The Walking Dead S5E1, “No Sanctuary”

Season 5 Poster

Let’s cut to the chase: I was not looking forward to this season.  While last season had some pretty good moments (“The Grove” was one of the best episodes of the series), it remains a frustratingly inconsistent show.

So no, I wasn’t looking forward to the return of The Walking Dead.  I had it in my head that the gang would be stuck in Terminus for the first 3-4 episodes.  Whether through budget constraints or the whims of the writers, the characters have a tendency to get stuck in locations for longer than they should.

Thankfully, I was wrong.  This first episode kicked off the season in grand fashion: blood and bubbles and butts and explosions and killing.  Lots of killing.  The gang made it out of Terminus before the first episode was over, reuniting with some of their long-lost members in the process.  Even though they can’t hope to put the world back exactly how it was (a claim even Bob doesn’t truly believe), they can try to hold on to the family that they have, dysfunctional though it may be at times.

Let’s get to it.

Hates:

1. The false starts in killing Glenn.  They were obviously playing on the rumors of an in-group death, but this felt forced.  It also felt like they wanted it to be a comedic moment.  “Oh, we’re gonna kill him.  No we’re not.  Now we are.  No we’re not.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!”  That got old before they did it the first time.

2. Carol killing a single zombie by stabbing it in the head and falling down with it.  What’s the point?  Why go to the ground?  What if the initial head-stabbing didn’t kill the zombie?  Now you’re stuck on the ground with a chomping zombie and your knife lodged firmly in his head.  Carol is extremely smart and incredibly adept at killing zombies.  She would not choose this method.

3. The fact that the guy wearing a Tigers hat would snap a baby’s neck to get what he wants.  That’s no way to represent the team.  Stick to the Cardinals, fella.
They decided to tie this guy up with nothing more than a seatbelt.  He has been talking about killing them, and yet they slap a seatbelt on his wrists and say, “Yeah, that’s good.”  As if that weren’t enough, Tyreese was actively trying not to look at him.  “His wrists are loosely bound.  Lemme look out this window for a while.”
I also don’t believe that Tyreese killed that guy.  Sure, we saw Tyreese beating him mercilessly, but we didn’t see a body.  Tyreese told Carol not to go in the building.  I think he kept the guy alive because he still can’t kill anyone.  You know what that means?  More of gun-shy Tyreese, agonizing over every death.  Just what we wanted!

4. Glenn making Rick open the box car holding the other victims of Terminus. His reasoning for doing so?  “We gotta let those people out.  That’s still who we are.  It’s gotta be.”  That’s fine.  It’s a good reason.  I get it.  It’s not even a bad line.  What annoys me is what that represents.  They feel the need to have an obvious moral center in this world of gray areas.  It was Dale until he turned into zombie bait.  Then it was Hershel until The Governor partially separated his head from his body.  Now it’s Glenn.  To be clear, I don’t care that there’s a moral center, I just wish they weren’t so obvious about it.  It’s as if there has been one spirit that just passes from one person to the next.  So, basically, like Fallen but with morality.  I really like Glenn’s character.  I really hope they don’t just turn him into “Platitudes Spouting Guy,” because that’s really boring.  It’s also a death sentence.
Let’s hope that Glenn is more calm Hershel than grandstanding Dale.  I don’t miss Dale one bit.

5. Carol going from being covered in zombie blood to being completely clean in just a few minutes.  I guess I totally missed the magical water fountain in the woods.

"WHERE ARE YOUR BABY WIPES?!"
“WHERE ARE YOUR BABY WIPES?!”

6. Rick painting “No” above “Sanctuary.”  Extreme eye-rolling time.

Symbolism!
“Nailed it.”

Loves:

1. The opening was great.  Rick and company in the dark, getting ready for battle.  Using whatever was at their disposal to make weapons (belts, zippers, wood slivers).  Rick directing his people to, “Go for the eyes first, then their throats.”  Ramping us up to a huge fight…only to have the folks at Terminus gas them from above, thus rendering their preparation moot.  I loved that little bit of misdirection.
I also loved showing the wood sliver up close.  That, combined with the knife placed dangerously close to Glenn’s eye made me think they were referencing the iconic scene in Zombi.

Zombi Splinter

2. We got some quality gore in the slaughterhouse.  As LC Fremont pointed out, that scene was definitely reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

3. Tara replying to Eugene with a simple, “Eugene, I’m sorry, but shut-up.”  Thank you, Tara.

4. Michonne’s face when she sees the zombie horde outside.  It was a subtle smile, and it was absolutely perfect.

5. I got a couple decent laughs in this episode.  After opening the box car, a bearded man comes flying out, ranting and raving.  He is immediately blindsided and killed by a zombie.  That’s a reminder, kids: no ranting and raving during a zombie apocalypse.
The other moment actually came from Eugene.  After detailing his plan, he stopped for a moment before saying, “All things being equal, it does sound pretty badass.”  Eugene annoys me to no end, but that line gave me a chuckle.

6. The reunion at the end was really well done.  I loved the hug between Daryl and Carol, and the reconciliation of Rick and Carol.  Although I will say that Daryl really needs to work on his cry face.  However, this is not new information.

Daryl Crying

Final thoughts:

A great start to the season.  I’m not getting my hopes up, because they have a tendency to let me down as soon as I start doing that.  But it looks like we’re heading to the church next (complete with another Wire alumnus as the preacher), and I really like that storyline.  It also looks like we’ll be seeing a bit more of Morgan.  Put me down as cautiously optimistic going forward.

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