And still. “Always Accountable” felt like a success by any standard, because it moved the current story along, while effectively teasing the possibility of a new future arc. It was a pleasure being confused about this new dystopian society—Who are they? What do they want? How are they different from Woodbury or Terminus or Alexandria? Will Wayne be the new Governor? Even after a second watch, I didn’t have a reasonable grasp of who they are, but I’m fine with waiting until after the midseason break to find out. With the winter finale approaching, there are still plenty of threads to address. The next two episodes will likely deal with a Glenn rescue effort, maybe another encounter with the Wolves, or some conflict involving Carl and Ron, or a Morgan crisis. But it’s unlikely we’ll see a repeat of “Now,” because “Always Accountable” finally raised the stakes again.
Sims: I want to begin with some larger praise on this half-season: It’s now clear that, outside of Morgan’s flashback, all eight episodes are going to revolve around Rick’s plan to clear the zombie pit and how it went wrong. I’m amazed at how well the show has stretched out this plot, a gambit that has failed in the past, and is using it to serve both as a referendum on Rick’s leadership skills and an exploration of the wider world around Alexandria. Abraham and Sasha don’t have the most compelling character arcs, and like you, I felt a little derisive of Abraham’s “big moment” with the RPG-zombie, which was some poorly manufactured tension. But I nonetheless enjoyed spending half of the episode with them—something I wouldn’t have said about the lower players in this show’s ensemble just a couple of years ago. Watching Abraham squeeze into an ill-fitting military uniform made up for any other false dramatic notes.
I’m even more interested, though, in the seeds this episode is planting for the show’s future. The easiest route for The Walking Dead post-zombie horde attack/Wolves ambush would be for the gang to move somewhere else. Alexandria was a fascinating setting, but now that it’s a smoldering ruin, perhaps it’s time to move on to whatever strange new location lies on the horizon. But now that we’ve met these strangers who Daryl tangled with, so intent on refusing to “kneel” to some unnamed tyrant, I think we’re staying put. The Walking Dead is doing some serious world-building, and it’s putting out breadcrumbs while the gang tries to solve this crisis. The zombie horde will be dispatched somehow, but with the arrival of the Wolves, and now this other threat, it turns out they were the least of Rick’s worries.
This episode was also another indictment of Rick’s “drive the zombies 20 miles down the road and leave them there” strategy—yes, that means the pit horde is not Alexandria’s problem, but it’s going to be someone else’s, and Rick seems surprisingly ignorant of the concept that there might be other communities forging their own ways nearby. I hope that the rest of season six sticks to this and opens up the world around Alexandria more. As the post-apocalypse enters into its next phase, things should feel more lived-in, and settled communities might have to interact with each other more formally. So far, almost every big location in The Walking Dead—Hershel’s farm, Terminus, Slabtown, Alexandria—has been a closed system, an enclave fighting for its own survival. Maybe there’s more drama to be wrung from watching communities fight and negotiate with each other for survival (like the arc with the prison and Woodbury).