THE WALKING DEAD 5.01 ‘No Sanctuary’ Review

Walking Dead 501

THE WALKING DEAD Season 5 Episode 1

Episode Title: “No Sanctuary”

Writer: Scott M. Gimple

Director: Greg Nicotero

Previously on “The Walking Dead”:

Episode 4.16 “A”


The best part of the fifth season premiere of “The Walking Dead” is the way that the episode itself seems to tell the audience that the cannibals of Terminus storyline isn’t going to drag on forever. For the most part, it’s all wrapped up here in an awesome mix of explosions, burning zombies and general badassery.

And the biggest badass of them all was… Carol (Melissa McBride)?

It’s taken a long time for Carol to grow on me as a character, but there was something compelling about the way that she went about rescuing her friends from Terminus. Carol never seemed to have any doubts that she would succeed. She also backed up that confidence with her actions by disguising herself as a walker and blowing up s*** as needed.

Meanwhile, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) were about to get slaughtered by Gareth (Andrew J. West) and his cannibal followers inside of Terminus. That opening sequence with Rick’s group was incredibly intense as the butcher who cut the throats of his human captives got closer and closer to them. Even Bob’s impassioned plea to Gareth didn’t win them a reprieve, as the trailers led me to believe.

While the action was exciting to watch, it was more impressive to see the main characters and most of the supporting characters get moments in the spotlight that served them well. Tyreese (Chad Coleman) actually got a fairly meaty subplot when a member of the Terminus group verbally wore him down before threatening baby Judith. Tyreese screwed up and imperiled the baby, but he more than made up for it by going through another batch of walkers while unarmed before taking out his enemy from Terminus.

It’s fairly ambiguous as to whether Tyreese actually killed the man. He tells Carol that he did it and why, but it’s not something that we see. If that comes back to haunt Tyreese and the group, that could be a fun story.

One of the larger questions of this season is whether Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) does have the cure for the zombie plague. It was refreshing to see the other characters call out Eugene on this even in the middle of the crisis because they want to know if what he’s selling is worth dying for. It may be, if Eugen is telling the truth. I love the idea that there really isn’t a cure, but there may be a bio-engineered disease that can attack the walkers. “Cure” is the just the word that people can easily wrap their heads around. It’s really more of a weapon than a cure and it could backfire horribly.

I’ve read the comic book series, but Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and the rest of “The Walking Dead” creative team have shown a willingness to break from the comic’s story in the past. That allows for more uncertainty than in other adaptations.

It was also impressive to see this episode nail the emotional beats, especially when Daryl saw Carol and he immediately ran over to hug her despite the fact that she probably still had a lot of zombie guts on her clothing. Even Rick couldn’t hold a grudge when he realized that Carol had saved them… and that she had helped keep his baby daughter alive.

Similarly the reunion between the Grimes family and Judith as well as the one between Tyreese and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) were just great moments of television. There’s so little happiness in this fictional world that it seems like a fresh experience when everything goes right. That never lasts here.

Rick may come to regret letting the group talk him out of chasing down Gareth and his surviving followers. Since Andrew J. West is a series regular this season, we haven’t seen the last of Gareth. I’m not really impressed with Gareth as a villain and I’d prefer a stronger adversary for Rick and company. He’s not a trade up from The Governor or Joe and the Claimers.

The final reveal that Morgan (Lennie James) is following the trail of Rick and his group was a very welcome development. James has been greatly missed on this show during his stint on “Low Winter Sun.” I’d love to see James sign on to appear for a full season or more on this show. He makes everything better just by being on it.

“No Sanctuary” hit just about every mark that it aimed for in this episode. This was a very well put together episode of “The Walking Dead.” If the series can hit this level on a consistent basis, it might just shake off the memory of season 4’s lackluster second half.