This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS for the episode to be discussed, if you do not want certain plot points or story spoilt, please do not read further.
With the events of the mid season finale of The Walking Dead putting every single character with the exception of Enid and Glenn in life threatening danger (it's nice to see Glenn as the relatively safe guy for once), 'No Way Out' was set to be big and have at least one loss, boy did they deliver and then some.
The episode opens with Daryl, Abraham and Sasha confronted by the Saviours, the men who follow Negan (a name every Walking Dead reader knows and has eagerly been waiting for), and held at gunpoint. With several armed men facing them and no backup it was one of those situations that deep down we knew the trio would get out of, but the question was how.
Not knowing how our survivors could possibly overpower half a dozen men with assault rifles and pistols and having to listen to Christopher Berry give his chilling yet also friendly monologue ramped up the tension.
When Daryl gets led to the back of the truck we all kind of knew that he'd over power the man he was with, but how was he going to save the others. Well, the answer was an explosive one, Rocket Launcher. The moment when the Saviour exploded in a shower of fire and body parts was both surprising and almost laugh out loud funny.
Whilst it might have been satisfying to see the Saviours so quickly killed their deaths are surely going to be remembered by Negan, and if he wants revenge for their loss, surely Daryl becomes a target for his anger. Is this the show setting up a reason for Negan killing off Daryl in the season finale?
Back in Alexandria the tension is even higher as we rejoin Rick, Carl, Michone, Gabriel, Judith and the Anderson family as they try to sneak their way through the hordes of zombies that have over run the town.
Their plan, to cover themselves in blood and guts and blend into the horde, is a good one, and we've seen it work in the past, unfortunately the plan is only as strong as the people involved and Sam was never going to be strong enough to deal with everything that they were facing.
Being surrounded by walkers finally gets too much for the kid and he starts to break down, unable to keep going. Jessie desperately tries to get him to hold it together but it all proves to be too little too late as the dead tear into him, eating him alive in front of the others. Jessie screams out and is overrun by walkers too, leaving Rick to try and break Carl free of her death grip before he's taken too.
Rick manages to hack Jessie's hand off in order to save his son, but are confronted by Ron, who brings a gun to bear on them. It's not surprising that Ron finally snapped like this, he's been blaming Rick for the death of his father all season, and now Rick's plan ended with the rest of the boys family killed in front of him.
Before he can shoot Rick though Michone impales him on her sword and leaves him for dead. As she stabs him, however, the gun goes off and he hits Carl in the face, blowing his right eye apart. Fans of the comics knew that this was coming, we've been waiting for it for a while now and have pretty much been expecting it every time Ron approaches him with a gun. With two fake out moments already this season Carl's time was up.
The moment was not only a great treat for comic fans, but played out brilliantly as Rick has to watch his potential new family wiped out one after another (he kept saying he had no designs on Jessie, but we all know he wanted to be in a relationship with her) and the effect was brilliant.
After managing to get Carl to safety and medical help Rick loses it completely and walks out into the street on his own in one of the ballsiest and most stupid moments in the shows history. Amazingly though it pays off, as his lone stand against the entire horde actually manages to rally the citizens of Alexandria to come out and fight alongside him, even Father Gabriel and Eugine take up arms to help.
It's a moment that comes close to feeling cheesy and over dramatic, but manages to hold itself back from going all of the way, instead playing out effectively as a great coming together moment for Ricks group and the Alexandrina's. It bonds the two groups together like they've not had to before, and goes a long way to proving to Rick that maybe the Alexandrians aren't quite as babied and useless as he first thought. Though that could also have something to do with having lost those more coddled members of the town to the Wolf attack and the walker horde already.
A lot of characters get a moment to shine this week, with Glenn managing to save Maggie, and barely surviving by the skin of his teeth AGAIN! Abraham gets to turn up at the last minute and deliver a cheesy one liner. Daryl gets to shoot a rocket launcher not once but twice. Even Denise gets to shine as she not only manages to talk the Wolf around to becoming a more noble man (until Carol kills him that is) but she steps up in her role as medic in order to save Carl with a confidence and authority we've not seen in the character before.
The show runners promised us an exciting second half to the season, comparing it to feeling like an action movie. If the opening episode is anything to go by then hopefully they're right, as The Walking Dead has a habit of feeling slow and stale at times. Hopefully this episode if setting the tone for things to come.