The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 1, “No Sanctuary”
October 12, 2014, 9:00 PM (EST), AMC
The Walking Dead, while having the honor of the highest rated cable TV show in history since its debut, has always had critics saying the show lacked emotional depth and character development. It has improved in recent seasons, most notably with The Governor. That has changed. The show left off its fourth season with Rick saying “They’re screwing with the wrong people.” Well, he certainly lived up to that promise in this explosive, emotional premiere.
Whoever the people of Terminus are, they certainly aren’t good people. The opening scene of the men knelt in front of a trough as their throats were slit and the blood collected was harrowing, intense and grotesque. Glenn’s close call by an explosion created by Carol left them enough time for Rick to free and kill the men who would butcher them. More on them in a bit.
Carol has become one of the most interesting characters in the show, and her character turn is nothing short of amazing. Last season’s episode, “The Grove”, where Carol had to mercilessly put down Lizzie, showed a side of Carol we never thought we would see: one of a survivor, no matter the costs. Carol’s will to live and thoughtful planning rival that of Rick’s. She could easily lead the group and make decisions if something were to happen to him. She certainly led the way this episode. Covering herself in zombie guts to disguise herself as she approaches Terminus and blows up a gas tank, she lets in a horde to help take down people as she makes her way in to locate Rick and company.
Rick’s desire to go back into Terminus after just escaping to kill off every last person is something we haven’t seen in him before. Thankfully no one else wants to risk getting killed by a walker or whatever survivors are left. Rick’s behavior is that of a rabid animal. We know he was backed into a corner and viciously killed several people, leaving them to turn. Perhaps it’s because he saw the area where they were to be killed had bodies hanging from the ceiling, stripped of their skin. It’s made clear that the people currently living in Terminus were luring others there to kill and eat them. Maybe Rick can’t stand the thought of others losing their humanity so far as to go to those lengths; perhaps it was because he narrowly escaped being one of those people that he wants to make sure it could never happen to anyone else again. Regardless of the reasons, the grouped knocked some sense into him before they did something they would regret.
In flashbacks throughout the episode and during Carol’s conversation with a woman in some kind of memorial room, we learn that Terminus has had a few turnovers of sorts. It sounds like it started as a true sanctuary for people, much like the prison. It sounds like they let in some people who appeared friendly, but clearly had other intentions. Maybe it was those people that started the cannibalistic nature. We do know that those held captive took back Terminus and held onto a belief the resonated throughout the episode: you’re the butcher or the cattle. While sad that these normal people turned to such ferocity, it raises a question for our group of survivors: would they ever go that far? I think as long as they have someone who can be their moral compass, the group will keep their humanity. Thankfully Glenn has stepped up to fill the shoes left by Hershel. Glenn knows when to survive and when to fight. He was the only one telling Rick to let out the people held in the other container.
In the end, we were met with many happy reactions. Carol was reunited with the group, much to the delight of Daryl. Rick and Carl are ecstatic to see Judith, as was Tyreese and Sasha. As they leave, Rick smears on the sign “No” above sanctuary (though the billowing smoke might be a good indicator of that too). In an apparent post-credits scene, we see a man approach the sign, turn and remove his mask. Much to our surprise, it’s Morgan. Was this just a fan tease, or will he catch up with the group down the road? Only time will tell.
- Fans of the comic had to be on the edge of their seats for the scene of Glenn and the baseball bat.
- What were they planning on doing with the blood they drained in the trough?
- For what that room was used for, it was very sterile. Doesn’t seem like the best use of supplies, but maybe they had a stockpile.
- I expected Terminus to be a factor for more than an episode this season, at least in terms of production budgets.
- Carol cleaned up pretty quickly after getting out of Terminus and meeting up with the group.
Explosive premiere gives us the best episode of the series to date, along with much zombie violence and misery humans will inflict upon each other in this post-apocalyptic society. Terminus is a bust, and the whole group is finally back together as we wait and see where they take off.