Is this new world that Rick’s trying to build going to stay together? It’s off to a rocky start in the season nine premiere of The Walking Dead, “A New Beginning”!
“A New Beginning” has a slow build feel throughout the episode. Showrunner and episode writer, Angela Kang, is setting up her view of the world we know post the “All-Out-War” arc, and it’s refreshing in some ways and down right frustrating in others.
We’ve finally reached the point where they admit to not having fuel for vehicles anymore and that scavenging isn’t really an option. They’ve organized routes to and from the different communities and things seem to be progressing after Negan’s fall.
Each community sends a few people to D.C. to scour a museum to find a store of heirloom seeds to help boost their crop yield since they’re all running low on food. Especially the Sanctuary. They also take a wagon, plow, and a canoe so that they can use those as examples for their blacksmiths and builders.
On the way back, a herd attacks and one young man (replacement Carl #1) is killed. As a viewer, I don’t feel any sadness when he dies. He seems nice enough, but this is the apocalypse. People die, and they’re not going to kill Rick yet, so it’s going to be random young man one.
Still, the level of mourning and how it affects the Hilltop community and eventually makes a huge plot point in the episode falls flat because we don’t know him (Ken). I half expected the reason everyone was so upset is because they had gone so many days without an accident and had to erase the board back at Hilltop.
This brings me to the aspect of the series that remains most tiring to me. The audience is always told how much things/people/communities have changed, and we rarely see the change take place in the characterization or arc of the season.
Obviously, there have been exceptions, especially early on in the series. However, that’s not the case here. We spend time on a character who dies in the first ten minutes of the episode, but his death is the catalyst for finally killing off Gregory, who should have been killed by Simon a long time ago.
What’s more distressing to me is that Rick is still in “Utopia mode” when it comes to living together.
After going to the Sanctuary and seeing the “We are still Negan” painted on the wall, Rick goes to Maggie and asks her to continue to help the people who absolutely hate them. Maggie and the Hilltop have been feeding the Sanctuary and stretching themselves thin already. Then Rick has the nerve to bring up her visiting Alexandria (where Negan is) and providing more food to ex-Saviors so they can help re-build a bridge that washed out in a storm.
Mind you, the night before, Gregory tried to have Maggie murdered by the dead kid’s dad so he could take over Hilltop again, so she’s not in the best mood. When confronted about it, Gregory basically called her out for being Rick’s lackey and that didn’t sit well with her.
We all remember Rick saying that he’d be following Maggie after the war with Negan was over, but that didn’t pan out.
Then Rick goes to her and asks her save the Saviors? At this point, I honestly feel like Rick has lost his damn mind. Daryl told him earlier in the episode that they needed to abandon the Sanctuary because nothing will ever grow there.
All the shots of the Sanctuary include dead corn, crows, and a broken building that looks deserted. It’s completely dead on the outside but a rebellious flames burns within, and that’s going to be bite them in the ass if they don’t settle it.
Maggie understands this. Daryl understands this.
Rick doesn’t want to see it that way, and Michonne desperately wants peace so badly that she’s willing to try Rick’s strategy. Even prompting him to create rules or a charter for their communities.
The only characters that are expressing their differing ideas and opinions are placed directly opposite Rick, and they’re also his oldest friends. Daryl makes mention several times that he feels like their current situation won’t last, and he doesn’t want to be the leader at the Sanctuary any longer.
Daryl tells Rick that things were better when the apocalypse first started, and the group was smaller. Now everyone is too spread out, and there’s too many people to care for. It’s just too much.
Rick goes so far as to ask Daryl to come back to the ASZ and help lead things there if he doesn’t want to lead the Sanctuary anymore. Daryl’s not going anywhere Negan is, and I appalled that Rick would ask him.
Maggie tells Rick that she’s not going to give the Sanctuary more food. She’s the leader, and she has to ensure her own people’s survival. Not theirs.
In the end, Maggie executes Gregory for trying to orchestrate her murder with Daryl’s help. Rick and Michonne look on as Gregory cries and pleads for mercy. They don’t seem to agree with Maggie’s decision, and when children walk up, Michonne tries to get her to stop so they won’t see, but Daryl already slaps the horse that Gregory is sitting on and it rides off leaving Gregory to hang.
Rick’s shocked and distressed about Gregory’s execution, and how it doesn’t fit with his view of their new world. I know that Rick’s still grieving, but his behavior is very similar to how he behaved after Lori’s death. We all know how that went down with the Governor.
If Rick doesn’t start acting like this is the end of the world and that the Saviors aren’t here to play nice, he’s going to get himself killed. Not everyone can forgive and move on. Some people hold on to their anger and wait for the right moment to strike.
We’ll just have to wait and watch.
I know I’ve been a bit negative, but there was several moments of “A New Beginning” that I really loved!
Favorite moments of the episode:
Daryl and Carol’s talk about her love for Ezekiel and their potential marriage. I really love their friendship, and I’m so happy that Carol and Ezekiel are officially together.
Daryl actually having dialogue and connecting with people. The past few seasons, he was regulated to the angry guy who grunted or growled occasionally in between the writers making him cry. He looks like he’s getting some serious screen time this season, and I’m excited!
Baby Hershel! That sweet baby should have met his dad, and it’s a freaking travesty that Negan still breathes after what he did to Glenn.
Maggie making someone pay for their misdeeds. Gregory’s been due, and I’m glad Maggie finally took care of him. The world isn’t going to be perfect, and sometimes they’re still going to have to kill people who pose a threat.
Alden lowkey staring at Jesus. Is love on the horizon because that’d be fantastic!
What did you think of the premiere? How do you feel about Rick’s current plan?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 9/8c.