John Villarose VI
Staff Writer

Fans of “The Walking Dead” might recognize the show’s formula for starting off new seasons: the first episode kicks off with a large-scale, action-packed sequence of the gang trying to get through whatever their current predicament is, while the second episode is slower, as the characters recover from the first. Some might view this as too redundant, but it’s a formula that works, and made for two great episodes, introducing new mysteries and conflicts that seem promising.

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and the group escape from a safe haven run by cannibals in the Season 5 premiere of “The Walking Dead.”
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and the group escape from a safe haven run by cannibals in the Season 5 premiere of “The Walking Dead.”

After season 4 saw the group scattered and desperately trying to reconnect, season 5 starts immediately where season 4 left off, with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group trapped within the fabled safe haven of “Terminus.” In the premiere episode, everyone had a small part to play, but the real star of the episode was Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). After four seasons of Carol having secondary roles, the premiere showed her as a hero, driven by the constant hardship she’s gone through in the series. McBride has always been one of the better actresses on the show, and she proves it here, portraying Carol as one of the most well-developed female characters on television today.

The show needs to have Rick as a main focus, and we saw a definite change from Season-4-Rick that wanted to escape the leader role, only to have it thrown back in his face. After last season’s brutal events, as predicted, Rick has gone back to being completely serious and distrusting, perhaps more so than ever before. Tyreese (Char Coleman) was another standout, despite him typically being kept in the background. His inner struggle to stay innocent and kind was fleshed out, and his raw power, when he’s willing to use it, is stunning.

Two new characters were introduced as well. Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is a pacifist preacher who has obvious dark secrets. The setup for this mystery is pretty blatant (as “The Walking Dead” isn’t necessarily known for its subtlety) but still compelling. Gareth (Andrew J. West) on the other hand is this season’s villain. The Governor (David Morrissey) set the bar in the last two seasons, so any villain in the show is going to fight to make the same impact. However, Gareth, the psychopathic leader of a gang of cannibals, has already shown a chilling coldness and brutality.

Season 4 introduced the idea of a potential cure in Washington, DC. Now that Terminus has been dealt with, it’s clear that the trip to DC is going to be the new goal of the group. While it’s nice to know where the show is heading, fans can only hope that the show stays interesting on the way there. Occasionally, “The Walking Dead” tends to spend a too much time on buildup without moving forward enough, forcing seasons to rely on one or two crucial episodes per season to really sell the show. It happened last season with everything in the second half leading to Terminus, which was ultimately wrapped up in just this one episode which didn’t actually have a huge effect on the group. It’s too early to tell what exactly this trip will have in store, but as long as the show holds its grip on fans, and as long as we continue to see incredible performances at the level of McBride’s in the premiere, season 5 has the potential to be great.