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Published on November 26th, 2015 | by Bean

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The Walking Dead Review – Season 6 Episode 7 “Heads Up”

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WARNING! SPOILERS!!

As the mid-season hiatus of The Walking Dead looms, the disparate strands of it’s sixth season’s narrative start to draw together, with all roads leading back to Alexandria. At this stage of proceedings, the community of greenhorns at the show’s interim home are a fairly tedious bunch, even to some of our major characters, as Rick’s obvious desire to distance himself from them attests. These weren’t compelling personalities to begin with – the most engaging being Aaron, Denise and to a certain degree Deanna – and as their fortunes deteriorate, two distinct camps (keepers and wastrels) are emerging.

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For our heroes beyond the wall, we know where Sasha, Abraham and Daryl are, but Glen’s fate has been wafting in the fetid breeze for several episodes, something DVR Club brought up immediately after his apparent demise. “Heads Up” (a nice nod to what everybody does as they balloon-spot at the end of the episode) decides to conclude the suspenseful period with a reprieve for our favourite cheek-turning stalwart; with a slightly different camera angle the entrails being indelicately removed before Glen’s very eyes are clarified to be Nicholas’. Post-evisceration, Glen, plucky as always, manages to slide himself underneath the wheelie bin and build a barricade from dead walkers. Nothing if not resourceful, it’s a pleasing turn up to have reclaimed fallen brethren, and in such a hysterically well-earned fashion.

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

One of the show’s producers mentioned early on that Glen wouldn’t be the same this season, though if his performance this week is anything to go by, he seems only ever-so-slightly less shit-taking than before. The thoroughly sullen Enid pulls a gun on him, quite unreasonably even if she doesn’t fancy returning to Alexandria, and he still pursues the rescue-attempt. I’m not sure whether to be heartened or vexed that Glen’s hope for humanity persists just as doggedly since his last pet-project Nicholas’ terminal cowardice nearly got him disemboweled. I was mostly voicing bored dissent throughout the episode at Glen’s interactions with the petulant teenager (which quite possibly makes me a jaded nihilist), though I appreciated his hypothesis that ‘everybody has a job to do’. Here here.

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Which brings us back to those useless Alexandrians. Spencer excels at being an irritating twit once again, choosing to just botch together an idea to ‘help’ which nearly gets a bunch of people eaten, rather than bring his plan to Rick. Basic balls up. Pondering the point of this scene – did we really need another example of these people’s irreparable idiocy? – it seemed that the writer was hoping to point out that Rick is unapproachable, you know, ‘cause he’s such a badass.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

This doesn’t ring true, even when the sensible tall man (with not enough personality to warrant a name-learning) helps Rick ineffectually patch up the perimeter wall and explain that Rick’s terrifying prescient beard wigged them all out. Ok, there is a fairly cut-the-crap approach to things from Rick’s end, but part of his role as leader is listening to ideas and coming up with strategies. He gives Ron the benefit of the doubt later on in the episode, though it remains to be seen if that was as sage as it seemed. Still, would your idea have cut the mustard, Spencer? No. Because it was shit.

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Denise proves herself to be stepping firmly into the keeper pile of Alexandrians, as she sets up a nifty blackboard of mnemonics for her medical tutelage. FwoPPeRS! With her psychology background, she’s also aces at calling out behaviours, and gets Morgan to ‘fess up to his reason for repeatedly visiting the doc. Namely, because he’s keeping an injured ‘W’olf captive in a basement in Alexandria and wants to know how to treat the wounded’s boo-boo. Brilliant. It’s a testament to Lennie James’ gripping portrayal that such actions, whilst outrageous and infuriating, don’t make me hate the character.
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The scene with the elder council (oooh it felt all Game of Thrones) of Rick, Carol and Michonne hearing out Morgan’s pacifist position and discussing it’s operational difficulties during a zombie apocalypse is an important step for the dynamics between these characters; the team needs Morgan to understand the consequences of his inaction, just as he needs them to consider his brittle mental state. They reach an impasse, but Carol busting Morgan’s prisoner-of-war situation is very probably going to swing things dramatically out of balance, and necessarily so. Reavers gots to go.
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And scraping the bottom of the Alexandrian barrel is Jessie’s punk-ass eldest, Ron and his ongoing teen-sulk-off with Carl. During our last encounter with the brat, it seemed he was attempting to make amends for his shitty behaviour and lousy decisions. But in retrospect, was that really likely?! Rick did kill his (violent asshole) Dad, and Carl swooped in all lanky-young-Sam-Winchester and stole his girlfriend. The show makes a point of having Carl present during Ron’s gun-training with Rick, making ponderous and hackle-raising remarks while seeming helpful. It’s a nice touch, to keep their animosity going in a passive-aggressive way, but it seems Ron is planning to go straight for the jugular, as he stages a bullet-heist and stalks Carl. Showing just how unremittingly grim The Walking Dead is, it’s probably a stroke of luck that the walkers stave in the fence when they do, if only to avert a major character assassination, which after Glen’s revival looks distinctly likely.

Review by Nina Clark

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Director at Nina Clark Music / The Musical Walkabout at Nina Clark Music
Bean is the family nickname of Nina Clark, singer, songwriter and professional musician. Nina's many nerdly passions, aside from music, include Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead and all things Whedon. (re. GoT, she has NOT read the books, so please be cool - no spoilers!)
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