The Walking Dead is back with a vengeance! The outstanding fifth season premiere delivers on all fronts: the fate of the Terminus prisoners comes to a head, the butchers become the slaughtered and a heart warming reunion caps off the episode.
Continue reading for a spoiler filled recap and reaction to The Walking Dead Season 5 Premiere entitled “No Sanctuary”.
One of the best things about the premiere is how polished everything is. If the premiere is a good indication, after four seasons the show has ironed out the problematic elements that have mired it in the past. A valid critique is the slow burn of the earlier part of previous seasons. Instead of dragging on the Terminus story line for a few more episodes, it gets resolved in a quick and satisfying manner.
While the tone of the series has been consistent, last season’s episode format was not. On one hand there is a well-founded argument that the fragmented character centric approach to the second half of season four is its strength but at the same time a more cohesive, streamlined approach to the storytelling is the right direction moving forward. Characters have evolved and become stronger as individuals, now they are ready to face bigger, deadlier threats together as a group.
The Butcher Or The Cattle
Maybe because it’s been a long time since The Walking Dead aired a new episode but the opening slaughter-fest is as suspenseful and horrific of a scene in recent memory. Sure, the Governor mowed down his own people in a maniacal rage; however, this was disturbing on a different level. A part of it is because it’s just another day on the job for these butchers, they see Rick’s gang not as fellow human beings but as meat. It’s an execution disassembly line where the butchers don’t even have to mop up the blood because it all goes neatly down the trough’s drain. How very convenient!
The “Hunt or be Hunted” thematic tagline of the season is present in almost every scene including Tyreese’s. Tyreese’s state of mind is reminiscent of Rick at the beginning of season four when he traded in his gun for a farmer’s hoe. It’s understandable after everything Tyreese has experienced to be reluctant to kill again, yet it’s that very thinking that could get himself and Judith killed. If this was a previous season, this could have been a character arc for Tyreese to get back to beast mode, thankfully the writers have quickly resolved it. Tyreese’s back story before the apocalypse is shrouded in mystery, he could have been a football player or perhaps a MMA fighter by the look of that ferocious double leg take down and face pounding.
It’s Not Over Till They’re All Dead
Among so many memorable moments, Carol stole the episode. Her Rambo-like badassery is on full display here and to think she could have been killed off a couple of season ago and most fans wouldn’t have cared. Carol is the female character that the writers intended Andrea to be. She’s become a sniper, she thinks fast on her feet and is a good bullsh*t detector by dismissing all the lies the prisoner told her.
Fans who predicted that Carol would come in guns blazing to the save the Terminus prisoners are on the money. More importantly though, Carol is brought back into the fold and in a swift act of heroism she’s also back in Rick’s good graces. It’s been a long time since she was banished, making her reunion with Daryl very touching.
Reuniting with an alive and well baby Judith isn’t likely going to soften Rick’s ‘kill or be killed’ position. In a post apocalyptic zombie world, unless you’re an apex predator, you’re part of the food chain. Like Rick, that’s a harsh lesson the Terminus people have learned for themselves.
The opening flashback is a little perplexing at first but it made more sense after Mary’s (the lady that Carol shot in the leg) speech. “Hunt or be Hunted” is a cause and effect repeating cycle. The Terminites were originally good people but have become what their captors turned them into. This is literally shown when the crazy bearded guy that Rick let out of the holding container turns out to be the same guy who beat on Gareth and took the girl away in the final flashback.
“No Sanctuary” comes out of the opening gate strong and swinging. There’s a great mix of action, genuine suspense and storyline resolution. Most of all, the premiere felt incredibly satisfying and leaves me excited for the next episode.
What do you like about the season premiere and is there anything that disappointed you? Are you happy the Terminus storyline got wrapped up quickly or did you want to learn more about them? Where’s Beth and are you excited for the return of Morgan?