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SEASON PREMIERE REVIEW: The Walking Dead 5×01 “No Sanctuary”

Never before have I been this excited for The Walking Dead to return. Cliffhangers are nothing new for this show, though I have to say that the hiatus between Season 4 and Season 5 was probably one of the longest, most brutal breaks I ever had to go through. And within the first few minutes of this season’s first episode, I can say that it was well worth the wait. (spoilers ahead!)

For those of you who need a recap, The Walking Dead‘s Season 4 ended with a majority of our protagonists locked up in a train car in a mysterious compound known as Terminus. Season 5 opens up with Rick and his crew still locked up in the train car, but preparing themselves for an escape. As they fashion themselves makeshift weapons, a tear gas canister is tossed into their prison, knocking them all out. Rick, Glenn, Bob, and Daryl wake up to find themselves tied up along with other unnamed prisoners, ready to be executed. Just seconds before they’re killed, an explosion is heard off in the distance. Roll opening credits.

Here’s one of the things that often bothered me about The Walking Dead: I always felt like the show was pretty slow. I understand that it’s supposed to be less about the zombie-killing and more about the inner struggles of society as it tries to adapt to a new world; however, I still found my interest waning in earlier seasons because I wanted to see more exciting, action-packed events unfold. Season 5 addresses that concern right away. The opening credits haven’t even started rolling yet and we’re already treated to a fantastic scene that is both unsettling (in a good way) and chill-inducing (also in a good way). This (in my opinion) is what piques interest and gets people hooked immediately. This is how you start off a season after a long break. This is what makes good television.

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The episode does not disappoint in the slightest. I would even go so far as to say that this was the best episode in the entire series thus far. There wasn’t one second where I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat, anxiously waiting to see what would happen next. In fact, the only complaint I had was that it was too short! But that’s television programming; it’s what keeps us coming back for more, and trust me, I do want more.

The episode is essentially split up into two main perspectives that eventually intertwine at the end. On one side, we watch Rick and the gang fighting their way out of Terminus, and on the other side, we have Carol fighting her way in to Terminus while Tyreese stays behind to watch over Judith.

Everyone has their shining moment in this episode, but Carol definitely stands above the rest. You thought Daryl was your favorite character? Make room for Carol. Melissa McBride does not get enough credit for her portrayal of the character. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator mixed with Sylvester Stallone in Rambo; that’s what Carol was in this episode.

Don’t worry. Her performance doesn’t totally overshadow everyone else. Chad Coleman, who portrays Tyreese, also delivers an extremely impressive performance. Not only does he come off as a sensitive, caring, father-figure to Judith while he is babysitting her, but he also has an epic moment where he goes ballistic on a group of walkers and then beats a Terminus scout to death after he threatens to kill Judith.

Back to the main gang. Rick, Daryl, Bob, and Glenn manage to escape after Carol blows up a propane tank and distracts the executioners. Grabbing whatever weapon they can find, they fight their way back to the train car to rescue their friends.

In between the alternating shots of Rick’s crew and Carol, there is a brief scene back inside the train car where Sasha asks Eugene what he knows about curing the global outbreak (if you recall back to last season, Eugene claims to know how to solve the zombie problem and therefore must be escorted to Washington D.C.).

This small scene didn’t slow down the action or negatively affect the episode in any way. I just feel like it could’ve been reserved for another moment. We’re watching this action-heavy episode and they decide to just casually throw in Eugene’s explanation on how to ultimately defeat the walkers? It could’ve waited for the next episode. My concern is that it was overshadowed by everything else going on in Terminus. Hopefully, the next few episodes further delve into Eugene’s hypothesis.

Both at the beginning and the end of the episode, there are two very, very brief flashbacks where we see the inhabitants of Terminus long before they became the antagonists. We discover that they were once prisoners who were in asimilar position as Rick and his gang until they defeated their captors and took back the compound. Although we see Rick and company kill off a majority of the Terminus inhabitants during the breakout, I have a feeling that they will come back in some capacity in the future.

On a final note: if you haven’t seen the episode yet, make sure you watch until the very end, even after the credits roll. I almost missed the final few seconds where we see a familiar face make an appearance outside Terminus. I won’t spoil it, but if you’re a true fan of the show, I can almost guarantee that your jaw will drop.

In conclusion, this episode was almost perfect. If you aren’t completely turned on to the show by now, this episode has to change your mind. I’m excited to see which direction The Walking Dead follows over the next couple of weeks.

Final Grade: A+

+ This episode was the best of the series so far.

+ Nonstop action, excellent performances, fantastic way to kick off a season.

+ The post-credits scene is bound to give you chills.

 

– It was too short!

– I kinda wish the show remained in Terminus for a lot longer than just two episodes.

Extra Thoughts:

– Will we see a return of any of the Terminus residents? It seems like they should play a bigger role in the story.

 

Were you just as amazed by this episode of The Walking Dead? Do you have high hopes for the rest of the season? Let us know in the comments or sound off on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!