The writers of The Walking Dead came out swinging in the start of the fifth round this week. The first episode of season 5 kicked the drama up a notch, proving to be one of the most brutal and tense episodes of the zombie killing show to date. After a prologue revealing an event from Terminus’ past which would later be explained, the show picked up right where the previous episode left off, breaking into a sprint and never stopping for breath until the credits rolled.
The Walking Dead was at a heightened sate this week, its adrenaline kick from the zombie fuelled chaos made all of its qualities more focussed and sharp; the action was choreographed to devastating effect, its acting formidable, its brutality focussed and its special effects a sight to behold. The Walking Dead’s acting was once again on-point, the obvious intensity of the scenes of fear and chaos around them no doubt gave the actors something to work with.
The producers showed cruelty in their willingness to constantly threaten the audience with what the producers know the viewers were afraid of most. If you want an example of this just consider that one of the first scenes involved, arguably the three most popular characters being dragged into a room to have their throats slit. They presented a scene of almost certain death and then masterfully averted it saving four of the show’s key characters. Although, make no mistake that scene was a direct threat to the viewer, it was Frank Darabont saying “I can do this at any time, but your lucky this time I’m not in the mood.” He came uncomfortably close to killing off three huge characters and one minor one with potential. *COMIC AND POSSIBLE TV SHOW SPOILERS AHEAD* Even the inclusion of the baseball bat was a terrifying reference to Glenn’s ultimate fate in the comics. It may even be a sickening piece of foreshadowing, provided the show follows the comics.
Once again The Walking Dead had an incredibly high budget, the sheer level of zombies and destruction was off the scale. The special effects are fantastic, the show seems to understand the value of practical effects when it comes to zombies and other such gore. Some of the zombie attacks were brutal, making even the most hardened horror fan screw their face up. The season premiere did not hold back on the uncomfortable violence at all, in the first ten minutes there was a particularly graphic and uncomfortable scene of butchering. This was an intelligent move, by making the viewer turn away or just make them feel genuinely uncomfortable they put them on the back foot from the beginning; reminding them to buckle up for a rather upsetting ride.
I am happy that the group, or what’s left of it is back together again. Simply because it got a little tiring in season 4 when the break away teams were constantly talking about regrouping and it never happening; it seemed a little like the show was at a standstill for a few episodes in season 4 due to the distance between the characters the overall story never gathered speed.
I am questioning how they will bring the two groups back to a place of cooperation that feels natural after the conflict in this episode. From the trailer we know that at some point the survivors from Terminus and the group will reluctantly join forces. I am cynical about how they will convincingly pull this off when the two groups of survivors have went to war with each other.
With a nice reveal in the after credits scene and a fairly hopeful ending I look forward to seeing the developments of The Walking Dead in the future. I am interested to see how AMC are going to keep topping episodes like this in the future, obviously not every episode can be this big budget but they need to occasionally produce big instalments like this every now and then to use the momentum to change things and therefore keep the show fresh.