Once again we are back in the unforgiving, lawless zombie infested world of the Walking Dead and it’s certainly back with a vengeance. Picking up from the painful cliff hanger at the end of series four, with the groups imprisonment, we are given a first episode that promises for a brilliant series to come.
It is getting to the point now where the make up team for the Walking dead must be running out of ideas on how to make Andrew Lincoln’s Rick appear any more emotionally destroyed as a man. However they have done a good job so far; as four fellow prisoners of the ambiguous ‘Terminus’ have their heads battered and necks cut next to him we can understand why. This sinisterly gruesome opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the episode, and as most will agree, hopefully for the rest of the series.
Despite the horrific nature of ‘Terminus’ there is a silver lining, well for audiences anyway. This lining comes in the form of all the characters together once more. Veteran viewers of the show will no doubt be relieved to see this after the hit and miss structure of last series that concentrated on one or two characters per episode. By bringing all the characters back together the show can progress the group survival aspect that we all know and love. It also means that we won’t have to sit through another fifty ‘paint drying’ minutes of Daryl and Beth talking about… stuff, again.
In terms of the episode itself the writers have outdone themselves in all categories. It manages to create the balance of action, horror, emotional drama and dread that had been missing in season 4. With a prison escape that is action packed enough to rival that of Alcatraz and two deeply emotional reunions at the end of the episode.
The introduction of Gareth (Andrew J. West), the apparent antagonist of series five, has been set up brilliantly. We can’t help but get excited for the conflict to come. It was impossible not to smirk at Rick assuring Gareth of his death by machete.
The interesting use of flashbacks and non linear structure of the episode is also effective in creating suspense and giving us tantalising insights in to the origin of ‘Terminus’ hinting at the possibility of an interesting side story that may run throughout the series. If there is anything to criticise it would be the lack of focus of some key characters. However we have a whole series ahead giving ample time to concentrate on all of the main characters.
It is hard to fault this brilliant season premiere that may even rival the first episode ever in terms of entertainment factor. All things considered, The Walking Dead has hit the nail on the head with this episode. Series five could not have been established in better style. With all the components there to keep audiences hooked it is refreshing to see the Walking Dead return to its gruesome, horrific roots.
The Walking Dead Series five airs in the UK on the Mondays on FOX (UK) at 10pm.