It's that time of year again, The Walking Dead returns February 8th on AMC! Let's take a moment to reminisce about the first half of Season Five. I am die hard fan of the ongoing Comic Series and have been dubious about this whole thing from the start but hey, nothing is going to ever be as good as "Agents Of Shield" or for that matter, quite as terrible as "Smallville." Comic book series are hard pressed to meet the ever impossible standards of the modern nerds about town. And there is just no pleasing us. Though sometimes certain episodes hit the nail right on the head. TWD season Five's first half is brimming with beautiful moments.
At the beginning of season five we woke up in Terminus. We also get a glimpse into why the inhabitants became cannibals in a series of flashbacks. Carol is the real hero in this episode. Going off to save Rick and Company while Tyrese stays to look after Martin and Judith, in what to me is a drastic freaky friday-like role reversal for the characters. One of the things I enjoyed about the story of TWD is the balance of strong female to male characters. The Maggie and Andrea of the comic series seem to be condensed into Carol. Andrea never became the crack shot she is in the comics and seemed to get by by clinging to stronger men. Which in the book is one dimension of her character but also is played younger.
And then there is Tyrese, a hulking force to be reckoned with who is a bit more reticent to violence here in TV land. Which will make it all the better when he finally snaps. Though he did claim to kill Martin when he threatened Judith's life. But I digress. Carol saves the day with a diversion and Rick and friends are freed to fight another day. And in a poetic act of titularity Rick changes the Terminus sign to read, "No Sanctuary." Which is then discovered by Morgan Jones. A blast from the past. Also in this episode is a Crate from "Creepshow," a horror film that producer Greg Nicotero worked on in the 80's. A bit of Fan Service that almost no one noticed and Nicotero pointed out himself while on a panel.
Now trekking through the woods and dealing with character's pasts in a series of flashbacks, the gang gets a feeling that someone is watching them and encounters Gabriel Stokes. A priest from a local church who claims to have never killed any walkers or people. A claim that causes Rick to immediately distrust him. This is possibly my favorite episode of the series. Carl discovers the writing outside of the church, "You'll Burn For This." Rick has a pep talk of sorts with the Father and lets him know what would happen if he became a threat to the group. Abraham is anxious to get back on the road to Washington with Eugene. Carol becomes uneasy and leaves the group, Daryl follows her in the car they had fixed up earlier.
A car goes speeding past with a white cross painted on the window, the same cross they saw the night Beth disappeared. Carol and Daryl follow in their car. Meanwhile, back at SuperFriends headquarters... Bob goes outside of the church to have a cry and is abducted by a small band of Terminus Survivors, lead by Gareth that includes... MARTIN? Tyrese, the fuck? The episode ends with the comic book basically jumping off of the pages and onto the screen as Bob wakes up to discover that his leg has been amputated and is currently being barbecued and eaten. Joke's on them, Bob is Tainted meat! More on that in a moment, as the episode ends on a cliff hanger.
See Bob was bitten back at the storage room fight which we find out at the beginning of episode 503. Bob reveals to his captors that they are eating "Tainted Meat!" Gareth and crew drop him off in front of the church. Rick seems to think that this could be due to the threat painted on the outside of the church meant for Father Gabriel. Which we now find out is because the Priest locked himself inside the church with all of the food and supplies and allowed his parishioners to become snacks for the insatiable dead. Rick and Abraham have a heated debate over leaving or avenging Bob. Glenn defuses the situation by agreeing to go with Abraham as long as he hang back for twelve hours and help the group.
After Rick, Abraham, Sasha, Maggie, Glenn, Tara and Michonne leave for Gareth's hideout, Gareth and his gang break into the church to kill whoever is left inside. They are surprised with an ambush and summarily slaughtered. Gareth gets it particularly worse, his fingers are shot off by Rick and as promised, Rick kills him with the red handled Machete. A bit of fun for the fans we can all get behind. The next morning the group says their goodbyes to Bob before dies the first time and Tyrese stabs him in the eye with a screwdriver, a mercy re-killing, After they bury Bob, Abraham and his group leaves for Washington and Abe leaves Rick a Map and an apology. Later that evening Michonne finds Daryl coming back to the church and asks where Carol is. Daryl asks someone to step out from behind a bush.
What happens next is not a complete breakdown of each episode but what I feel are key points in catching up to the mid-season premier. The first half of this half-season was some of my favorite TWD in years. The later episodes contain moments that I will never forget but was not riveted to the episodes that bore them.
As Abraham continues on his mission to Washington, we find out through a series of flashbacks what happened to his family during the initial outbreak. We see Eugene appeal to Abraham's soldier side and need for purpose when he tells Abraham that he is a scientist and needs to get to Washington. Eugene's story turns out to be a lie. He lied to Abraham so that he could have protection from the walking dead and a better chance at survival. Though the lie did serve a dual purpose in that it kept Abraham alive with purpose and served it's primary function of keeping Eugene protected. All of this rears its ugly head when Eugene sabotages the bus that they are on when it seems like they may actually make it to their destination.
Abraham, unable to understand or forgive Eugene in the moment, drags him to the group to confess and then beats the snot out of him before falling to his knees in shock. Ok so that is mostly the entire episode but a very important moment for one of the most beloved Comic Characters, Abraham. We knew Eugene was lying if we read the comics but this spin on it was terrific.
We spend some time in later episodes with Beth at Grady Memorial hospital. A small group of survivors managed to overtake the building and even have a police force and a doctor. Though that group does have its own problems. Beth helps a young man, Noah escape which causes Carol and Daryl to scuffle with him in town after they followed that car into the city. Which leads them to Grady Memorial. For me personally, I couldn't really get into the new group dynamic and honestly wanted all of the new characters to be fodder for Walkers and or misplaced rage.
These next few episodes went by in a blur for me. Though there were key points like Beth sticking up to the handsy creep of an officer and Rick and crew do finally come to town and the mid season finale ends on one of the greatest stand offs this show has ever seen. Rick and his band of merry men are now facing off with Dawn, the officer now in charge of the Hospital crew, thanks to Beth who conspired with her to kill Gorman, the creepy dude.
During the stand off Dawn's officers are traded for Beth and Carol. Dawn changes the terms when she demands Noah stay as her ward instead of exercising his free will to join Rick. Beth knows the miserable life ahead of Noah and goes to give Noah a hug and then confronts Dawn and stabs her with a pair of scissors she had concealed. Dawn instinctively shoots beth in the head. They die and Beth has sacrificed her life for Noah and the others Dawn was manipulating to stay inside Grady Memorial. A fine end to Beth, and otherwise useless bard-like character, i.e a way to get popular music into the show without having modern technology.
So there you have it, season five in a nutshell. The group leaves the hospital carrying Beth's body as Abraham's group arrives to meet them and Morgan continues his journey to meet up with Rick as he stumbles upon the church and the map.
Season Five continues February 8th on AMC! I hope you all enjoyed playing catch up with me.*
*BONUS: In TWD comic series there is a same sex couple living in the gated community. Rumor's have it as Daryl being revealed to be gay in the show since he has yet to find a love interest. Personally I think it would be great revenge for all the drooly memes by heterosexual ladies. Also I can't believe they waited this long to have gay characters in the show. am sure this all just speculation.