It is the highest rated show on cable television pulling in astronomical viewing figures with every episode and it’s all about zombies (although the characters avoid saying it at all costs), who’d have thunk it? The fourth season finale saw our protagonists stuck in a container to be prepared for some seasoning for the good people of Terminus. So we knew season 5 was going to get off to a flyer (or fryer depending on how things went) but how did Rick & Co get on?
You bunch of crazy guys and gals(!) there will be spoilers for the first half of season 5 in this post and if you are wishing to not waste the show for yourself I probably wouldn’t read on.
There’s a lot to cover so I might as well start at the beginning, and what a beginning it was! Season 4 ended in a precarious situation, clearly they were going to escape the container (that or it would be a short season) but the question was how many would make it out alive? Turns out that they were all going to make it out alive… I have a serious problem with this. We all knew that the majority of characters were going to miraculously make it out alive, but all of them and without as much as a scratch or a hair out of place? I mean come on! It is made all the worse that I am then meant to believe that Carol, on her own, managed to infiltrate and totally fuck up an entire civilization. I like Carol but this was all a bit silly. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the first episode of the season, it was exciting and had easily the best action of the season so far but it wasn’t without many faults. Can’t help but feel sorry for the other captives stuck in the containers who were left to starve (unless they ironically turned to cannibalism) by Rick and Co and wonder what their lives could’ve been like if it was not for that one crazy guy ruining it for the group, there’s always one!
The show then went in the interesting direction of having the survivors of Terminus hunt the group which lasted all of two episodes… Maybe they felt that they couldn’t stretch it out until the mid-season break and had to end it before it ever really started but it all felt rushed. In fact the whole Terminus thing felt a bit rushed, as if they thought it would be a good idea last year but decided before making this season that it was shit and shut it down as quickly as they could. Maybe that isn’t the case; it’s just sort of how it felt to me. Also what was the point of the little flashbacks they had for Gareth? This short story also saw the end of good ol’ Bob and the introduction of bad ol’ Gabriel (the ol’ kill a black character to introduce a new black character because we don’t want the middle class white people being uncomfortable at the growing numbers of ethnic minorities on the show adage). I personally liked Bob, now whether that was to do with his character in the Walking Dead or the fact he was D’Angelo Barksdale I’m not too sure (I imagine the latter) but I was sad to see him go. The major problem is that I don’t think this was the general consensus and that is almost certainly down to the fact that Bob hadn’t been on the show long enough for people to get truly attached to him as a character. This is a topic I’ll go into in a bit more detail later.
Whilst I’m here I don’t really know what Father Gabriel added to the show. It is firstly pretty hard to suspend you belief to believe that he had managed to live in a church for about three/four years on canned foods which were donated by his community. Putting my logical thinking hat on (not something which is recommended for this show) let’s assume that Gabriel is eating an average of 2 cans of food a day over three years (the minimum amount of time passed in the show). This means that he would need a minimum of 2190 cans of food before he ran out and had to leave the church, which based on the size of the church and the likely size of the congregation is beyond unlikely. It is made all the worse when you consider how he could have had so much water and the lack of visible excrement when the gang visited the church. Essentially he was an absolute pain in the arse and you have to wonder why they put up with him despite the fact he got Bob killed and followed that up with almost giving Michonne, Carl and Judith the same fate.
The show then went in an odd direction of doing three individual episodes in a row and it was at this point that I realised that the Walking Dead had become a cliff-hanger whore. Pretty much every episode in this season ended with some sort of big omg! moment (the Eastenders effect), it doesn’t feel organic. It is made all the worse when you have a cliff-hanger which isn’t answered for two fucking episodes!
Almost certainly the biggest story arc was that of Beth and the hunt for Beth. I actually think the best episode of the season came out of this, when Daryl and Carol went into Atlanta to try and rescue Beth from her captors. This shouldn’t really be surprising because they are two of the best characters in the show and they were put in an environment (a city) which hasn’t been seen in the show in a long time. The episode which centred on Beth was interesting as she isn’t what I’d call a central character to the show, in fact she had received little to no character development or scenes of importance prior to last season when she hung about with Daryl after the fall of the prison. So we finally get Beth to come out of her shell and people are starting to think ‘you know what? I quite like Beth’ and then they go and kill her… Fantastic…
Beth’s death had a bit more of an impact than the Bob death but all in all it was sort of similar, as I wasn’t too attached to the character because as I said she has had little character development until last season despite the fact she’s been on the show since season 2. Which brings me back to what I related to when talking about Bob; how many characters’ deaths would truly have the desired effect of truly making the audience sad because they were truly attached? I think Rick, Daryl, Carol, Glenn, Maggie, Michonne and maybe Carl (who nobody really likes). So about 7/16 main cast, which is a shockingly low number, and the reason for that low number is that the writers either knock people off too early for the audience to become attached (like Bob) or don’t give the character enough development (like Beth). It’s a slippery slope because the Walking Dead relies upon the uncertainty of the character’s lives but the chances of a Rick or a Daryl dying are non-existent to none.
