(Photo Courtesy of Reddit)
So far, season five of The Walking Dead has lived up to the expectations. The show that habitually pushes the limit of what is acceptable on network television has returned this fall with new episodes, new villains, and plenty of blood and gore.
Episode one was nothing less than incredible. The episode instantly picked up where season four left us, and boy did things escalate quickly within Terminus. I appreciated the effort the writers made including flashbacks to horrific scenes of rape and slaughter, but the metaphor of episode one was what to me makes this show excellent.
Rick and his gang spent most of season four searching for a rumored sanctuary called Terminus. The rumors surrounding this place are dead wrong and are spread to cover up the existence of the cannibal colony within Terminus. The leader of Terminus, who is there with his brother and mother, makes a case for the most evil character the show has created. The now infamous trough scene in the beginning of episode one was one of the hardest scenes I have ever had to watch, and that is coming from someone who has watched, rather reluctantly, both sequences of the Human Centipede.
I was in shock that first, AMC was allowed to air the graphic execution of human beings on network television and second, that the actors within the show agreed to the scene. I did research some of the cast’s reactions to the scene and Norman Reedus (who plays fan favorite Darryl) and Andrew Lincoln (who plays the main character Rick Grimes), both were shocked the scene was used and they described that day on set as one of the hardest days of their lives.
The hero of episode one, Carol, made her return after her exile in the beginning of season four. Carol leads a one woman assault on Terminus that included some of the best firework explosives I have ever seen. Carol is a great example of how strong the character development is within this show. In season one and two Carol is easily the most victimized and weakest member of the group. However, the loss of her abusive husband and her daughter began molding Carol into someone fit for the post-apocalyptic world. There has been a lot of screen time invested into Carol’s character and I was disappointed that she appeared to be written off of the show during season four. However, her return, and the scene where Rick and Carl are finally reunited with baby Judith, made for one hell of an hour of television.
Episode two was another very strong episode. The group’s escape from Terminus proved to be more costly than they expected. The writers decided now was a good time for them to bring a notion of reality back in to the show and it was in the form of a supply run. During this episode, I had the underlying notion that everything had been going too well for too long. This was especially true when they introduced the newest and by far the most suspicious character of the season.
The Priest, who looked guilty even when he was about to be killed, is a great character. The aspect of religion and Christianity has never really carried much in this show and that is an aspect that bothers me. This is not because I am a strongly religious individual, I just think that a show set in rural Georgia should have more elements of faith and religion tied in to it. The Priest ends up providing shelter for the group, who remains mistrustful of the Priest, and this is where the episode really picked up. The supply run I previously mentioned was the focus of the episode and it lived up to the billing. During this run, Bob, a relatively new character, and the love interest of Sasha, is attacked by a Walker that is hiding underwater. Instantly when this happens, I said, “he’s screwed.” I didn’t think it was possible that he would come out unscathed. However, I appeared to be wrong in that assumption because Bob walked away from the incident.
My favorite part of this episode was that the writing kept alluding to the idea that the group was being watched. This notion was what led Carol and Darryl to go on a patrol of the area. This patrol inevitably led to Darryl seeing the same vehicle he saw take Beth. The constant shots of the group from the woods, and the fact the audience is unaware of who exactly was hunting them made me uneasy. It was shocking that I had to speculate given the hell the group just caused at Terminus. Towards the end of the episode, the group has set up nightly guard duty to watch the church they are staying in. During this, Bob is attacked and kidnapped by the same people running Terminus, and those people were really after one thing: food. The end of episode two was some of the best writing the show has had so far and the way that the leader of Terminus (Gareth) toys with Bob’s emotions made the scene that much better. The final scene of the episode shows Bob, groggily waking up, while tied up by the remaining members of Terminus. The members have a fire where they appear to be tending to some food and the leader Gareth is visibly eating something. The final seconds are when Bob realizes that the people he was captured by are currently snacking on his left leg. The last line of the episode was “Hey, a man has gotta eat”.
Episode three was stronger than the previous episode and provided another hour of great television. The episode begins where two left off and it shows Bob struggling to come to terms with the reality of his situation. My favorite part of the season so far came when the audience realized Bob wasn’t falling apart but rather laughing. He then reveals to Gareth and his horrified followers that he was indeed bit while on that supply run and he begins to scream “TAINTED MEAT.” This was a great scene to use and is a scene adapted directly from the comic book. This revelation led to Gareth’s group being extra motivated to seek revenge on Rick’s group and this led to them returning a terminally ill Bob to the group. My favorite part about this scene was when Rick was helping Bob into the Church the group fell under attack by Walkers and the group almost calmly disposed of the invading zombies. However, as Rick was going to kill the last Walker, a shot came from the woods from a rifle that killed the zombie and for the first time, the group panicked. I found this to be very interesting and show how the theme, “Kill or be Killed” has taken over season five and that the living are seemingly more afraid of the living now.
The second half of the episode is dominated by Gareth’s invasion of the Church. Rick’s group, who are seasoned veterans when it comes to sieges, created a diversion, which was a segment of the group leaving the church with a lot of their weaponry. This made Gareth believe that Rick and other members had left the weaker members at the church defenseless. Gareth’s group invaded the Church, which housed what appeared to be the non-fighters of the group, who were hiding in a secret room armed and looking terrified. Gareth’s group inspects the church and believe it is empty until Judith gives away the position of the group. It is then that Rick and the rest of the group appear behind Gareth and apprehend them effectively saving their group. This is when probably the most important scene of the series unfolds. Gareth begins to tell Rick that he was forced into this person and that this world made him this way, and Rick looks like he begins to understand Gareth. However, Rick then made reference to something he said to Gareth during the infamous trough scene. Rick promised Gareth that he would kill him with Michonne’s sword after watching what he did to people in Terminus. Rick then proceeds to hack Gareth to bits with the sword and the rest of the group follows suit on the remaining members of Terminus.
This is a crucial point in the series because it shows a side of this group that they always pretended to be above. In season two, the group struggled over executing a prisoner they thought was dangerous, and in season three they didn’t want to attack Woodbury despite a clear and present threat to their well-being.
A new segment of the group led by Abraham then begins to leave, due to his belief that one of the members of the group, Eugene, has the ability to cure the disease, and travel to Washington. Rick however is against this because the group is unaware of the whereabouts of Daryl and Carol who were out searching for Bob. This nearly leads Rick and Abraham to blows and the situation is only diffused after Glenn and Maggie agree to leave with Abraham if they stay the night and help look for Daryl and Carol. This is a huge turning point for the group because this split would effectively be a death sentence for Daryl, Carol, and Beth who are all missing. Thankfully, the episode ends with Daryl emerging from the woods and him beckoning for whoever he is with to come out. Whether this is a new character, just Carol, or maybe even Beth, is yet to be determined.