The Walking Dead – Season Five Premiere!

WD_Season5“They’re f@$!#ing with the wrong people!” Those were the words that capped off the season four finale. At least, they were before the show’s writers decided to censor themselves and changed it to “screwing”. In any case, the show ended with Rick and his party arriving at Terminus only to find that the advertised oasis was a lie – a trap designed to lure unsuspected people in for some nefarious purpose.

Naturally, the blogosphere explodedediately after with various people offering their own theories as to what Terminus represented and what they intended for Rick and his crew. The smart money appeared to be on cannibalism, as it seemed most consistent with what happened in the comics, not to mention the odd room with all candles and the words “NEVER AGAIN. NEVER TRUST. WE FIRST, ALWAYS” written on the wall.

In the weeks leading up to the premiere, fans were also warned that this season would be darker and bloodier, and the preview poster – which showed Rick sporting a new beard – had the words “hunt or be hunted” scrolled across it. Between all these hints and warning, the fanbase was pretty much stoked and there was no surprises when the premiere opened at a record-breaking 17.3 million viewers, beating out their previous record of 16.1 million.

And this past Sunday, the big reveal happened in an episode that was appropriately titled…

No Sanctuary:
https://storiesbywilliams.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/913a6-the-walking-dead-5-temporada-trailer-07.jpgThe episode opens with a flashback where two residents of Terminus – Chris and Alex – are being held prisoner. They reflect on how they chose to remain human in the midst of the crisis, and suffered for it. Flashing back to the present, we see Rick and the others preparing to make a break for it as soon as the door to the railcar is opened. However, they are surprised when a flashbang is thrown in through the roof and they are then carried out.

Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and Bob are then taken to a kill room where they see a body being carved up. Four others are positioned alongside them over a metal trough, and two men begin butchering them one by one. Chris comes in to take stock and pauses the killing long enough to ask Rick about the bag he stashed out in the woods. Things are about to start again when shooting from outside and an explosion sends everyone to the ground.

http://i2.wp.com/geektasticpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/walking-dead-trailer.jpg?resize=620%2C344Outside of town, Tyreese, Carol and Judith continue on their way towards town when they come across a herd. They hide and are saved when gunfire distracts and lures the herd away. They proceed towards the source, and find Alex out on sentry duty and talking over a walkie-talkie about Carl and Michonne. They take him prisoner in a small shed and Carol goes on ahead while Tyreese remains behind to watch him with Judith.

After covering herself with gore and mud, she proceeds to the edge of town and sees Rick, Daryl, Bob and Glenn being taken inside. At the same time, the herd begins to approach the fence line and the guards begin to run away. Using her sniper rifle, Carol shoots a gas tank sitting by the fence and uses a firework to detonate it, killing a dozen Walkers and breaching the fence in the process.

https://i0.wp.com/www.geekchicelite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/twdno1.jpgChaos ensues as the Walkers move in and begin attacking the town and Carol slips in amongst them. Chris leaves the kill room to assess the situation while Rick uses a piece of sharpened wood to saw through his restraints. He kills the two men and then sets the others free, and the four proceed out into the compound. Fighting against both Walkers and guards, they seize weapons and free the others.

Back at the shed, the noise from the explosions and gunfire begins to draw Walkers. Alex gets free, takes Judith hostage and forces Tyreese to disarm and go outside. He steps out and is grabbed by several Walkers, but all noise stops a moment later. Alex takes Tyreese’s knife and begins inching towards the door, and Tyreese breaks back in, slams him on the grounds and begins beating him to death.

https://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/10/13/1413173366927_wps_50_The_Walking_Dead_Season_P.jpgMeanwhile, Carol begins looking for Rick and the others inside. After finding her way into a building, she comes across a stash of stolen goods and finds Daryl’s crossbow. Eventually, she comes to the strange room where she is confronted by Mary, the town matriarch. They fight, Carol gets the upper hand, and Mary explains how the town became the place that it is:

The signs… they were real. It was a sanctuary. People came and took this place. And they raped, and they killed, and they left… over weeks! But we got out, and we fought, and we got it back! And we heard the message: you’re the butcher, or you’re the cattle…

Carol shoots Mary in the leg, and then lets a group of Walkers in to finish her. In the rail car, the rest try to decide whether they should break out into the chaos or wait. Sasha asks Eugene what the cure is, and he explains that he once worked for the Human Genome Project as part of a team that weaponized viruses to fight other weaponized viruses. He claims that with his knowledge, they can kill all the Walkers if they can get to Washington DC.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/BzysAj2IUAEZ2yV.png-large-620x400.pngRick then shows up and lets them out, and they all fight their way to the fence. They make it out and proceed into the woods, where Rick digs up the pack he buried and tells them they are going back to finish the job. The group tells Rick its pointless since they are as good as dead, Carol emerges from the trees and is embraced by Daryl and Rick. She tells them to follow her up the road, where they rejoin Tyreese and Judith.

