Formerly sheltered residents of the Alexandria Safe-Zone valiantly defend their walled enclave against a zombie invasion on “No Way Out” (Episode 609), the midseason premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
This especially bloody installment begins with a bang, literally, when bikers belonging to a vicious group known as the Saviors waylay Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) as they drive a tanker truck toward Alexandria.
When Abraham dares question his captors about their mysterious leader, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), one robber (Christopher Berry) draws his guns.
Suddenly Daryl emerges from behind the truck with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and calmly reduces the bikers to charred corpses.
Back in Alexandria, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his companions are covered in disgusting, smelly “walker” entrails so they can silently move through the zombie herd undetected and retrieve vehicles at a nearby quarry.
But when traumatized youngster Sam Anderson (Major Dodson) starts crying uncontrollably, he’s quickly set upon by undead predators. Sam’s mother, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), is the next to fall as she screams in horror.
Amid the chaos, Jessie’s eldest son, Ron (Austin Abrams), grabs a gun and attempts to avenge the death of his father, Pete (Corey Brill), who was summarily executed by Rick in the Season 5 finale. Just as Rick is about to be shot, however, Michonne (Danai Gurira) plunges her katana into Ron’s back.
With that, the Anderson family is no more.
As Ron collapses, a stray bullet from his pistol strikes Rick’s son Carl (Chandler Riggs) in the face, causing a potentially lethal wound. Psychiatrist and reluctant surgeon Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) soon steps up and apparently saves Carl’s life but probably not his right eye.
Also displaying her bravery during the siege is Enid (Katelyn Nacon), a cynical teenager whose parents succumbed to zombies. When Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) strikes out to rescue his pregnant wife, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), who’s trapped on a rickety guard tower surrounded by walkers, Enid refuses to stay behind.
“Let’s get Maggie,” Enid insists. And they do.
Next to step up is Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam), who protected Rick’s baby, Judith, from the flesh eaters. Now Gabriel prepares to join Rick and the other Alexandrians in a perilous battle against the walkers.
“We’ve been praying, together, praying that God will save our town,” Gabriel says. “And our prayers have been answered. God will save Alexandria because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves!”
Even phobic Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) enters the fray, despite a warning from Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) to remain on the sidelines.
“No one gets to clock out today,” exclaims Eugene, machete in hand. “And hell, this is a story people are gonna tell!”
Quite a story indeed and one that nearly ends with Alexandria’s demise. Fortunately for the badly outnumbered residents, Daryl arrives with the tanker truck, sprays gasoline into a pond and fires his RPG. Boom!
Now the walkers are inexorably drawn away from the humans and into the flames. This means the veteran zombie fighters and previously untested Alexandrians all see another sunrise.
“I was wrong,” Rick whispers to bandaged, unconscious Carl. “I thought after living behind these walls for so long that maybe they couldn’t learn. But today I saw what they could do, what we could do if we work together!”
Then Rick pleads for his son to recover from surgery.
“I want to show you the new world, Carl,” Rick tearfully says. “I want to make it a reality for you. Please, Carl, let me show you!”