Those in his inner circle see Rick as a strong, yet fair leader. Outsiders however see Rick as a deadly threat. Which one is he? The Season 6 premiere posed that question to viewers in between black and white flashbacks and the full-color, present-day narrative.
The premiere “First Time Again” picks up where the Season 5 finale left off and focuses on everyone’s feelings about Rick.
Rick’s posse is on automatic. They’ve seen murderers and zombies put down many, many times before, and they are certain that Rick did what needed to be done when he killed Pete.
The Alexandria community, on the other hand, is rattled. For all his faults, Pete was a long-standing member of their community. Rick is not.
The audience is stuck in the middle with Morgan, the survivalist that first taught Rick about the walkers. We, like Morgan, are looking at Rick for glimmers of the man we know and love.
Rick doesn’t make that easy though. Everything he says and does can be taken the wrong way.
Consider his first words of the episode.
Against a black screen, Rick’s statements sound sinister: ““I know this sounds insane. This is an insane world. We have to come for them before them come for us”
What does Rick mean? Is he talking about killing Deanna and her loyalists? Is he going take control of Alexandria Governor style?
Then the full color scene comes into view and we realize he means eliminating the massive hoard of undead waiting just beyond Alexandria’s city limits. He’s trying to protect Alexandria.
But what about how he admonishes Ron for walking in the woods and almost getting eaten? “You’re coming back with us. Don’t make it hard” Or what? You’re going to shoot him like you did his father Pete?
But then Rick has a moment of fatherly remorse and buries Pete rather than just dumping his body.
Or how about his confrontation with Carter?
Carter, one Alexandria’s wall builders, doesn’t trust Rick and tries to form an uprising against him. His plan is ruined when Rick walks in the room. Rick takes away his gun and points it at Carter head. Rick doesn’t pull the trigger but admits to Morgan that he wanted to.
Just when it seems like Rick is a good guy, he orders Carter to guard a section of the woods where he is bitten in the face by zombies. Rick stabs in him in the head to quiet his screams. Did Rick set him up to die? If so, then he is truly evil.
By the end of the episode, it is evident that the leader that we love could be secretly plotting to take over Alexandria. (Carol certainly thinks so.)
The season (and Rick) can go anywhere from here.