Rick is elated to learn his baby girl is still alive and Sascha her brother. They decide to move on up the rails again, and Rick finds a sign pointing towards Terminus and wipes out all but two words: “No Sanctuary”. The episode ends with another flashback where Chris, Alex and Mary are being held together, and Chris says they will take it back, repeating the adage: “You’re either the butcher, or you’re the cattle.”

https://i1.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/10/13/1413173605905_wps_66_The_Walking_Dead_Season_P.jpgAnd in a post-episode peek, we are shown a figure who is following the tracks and comes across the sign. He spots symbols carved into the trees and begins following them. Once he removes his mask, we learn that it’s Rick’s old friend Morgan.

Summary:
I quite enjoyed this episode, and for a few reasons. For one, it delivered on its promise of a darker, bloodier feel, even though this was hardly lacking in the previous seasons. It also handled the whole “good people gone evil” theme very well. Despite everything they do and the evil they commit, the people portraying the Terminites (Terminans?) managed to capture the inherent sense of desperation and anger powering them.

This is the very core Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, which is how otherwise good and civilized people can do terrible things when push comes to shove. And since it was something that didn’t happen in the comics, but was loosely based on it, it made for just enough of a surprise. And of course, few people could argue with the fact that the action was pretty badass too, and the reunions pretty heartfelt.

The only things I would criticize is the character arc of Carol. By now, people can’t fail to notice that she’s become the female version of Rambo. At the end, Rick asks her “did you do that?” And by that, he means rescuing them by single-handedly blowing up a section of wall, letting a herd overrun a small town, and then taking out the town’s matriarch. Yes, somehow, a “thank you” and a “welcome back” would seem appropriate.

But this really doesn’t seem fitting for Carol. As I’ve said before, she went from being an abused, put-upon housewife to a bereaved mother, then an independent woman, then a character who had little to do, all before becoming some ruthless woman who immolated people to prevent the spread of disease. Now, she’s a one-woman army who kicks ass and takes names.

It’s cool, but it’s not exactly realistic. What’s more, Michonne is supposed to be the ass-kicking heroine of that bunch, not Carol. The way her character kind of got sidelined in this episode really drove that home for me. And Sasha is also a strong female presence, same as Maggie. So I do wonder if her character’s not just a bit superfluous at this point. And considering she was long-dead by now in the comics, I have a hard time taking her seriously.

Also, Tyreese’s character has seemed just a little too gentle for my tastes. I very much liked how he took out several Walkers with his bare hands and then beat that Alex kid to death. This is the Tyreese I know and remember from the comics, a big, strong, troubled man who did what he had to, even though he didn’t enjoy it one bit. The TV show’s Tyreese, while certainly likeable, seems too much like a big teddy bear to me.

Otherwise, I like what they’ve done so far this season and where they are going. At this point, Morgan is poised to rejoin the group, and from the previews, it seems clear that they are now converging back on comic book material (i.e. finding a preacher and taking him in), all the while working their way towards Washington DC.

*As a side note, I should point out that, despite what some fans saw in the ending, the producers have indicated that that was NOT Negan making an appearance near the end of the episode. However, I imagine that’s what the shows producers intended when they cast that look alike, as the intro of Negan could turn out to be season 5 material. Stay tuned!

The Walking Dead – Season Four Finale!

The Walking Dead SDCC Season 4We come to it at last, the season four finale of the Walking Dead. And my apologies for arriving late to this party, but this week has been a rather busy one. Lucky for me things have slowed down to the point where I can finally get my two cents in about the highest rated finale in TV history. Yes, apparently, this week’s episode broke the finale record for ratings with 15.7 million viewers, and 7.3 million even stuck around for the aftershow. One would think people were anxious to see what happened or something!

Alas, the finale delivered on several fronts, bringing the whole Terminus storyline to a conclusion, bringing all the main characters back together, and forcing a confrontation between Rick and the marauders led by Joe. And they even managed to merge some of the relevant comic book material into the mix, which was something I was wondering about. Once again, they are kind of off script with things at this point, so its interesting to see how and where they choose to include things.

Anyway, onto the show!

