The Ninjabot

No Sanctuary, THE WALKING DEAD Season 5 Premiere

Posted on October 13, 2014 at 7:00 am by Amanda Andonian

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Every season of The Walking Dead seems to have some kind of mantra, and this season’s is, “You’re either the butcher or the cattle.” After being herded into a train car to meet an unknown fate last season, “No Sanctuary” starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up until the very end. There were a few missteps along the way, but the season five premiere was a triumphant return to form, in my opinion. Not sure whether you should bother with The Walking Dead anymore? I guarantee that “No Sanctuary” is worth your time.

Spoilers Ahead!

As predicted, Terminus was not the happy-go-lucky sanctuary that its citizens led others to believe. They tried to make it that way, at first, but their signs promising sanctuary just led the worst of the worst to their gates, resulting in their imprisonment within their own walls. We don’t learn from the flashback how they managed to turn the tables on their captors, but obviously the struggle was enough to turn them into the monsters they became. If there was any hope of the audience feeling some sort of affinity with these people by way of the flashbacks, it was completely wiped away by the callous and dispassionate way the Terminites lined people up and led them to the slaughter.

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Their struggle juxtaposed with Rick and the gang’s efforts at resistance is a very obvious comparison. Our heroes are now in the same spot of trouble as the Terminites used to be, but they’re engaged in a flurry of activity, not cowering in the corners. It’s ingenious how they manage to fashion crude weapons from the most basic materials: belt buckles, earrings, splintered wood. I really loved this sequence for the creativity and determination the characters show. They immediately go into fight mode, not wasting a single moment in preparing themselves for a battle. Our survivors are not screwing around. Unfortunately, the Terminites are well prepared for any resistance, so Rick and the others never get a chance to put up a fight before being gassed and dragged to the slaughter house.

The slaughter house scene was probably the most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen on the show, which I think is saying a lot. It’s one thing to watch the survivors stab a walker in the dead, black blood flying everywhere; but it’s quite another to watch a terrified human being’s throat be cut, their blood slowly flowing down the drain. I commend the show for not flinching away from the horror of it, however I couldn’t help feeling it was an unnecessary level of gore. We know these people are awful people, and we know what they do to their prisoners. I’m not totally convinced that we needed to see it that way as well, especially given later scenes where the fruits of their labors are on display.

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Despite that bit of unpleasantness, I was really happy to see Carol go on the warpath. Rick might have kicked her out of the group, but they’re still her people, and she’s determined to save them at any cost. The cowering, beaten housewife is completely gone—Carol doesn’t fuck around anymore. In one fell swoop, she blows up Terminus, leads a herd of walkers right up to their door, and goes on a rampage worthy of Rambo through their meager defenses. The ensuing battle demonstrates just how battle-tested Rick and the others are; they don’t hesitate for a second when it comes to a fight, and they use an economy of movement and combat inventiveness that had me cheering at the screen no matter whether they killed a walker or a Terminite.

It’s actually quite a relief that we won’t be spending the entire season camped out at Terminus. Although last season spent so much time building up to it, I wasn’t really in the mood to deal with another ten episodes of slow burn before the final confrontation happened. The fact that the survivors came, they saw, and they blew everything up was the perfect way to start off the new season. It was also an important way of reestablishing who these people are and what they hope to achieve, aside from mere survival. We’re meant to look at the Terminites and wonder whether we would become them if put in the same position, but I don’t think many viewers had any sympathy for them. When Rick insisted that they go back and finish off the rest of the Terminites, I was actually surprised when no one else seemed on board with that plan. Rick is right—those people don’t deserve to live. What happened to them does not and never could justify what they in turn did to other innocent people who stumbled into their “sanctuary.” They’re rabid dogs, and they need to be put down. Rick gets that, and Carol most definitely gets that as well (remember Lizzie?). Hopefully there aren’t any survivors and we don’t have another Governor situation on our hands down the line.

“No Sanctuary” – B+

The Walking Dead, Season 5 Episode 1, “No Sanctuary,” aired on AMC October 12th, 2014.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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