It’s the fall season and that means premieres all over television. It’s one of the best times for comic book adaptations and there is probably not one more cherished than The Walking Dead. Despite its lapses from time to time it has remained one of the more consistent shows on television since its premiere and has become a bit of a phenomenon among fans of the original comic book series (like myself) and those who just wanna watch a really good show. It’s in its fifth season and four episodes in it looks like it is as good if not better than it ever has been.
We started the season about as good as it can start with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang beginning to make their play against their human eating captors and from there on the ride has been nothing but suspenseful, gruesome, and fast paced. The episodes have been consistent in their pacing which was what drew many to the series to begin with. It was constantly moving as the plot demanded although it is slightly different with the first season. There’s nothing wrong with establishing future plots while weaving seamlessly through the one that is already in place (talking about season 3 and a good portion of season 4). What a lot of people enjoyed the most about the show is seeing the constant struggles there are to survive in this sort of world and watching how it’s changed the characters from episode to episode. The problem I guess was that we saw the characters change yes but with that came a plateau in development when our characters became stationary for a good while. Well none of that anymore because now it’s all or nothing as they are on their own and it’s even better because we have a good grip on all of the main characters and now we’ve begun to see how they handle having to move from place to place with new characters to come and deeper plots to sort out.
Some actually may be sad that hipster Gareth and his cannibal crew are gone so soon but trust me that’s about as long as they last in the comic book and they couldn’t have done a better job with it. The point of it is to show that there are different evils in this world and whether you believe you are capable of it or not doesn’t matter because even if you’re not someone else is. It’s all about living in this reality and doing what’s necessary without losing what’s left of your humanity. That seems to be the idea behind this season especially with Rick’s line “What have you done… everyone’s done something”. He has turned into one of the best characters on the show again as this season has given rebirths to others like Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman). But let’s be honest, seeing their escape and later slaughter the cannibals in the end was as satisfying as seeing Rick’s “family” reunite (including Carol) was heartwarming. But enough of that as it’s not enough that they have to deal with life back on the road but also this thing with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and getting his “messiah” to DC so he can save the world and with Glen (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Laura Cohen) joining him on his mission. Not to mention there’s Daryl (Norman Reedus) and his quest to find Beth (Emily Kinney) and what exactly she’s been doing since being separated from him and ending up in the hospital. All these plot lines can be interchangeable and still allow the show to keep a swifter pace and still be dynamic and fresh.
Verdict: This season has a lot of great things going for it and it seems to be well received thus far and I believe that’s because it’s gone back to what it’s done best and that is count on suspense and drama brought on by the environment to make this story work. Also its Rick’s ability to lead this group in a new way that sees him the unquestionable leader while allowing others like Glen and Carl to keep him from going off the deep end again that makes the group dynamic familiar and a welcome sight. But the biggest thing for me was seeing something that also was lost return and that was hope. Things like Abraham and his mission and Officer Learner’s (Christine Woods) “willingness” to help people in the hopes that more will come clean up the world as she pioneers that movement at least bring a sense of optimism to an otherwise bleak outlook. Whether it’s simply blind idealism or a means to an end, it is a point that is not to be forgotten as the series continues. There are other things I haven’t touched on yet, but there will be plenty more to talk about once the season ends and I would expect to be just as impressed with the end as I am the beginning.
Season five of The Walking Dead gets a 4.5 out of 5
+ Rick’s reestablishment as leader
+ Pace and variation of plot
+ Back to more suspense and drama
+ Return of ideals such as hope
– Still in a wait and see mode for the rest of the season
Watch AMC’s The Walking Dead, Sundays at 9PM Eastern/8PM Central