The Walking Dead is back

TWD s5e1 Nicotero rev

The excitement stirred by the return of ‘The Walking Dead’ is offset by too many coincidences, too much blood and guts and too few surprises. The good news is: There’s lots of promise to the new season.


Let’s get something out-of-the-way right now so there’s zero confusion.

Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll warn you with a “Ready? Here we go” when I’m moving on to the spoilers. Fair enough?

I saw “No Sanctuary” — the season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead — a week or so ago. Thrilled to get an advanced screening of it, I viewed it twice. I relished in it.

For Dead fans, it’s been a long haul since “A,” the season four closer that aired back on March 30th leaving us wondering the fate of the group corralled in that box car by the residents of Terminus. (And don’t tell me that was a spoiler — I can’t imagine anyone not being up to date on the series.)

So … here are several thoughts on “No Sanctuary.” Ready? Here we go …

Know what would have been nice? Had we lost a character of substance. (Not the nicest sentiment, I agree. But losing someone would have made the premiere infinitely more interesting.) Doing so would have shot a “no one is safe” reminder going into the new season.)

Of course, like anyone fond of the series, I don’t really want to see any character get offed.

I lean toward the idea of the show living on the edge rather than the cushy feel-good warm fuzzies the episode left us with …

Still … I lean toward the idea of the show living on the edge rather than the cushy feel-good warm fuzzies the episode left us with detailing the reunion of everyone (with the exception of Beth) free of Terminus, whole and hale.

Don’t get me wrong: Carol’s “homecoming” and her touching re-acquaintance with Daryl was pleasant enough. Same with Rick and Carl’s realization Judith was in good hands and back in the fold.

But … it was too comfortable, too complacent, too convenient.

Lord knows the group has contended with its trials and tribulations. And most recently with the events at Terminus. I expected a lot more from the opener, though. The truth of the matter is I was mildly disappointed with it.

More than not, it was a lot of same old same old. Blazing firepower against devious enemies and relentless walkers, a timely rescue courtesy of Carol (contributing to Rick gainsaying his previous thoughts and actions toward her), lots of coincidental circumstances “just in the nick of time” avoiding the demise of some familiar faces (Glenn, Rick, more) and the tough luck happenstances of others with which we’re not so acquainted (the many Terminans).

I expected a lot more from the opener …

However it may appear, I’m not quite that heartless. I have soft spots here and there for many of the group. I just hope the writers got some of those television tropes out of their systems for the time being. (They won’t. They sure did fill the opener with stuff that seemed more filler and fodder than anything else.) But they will continue to surprise us unexpectedly as in the past. Those are the times I relish most.

Carol’s diversion — blowing up the propane tank at Terminus — was nice. (I guess.) Seeing various events taking place at Terminus, Carol naturally saw a call for action. But … you see what I mean about things being a little too convenient? Convenient and somewhat cheese-fest? Though, in the grand scheme of things, her efforts did set up reestablishing herself back in Rick’s good graces. But that was “safe” story telling. I want something more jarring and innovative. I’ve seen enough walkers blasted and stabbed and mown down with round after round after round of ammunition.

One of the biggest puzzles of Terminus is still up in the air. Were they cannibals? Those bins stenciled with “Burn, Feed, Wash” — what were they all about? Were the Terminans actually processing corpses for their own consumption? Surely they knew of infection, maybe not. Maybe they knew that eating fresh kills didn’t make any difference so filet of biter was on the menu. Or were they simply accommodating any who strolled into Terminus as a gesture of welcome? “Hey buddy … you look famished. Care for some nice BBQ?” Lots of questions going on there which we may still never learn the answers.

One of the biggest puzzles of Terminus is still up in the air. Were they cannibals?

Or … do we?

There were a few nifty moments during the hour. The “then” segments in the show revealed much about the Terminans. They used to be “good guys,” untarnished and still discerning, still decent. We learned Mary is Gareth’s mother. Gareth’s mother?!? Who was right at home a few episodes back, flipping slabs of meat behind the grill for Maggie and Glenn and Bob and the others?!? Yikes! While that was a nice little jewel from the writers, did it solidify in anyone’s mind the Terminans are out and out cannibals? Still, thoroughly enjoyable bookends to the episode. (Plus … we’re not quite finished with Terminus just yet. *cue drama button*)

Best of all, the writers left Beth’s fate from last season wide open. Not everything was tidied up with a neat, clean red bow. Something to look forward to.

The Walking Dead is back. Finally. For me, this was somewhat a low key, *meh* chapter to start a season. But I know it will improve going forward. Later in the week I will publish talks with some of the cast from this summer’s Comic-Con that will shed some light on what’s to come.

Stay tuned …

Photo Credit: AMC

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