*Warning: The following article contains spoilers of The Walking Dead season five premiere.
After an agonizing six months, AMC’s The Walking Dead returned with an explosive and invigorating season five premiere. Delivering compelling drama and riveting action, the premiere drew in millions of ‘dead heads’ across the nation. Despite the wait, the premiere exceeded expectations, easily becoming one of the most thrilling and intense season openings in all of Walking Dead history.
This past Sunday, fans came to terms with a harrowing realization. Inside the walls of Terminus lives the epitome of human immorality and turpitude. The ominous figures we encountered in the season four finale are, in fact, cannibals. The so-called ‘sanctuary’ our characters anticipated is nothing more than a butcher shop of human remains and skeletons.
Fans cradled their popcorn and rocked back and forth in their seats as the episode opened with a flashback from the point of view of Gareth, the leader of Terminus. As Gareth and his group cower in the shadows of a train car, fearing their imminent doom, we see them in their most vulnerable moments. Before turning to murder and cannibalism, Gareth and his group were victims of brutality, rape, molestation, torture, and cannibalism.
When the episode flashes forward to the present, we see Rick and the group hastily at work, preparing themselves for battle. As the group collects metal and creates weapons, Gareth and his guards drag Rick, Bob, Glen, and Daryl out of the train car. In the next scene, we see a line of prisoners tied, gagged, and knelt before a trough. As the prisoners shake and whimper, the two butchers move down the line, hitting each prisoner in the back of the head with a baseball bat and draining their blood with a cut to the throat.
Moving one by one, the butchers inch closer and closer to Rick and the gang. Shocked and cringing, fans witnessed the abhorrent slaughter of several characters, including one familiar individual from early season four. To the surprise of many, the young man in the front of the slaughter line was Sam, the individual Carol and Rick encountered in town during the fourth episode.
In the background, we see a member of Terminus, who died during the season four finale battle, being prepared for food. It quickly becomes apparent that Terminus is a place rid of human emotion; it has become a place of systematic slaughter and institutional evil. Despite the carcasses hanging from the ceiling, Gareth and the butchers act as if it is simply a normal day at work.
As Glen prepares for slaughter, a large explosion rattles the building. Amidst the chaos, hordes of walkers flood Terminus, rendering it a futile and tumultuous mess of destruction. In response to the explosion, the butchers lose focus, and Rick and the gang make their move, killing the butchers and making a speedy escape.
It soon becomes apparent that the spontaneous explosion is the work of the one and only Carol, who was on her way to Terminus with Tyreese and Judith. After encountering a member of Terminus in the woods, Carol and Tyreese realize that Terminus is not the ‘sanctuary’ the road signs have promised; it is a reality plagued with the formidable and sinister disintegration of humanity.
In an effort to save Rick and the gang, Carol races through the woods with a myriad of weapons. As she nears Terminus, she disguises herself with walker entrails. Using an explosive, Carol blows up a propane tank at the entrance of Terminus, opening the gates to the incoming walkers. With a foundation of fear disguised in a facade of artificial dominance, Terminus crumbles under the weight of the truth.
As mayhem erupts and Rick and the gang face off with the ‘Termites,’ multitudes perish and the hidden terrors of Terminus are revealed. When the ring of bullets stops and the commotion subsides, Carol reunites with the group and leads them to a cabin in the woods where Tyreese is hiding Judith. As the group reunites, they prepare for the road of uncertainty ahead.
In the closing scene, we see Morgan walking along the train tracks, using a suspicious symbol etched in the bark of a nearby tree as a landmark. Morgan, a character we have only seen in two episodes of The Walking Dead, has been a fan favorite for years. In the first episode of the series, Morgan rescues Rick after Rick regains consciousness, leaves the hospital, and discovers the world he once knew has turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the third season, Rick runs into Morgan in a town he has fortified with automatic weapons and barriers. Rick realizes that Morgan’s son has perished in a traumatic accident, causing Morgan to lose touch with reality. As Morgan falls victim to his personal demons, he transforms into a physical embodiment of pain, regret, and anguish.
As fans prepare for the action-packed season ahead, many ponder the futures awaiting our characters. What is in store for Rick and the gang? What is the significance of the closing scene with Morgan? And, where in the world is Beth?
For more information regarding The Walking Dead and upcoming episodes, visit the AMC website. The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.
(Sources: AMC, Huffington Post)