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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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Episode 1 - No Sanctuary

19 October 2014
Credit AMC

Synopsis: Carol and Tyreese capture one of the Terminus outer guards. Carol heads on into Terminus disguised as a Walker after blowing a hole in the gates. Inside Rick leads his people out as they mow down their captors. After an emotional reunion the gang move on. Morgan is following their path. In flashback we see how Terminus went from sanctuary to prison.

The Good: I have mixed feelings about the decision to overthrow Terminus in the season opener. But if you are going to do it then this was a fairly thrilling way to do it. The opening sequence was very strong as Rick and company are lined up at the slaughtering trough and only a mystery explosion saves them from being executed. Carol has earned her bad-ass bonafides and I liked that she instantly began an assault on Terminus. In any other show there would have been merit in patiently scoping out an enemy base. But in this kill or be killed world it's better to get your rescue plans working immediately. Once you saw a makeshift shiv in Rick's hand it was off to the races. The action sequences were suitably exciting and our crew's new ruthlessness makes it easier to buy into their ability to escape tight corners.

I continue to be thoroughly impressed with the way Scott Gimple has moulded the message of the show. It always seemed logical that our crew would demonstrate that keeping hold of a moral core can aid survival. It's about the only way to maintain a sense of decency in a world so thoroughly warped. However the first three seasons struggled to articulate this clearly. Thanks to last season though that spirit was embodied in every scene. Those trapped in the train car didn't despair - they all got to work immediately. Their morale and conviction never wavered. Rick was able to prophecise his own victory, sure that somehow the universe would reward his certainty. Tyreese's scenes in the outhouse were clearest of all. His captive (a very good performance btw) was crystal clear that life was now about survival at any cost. And ultimately he lost his life when a concilliatory approach of any kind would have mollified Tyreese.

The Bad:
Of course the drawback to the speed at which Terminus fell apart is a sense that it was all a bit too easy for Rick. The direction actually did an excellent job of creating believable chaos and the writing made sense as the barrage of gunfire that closed the season drew in a herd. However we really needed more time for Carol to work out how to blow up a gas tank. Her perfect aim with her handy rocket was far too convenient.

The Unknown: The emotional reunions were perfectly well acted but lost a bit of impact because we were only just getting used to the show being back on air.

Rick's insistence that they hunt down the people from Terminus and kill them was an interesting moment. Let's ignore the complicated moral reasoning behind that and focus on the hanging plot thread. It seems likely that some of the Terminus people will now survive and meet up with our survivors down the road. The trailors for the season together with the flashbacks seem to confirm this. It's an interesting development and continues Gimple's use of flashbacks to round his stories out (the Governor double shot and the finale's use of Hershel).

Eugene's explanation for what the "cure" is for the zombie virus was kind of what you would expect. He basically said nothing but by talking about highly developed micro-biology it sounds like he knows what he's talking about. He did not say that it was a government experiment gone wrong that caused the outbreak. Nor did he say that he has even tested a formula which might reverse or end the process. The question of whether he is a fraud, a fool or a saviour continues.

Between Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead the level of real-looking violence on television has gone to new extremes. Each scene will hit the viewer differently based on their expectations and the emotional context it's presented in. Despite it being anonymous humans being slaughtered I was still quite shocked at the casual brutality in seeing men having their heads smashed and throats slit at the Terminus trough. I don't know if that's a good thing or not! It definitely worked to ramp up the tension here.

Best Moment: I actually thought the most engaging part of the episode (opening sequence aside) was Tyreese's discussion with his captive (Martin). I was impressed with how certain the latter was that real friendship was gone and how casually he now viewed murder. He seemed shocked that Tyreese didn't understand that one of them was certain to die. "I don't wanna do this today" was the extent of his interest in not slaying a fellow human to secure his survival.

Conclusion:
An exciting and enjoyable season opener. I do have reservations about the speed at which everything happened but so far Scott Gimple's planning has been impressive so let's give him the benefit of the doubt.

70/100

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  • hey, I'm crazy happy you're back Robin... Thanks for the Review.

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    All right, it was a very exciting, promising episode. And we kinda almost had everything we need for an amazing TWD. From character development, human moments to crazy violence and fast action sequences.

    I was absolutely shocked during the terrifying, gut-wrenching throat-cutting slaughterhouse scene. I knew from the trailers that our survivors were going to get away alive somehow, but meanwhile I was picturing what would happen if that man brings down his bat on the back of Gelen’s head.

    I really liked how Carol handled the situation, and it officially transcended her to a fully brave, smart apocalypse survivor bad-ass to me.

    In the end, No Sanctuary brought my hopes and expectations up with its shocking violence, fantastic actions and of course the way the story is headed. After all, Rick stood by his promise and showed they were really screwing with wrong people. And after all, it seems Morgan is back stronger than ever.
    By the way, I’m so into the Terminus back story. I wanna see what changed those innocent people to some ruthless animals.


    very sorry for the bad English :-(

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Reza from Iran, 14/10/2014 10:56am (6 years ago)

  • @Ben F: Ah so the first guy to get slaughtered was the hippie dude. I didn't recognise him either.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 13/10/2014 10:13pm (6 years ago)

  • It is wonderful to see you back Robin!

    How fitting to return to a show like the one we saw as the Season Five Opener.

    S5E1 did not disappoint. I thought it was very well written all the way through to the surprise ending of Morgan following up the rear flank of Rick’s group. They seemed to have thought of everything.

    I have mixed feelings about the 4 minute trailer they released for Season 5 a few days ago. It did rob me of some of the tension in this episode (in it you see Rick holding Judith, so that diffused some of the emotional intensity I felt with the Grimes reunion.)

