Following up some mixed reception to its midseason finale and a few preceding episodes, the midseason premiere has the capability of making or breaking The Walking Dead's loyal fanbase. The millions and millions of fans who keep coming back are thoroughly rewarded for doing so with No Way Out. The midseason premiere is a showcase of all the reasons why we love The Walking Dead: Emotions. Death. Terror. Shock. Zombies. High stakes.
It seems like every time Greg Nicotero directs an episode of The Walking Dead, we all love it. Some of the best episodes were spawned from Nicotero's direction, including No Sanctuary, What Happened and What's Going On, Conquer, and the season six premiere titled First Time Again. No Way Out, the ninth episode of season six, is no exception on Nicotero's beloved resumé.
Keeping things spoiler free, the episode picks up where several plot lines left off in 2015. We find Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham cornered by the Saviors as last seen in the "prologue." Glenn and Enid trying to reach Maggie. Eugene, Rosita, Tara, Carol, and Morgan are all held up in a house, as are several other Alexandrians. And of course, Rick, Jesse, Gabriel, Michonne, Ron, Sam, and Carl are attempting to get outside the walls by walking among the undead.
What's most refreshing about this episode is how it follows everyone's stories. Rather than follow one group for the entirety of its runtime like much of the episodes from season six's first half chose to do, the hour long episode is appropriately divided throughout Alexandria and even beyond the walls. Its location to location balance is impressive but so is its emotional balance. No Way Out is shocking and sad while at the same time packs a few light-hearted and even humorous moments. It's The Walking Dead in its full stride.
This is the episode we have been waiting for.
Nicotero's make-up team must have gotten some serious over time with this episode. We thought we had seen a lot of walkers on this show but that was before 6x09. The streets are flooded with walkers and each one plays a part in making the episode genuinely terrifying. Accompanying the brilliant effects work with Bear McCreary's intense music really amplifies the emotional spectrum here.
Then, there's the acting. It's one thing when cast members get a script that allows them a moment to shine and it's another when they capitalize on it. No Way Out is an episode that truly allows several cast members to show off their acting chops and they truly knock it out of the park, especially Andrew Lincoln and Merritt Wever. Considering Wever's Denise Cloyd was last seen being held captive by the last remaining Wolf, she is given an opportunity to do something other than panic and she conveys those choices and emotions exactly how she needs in order to grab viewer attention.
Beyond that, it's difficult to explain why this episode is so great without offering up any unwelcome spoilers and this is certainly an episode which should be watched spoiler-free. To put it into perspective, the episode packs similar emotion and range to the season two midseason finale. It's one of the best, most-shocking episodes of The Walking Dead in the post-Jon Bernthal era. Like the zombies of The Walking Dead's world, we get our fix of bloodshed and the taste leaves us ready for more.
Bottom Line: The Walking Dead's midseason premiere remembers why fans fell in love with the show and showcases each of those reasons in its return. 9.4/10