Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus in a Season 5 promo for AMC’s The Walking Dead. Credit: AMC
I’m not usually big on doing recaps, but with this episode, I had to. That was one of the best season premieres I’ve ever seen. Ever.
AMC’s The Walking Dead had a much-anticipated return tonight, and it did not disappoint. Reunions were had, alliances re-established, and one character in particular proved themselves to be pretty badass. Enough with the small talk…
The episode begins with a “then and now” comparison: we first see the people of Terminus in unfamiliar circumstances: they are the captives in the train car. We briefly gather that some of the people that were drawn to Terminus came with sinister intentions, as we can hear screaming in the background. Then we see the Grimes Gang in their current predicament, forming weapons from materials they have on their person while a conversation soundtrack plays in the background (most likely the first conversations had between the group once they were reunited in the train car. The Terminus people come to the car and set off a smoke bomb, and Glenn, Bob, Daryl and Glenn are all gagged and bound and taken to a warehouse with four other men (including Sam from season 4, episode 4 “Indifference”) and put to their knees in front of a sterile trough. The first four men are given a blow to the back of the head with a baseball bat, and then their throats are slashed. Bob appeals to Gareth, trying to convince him that there’s another way, and then Gareth and Rick trade words and threats. Just as Glenn is about to get killed, gunshots are heard and then the building shakes from an explosion.
At this same time that all of this is happening, we see Carol and Tyreese on the tracks searching for Terminus, and Carol tells Ty her intentions to get him and Judith to Terminus but she won’t stay. Given the tension between her and Tyreese after her revelation last season, it’s understandable. They come across some walkers and Tyreese can’t bring himself to kill them yet (after what happened with Lizzie), so Carol does it, telling him that he’s going to have to do it sooner or later. The sound of gunshots draw the walkers away for now, and Carol and Tyreese continue on their way.
Meanwhile, along the tracks is one of the men from Terminus, Martin, who is setting up fireworks as a distraction and talking on a radio to someone back at Terminus, describing the “chick with the sword” and how he wants “the kid’s hat once they drain him”. He finds a gun to his head, as Carol and Tyreese inform him that those are their friends he’s talking about. They tie him up, and Tyreese stays behind with Judith to watch over the prisoner while Carol sets off to “kill people” in Terminus. She prepares herself with walker blood and heads to Terminus. Martin starts talking to Tyreese and basically gives some veiled threats, saying that since Tyreese is a “good man”, both he and Judith will end up dead before the end of the day.
Carol blends in with some walkers and finds herself on the outside gates of Terminus. She sees Rick, Daryl, Bob and Glenn being tied up and taken to the warehouse. She pulls out a gun with a scope and see the hoard of walkers approaching the front gates at Terminus. She uses a few of the fireworks that she took from Martin, and she shoots a hole into and blows up a propane tank (which was the explosion heard at the beginning of the episode). This blows apart the gate keeping the walkers out of Terminus, and gives her a way to blend in and enter.
Tyreese and Martin see the smoke from the explosion, and Martin keeps running his mouth about Tyreese dying, Carol dying, Judith dying. He just won’t shut up. Meanwhile, Terminus is under attack from walkers, and these people are scared. They are being killed, and there’s Carol, walking right alongside them, looking for her people. Rick, on the other hand, has managed to free himself with a knife hidden in his boot, and he kills the two butchers (oh, did I forget to mention that the Terminus people were cutting apart a man in the warehouse?). He frees the others and they take off to try to rescue the rest of the group. As the walkers continue to attack, Carol uses her disguise to locate and take down several of the gunmen/snipers of Terminus. Rick and Co. find themselves in a room that is being used as a human slaughterhouse, with body parts everywhere. Rick tells the guys to kill anyone they come across that isn’t one of them. This Rick is calculated and vicious, and I’m starting to think I like this Rick.
Carol comes into a room, where all of the belongings taken from those entering Terminus are kept. She comes across Rick’s watch (that he gave to Sam last season), and Daryl’s crossbow. She takes those items and moves on. Rick is able to take a gun from one of the Terminus guys and he attacks the Terminus people, leaving them to fall and be attacked from walkers. Carol runs into Terminus Mary (the BBQ lady) and there is a confrontation. Mary explains that they only became the way they are because one group they let in completely took over and attacked, raping and killing and mocking them. They fought back, took it back, and became “the butchers instead of the cattle”. Carol feels no sympathy for her tale, and opens the door to let the walkers finish Mary off. Damn, looks like the whole crew is vicious and calculated now. You gotta do what you gotta do to survive.
Tyreese is looking out the window (why does he have his back turned to this hostage?) and Martin, who has managed to break his bonds, runs over to Judity and threatens to snap her neck if Tyreese doesn’t leave the cabin and go outside with the approaching walkers. Tyreese leaves and we hear a struggle. Martin tries to get in touch with Terminus while we hear the struggle, and then all of a sudden, it’s dead silent. Tyreese bursts throught the door and starts beating Martin to a pulp. He puts a knife to Martin’s throat, and then throws it down and begins punching him in the face, over and over. Vicious is the word of the day, people.
Back in the train car, Sasha tries to find out what the cure is from Abraham, while they are all still trying to get free. Abraham starts talking in his nonsensical gibberish, and pretty much what it equates to is “fight fire with fire”. Rick frees the group and they begin taking out walkers and Terminus people alike and begin fighting their way out. Luckily, we don’t lose anyone in our group during this daring escape. Yay! The group finds the stash of hidden weapons in the woods, and Rick gives out orders to take out the rest of Terminus. Everyone else wants to be done since they escaped, but Rick is having none of that. He wants them all dead. Then…here comes Carol. And when Daryl spots her, this leads to the BEST. REUNION. EVER. He just can’t let her go, he’s crying, and he’s hugging her again, and damn. Rick walks over to her, “Did you do that?” Hell yes, Rick, Carol went full McGyver on Terminus. She was the Terminator of Terminus. She tells Ricks to come with her, and as they approach the cabin, Tyreese walks out with Judith. Rick and Carl run to Judith, Tyreese hugs his baby sister Sasha, and there are tears all around. All is right in the world again. For now.
Tyreese tells Carol what happened with Martin, and she’s about to go kick his ass when Ty tells her he handled it. Tyreese got his mojo back. Vicious. The group sets off, and as Rick passes one of the Terminus signs, he gathers some mud and scrawls a new message over the sign: NO SANCTUARY.
We get another flashback to the early days of Terminus, with Mary being thrown back in the train car while another woman is taken out to be raped and beaten. This is where Gareth decides that they will take Terminus back, and become the butcher, not the cattle. Even though it looks like the Terminus story is over, I think we’ve only scratched the surface.
After the credits, we see a lone figure walking the tracks, and they come across Rick’s altered sign. The figure removes his mask, and it’s none other that Morgan – the person who saved Rick’s life and introduced him to the world of walkers in the first place. We last saw him looking crazy and disheveled and wanting to give up on life, but he looks sane and calculating again. What does his reappearance mean? Hmmm…
Here’s a preview of next week’s episode, “Strangers”