The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one A New Beginning Review: A Return to Form?

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Coming into The Walking Dead season nine, I have felt like this was the season that would return the show to its former glory or doom it forever.
The series has been in a slow decline ever since season six that it all culminated in the disastrous decision to kill off Carl.
However, season nine opens on the A New Beginning story arc, which gave the comics a new and fresh feel to it that made the already great comic even better.
So, even with Andrew Lincoln, and possibly Lauren Cohan, leaving the show, season nine could pull The Walking Dead out of the drain it has slowly been circling.
For this season they even changed showrunners, moving Scott Gimple over to Fear The Walking Dead and, given how terrible that show has become since he started working there, I think it is good he no longer holds that position for the main show.
Angela Kang has replaced Scott Gimple as showrunner for season nine and if episode one, “A New Beginning”, is any indication then she was definitely the right choice.
Written by Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero, “A New Beginning” felt incredibly different from the last two seasons in the best of ways.
It had great writing, acting and pacing, which, looking back on season seven and eight, were features that were sorely lacking.
It even had a new title sequence, which was well done and different compared to what we have seen previously.
If the other episodes of season nine play out like this then this season may be a return to form for the series that gets me fully invested in it again.
There are no guarantees though, especially with two of the main characters leaving this season, but I remain optimistic based on this episode.
“A New Beginning” was a great start to the season that has me intrigued for what the rest of it holds.

Spoiler Review:

Now to get into the specifics.
“A New Beginning” starts off with a time jump, being a few years after the war ended Rick and the communities are working together to help get the Sanctuary back on its feet.
Numerous things are revealed in this opening half hour, like many of the Saviours still want Negan to return, Daryl has taken over Dwight’s comic storyline by being leader of the Sanctuary, and Carol and Ezekiel have got together.
This leads to a both sweet and humorous scene where Ezekiel proposes to Carol after a close call.
This close call was at a museum where Anne (Jadis’ real name) remembered there was gear that could help the Saviours with their crops.
There were many interesting character interactions and events during this mission, including Siddiq being attacked by a Walker.
I loved this moment because it made Walkers scary again, which was once again something that has been lacking in the past few seasons.
The threat the Walkers pose is truly established when, in a freak accident, one of them bites and kills a survivor from the Hilltop named Ken.
We just met Ken this episode so his death does not really mean anything on an emotional level.
Rather, it is the impact of his death that truly delivers, both emotionally and for the story.
We get to see his parents’ reaction to his death and both actors playing these characters do a tremendous job of getting their grief across, which really made me feel for them.
Story wise, Ken’s death also has huge implications because it leads to Gregory manipulating the boy’s father to try and kill Maggie.
I was very surprised by this turn of events because Gregory’s attempt on Maggie’s life does not come until much later in the comics, but it was a nice surprise.
This lead to Gregory’s comic book death when is hanged for his crimes on Maggie’s orders, showing Rick that she is planning on doing things differently and subtly shaming him for sparing Negan.
This was a great continuation on the weak cliffhanger from season eight that hinted at Maggie, Daryl and Jesus going against Rick because its set up numerous debates and conflicts that were not present at this stage in the comics.
Along with all this, I liked what the episode did with its characters, primarily Daryl.
For the past three seasons I feel that Daryl has been a very weak character with little to no character development and because of this, when it was announced that Rick would be killed off, I had no confidence in Daryl taking over as the lead.
After this episode, however, I can say that, if he continues on this track, Daryl may actually be able to take over from Rick.
Daryl got development in this episode that made me like him a lot more.
On top of this, the dialogue and acting during these character development scenes was much better than seasons seven and eight, along with the pacing.
“A New Beginning” is, in my opinion, miles better than what we got in season seven and eight, and if the show continues like this then it may actually redeem itself.

 

Predictions:

  1. Ezekiel and Carol’s interactions have me worried because Carol seems to be taking the path comic Michonne did by leaving Ezekiel. All of this points towards (Warning: Potential Spoilers!) Ezekiel being killed by the Whisperers, just like he was in the comics, and Carol regretting leaving him.
  2. It looks like we will see Negan in his prison next episode, which I am very interested in. While I am disappointed we will not get to see him interact with Carl again, it will be interesting to see how he and Rick’s conversations play out.

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