The Walking Dead Season 5 Premiere Delivers Brutality, Violence, and Gripping Storytelling in a Way Only TWD Could

The Walking Dead is back and in a big way. Not going to bother with needless exposition, if you haven’t caught up to the season 5 premiere please be warned that this review is full of summary and spoilers.

Action packed and brutal, tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead finds the heroes successfully arrived at Terminus though this supposed ‘sanctuary’ is nothing like what the group had imagined. Barbaric cannibalism and cruelty, Terminus makes the Governor‘s outfit look mildly tame in comparison. Gareth, Terminus‘ chief asshole, is a bit of an anti-Governor in many respects though no less deadly or psychopathic.

Carol really shines in this episode, which is both redemptive and superlative in its depiction of her continuing transformation in this series. Wallflower no more, Carol is now billy-badass when it comes to handling zombies and pretty much single-handedly destroys Terminus‘ entire operation. While high on brutality, they’re lacking dearly on strategy and Carol exploits this to the group’s ultimate salvation. Speaking of which…

The episode is told in a schizo-timeline format – we see a lot of after and before shots which fill in the narrative through a synthesis of vignettes rather than presenting the story as a linear narrative. This style was refreshing and engaging, requiring the viewer to actually pay attention to each scene in order to make sense of past scenes. Not only is The Walking Dead a great story, but it’s also masterful television and yet another example of how AMC understands this format.

Terminus is in many ways a brutal opposite to the Governor’s group, making up for lack of strategy and vision with excess brutality and zealotry

When the episode opens Glenn, Daryl, etc. are about to be killed slaughterhouse style by the Terminus barbarians when the macabre scene is interrupted by gunshots and then a massive explosion. This deus-ex-machina moment was brought to the group by Carol, who is sniping away at the gas tanks outside. The explosion rips a hole in the perimeter of the base and allows hordes of zombies to pour in through the ad hoc entrance.

Carol is able to save the day because she and Tyreese, along with Judith, were not part of the group that journeyed together towards captivity at Terminus. They stumbled upon a Terminus operative who is setting off firecrackers in the woods to distract nearby zombie walkers and keep them away from Terminus. He happens to be discussing company business, in particular his desire for Glenn‘s cap once they “bleed him out,” and Tyreese and Carol come upon him with a gun to his head. Rather than kill him, they take him captive.

Making of Episode 501: The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary

Tyreese is struggling with killing and the brutality of the world around him. Knowing this, Carol entrusts baby Judith to his care, leaving him and the baby with their Terminus hostage, a man who just finished telling someone he wanted Glenn‘s baseball cap after Glenn‘s throat was slit in order to make him into Terminus bologna. Not someone I would keep around, judging from the general brutality of The Walking Dead‘s world. But Tyreese and Carol do anyway, for a little while at least.

Talked About Scene: Episode 501: The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary

After Carol opens general hell up on Terminus, Rick and company take their time dispatching the Terminus members as they attempt to fight off the zombie hordes. Tons of action, tons of gore, lots of Terminus people get killed. It’s worth seeing.

Inside Episode 501: The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary

The group escapes and reunites with Carol, who is perhaps the single most capable member of the group at this point. She and Daryl could probably solve this crisis together but they have to help protect the rest of the cast in the process so humanity’s salvation must wait. Brutal, violent, and action-packed, this episode was a great premier for the series and leaves me excited for the rest of the season.

An Unexpected Return: Episode 501: The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary