“Yeah, they did!”
I could post that and only that, and it would sum up the debut, “No Sanctuary,” of the long-awaited Season 5 of The Walking Dead.
It refers to Rick’s much repeated, and criticized, line at the end of last season:
“They’re screwing with the wrong people!”
Now, if you’re a fan, you’ve probably seen what Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was supposed to say, but either way it gets the point across. The people of Terminus were definitely screwing/messing/f*cking with the wrong people.
Let me take a quick break here and tell you how I am doing this review. I reviewed Penny Dreadful‘s debut season, and usually watched each one while taking careful notes. When it comes to Penny Dreadful, you almost have to take notes. Sometimes I even rewatched certain scenes. But with this particular episode of The Walking Dead, I put my laptop down and decided to focus. Yep, FOCUS. No notes. Just me watching the show with The Husband. Rather than doing a play by play, I’ll give you my thoughts. So let’s get started.
DAMN! That was a season opener!
Okay. Done! No, not really.
Season five’s opening act shattered cable TV records as it became the most watched cable show of all time. No doubt people tuned in wanting to see if the folks of Terminus were the cannibals from the graphic novels. I personally wanted to see if Rick and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) get their mojo back.
To answer those questions:
Yes, they are. Yes, they did!
The Walking Dead isn’t bound by the same constraints as a show on the major networks, and it showed! That opening scene was intense, it was gory, and frankly, I found it horrifying. The blood gushing out of a slit throat – sure, I can handle that. But the uncertainty, wondering if Rick and his band of merry men were going to pull something out of their asses yet again. Well, it just made for a tense and well-done opening scene. That’s despite the fact that I wondered more than once if Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) were going to get to shower at some point this season. (Seriously? There is no Head & Shoulders out there? No Pantene? Herbal Essence? Something?!)
Anyway, the World Wide Web was all a twitter (HA! Did you see what I did there?) with Carol’s heroism, and it was well-deserved. Daryl Dixon’s best friend/lady love/surrogate mom came through for her friends, and though Rick chose to cast her out last season, she stepped up and gave us not only exploding zombies, but flaming zombies as well! There was something very disconcerting about watching zombies walk around on fire. Cool, but disconcerting.
Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the show.
Last season, something was killing the good guys. There was some sort of illness, a virus going around the prison – some died, some recovered. Carol found patient zero and decided to take matters into her own hands. She killed Tyreese’s girlfriend, Karen. Rick knew who did the deed, and rather than out her to everyone and risk dividing the survivors, he banished her from the group. That was that – not much was said, and people seemed to reluctantly accept Carol’s leaving. I liked the character, and though I was sad to see her go, I knew it wasn’t the last we would see of her.
Last season also saw the survivors in the prison separated after the Governor (Bastard! Still haven’t forgiven him for what he did! You know what I’m talking about…) attacked the prison. We found out that Tyreese somehow ended up with the three little girls (Lizzie, Mika, and baby Judith) and in a true time of need – there’s Carol. One of last year’s most shocking and heartbreaking episodes was “The Grove.” Not only does Carol confess to Tyreese that she was the one that killed Karen, but we learned that not everyone can handle what the world has become. I think this is where Tyreese started to loose it a bit – little girls shouldn’t be killers, and yet that’s what the world has come too.
Back to this episode, when Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese come upon a Terminus lackey, they hear him talking about “the samurai and the kid with the hat.”
They take the guy by surprise and offer:
“We’re friends of the samurai and the kid with the hat.”
I loved that line, and as they tied up the annoying douche, Carol prepares to do battle for her friends, because even though Rick banished her, she hasn’t forgotten where her loyalties lie. Carol leaves and Tyreese is left alone with Judith and Lackey Boy – who just won’t shut up! He blathers on and on that because Tyreese is the type of guy that would save a baby, he’s also the guy that’s going to die today. Eventually, the tiny hut is surrounded by walkers, and while Tyreese goes to the window to see exactly what’s going on, Lackey runs to the baby and holds her tiny head in his hands.
“Just one little twist, man.”