A:
WD4_16_0
The episode opens with Rick having a flashback to the old days when they were still living in the prison. He remembers the time after the Governor fled, and how they began making a good life for themselves. Intrinsic to this was his efforts He also recalls how he was very much concerned about giving Carl a normal life again. During his last flashback, he remembers when he, Herschel, Carl, Beth and Judith were all together and happy.

Things then flash back to the present, where Rick, Michonne and Carl are completely occupied with finding food and avoiding Walkers. After setting down for the night in an abandoned car, Joe and his group catch up to them and take them prisoner. Daryl emerges and tries to tell Joe to let them go, and that he will stand in for them. Joe orders his men to beat Daryl for “lying”, and Carl is pulled from the car by one of the men who attempts to rape him.

WD4_16_1Rick and Michonne attack them, and Rick manages to get close enough to bite Joe’s jugular. His men are shocked and this gives Michonne and Daryl the opportunity to turn the tables on the rest of them. Rick finishes it by eviscerating the man who tried to rape Carl. The next day, Daryl talks to Rick about his time with Beth, her disappearance, and how he fell in with Joe’s group. They assure each other that they’ve done only what they had to stay alive, and set out again.

Having reached the outskirts, Rick and the others choose to search around the edge of the town. Carl and Michonne go in one direction, and she fills Carl in on the rest of her story, and how Andrea, Rick and Carl brought her back. Carl confesses that he’s changed and is no longer what his father thinks he is, that he is just another monster. Elsewhere, Rick buries their stash of weapons, but keeps a pistol for himself “just in case”.

WD4_16_2They then sneak around the back way, pass through the fence and then proceed inside. Finding their way into a building, they come to a room where people are preparing maps and putting out radio broadcasts, inviting people to town. Rick gets their attention, and a man named Garreth welcomes them. After a quick weapons check and pat down, another man named Alex comes to escort them to the welcome area. They meet Mary, and she prepares them food.

Rick begins spotting things that make him suspicious, including one man wearing riot gear, a woman wearing a poncho, and that Alex is carrying a pocket watch. He grabs Alex and puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where they got these things. A standoff ensues, turns into a gunfight, and Rick and the others flee. They quickly pass through a strange room filled candles and altars, and realize that the townspeople are not shooting to kill them, but to drive them.

wd4_16_3Once outside, they find themselves surrounded on all sides and are forced to put down their weapons and surrender. They are then told to go to a train car parked nearby, step inside and seal the door. Inside, they find the others – Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene (but not Tyreese or Carol) – who have also been taken prisoners. Defiant, Rick says they their new enemies are going to feel pretty stupid when they find out. When Abraham asks what, Rick declares “that they’re screwing with the wrong people.”

Thus ends season four of the Walking Dead!

Summary:
As expected, the season ended on a brutal and ugly note, but with the hope of some serious ass-kicking to come. And as predicted, the town of Terminus, which offered people sanctuary and salvation, turned out to be a pretty messed up place. Only passing hints were given as to what is involved in this, but the blogosphere has certainly been alive with plenty of ideas. I forgo those for just a second to say what I liked and what stood out about this episode to me.

For starters, I liked what they did with it. Sure, they concluded the whole “Joe and the marauders are looking for payback” thing rather quickly, but were never a huge plot aspect so it didn’t seem terribly wrong to me. I was also pretty impressed with how Rick and Michonne took out their captors, though I could have done with a little less eviscerating! And they did manage to incorporate some aspects of the comic book material from this part into the mix.

WD4_16_4Speaking of which, and it seems this is the current favorite amongst bloggers, is that Terminus is a community of cannibals. The proof? First, during the chase scene, Rick and the others run through a courtyard where human bones (stripped of all flesh) have been piled. Second, the character of Gareth does bear a resemblance to the character of Chris, who in the comics was the leader of the cannibal community. And third, this was the ugly turn that things took during this part in said comics.

And let’s face it. If you were running a cannibal community, you too would need a constant influx of fresh bodies. I mean, why else go to all that trouble of putting out maps and sending out broadcasts? In a post-apocalyptic landscape, the biggest threats of all comes from bands of ne’er-do-wells, especially if they are well organized and equipped (as the Governor and Joe illustrate). So if you have a secure community, chances are you wouldn’t be advertising it and inviting everyone and their brother to come find it. Not unless you got a trap waiting for them!

And of course, this has effectively left things on a cliffhanger and promises that next season will contain its fare share of ass-kicking and badassery. And I am once again looking forward to see what happens, provided they don’t go terribly off-script again! There is one thing that I can’t seem to figure out though. What was up with the title of this episode? A? Seriously? What the hell does that stand for?

See you next season!