happens, it only seems right for Kirkman to start the culling. But how to cull? We begin with characters who should not still be here, but are. Do we take out Sasha or Daryl? What about Carol or Morgan? I started to think, “If we start becoming more faithful to the comic book, what do we do about storylines like Andrea's relationship with Rick? Andrea was killed off a long time ago.” And that was when I realized that some of the characters were taking on the comic book roles of the characters killed off in the television series.
Hear me out now – Carol is taking on the role of Michonne’s comic book alter ego, unable to keep killing and losing her way, leaving the group to rediscover her path. Meanwhile, Michonne is starting to take on characteristics of the comic book Andrea. Even Enid has begun to take on some of the characteristics of comic book character Sophia. In steering the show back to the comic book, certain characters who were never in the comic book or who died earlier in the comic book would have to take on roles of those who survive longer in the comic book.
Never does the show become more faithful to the comic book than with meeting the people of the Hilltop community and the coming of Negan. Sure, there are some slight differences, but even the Negan speech is the same, almost word for word. So, while some people will criticize the violence of the season to come, they should check out the comic book and realize that this was coming all along.
As usual, The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season DVD extra features were great, but I do have some quips. In The Making of the Walking Dead section, couldn’t we have a Play All feature so you don’t have to keep going back to the main screen to hit play for each episode? I enjoyed the In Memoriam, 601: Out of the Quarry, Guts and Glory: The Death of Nicholas, Strength in Bonds, Negan: Someone to Fear and The Face of Death: Iconic Walkers featurettes which were informative, both technically and script-wise. The Deleted Scenes were okay, but I would have loved to see some outtakes. You know there had to be some – no one could possibly keep a straight face all the time with this prankster crew.
So, yes, I did enjoy The Walking Dead: The Complete Sixth Season DVD, despite some of the missing features that I thought could have made it better. My rant about Rick’s character has nothing to do with the fact that this IS his character and exactly the storyline the comic has given us all along. Rick is just stumbling through this new world he has woken up in and others are willing to follow, even when the path is murky and, sometimes, downright deadly.