All Eyes On the SMALL Screen: The Walking Dead, Ep. 1

With all the hype leading into The Walking Dead‘s season five premiere, I along with millions of other fans was anticipating this premiere, and for me, probably more than previous seasons. Having just come off a solid fourth series, The Walking Dead seems to be moving only up, having already been renewed for a sixth season before season five even opened.

To amp up the excitement more than where it already was, AMC decided to release the first four minutes of the first episode online the day of the release. If you haven’t already seen it but are interested, check it out below:


Plot Breakdown

As the first four minute preview, along with the next several minutes following proved, the premiere fulfilled its promise to be bloody and gruesome, providing the most horrific footage the show has ever released. Terminus, only a sanctuary in name, a place that offered the promise of relief and help, attracted most of the groups separated from the battle at the prison with the Governor (David Morrissey).

The end of season four left us with Rick’s group, which now included Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Daryl (Norman Reedus), arriving last. Their lack of trust in others was only confirmed when the folks at Terminus turned on them, forcing them into a train cart, where they were reunited with Glenn, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and the rest of their new group.

We’re left on a very intense cliffhanger at the end of season four. We’re brought back into the train car as season five opens, but instead, it’s different characters talking, with the caption “THEN.” Gareth (Andrew J. West), recognizable as one of the Terminus prison guards, is in the car, terrified. The episode shifts to the present, and the train’s current occupants are Rick and the gang, gearing up with pieces of wood, belt buckles, anything that can aid their situation to fight back and regain their freedom.

Terminus’s guards decide to gas their victims in order to tie and gag them, leading them into a human butcher shop. It’s exactly what you’d imagine in a haunted house, except they’re butchering humans instead of animals, smashing their heads with baseball bats, slitting their throats with machetes, hanging body parts and limbs from the ceiling, and operating on bodies with chainsaws. There’s no other way to describe the scene other than inhumane. Gruesome. Bloody terrifying.

Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) are in line to have their heads smashed in, when all of a sudden a bomb goes off. Who better to save the day than Carol (Melissa McBride), who earlier was banished from the group for killing humans at the prison who caught the flu and were spreading it to the others. The episode’s name is “No Sanctuary,” but it could be renamed “Carol Saves the Day,” because the show would not have gone on without her.

After the group successfully kills off most of Terminus, it experiences yet another reunion when Carol leads them to the hut with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Judith, where we see happy tears on the show for possibly the first time ever.


Discussion Questions/Thoughts for Episode 501

  • The Walking Dead has been revisiting characters that have died or disappeared since the beginning of its run. In season one, Merle (Michael Rooker) was left for dead, handcuffed on the roof of a building, yet he made it back into the show in season three as one of the Governor’s cronies. Even after Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died at the beginning of season three, she still returned in future episodes as a ghost haunting Rick. When the Governor kills Hershel (Scott Wilson) in season four, Hershel shows up later in the season’s finale in flashbacks. Death or disappearance on The Walking Dead doesn’t mean we’re saying goodbye for the last time to a major character. At the very end of this episode, we get an unexpected return when we see Morgan (Lennie James) from both seasons one and three, following Rick. Check it out:
  • Rick is ready to kill after a season of wanting only to plow and garden. He’s recovered (mostly) from his wife’s death, and he’s taking action. But when he and the rest of the victims have fled Terminus and made it to safety, he wants to take anyone else at Terminus out. This leads to arguments between the survivors, but my thought is, isn’t he just trying to cover all the bases? Last time he killed a dude and then ran away, the guy returned with his friends to get his revenge. Is Rick going crazy again, or is he just playing it safe?
  • Where is Beth? We know she’s alive. The season five trailer told us that, but even if it hadn’t, we haven’t seen her death on screen, so we’re expecting her to be alive. Also, if I’m being analytical, Emily Kinney’s name finally made it onto the opening titles alongside Chad Coleman’s. So she’s alive, but the real questions is, where did she go?
  • The people at Terminus were (/are still?) out for blood. But why were they BUTCHERING humans? My personal guess? Cannibalism. Did anyone else wonder what “food” Mary (Denise Crosby) was offering the visitors to Terminus? I’m banking on some kind of human organ or body part. Like both mother and son quoted in the premiere, “You’re either the butcher or the cattle.” Kind of makes you think of this season’s tagline, “Hunt or be hunted.” Is that the new theme of the season? It sparks moral questions the characters have been openly discussing and dealing with last season, especially Carol and Tyreese. It seems that while the disease was the primary “villain” of the show in the beginning, the characters are starting to learn that it’s bad people might be more dangerous than walkers.

  • Are they going to find the cure? We just got introduced to new characters at the end of season four, and it looks like they’re here to stay for now. Eugene (Josh McDermitt), the genius who holds the classified secrets that could supposedly cure the illness, has no fighting skills or ability to defend himself. His bodyguard, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), protects him at all costs in hopes of leading him to Washington so he can help with the cure. But after the deceit and destruction of both Woodbury and Terminus, how can the characters really rely on the possibility that Washington hasn’t already been corrupted by villainous leaders?

 Favorite Moments from the Episode

  • Every scene Carol was in, especially when she goes all ninja on Mary and takes her out.
  • The reunion of Daryl and Carol. *cue the tears*
  • The reunion of Rick, Carl, and Judith. *cue some more tears*
  • The Morgan reveal at the end of the episode.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of The Walking Dead season 5 premiere? Where do you think Beth is? What do you think Mary was trying to feed the Terminus visitors? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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