After a few seasons of The Walking Dead, I began to get antsy about when Rick and the survivors would ever leave Atlanta, let alone Georgia.
It wasn’t until The Walking Dead Season 5 that the group finally headed somewhere new, somewhere out of state, winding up in their current locale of Alexandria.
But as this first few episodes of the back half of The Walking Dead Season 6 have shown, the series is really working on going out even further and exploring multiple places outside of the one safe haven that Rick and company have tried to maintain.
It’s an exciting notion that hopefully helps break up the rinse and repeat process of finding a home and then watching it all come crumbling down again and again.
There’s been a definite shift after the last stand on The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 9, and Rick’s new world outlook has certainly helped in branching out beyond Alexandria.
In fact, Rick was willing to go check out the Hilltop colony on The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 11 after only just meeting Jesus, who continually got out of being tied up. After everything he and his group have been through, you’d think Rick would reject the idea, but it’s a positive spin for his character.
He’s hopeful without being naive.
There was a real anticipation in even heading out to see Jesus’ group and place, especially not knowing if Jesus was a good guy or if he was associated with the mysterious Negan.
But in finally getting to the place, meeting with Gregory, talking about making trades, and learning about the deal with Negan and the Saviors, it really added to that world building.
Things slowed even more down when the group got to the Hilltop, but it still felt like there was progression. We really got a good sense of who Gregory was and of his group, that Negan’s got a bad group, and Rick and his crew seem pretty capable of laying some dominance.
After all, they handled things pretty quickly after Negan’s message was delivered. And did anyone laugh after Rick was covered in blood and gave that “What?” line like he did anything other than what was normal?
You just don’t mess with Rick’s group, that’s for sure.
It makes for the confrontation with Negan that much more exciting. He’s not going to be happy when another crew is stepping on his turf and trying to take over.
It also was fantastic that there weren’t any stupid moments when it came to dealing with walkers. It was such a relief to see Rick and his crew efficiently sweep that house for zombies and rescue the people.
Plus, I was pleased that the RV getting stuck didn’t turn into a ridiculous moment just so walkers could attack to try and scare up some drama for the episode.
And while Maggie coming along for the ride seemed like the wrong move (why bring the pregnant girl on the first trip when everything is unknown and it could all go sideways?), she definitely stepped up in her negotiations. I was even taken aback by her demanding half and getting the upper hand in the situation.
It does make me wonder how amicable the relationship between Hilltop and Alexandria will be in the future. For now, a deal has been made, but Gregory seems like the type of guy who’d be perfectly fine making a deal with another group to get Rick and the others out of his way.
If anything, this episode, in addition to heading down its new road and doing a decent job of setting up what’s next, it really did offer a hopeful future.
From the agreement with Hilltop to Rick and Michonne’s new relationship to seeing Maggie and Glenn’s baby (really, though, how coincidental is it that an obstetrician with an ultrasound machine just happens to be at Hilltop?), there just seems to be a light in all the darkness that has fallen on the world.
I just can’t help but feel though that something really bad is going to happen and that Maggie and that unborn baby might not be around that much longer. I want to be hopeful, too, but when it comes to The Walking Dead, death and chaos is bound to come knocking on the door again.
Do you trust Jesus? Who is the next character to get killed off? Is Rick's group ready to face Negan? Sound off below, and stay caught up when you watch The Walking Dead online now.
NOTE: The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 12 airs March 6 at 9 p.m.
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.