Ever since offing the Governor midway through Season 4, The Walking Dead has felt like a show at odds with itself, trying its best to work out exactly what kind of series it is. It doesn’t quite find that answer in Season 6, but it does at least feel like it’s heading in the right direction.
Sure, the cliffhangers might drag on and on (Glenn’s fate, for example, didn’t need to have that many episodes postponing the resolution), and some of the best characters don’t get as much screentime as they should (Daryl in particular is inexplicably underused), but at other times it makes sense. With the disastrous walker-removing manoeuver at the start of the season ensuring that tension was rife for the next eight or so episodes, it would appear that this particular decision was correct. Sure, the series mainstays remained alive, but that’s all about to change.
Aptly, that brings us onto Negan Having been teased for half a season, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s debut hits the mark in every possible way: cheerful, charismatic and utterly unhinged, he’s what we’ve been waiting for.
Moreover, his presence comes about after a prolonged period of calm, managing to be unexpected and sudden in the manner that The Walking Dead always used to be. There was even a point where we’d convinced ourself that Negan was a collective term, and that his apparent return was going to be one big fake-out. Once again, we were badly mistaken.
Paired up with some top moments of fan service (Daryl’s bazooka-assisted dispatch of a group of Saviours being one, and the debut of apparently semi-professional escapologist Paul ‘Jesus’ Monroe another), and you have a season that meanders around, but is rarely boring, which we haven’t always been able to say for The Walking Dead. But we can now.