Exciting, violent, bloody and emotional. These are just some of the words you could use to describe the season premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead.
When we left our post apocalyptic heroes at the end of season 4 they had just been taken prisoner by the people of the so called sanctuary Terminus. Little was known about the people of Terminus although several speculations hit the internet not long after the final episode aired early this year. The general consensus seemed to be that they were cannibals and although it wasn't openly confirmed in this weeks episode, the insinuation was definitely there.
As we entered the episode our heroes are preparing for their escape, which quickly ends when they are blind sided by a smoke grenade. Next we see Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Bob and four other nameless victims kneeling before a trough in a human abattoir. One by one the nameless victims have the back of their heads caved in with a baseball bat, their throat slit and left to bleed out into the trough as we and our heroes look on in terror. The whole scene screams horror and violence and reminds the audience of the terrible world our heroes live in. No police, no justice, "you either become the butchers or the cattle". With our heroes still holding on to their morals I feel this expression may become the ideology for the season as they will have to face ever more morally ambiguous decisions. In this opening scene however, The Walking Dead hits us with how the season is going to be; more violent, more gore and definitely not holding anything back.
The big fear going into this season was that Terminus might be our home for several episodes. This has sometimes been the case in previous seasons of The Walking Dead in which we have lingered too long on a specific location or character. I admit I did expect our heroes to stay incarcerated in their train carts for at least another episode, but I'm glad I was mistaken. The whole episode was adrenaline fueled, it seemed there was barely time to dwell on the previous scene before we were slapped in the face by something more gruesome and shocking.
Arguably the best part of the first episode was Carol (portrayed by Melissa McBride). Carol has come a long way since season one. From the timid, physically abused housewife to the take no nonsense woman we saw in No Sanctuary, Carol has joined Michonne (Danai Gurira) in being strong female lead characters. Unfortunately I believe these strong female characters could possibly be a way for the writers to compensate for the direction this season is likely to take. This comes from an online rumour that Robert Kirkmam and Scott Gimple have expressed interest in bringing the comics character Negan into the TV adaptation. For those who don't know, Negan is a particularly violent character who uses woman for his own sexual gratification. With this rumour, along with the final scenes of the first episode showing a flashback to Terminus' residents, being held prisoner and the women being taken off one by one, I feel an underpinning of sexual violence may be the theme for this season.
After Carol comes and saves the day the group are reunited, Rick and Carl with Judith, Tyreese with Sasha and Daryl with Carol and his Crossbow. It's the emotional ending needed after an hour of pure violence and reminds the audience that even after all the horror they have seen, our heroes are still human. They still fight for their survival and the survival of their group.
The first episode was arguably the best episode so far and with the over 17 millions views on AMC on Sunday, and over 700,000 views on FOX on Monday night, the season premiere broke its own record.
No surprise then to hear that AMC has renewed The Walking Dead for a sixth season.