Fantastic acting on the part of Lauren Cohan in the prologue. As well as the very emotive acting from Cohan, I thought that the directing was great in this scene. The cold opening was a close-up shot of Maggie’s face as she mourns the loss of her sister. However we dwell on this for but an instant until we hear a walker stumbling towards us in the distance. The cruelty of this world they inhabit is that they are barely given a second to mourn the loss of their loved ones before they have to deal with the next threat. These people are constantly in danger, so much so that they have become desensitized to the presence of the flesh-eating undead. Which is why in this scene Maggie doesn’t run or spring into action, she just gets up, allowing the walker to get stuck before calmly taking out her knife and stabbing it in the head. She didn’t know the zombie would get stuck, it could easily have killed her but at this point she doesn’t care because all of her family except her husband are dead. There was so much to this scene, it was fantastic.
This episode was full of little conversations and interactions between the characters on their long journey on-foot. Gabriel and Maggie’s in particular was very well written. Daryl and Carol’s interactions are always really engaging and provoke emotions, they are often the heart of the show. There were some clever techniques used in this episode to make the viewer feel like they too were dehydrated, hungry and weak. For example there was a clever use of blur. In certain scenes there were POV shots where a character is looking at someone else and the character in frame is surrounded by fuzz. It simulates dehydration and hunger taking its toll really well.
The beginning of the storm was an incredible scene, things looked pretty grim as they had been walking for miles on food with no food or water. Some unknown source had left the, bottled water with a not saying: “From a friend”. The group decided it wasn’t safe to drink, it may not be from a friend. This care package was of course another teaser to the appearance of colonies and communities. Rick’s story about his grandfather that he told around the camp fire in the barn was amazing writing. That whole moment was some of the most engaging writing in the series so far, the story itself was very deep and interesting but what was best about it was that it worked into Rick finally saying the phrase: “We are the walking dead”. This line was from the comics, fans of both the TV show and the comic have been waiting a long time to hear Andrew Lincoln say the immortal words.
The way the storm killed the zombies was really cool. The aftermath was an incredible set piece with walkers high up impaled on the highest branches of a tree. The final scene of this episode set up the big story to come, which of course is the appearance of communities. The emergence of a man called Aaron who approaches groups and invites them to his safe place to join his people is something lifted from the comics. What follows is a huge turn in the story in which more communities come into the fold, it becomes clear that there are a number of communities close to each other including one that extorts the others led by an evil man named Negan. I talked about where the show could go next based on what happens in the comics in this article I wrote for ihorror: http://ihorror.com/walking-dead-follow-comics-groups-reach-dc/