The Walking Dead - Season 5, Episode 1: "No Sanctuary" TV Episode Review
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple
2014, Rated TV-14
Episode premiered on October 12th, 2014
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
Danai Gurira as Michonne
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
Michael Cudlitz as Sgt. Abraham Ford
Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese Williams
Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha Williams
Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Bob Stookey
Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter
Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler
When we last left our heroes, they were locked in a train car by the evil folks running Terminus. If it were anyone else, we would worry. But in the final moments of the Season 4 finale, Rick proclaims, “They are screwing with the wrong people.” We learn in the Season 5 premiere if Rick is right, or if he’s just trying to rally the troops.
Warning! This discussion does contain spoilers.
Steve: Okay, holy shit. Holy. Shit. Anyone who knows me or has read our weekly writeups on The Walking Dead knows that I have all but given up on this show because of its continued decline into mediocrity the past two seasons. So when fellow reviewer TGM posted on Facebook, “Steve if you haven't already, watch the season premiere of TWD. It's fucking awesome. No lies. It's fantastic. Don't give up on the show just yet,” I took it with a grain of salt. But then I watched it. Holy. Shit. I haven’t been wowed by an episode of The Walking Dead, much less a season opener, since “Too Far Gone” (Season 4, Episode 8). Admittedly, I’m cautiously optimistic because last season opened strong, then consistently stumbled throughout the season, but (please God) if this opener is any indication of things to come, I will happily jump back on the undead train. Fair warning, readers, I have a lot I want to talk about!
Dan: Yeah man, this season premiere blew me away. No way did I expect that much to happen in one episode. When you’ve got four guys getting clubbed and having their throats cut in the most graphic way before the credits even roll you know you’re in for a good time. That scene was brutal, the two butchers were just stone cold in the way they carried out their task. I don’t know if you noticed: the blonde guy who got done first, the one that Rick shared a meaningful look with, that was the guy from Season 4 that Carol and Rick met holed up in the house with his girlfriend. The one that Rick gave his watch to, that’s why Carol found it in the belongings later.
Steve: I had completely missed that, but I was wondering why Carol was looking at the watch. That makes sense now. Speaking of… could Carol not win the award for Badass of the Year if the ceremony was held right now (and existed). No matter how impressive Rick is in this opener (and we’ll get to him), Carol is more so. She owns this episode above all others. The scene where she is in the candle-lit room and that lady spouts off a bunch of jibber jabber, and Carol simply looks at her, asks her a question, then shoots her in the leg when she didn’t like the answer? I cheered, Dan. I cheered the TV. I said in our discussions last year how Carol was really growing on me, and this episode pushed me over.
Dan: Carol is indeed bad ass and the absolute salvation of the group. Look at it this way: had she not stepped up, Rick and Co. would have been survivor jerky by now. She was like a female Terminator, completely cool and calculating and she used the walkers to her advantage. I was impressed by that scene too. It’s obvious she can make the tough choices from what she did with Lizzy in Season 4, and this shows how cold she could be in pursuit of survival. I think there’s going to be a shift in the attitude of the major players from here on in; Rick shows it with his intention to go back and finish the Terminus people off. They know it’s not just survival against the walkers now, other humans pose just as big a threat to their lives as resources become more scarce. I’ve always had Rick’s back when you haven’t. I truly believe he’s perpetually struggling with his conscience between his roles; lawman, husband, father, leader. As time goes on, it looks like his concern for his fellow man has subsided in favour of the survival instinct and protection of the pack. If that’s the direction he’s taking, I think this season could have great potential.
Steve: I’m not on Team Rick just yet, but I will definitely concede that his character is already a major improvement from last season. Rick impressed me so many times on Sunday evening, but the standout is when he grabs the gun from the Terminus resident and opens fire at another group of residents, shooting them in the back. And if that weren’t enough, like you said, he wanted to go back and kill off everyone who survived, after his group had made a clean getaway. Man...look, I’m trying not to get too excited here, but it’s hard not to. Rick is such a complete hardcase in this episode, I damn near took everything bad I’ve ever said about him back. But I’m not doing that just yet. I’ve been let down way too many times. Even so, I’m ready to be wrong on him. So, so ready. Now if they could only do the same for Tyreese.
Steve: Speaking of Tyreese, is it just me or do the writers really have no idea what to do with Tyreese? Arguably one the toughest mofos in the comic, he’s relegated to babysitter now. Seriously, what the hell. Don’t get me wrong, Carol absolutely crushes it (and I’m glad it is her doing the damage over Tyreese for some reason), but babysitter? For God’s sake, at least show his destruction of the undead outside of the cabin instead of it being offscreen. However, even though I’m upset with the pisspoor decision making from those behind the lens when it comes to his character, I really, really liked that entire scene in the cabin. That bad guy that almost killed Judith (too bad he didn’t succeed) is my new goddamn hero. Every word out of his mouth was spot on.
Dan: Tyreese is a waste of a character, as is Bob. I hope this episode is Tyreese’s turning point too, otherwise I’ll expect him to be killed off by the end of the season. Judith is another annoyance, but the ideal candidate for the writers to show some real balls. There’s no way the audience can be invested in her as a character because she’s got nothing to invest in. If the writers incorporated her death into the show, they could court some real controversy with a character that amounts to nothing. I don’t suppose anyone will be shocked if Tyreese dies because he’s an adult, but if Judith gets it – and I mean clearly buys the farm, not just a ‘did she/didn’t she’ like the aftermath of the prison escape – then the writer who pens that is going to need a wheelbarrow to get his cojones into the office. I can’t see it happening though, it seems AMC is not willing to push the envelope on what they show on a TV drama (the “They’re screwing/fucking with the wrong people” line being the perfect example).
Steve: I 100% agree with all of that. I was actually going to ask who do you think will die this year, and Bob is my number one candidate, with Tyreese coming in a close second. They need to shit or get off the pot with Tyreese’s character, and sadly I just don’t see them progressing that big guy. This is unfortunate because I really like Chad Coleman, the actor who portrays him, and the missed potential. And Judith...dear, sweet Judith. They need to ball up and kill her for the very reasons you said. To be completely honest, I don’t think they’ll do it. Of all my gripes with the show, that’s probably the biggest: The inability for AMC and/or the writers to cross the line. They only toe it, time and time again, but I have yet to see them just cross it and spit on it as they blow by. I still don’t count the child killing of last year. That didn’t impress me then and upon reflection it still doesn’t impress me. The kid was a sociopath and not an innocent. You off an innocent kid (who you bother to develop as a character), and you have my attention. But you know what? I’m going to let all of that go for now. I’m going to give this show the benefit of the doubt because of how terrific this season opener is.
And, lest we forget, how about that post-credit scene?
Dan: I’m in two minds; one the one hand it’s good to see Morgan back, but last time we saw him he was a broken man, mentally and physically. While he might have recovered on the physical side it’s a stretch to imagine that his mental illness magically got better, so I’m interested to see where they take his story. Of course I’m just assuming that he’s OK up top, he seems fairly level and composed in the brief glimpse we saw, maybe his demons will come back to haunt him – and the others when he inevitably meets up with them.
Click on a cover to read more episode reviews of The Walking Dead: Season 5.
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.