THE WALKING DEAD: Season 5 Premiere Recap
THE WALKING DEAD returns after months, and just like a normal Sunday night booty call, we’ve dropped everything to tune in with rapt attention. Picking up directly after the events of the Finale of last season, the premiere episode of Season 5 opens with an unlikely flashback. The, by now hated, residents of Terminus, who so cunningly lured our survivors into their compound only to capture them, get a brief backstory in the flashback which almost humanizes the supposed antagonists of this episode.
The flashback starts in a familiar train car, but instead of our survivors as we left them last Season, it’s Gareth and a few of the Terminus crew, cowering in the darkness, regretting putting up the signs; obviously referring to the ‘Sanctuary’ signs that led everyone there. Gareth affirms that they were trying to do good, but it obviously backfired. Cut back to present day and Rick and crew are catching each other up on their individual adventures from Season 4, while preparing to fight their way out of the car, using belt buckles, shoe laces, pieces of wood or anything else they can find and use as a weapon. The bad-ass vibe from the Season Finale continues as the survivors are seen as wanting to fight tooth and nail to get out of their situation, instead of being doo goody nice guys as they have been for a while. However, it’s of little use as a smoke bomb allows the Terminus crew to take out Rick, Darryl & others and line them up for slaughter in, what looks like a human butcher shop. With some handy distraction of fire and explosion from Carol, who happened to be nearby with Tyrese & baby Judith, all our survivors are able to escape Terminus alive.
It’s a gorgeous scene of chaotic brilliance as flaming Walkers roam the Terminus compound, destroying everything that this crew apparently built. The special effects for the premiere are explosive as we get a full-blown Walker infestation that overruns the place. Carol, infiltrating the compound camouflaged with Walker guts, comes across Denise Crosby’s character, who, almost tragically explained who they are and what Terminus was. Initially wanting to reach out to their fellow man, the Terminus crew was ravaged by strangers who had come to literally rape and pillage them, until they fought back and reclaimed Terminus for themselves. Since then, these people have become bitter and lost all humanity looking out only for themselves, with their past trauma to cause them to become the cruel and evil group we see now.
This revelation about the people at Terminus is quite a complex shake-up in what’s been perceived of them thus far. This traumatic back-story, as well as the last scene of this episode, makes us almost sympathize for Gareth, whose mom it seems was Denise Crosby’s character. Their brutality isn’t by choice, but rather due to the extreme collective trauma they faced. Despite that, it doesn’t stop Carol from leaving Crosby for the Walkers, and even though Rick doesn’t know it, he still wanted vengeance on them after escaping from there. Earlier on Rick promised Gareth that he’d kill him with a Machete. Seeing that the fate of the Terminus crew remains a mystery at this point, Rick might get to keep his promise. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of Gareth.
The premiere also raises some questions about what the rest of the Season will focus on. Initially I assumed that at least half of this Season would be set in Terminus and feature a sort of prison break style story of our survivors escaping. However, with the threat gone by the end of this episode, Rick and his crew are alone, nowhere to go and nothing to do. Is it possible that they might just take up Abraham’s mission of getting Eugene to Washington in order to use the ‘cure’ to save the world? Abraham did mention that he would talk to Rick about something later on. Eugene finally did reveal, after insistent inquiries, what the ‘cure’ was. Apparently Eugene was part of the Human Genome Project and is aware of all means of biological warfare that the government was planning. He plans on using this knowledge to rid the world of all Walkers in one fell swoop.
If you ask me, Eugene’s explanation for this seems flimsy and broad. What he mentions seems more like a massive plan to kill all Walkers, instead of treating the underlying issue of why everyone that dies is re-animated as Walkers in the first place, as we learned back in Season 2. So the theories of Eugene taking advantage of his ‘special knowledge’ to ensure his own protection in the Zombie apocalypse, seems to be proving more and more likely, at least so far. In a rare moment of, happiness, the sweetest scene comes when Darryl is reunited with Carol, who’s served as almost an older sister/mother figure to him from early on in the show. And the long awaited, reunion of Carl & Rick with baby Judith. That one got me a bit misty, I must admit. I’m also glad they didn’t drag out these reunions. Although Beth is still missing, so we’ll have to wait a bit to find out her fate.
Season 5 of THE WALKING DEAD literally exploded it’s way into the fall TV schedule and with reinvigorated Rick and everyone together again after a while, this season promises some classic group awesome-ness as witnessed in the initial Seasons of the show.