One thing the producers of the walking dead can’t cheat is the passage of time, especially when it comes to Chandler Riggs. Between each season young Mr. Riggs has a significant growth spurt, which might go a long way to explain why we have large jumps in time between seasons. It may also have given something away about the production of episode one of season five.
Season Four Finale Spoilers Follow. You have been warned...
The season four finale saw our heroes locked in train car A. Presumably the residents of Terminus are cannibals and this is essentially a meat locker. We will come back to this point later. What the final scene shows us is that our group will be in this container until episode one of season five. Now, even if production of 5.1 picks up soon Chandler Riggs would have been “off camera” for months and changed quite a lot in that time, as growing teenagers do. And presuming episode 5.1 picks up immediately after the season four finale, this will present a continuity problem. One solution is to have the prison survivors kept in the container for months to explain the changes in appearance, but that seems unlikely from a logistical point of view. The other more practical approach is to have episode 5.1 “in the can” already. If the producers had planned to accommodate the break in shooting by producing episode 5.1 as season four closed they could have gotten around this problem. It would also explain this image I stumbled across which claims to be from episode 5.1:
When this started to dawn on me I went back to check the image closely. I was looking for Rick’s Python revolver. Knowing that it was outside of Terminus would mean if he had it here, this would be set after the group break out of train car “A”. But as you’ll notice the gun he is using is obscured. Would that be by design? This could be a deleted scene from the season four finale, but where is Daryl in the scene? If you look closely you can just make out Carl behind Rick in this shot, but no Daryl. And what could the chained walkers be about?
Let’s break this down. First a prediction. I wonder if the first thing shot when production starts up on season five will be episode one ‘bumpers’. These would be a cold open, that would constitute a flash forward, and an episode close. My prediction is the cold open flash forward would be a few members of our group, some months in the future, licking their wounds in a new camp. Perhaps the warehouse Sasha was checking out in “Alone”. We won’t see everyone, maybe Rick, Carol and Judith. Then we cut back to train car “A”.
What is train car “A”? We assume its a meat locker and that the people of Terminus are cannibals. I think I buy this idea but what if they aren’t? What if train car “A” is quarantine? Remember the shrine in terminus? Maybe that’s for the community members who have fallen to the infection. Perhaps they are the walkers in the image above? Infected Terminus residents. Maybe, like Hershel, the people of Terminus can’t bring themselves to kill their family members even after they’ve turned. Remember the abattoir? Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carl ran by a pile of human remains? What if the Terminus folk are feeding walker meat to their “fallen”? Perhaps the idea is, survive quarantine for a few days and then join the community. Maybe Carol and Tyreese have been through this process already and that’s what the powdered milk was about outside train car “A”. It was to feed baby Judith whilst in quarantine. Then, when they passed quarantine they joined general population? If that’s the case maybe it’s Tyreese who comes to train car “A” to let the newbies out. He is pretty good at integrating into new groups, we’ve seen that a few times. That way our group get out of train car “A” without a fight. They regroup and decide to leave Terminus. I imagine Rick and Garreth wouldn’t make great friends, and I’m certain he won’t be trusting another enigmatic group leader after his adventures with The Governor, so our groups exit from Terminus may be a fiery one.
It’s here I’d imagine the group stumbling across the chained walkers, and with thoughts of Hershel’s barn fresh in their minds they wipe them all out, putting them in opposition with the people of Terminus. Battle lines would have been drawn. It’s worth noting that Andrew J. West who plays Garreth has been added as a series regular. So I’m guessing Terminus will be around for a bit. Episode 5.1 would probably close with our group in their new home, some months on (explaining Carl’s change in appearance) and a reveal that all(?) made it out of Terminus safely. The new threat could be, not only that they’ve pissed off their closest neighbours, but the infected.
The infected: Since season two’s farm crushing herd the walkers have become less of a threat. The group seem to manage them quite easily and as long as they don’t group into large numbers they seem harmless. There has also been some effort by Greg Nicotero’s FX team to show the walkers rotting away. Considering the climate in Atlanta a walker wouldn’t have much of an “afterlife span”. So as they rot away to nothing they’re weaker. Fresh kills reanimating usually have limbs missing, like bicycle girl, so they are physically compromised. When, in season four, the infection was introduced I saw this as an opportunity for the writers to introduce a new threat: able bodied walkers. Those who die from the infection wouldn’t be physically compromised and could potentially move faster and prove more dangerous. Now I don’t think I want to see 28 Days Later style walkers on this show, but that don’t mean it ain’t happening. Also, look at the picture of Rick, Michonne and Carl above; whether this is from 5.1 or not, someone is feeding these walkers. If the people of Terminus aren’t cannibals but are keeping walkers, are they feeding walkers to walkers? What effect will that have on them? It could be interesting to explore that. Whatever happens I’m dead keen for season five. I still love the show and think Scott Gimple has some interesting ideas.
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By Marc Godsiff