    Good:

    • A chock full of reunions: Carol and Daryl reunion; Grimes reunion; Carol and Rick reunion and whole group reunion (sans Beth). They are getting a lot better with balancing intensity and energy with parallel action sequences.

    • Greatest attribute: Building tension inter cutting between groups of characters:
    1. Termite Martin and Tyreese;
    2. Rick, Daryl, Glen and Bob against Gareth (and other Termites) in the slaughter room;
    3. Carol, Walkers and Termites; and
    4. ‘A’ Train car group (trying to figure out what was going on.)

    • Seeing things from cast perspective. I actually felt like I was locked up with them in the railroad car and in line for slaughter.

    • “You're the butcher or you're the cattle.” Our suspicions tragically realized with short brutal flashbacks and the slaughter room scenes. It makes sense that the Termites were once good people with good intentions and a group of horrible survivors found the Termites and changed that group’s lifestyle permanently for the worse. Their cold, twisted, organized, evolved lifestyle contrasted magnificently with the warm, impromptu, morale lifestyle Rick’s group fights to preserve. The exchange between Termite Martin and Tyreese perfectly captures the comparison between the two groups. I loved how he and Gareth were so dismissive of Tyreese and Rick’s group way of living yet simultaneously relay that was the way they originally lived to help justify their current cannibalistic dealings.

    • Our group proves how resourceful and bad-ass they are just in their fiercely solemn fashioning of makeshift weapons. Carol shows amazing resourcefulness and is the perfect unsuspecting hero of the show. They did try to release some captives at Terminus only leading to those people dying from the zombie horde. This really demonstrated the group improvised rationale (even over Rick) that finishing the Termites and release those who were still imprisoned was not a good idea. (Especially after all the explosions, walkers, fences being down and gun fire. That will attract large groups of walkers from miles around.)

    • Great use of the cure for stalling to try and save Rick (et al). Pushing Eugene for the cure gave us some information about the cause of the apocalypse being some type of human genome project for weaponized diseases. It’s vague enough to make you doubt its validity yet plausible enough to sound like it’s the truth. If they are all infected already from some type of pathogenic microorganisms then it makes sense there might be other microorganisms that reverse those affects on dead human tissue.

    • They are getting very good at misleading the audience with fake outcomes in trailers. It looked like Glen was going to die as well as Bob in the trailer for this particular show – nicely done. The writers are also messing with the comic readers which I love in one scene. I cannot reveal more than that.

    • Special FX detail: Flaming zombies attacking the Termites.

    • Great use of dialog to propel the show forward: Carol hearing Termite Martin talk about Carl’s hat and Michonne set her to task. Simple, direct and effective. Dialog also tells us how organized and expansive the security force is at Terminus and how cold they have become to dealing with their fellow human beings.


    Bad:

    I have very little to say in the bad category. Nothing jumped out except:

    • They might have been able to use about 5 more minutes to add more Terminus detail to make the overrun more impactful.

    • The placement of Mary in the Church room was good, however I thought the expression “You're the butcher or you're the cattle.” didn’t work as well as it could have in the Church room. If you consider how much effort they put into the Church room and Mary’s character. I thought they should have shown more of the original Termite group (flashbacks) doing the right thing (helping folks) to get more out of the evil, twisted behavior they evolved into having later on.

    • I wish there was a flashback of the old Termite group over taking the bad folks that almost killed them all. Perhaps this would have been too cliché?

    Unknown:

    • Where are you Beth?

    • The symbol Morgan picked up on. Is it some sort of sign that’s universal tracking sign or some made-up sign between Morgan and Rick?

    • The walkers are a result of Pathogenic microorganisms? If there is a microorganism that can destroy the zombie microorganisms why wouldn’t Eugene at least tell them it’s name or keep it classified? Most folks wouldn’t know the microorganisms he is speaking about or how to create a delivery system that would allow those to be dispersed to affect the zombies and the remaining humans.

    • Is Gareth and Termite crew still alive? It looked that way. Will Rick follow through on his promise to Gareth?

    • Where are they off to now? Find Beth or go to DC or both?

    Viewer score: 73 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 13/10/2014 7:23pm (6 years ago)

  • The previous season premieres were resets for new stories, I like how we have a more continuous start for the season.

    Having the recurring villain of the Terminus boss will be interesting, especially compared to someone like the Governor. Plus it the logistics of the Terminus set-up was well done with their organized community.

    My nitpicks (quite minor in the scheme of things):
    I actually didn't recognize one of the throat-slaughtered humans that Rick exchanged a glance with.

    Also, the very first scene/flashback due to the lighting, I wasn't sure who it was, and I had guessed that it was just the 4 people who died in the throat-slash line.

    The first 5 minutes were super intense and gripping, the rest of the episode didn't quite reach that height. I also felt this episode could have used another 5/10 mins to flesh out Terminus and everyone in the train cart more (but who knows, maybe those are deleted scenes).

    Last note: "Then" and "Now" weren't useful as time cards, it took until the 2nd "then" until i had the timelines straighten out in my head.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 13/10/2014 6:45pm (6 years ago)

  • Great episode. This and the finale of the last season have both been fantastic and I hope we start seeing the quality pick back up again after a couple of pretty lacking seasons.

    My gripe at first was that Terminus was already over and done with, but judging by the ending this might not be true. Then the post-credits ending had me incredibly hyped and excited, can't wait to see more from that.

    Will probably do a proper write-up tomorrow but it's 4am here in the UK so my bed is calling.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Anonymous, 13/10/2014 4:04am (6 years ago)

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