I was disgusted, and as a mother, honestly, for one moment, I was filled with rage. He makes Tyreese lay down his weapons and tells him to go outside. Not seeing any options, Tyreese leaves, because THAT’S the kind of guy he is – a man that would sacrifice himself for a child. And when that door flies open a little later, and The Big Man (as The Husband calls him) roars in, I had to give a little inner cheer, because he’s also the type of man to take down someone for threatening to kill a helpless baby. Yep, he got his mojo back.
I didn’t like seeing The Big Man beaten down, head held low, and I was happy to see him opening his eyes to the new world order – sometimes being a good man means doing what has to be done.
Back at Terminus we see just what kind of damage Carol has done. She blew up a fuel tank of some sort to create a distraction – and what a distraction it is!
“WHOA! Did you see that?” I asked The Husband, as zombie body parts literally flew out in all directions.
The zombies that weren’t reduced to spare parts picked themselves up – some smoking, some on fire – and descended on the compound.
The explosion was enough of a distraction to allow Rick and a few of the guys to get a reprieve from becoming part of the next Terminus Take-out buffet line. Rick saws through the zip tie around his wrists – with a wooden stake no less – and unleashes his wrath on the two butchers. Guess Rick got his Mojo back too. It was quick and brutal, and in this short scene we see exactly what the people of Terminus are. Lingering shots of the next meal, and then of bodies hung from meat hooks show us just how far these people have descended.
Their motto is clearly represented. “If you aren’t the butchers, you’re the cattle.”
Glen, Bob, Daryl, and Rick grab whatever weapons they can find and head out to rescue the rest of the group from the boxcar they’ve been imprisoned in. Lots of action here. At times The Walking Dead has been messy. Action scenes like this, especially big ones that include the entire group, have been hard to follow, but this episode was well done. It was easy to see who was where, and who was doing what; which I greatly appreciated. I was happy to see all of our friends make it out alive. And I was thrilled to see the Terminus folks get what they deserved.
And I was especially happy to see Daryl and Carol reunited. Whether a romance is in store or not, their friendship is a wonderful relationship in a hellish world. I was also thrilled to see Carol and Rick embrace. Whatever happened last season, though I doubt it’s forgotten, has been dealt with (I hope.) Rick and Carl were reunited with Judith, and Tyreese with his sister, Sasha. It was good.
For whatever reason, I sat through the credits. And OMG! I’m glad I did! Lennie James is one of my favorite TV actors. I loved him in Jericho (what a great show that was!). He’s got a commanding presence, even without the hulking size or booming voice. He’s just… well, awesome. And it would seem, he’s looking for Rick. Last time we saw Morgan (James’ character), he refused to join Rick. He had lost his son, to his zombie wife no less, and was having a hard time coming to terms with what he then had to do. Instead, he fortified the small town he had taken up residence in and took out as many walkers as he could. We don’t know what his story is and will be, but I hope we get to hear it!
I had a few thoughts:
- Everyone else looks like they took a dirt bath, and yet baby Judith is clean as a whistle! How does that work?
- The Terminus story didn’t really work for me. Though I loved this episode (easily one of the best of the series), the leap from being raped and imprisoned (as the people of Terminus apparently were at one point) to murdering cannibals is a stretch. Cattle to butcher? Really? There’s no middle ground?
- Though I prefer everyone together, I do hope that Rick and Carol talk a little bit about what happened last season. Tyreese knows the truth, and though I think a part of him hates Carol for taking Karen from him, he understands why she thought she had to do what she did. I want to hear her tell Rick that she confessed, and then perhaps have Tyreese speak up for her.
- MORE MORGAN!
- MORE MICHONNE!
All in all, this was one of the best episodes of this series. Personally, I can’t say that I have disliked much of what The Walking Dead has given us. I don’t always like the characters, though for some that’s the point (Bastard – I mean, the Governor), but the show has consistently been one of my favorites. After five seasons, this show is still must-see TV for us. I knew I was going to be doing recaps/reviews, so I opted not to do much research on the new season. So, I don’t have much of an idea what the season has in store for us, but I’m buckled up and ready to go!
MORE MORGAN! (I already said that right?)