Back to the hunt for Beth; I am surely not the only one who found the cop knocking out Sasha and trying to make a run for it ridiculous. Firstly surely his chances of survival are higher if he waits for the transfer even if he doesn’t trust Rick than running about a walker filled Atlanta with his hands tied behind his back. Secondly when he knocks out Sasha and tries to make a run for it why did Rick and the others come back? Did they forget their keys? It’s a major plot hole in the story. I mean Sasha was knocked the fuck out, so you know she didn’t get up and tell on him, this is a prime example of what I was meaning by the show being a cliff-hanger whore. Granted this led to the cool moment of Rick running the cop over and then finishing the job, further sending Rick into the world of moral ambiguity, but it didn’t make any sense.
The prisoner trade/ Mexican stand-off scene was pretty good and naturally you knew that things weren’t going to go swimmingly, and so it turned out. Why would Noah so happily go back so that Beth could get out when he ditched her previously? Why would Beth be so happy to see Noah when he ditched her in this hell? Why the fuck would Beth think stabbing a cop with a pair of scissors was a good idea? This is the worst of all, I mean are you fucking kidding me? It made no sense at all. This is a classic case of a forced character action to create drama. Another classic case of forced character actions is Dawn demanding to receive Noah back in the trade, why would she sacrifice the trade of two officers for two servants just to get another servant back? Yes you could sit back and claim it was a power trip thing and I’m sure that is what the writers are trying to sell but the entire thing felt incredibly forced and stupid. If this wasn’t the mid-season finale would Beth have died? I doubt it. Speaking of odd, if everyone hated it at the hospital why did none of them take Rick up on his offer to leave? Better the devil you know I guess… The whole story fell flat for me which is concerning because that makes it 4/4 for the season. As a side note I think that it would be hard for the group to not have some resentment towards Noah now, I’m not saying that everybody should hate Noah but there should be conflict, particularly from Maggie going forward. If I was Tyreese I’d be looking over my shoulder because with the introduction of Noah to the group he could find himself being the next Bob.
Looking forward I’m hoping that the group make their way to Washington DC as was intended by Abraham’s group as the show could do with a change of scenery (weird to think how little distance they have moved away from Atlanta in the series). It would also be nice to see the group interact with another group of people who aren’t total arseholes, surely Rick and Co aren’t the only good guys left in Georgia or the USA. It will also be interesting to see whether or not Morgan is going to come into the series as a regular, I can only imagine he is.
It’s been a long review and if you had asked me before I started writing it I would have said that I thought the season had been ok but could’ve been better. After writing the review I can’t help but think that I was giving the show too much credit. I don’t think the show actually hit on any of its four main stories (hunters, Gabriel, hospital and Abraham/Eugene) and that is very concerning. Don’t get me wrong I think there were a few standout episodes (first one and Daryl/Carol) but the show has fallen into the trap of sensationalising everything and having to finish on a cliff-hanger, which once every so often is ok but to do it after every single episode it takes away the effect. I think the show suffers from having too many episodes as well, with many of the episodes and scenes feeling way too much like filler and unneeded (yo-yo anyone?) and this obviously dilutes the overall quality of the show. Not that you can maybe tell from the review, but I like the show, but I am starting to worry about where it is heading. I can see the traits starting to appear, the traits of a show which has no idea where it is going in the future and starts going round in meaningless circles. Hopefully I’m wrong and the second half of the season quashes my fears but I’ve seen it many times before and they don’t often pull it back.
So what did you think of the first half of season 5 of the Walking Dead? Were you mildly disappointed like myself or do you think I’m just some sort of negative Nancy? Leave a comment and tell the world what you think of Rick and the crew and where they and the show may be head in the very near future. Plus it would be great if you read this and liked what you saw if you could join the bm23reviews Facebook and Twitter feeds or check out my blog bm23 tv reviews, because why the fuck not?