So my predictions are halfway skewed because Rick was never banished from Alexandria, but the endgame is in effect—Rick is now in total control of Alexandria. The first half of The Walking Dead season six ends with Rick organizing an effort to save Alexandria after zombies overrun the city because the Alexandrians are really bad at Jenga. Also, Glenn sees some decayed cakes in what is the saddest scene this show has ever put together. No death has been more meaningful than the sight of those blackened, dusty cakes. It’s like the whole world has become Miss Havisham’s parlor.

This is a terrible mid-season finale—maybe the worst in show history—with no sense of urgency despite a horde of presumably thousands of zombies barging into Alexandria. Glenn’s non-death underlines that for the time being, no major characters are in real jeopardy, and indeed, the only significant death in episodes 5-8 ends up being Deanna, and who really cares about her? She’s been ceding ground to Rick ever since the season premiere, and she’s already shown herself to be a craven kind of leader, incapable of fighting and actively defending her home. Her death is merely a formality, removing the last obstacle to Rick’s total and complete control of Alexandria.

The Ricktator is back and Alexandria has basically become the Prison 2.0, with Rick & Co. trying to defend a would-be haven from zombies and outside threats, all while having the same conversation about whether or not it’s actually possible to build a future in this world, and what kind of world are they living in, anyway? There are a lot of dumb conversations between characters that feel like killing time until the next zombie attack. Even the confrontation between Carol and Morgan over the Wolf that Morgan spared falls flat—we’ve seen this argument half a dozen times before. Kindness kills—unless your name is Glenn—so OF COURSE the Wolf gets loose and takes the town doctor as his hostage. We don’t get to see how this plays out, but it’s clear that despite his ultra-Zen cool Morgan’s world view is unsustainable. Of course, we’ve known that all along, but it’s frustrating the writers can’t—or won’t—find a viable alternative to Rick’s leadership.

Another wasted opportunity to shake up the status qup comes from Jessie’s older son, who clearly wants to murder Rick and Carl. Naturally, Rick teaches the kid how to use a gun, except he can’t go through with it because as we’ve already seen a hundred times before, the Alexandrians aren’t capable of anything and also, Rick is NEVER in any real peril. As much as I do love Carl saying, “My dad killed your dad, but your dad was an asshole,” nothing about this plot point changes the course of the show. These moments happen and then they end without anything actually developing from them (see also: Glenn’s “death”). It makes the show feel inert, since we know the status quo will be maintained.

There are some nice moments sprinkled throughout, like the decayed cakes and a suitably tense stand-off in the woods between Daryl and some people he’s trying to help, but they’re not enough to build momentum for more than one episode at a time. The Daryl-centric episode is the best one of this bunch, thanks largely to the mysterious people hunting him in the woods. Undoubtedly they’re part of Negan’s crew, and having real antagonists on screen immediately enlivens the show. The first half of this season has lacked true antagonism—I thought Deanna and Rick would fight for control of Alexandria, but Deanna handed him the town on a silver platter. Maybe the arrival of Negan in the back half of the season will be enough to jar The Walking Dead out of its rut.

Predictions Update

Rick will eventually be kicked out of Alexandria
Carl will stay behind, because he is the worst
Deanna will turn out to be another Governor type
• Someone from GREATM will die
• Maggie and/or Glenn will die
• Sasha will die because no one knows what to do with her
• Carl will not die, because we are not that lucky
• Daryl and/or Glenn and/or Maggie will end up alone outside the walls with the Wolves to provide a season-long B plot – CHECK (DARYL)
• The Wolves will attack Alexandria, and the group will beg Rick to come back and save them – CHECK
• Rick will come back and be restored as the Ricktator – CHECK
• Despite moving to Virginia, the settings will continue to look suspiciously like the same woods in Georgia – CHECK