(This post contains spoilers.)
"Here to Help" starts with a black screen and a young voice silently whispering, "Don't be scared."
The darkness fades into a close-up of a gun, and then focuses on the bespectacled boy holding it. With the guidance of a boy a few years older than him, he shoots a deer and immediately catches a walker's attention. The older boy tries to shoot the zombie, fails, and is saved by the first of three important events in this episode.
A plane flies over the location, crashes into several trees, and creates a fiery landscape, aka the ultimate eye candy for walkers.
The zombie that tried to attack the boys has been cut in half by one of the trees. It crawls towards them slowly, and they run to the plane.
This scene was the first of many to stand out to me. It was interesting to see that group in the plane had already indirectly saved the boys from a gory death. Their good intentions were proving to be fruitful, yet the heartbreaking truth is that they were completely unaware of this. This indirect, heroic act sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
As more walkers hobble towards the plane crash, Alicia emerges out of the blue and saves the boys from yet another death.
"It's okay," she says. "We're here to help."
FTWD tends to change its intros in every episode to support the storyline. I love shows that do this because it makes it clear that they want every detail to make sense.
The 100 is another great example of that, though the creators change the opening title every season only. (Speaking of The 100, the intro music alone is worth drooling over.)
Some parts of the episode were much duller than others, and for understandable reasons, so I won't mention every detail.
To summarise, everyone on the plane (John, Althea, June, Luciana, and Morgan) survives. Luciana ends up with a metal pipe in her right shoulder. The boys try to help them and notice that Morgan keeps trying to get in touch with someone called Logan.
Althea tries to contact Strand and tells him to check out a specific tape that might help them get another plane. She finds her camera, gets attacked by a walker with a helmet, and throws it against a stake. Her camera quietly records everything in the process.
A truck comes out of nowhere and saves the group. The driver is the boys' sister, a fierce, grubby-faced girl with a very cynical outlook on life.
I love the group's reaction to this unexpected rescue.
But how did they get the plane in the first place? It seems like a lot of time has passed between last season's finale and this commotion.
As a hardcore fan of the show, I felt a little out of place while watching this and was hungry for more information. Maybe that was the point of this slightly messy storyline.
I wish they had shown the characters in the plane before the crash, even if for a moment. This would've helped us reconnect with the heart of the show, just like we would with friends we haven't seen in a while. Without this pre-crash introduction, some parts of the fighting felt a little too rushed and easy.
After the plane crash rescue, the group starts driving towards the place that this mysterious Logan character has told them about. Apparently, his home is surrounded by a horde of zombies and he has no way of surviving on his own.
It turns out that they're so desperate to help him because they haven't been able to rescue a single survivor between the finale and this moment. Everyone has either gone missing, ended up dead, or didn't need their help. Logan is the perfect chance for them to redeem themselves, even if a little, and add another helping hand to their team.
They arrive at a truck stop and put Luciana on a table. The children stand a few feet away, suspiciously eyeing the unexpected emptiness. Morgan tries to contact Logan.
During this unusually peaceful confusion, Dylan (the youngest of the boys) picks up a toy truck and asks Luciana what it's for.
"It gives people something to believe in."
"Why would people need toys?"
Here is a child that has barely known a pre-apocalyptic world. Weapons make more sense than toys. Danger is infinitely more familiar than having a good time.
What a beautiful way to highlight the downfalls of being a child during the apocalypse. In my opinion, this quiet scene was significantly more impactful than a more dramatic alternative.
(Speaking of young and fearless zombie killers, I'm so excited to see what The Walking Dead is going to do with its spinoff featuring the first generation after the apocalypse.)
The next scene features a man entering the very same denim factory that we saw in last season's finale. Kudos to the props and effects team for turning this building into something that feels both abandoned and homey.
Signs of the group are evident in every corner: beds neatly standing next to each other, probably waiting for a new owner to claim them; a list of movie requests; VHS tapes; and a disappointing list of potential survivors that couldn't make it.
Eventually, we find out that this man is none other than Logan, our mystery man.
He led the group as far away from the factory as possible so he could take back what was his. Turns out that he used to be the legal owner of the place before the apocalypse.
He throws their stuff out and says that he doesn't want to fight.
"You're trying to help other people. Well, now it's time to help yourselves," he says.
And it makes sense. It makes sense for people to go back to familiar places when everything else has collapsed. It makes sense for them to get rid of those standing in their way.
Logan is a nuisance because he's hindering our beloved characters' progress, but he's doing it peacefully. Compared to Negan's brutal way of expressing superiority, this seems almost friendly. I can't say I hate him for doing any of this. In fact, I'm grateful that he hasn't killed anyone.
I also understand the group's desperation. They built this home for others, and the only response they get is an ungrateful one.
In the meantime, Althea is looking through the footage of the plane crash. The walker with the helmet catches her attention. There's something undeniably intriguing about him, yet we can't quite put our fingers on what it is.
She tells Morgan that she needs to go back to that place, that the information might actually help them.
Meanwhile, Strand is watching the tape that Althea kept talking about during the crash. It seems like a typical interview filled with Al's persistent questions. And then the camera moves to show the interviewee.
All the trailers and teasers ruined the surprise, of course, but I was still delighted to see him. But how in the world did he survive that devastating explosion? What is he going to do when he inevitably finds out that Strand, one of his arch-enemies, is alive? Strand's reaction is priceless.
Before we can digest these news, we see Althea going back to the location. It's raining and she's on her own. Then she sees a symbol that, in my opinion, might be the most important turning point in this entire show for fans of TWD.
Three overlapping circles.
This was the symbol on the helicopters that Rick Grimes was taken away in. These are the people who use terms like A and B to categorise newcomers. Could Rick Grimes and his new group make an appearance here? While it's unlikely, given that he's busy with a plethora of films at the moment, it would be amazing to see him again.
Neither Al nor Morgan know about Rick's "death," so they wouldn't recognise the symbol. Regardless, Al sees potential in it, potential that might lead to another world, maybe a better one. Maybe this is how they could help themselves.
She connects with Morgan and excitedly tells him that there's a story here, that she was right.
Then someone zaps her, picks up her camera, and turns it around to reveal a face covered by a helmet, the same face that the overlapping circles seem to represent.
What a way to end the episode.
I'm very biased because I love anything related to the Walking Dead universe, but even I can look at this from an objective point of view and say that it's a promising start to a new chapter of FTWD.
The only thing I didn't like at all was the avalanche of spoilers that happened weeks before the premiere. I think the showrunners just needed to keep their viewers interested with new characters and threats. They did exactly the same thing by loudly declaring Andrew Lincoln's exit from The Walking Dead.
I really hope there aren't any unworthy deaths this season. Killing off both Madison and Nick in Season 4 was a terrible, terrible idea. Nick's death made sense since Frank Dillane wanted to move on, but killing off Madison just because it seemed like a worthy sacrifice was unnecessary.
I look forward to finding out more about this secretive community, and I can't wait to watch Episode 3, which was directed by Strand (played by Colman Domingo) himself.