Season five of The Walking Dead is only half way through. But since we have to wait until February to catch up with Rick and the gang, let’s take a minute and review what we witnessed these last eight episodes.
Generally seasons of The Walking Dead have a similar feel. The season starts off with a bang. It gets everyone talking and excited. And then it slowly starts to fizzle out right to the mid season finale. There they grab everyone’s attention again and leave us with a vicious cliffhanger. The second half of the season copies the same format. Honestly there for could four episodes a season for The Walking Dead and it would probably be a lot better off. Fortunately for us season five changed all of that.
This season started with the usual bang. Rick and his goons plan to break out of Terminus. With a little help from an old friend they succeed. Not before a chilling scene that had four of our heroes with their backs against the wall. And nearly their throats against a machete. Honestly seeing Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob kneeling in front of the sink as blood from fellow victims flowed on by was startling to see. Logically I knew they would find a way to escape but I still had a bad feeling this was the end for someone.
Meanwhile Carol leaves behind Tyreese with Judith and a new foe. Tyreese is going through some shit and I really felt for him as he had to defend the baby despite his new found discomfort with harming others.
Carol miraculously pulls off a perfect timed explosion to break open Terminus and set her friends free. As unrealistic as it was, I still enjoyed seeing Carol saving everyone’s asses.
Just before episode one comes to an end we are treated to a flashback scene. This Lost-esque moment is quite rare for the franchise and was used fantastically here. The flashback shows the new badguys, Gareth and his people, being held captive in the very same train car as our heroes were. This showed the audience that Gareth and the gang were at some point normal, non-cannibals that eventually evolved into horrible human beings trying to survive. It was chilling and deep. Most importantly I was not expecting it. Episode one was one of the best episodes of the series and it really set the tone for the season.
Episode two had a familiar feeling as our group is searching for a new place to hole up in. They eventually stumble across a church that only has one occupant, Father Gabriel. The Father seems nervous and Rick is convinced he is hiding something.
Later Carol and Daryl go off on a date. A date with the bastards who kidnapped Beth. More on that later. The episode wraps up as haunting as any episode has ended before. Bob wakes up to Gareth and the goons munching on his leg. Wow, for two straight weeks The Walking Dead blew my mind with the last scene.
The next episode has our favorite zombie hunters spread out. Bob, Carol and Daryl are missing meanwhile Abraham and friends are trying to sneak out on the bus. Rick calls an audible and sets a trap for Gareth’s gorillas. It works to perfection and Rick successfully butchers Gareth with a machete as promised.
Abraham takes a group that includes Glenn and Maggie on a quest to DC. And Daryl finds his way home albeit without Carol. And the group says goodbye to Bob. Bob always felt like a temporary character to me. But somehow he grew on me. Maybe it was his silver linings attitude.
Moving onto the fourth episode where we finally get the Beth standalone episode we have all been waiting for! Actually this episode was quite engaging. When we catch up with Beth we learn that she is working off her “rescue” at a hospital. Officer Dawn Lerner is in charge but she seems overwhelmed and easily angered.
Beth is tricked into killing a patient. This spurns her to plan an escape with fellow hostage Noah. Their plan works for Noah but Beth is caught and brought back. Here she sees Carol being brought in on a stretcher.
This episode was definitely a bit weaker than others in the season. But it was an interesting side story. And the twist at the end was quite shocking. Unfortunately this side story only gets worse from here.
Episode five finds us with Abe’s group on their way to Washington DC. The only thing of value from this episode was Eugene’s confession that he is not a scientist and cannot save the world. Which was fairly obvious. I did find his reasons behind lying pretty interesting though. He used the only tool he had to stay alive. That tool just happened to be lying.
Moving onto episode six. We finally find out what happened to Carol and Daryl on their date. Basically Carol and Daryl run into Noah. Noah tells them he knows where Beth is and Carol gets hit by a car. Daryl goes back to get the group in order to rescue Beth and Carol. Normally I love Carol and Daryl’s interactions. In this instance I found myself looking for distractions. Just an average episode.
Episode seven reveals what is happening with Abe’s group and also follows Rick’s group as they try to get Beth and Carol back. Abe is catatonic as he struggles to come to grip with the reality that he won’t be the next King of the World. Eugene is knocked out cold. So being the great boyfriend/fiance/husband or whatever, that Glenn is, he decides to leave Maggie in charge of those two while he goes on a fishing trip. Seriously. And they find a yo-yo. Alright.
Meanwhile Rick and friends decide against an all out assault and instead they peacefully capture three officers and plan on using them as tradebait. Unfortunately one officer attempts to run away and well, that leads us to episode eight.
At the beginning of episode eight Rick runs down the runner with his car. And then shoots him in the head. Wow, more on this later. Meanwhile Beth helps murder another officer with the help of Dawn. And eventually Rick’s group gets Dawn to agree to a trade. They successfully trade when suddenly Dawn changes her mind. She wants Noah. For some reason this enrages Beth who attempts to stab an armed officer with a pair of scissors. BETH ATTEMPTS TO STAB A COP WITH SCISSORS. Okay then. Beth is shot dead by Dawn. And Dawn is then killed by Daryl. At this point our group is all back together. Daryl and Maggie sob over Beth’s death.
So in the end Bob and Beth end up dead, Rick has lost his trust of the world and Carol can’t seem to get away from this crazy group. Meanwhile Eugene is a phony, Michonne got her sword back and somehow Tara is still alive boring us to death.
What I found most interesting of this season is Rick’s descent into madness which has shades of Walter White transforming into a monster. The best part is that it is happening before our eyes but no one is talking about it. Its captivating but not in your face, over the top. Terminus made him snap. Now he kills without remorse. At some point this will be addressed.
What I found least interesting was Beth’s story. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been but I found myself flabbergasted in the last episode. All of the sudden Dawn is throwing all these names of officers around. Was I supposed to be following any of it? I wasn’t able to. I felt confused and bored. And to top it off Beth did the dumbest thing ever. Just when she was starting to become bearable as a character. Seriously everyone and their dogs had a gun. What did she think would happen? She successfully stabs Dawn and everyone cheers and puts her on their shoulders and head out of there like Rudy? At that moment she put everyone’s life at risk. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Truly though, this has been The Walking Dead’s best season since the first one. It helps when these people aren’t bogged down by a lame location. Plus the writers have learned that humans can be as terrifying (or more so) than walkers. Not every story line was a home run but the half season had enough big moments to keep us wondering what could happen next. Let’s hope this continues starting in February.
Kevin’s rating: 8.5/10