Yes! The Walking Dead is back. And not just ease-us-into-the-season back, but full-on explosive-return back! We heard the first six minutes or so of the Season 5 premiere were going to be brutal and they weren't kidding. In fact, the whole first episode was like concentrated TWD suspense and thrills from beginning to end. And it's at this point that you want to stop reading if you haven't watched all of Season 5's opening episode, "No Sanctuary."
To recap the episode in one sentence: The people of Terminus made a mistake in trying to capture and slaughter Rick and his people.
Elaborating with more sentences: Rick and some of the other guys were about to be slaughtered. Carol blasted a tank from the outside, creating chaos and giving an onslaught of hungry walkers better access to the location. And while they were in a feeding frenzy, Rick and his people fought back and escaped. All of the lead characters survived.
If we were looking for an episode that demonstrated just how drastically Rick Grimes and his family of survivors has changed in the time since the days of Hershel's farm, this was it. From the very beginning, it was clear they weren't going to go down without a fight. And apparently, Terminus isn't going to be a major location for Season 5. The episode saw the train yard ripped apart and burning, thanks in large part to Carol's efforts to infiltrate the spot and bring a hoard of hungry walkers in with her.
Watching the assault on Terminus, I couldn't help but think back to the assault on the prison. Except in that case, Rick and his people knew they were under attack. The people of Terminus didn't realize the extent of their invasion until the damage was mostly done. Carol really did a nice job of creating just the right amount of chaos to confuse the Terminus residents, who were either eaten too fast to know what was going on, or who were too busy fighting walkers to notice they were being shot at.
Gareth is one of the few people who appeared to be alive at the end of the episode. It looked like he took a bullet, but he might not be hurt badly. Either way, we surely haven't seen the last of him.
Mary, the welcoming woman at Terminus, was killed in that candle room. Carol did most of the honors there, first facing off with the woman, then shooting her in the leg and letting walkers into the room to finish her off. Shooting her in the head would've been merciful, but Carol's more likely to conserve bullets than she is to be merciful these days.
On one hand, I want to say poor Mary. And poor Terminus people in general. Sure, they were evidently cannibals, luring people into their "sanctuary" like mice to a trap, only to rob them, slaughter them and eat them. But Terminus was once a good place, until its residents were attacked by the outsiders they'd invited in, who abused, raped and murdered them, forcing them to eventually fight back and reclaim their home with a whole new approach of running the place.
I find myself thinking back to young Mika, who was living and dying proof that this is not a world for people who don't have it in them to fight back. With that in mind, I liked that the episode found it necessary to bring us back to the later Terminus flashback, if only to remind us that these villains were once victims, themselves. Sometimes good people turn into something else when they're pushed too far. That said, what they've been through certainly doesn't justify what they're doing. But it does force us to consider the state of humanity at this point, in this reality. And worry about the that mentioned drastic shift in the lead characters' approach to conflict.
Moving on to less depressing musings, Eugene says he worked for some kind of Human Genome project, having something to do with weaponizing diseases. His big "cure," from what I got out of what he said, involves turning a disease against the walkers. I don't know if that would fix the whole problem, as we know that all of the survivors are essentially infected, and would turn if they were to die. But maybe whatever disease Eugene has in mind would kill off the infection completely? Or maybe this solution would only help to end the zombie chaos enough for survivors to regain control for a little while.
Regardless of whether or not Eugene's plan is legit and feasible, I'm happy Michonne and Sasha forced him to give up the details, if only to expose that unnecessary mystery.
Morgan is back! He wears a cool face mask and he's on his own. He showed up at the very end and saw Rick's "No Sanctuary" sign, which could mean he's not far behind Rick and his group.
Alex (Gareth's brother) was the guy on the butcher table. It seems even residents can be on the menu at Terminus.
The blond guy who was bludgeoned and slashed was Sam, the hippy guy whose path crossed with Rick and Carol last season. RIP Sam. (But you can find Robin Lord Taylor on Gotham).
Did Tyreese really kill that guy in the cabin? Last we saw, he was punching him. And he wouldn't let Carol go into the cabin when they all reunited later. Was that to keep her from seeing the bloody mess he made of the man's face? Or did he just knock the guy out? Maybe the guy's dead, but I won't be surprised if he's with Gareth the next time we see him. As for Tyreese, he may have hit his limit of disappointment, grief and anger. If that's the case, hopefully Sasha will be able to giving the support he needs to push forward.
There were some sick moments in this episode. As for what takes the cake, I'm torn between the sight of partially butchered human bodies hanging from meathooks and the sight of a man getting his face eaten.
Carol dominated this episode, from the moment she infiltrated Terminus, to the moment she came upon Rick and his people and delivered Daryl's crossbow to him. Between that reunion and the sight of Rick and Carl discovering that Judith was still alive, the close of the episode was surprisingly emotional. A great way to soften up an otherwise suspenseful and occasionally disturbing season opener.
Still no sign of Beth.