It hasn't been that long since The Walking Dead wandered into the dark recesses of its annual hiatus, marking the halfway point of its 16-episode seasons. Despite the recycling machine of cliffhangers and zombie camouflage that comprised much of the midseason finale, the promise of discovering what fresh (or not so fresh, as the case may be) terror is waiting for Rick and the other survivors when the series returns remains as alluring as ever. And now, the first trailer for the 2016 return of the series emphasizes the tricky predicaments in which various characters find themselves.
As fans recall, Rick and a handful of Alexandrians wandered into the streets of their once-peaceful community (pre-Rick Grimes, anyway) wearing bloody ponchos to facilitate their journey to the armory. With the help of Rick's suitably solemn voiceover, the trailer makes a point of underlining this particular dilemma and the stakes that come along with it; namely, the lives of those who were lucky enough to escape the great zombie herd, and the continued viability of the community itself. "I thought living behind these walls was possible. I was wrong," Rick says.
Perhaps because Rick was wrong, the trailer offers a glimpse of him and a few others fighting off some walkers, though noticeably without the aid of his gore-treated poncho. This raises a lot of questions as to the efficacy of their camo and whether or not the absence of some familiar faces – last seen waiting to be led into a crowd of the undead – means the once trustworthy subterfuge failed, or if Rick just got hot swinging hatchets and blunt objects under so many layers of undead guts.
Whatever the specific circumstances of Rick's ongoing war with the living impaired, the trailer also manages to check in with Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl, as they are given a quick lesson as to who owns what in this new world. As the trio was told in the prologue to the second half of the season, "Your property now belongs to Negan." The glimpse doesn't offer much in the way of new Negan details – no sign of Jeffrey Dean Morgan at least – but it certainly works to remind viewers that the bat-swinging alpha-male antagonist will be making an appearance sooner rather than later.
Perhaps the most ominous statement comes from Glenn, who had the misfortune of being part of an ill-fated bait-and-switch in the first half of season 6, and his remembering-the-dead dialogue here doesn't exactly sound like he's expecting there to be good times ahead. Things certainly look bad for everyone – especially Maggie who is particularly agitated by something occurring off screen, so let's start the speculation engine – but it wouldn't be The Walking Dead without characters finding themselves in barely survivable situations, now would it?
The second half of season 6 has some catching up to do in terms of generating excitement and getting the characters to a more propulsive place in terms of progressing the show's plot. Hopefully, that will come in the form of resolution to the cliffhangers set up in the final moments of the midseason finale. Even if those come up short, fans still have the eventual introduction of Negan to look forward to, as well as at least one familiar face from the comics in Tom Payne's Jesus character.
At this point, the only problem is that fans will have to wait until the very romantic date of Valentine's Day 2016 for television's #1 show to return in all its blood-drenched glory.
The Walking Dead returns with 'No Way Out' on Sunday, February 14 @9pm on AMC.