Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Steven Yeun, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Lauren Cohen, Chad L. Coleman, Emily Kinney, Sonequa Martin-Green, Lawrence Gilliard Jr, Michael Cudlitz, Josh McDermitt; Seth Gilliam. Various Directors. (2014-15, 710 min). ANCHOR BAY
Even after five seasons, The Walking Dead remains the best series on television. It still manages to find new and imaginative ways to shock, surprise, disturb and sadden viewers throughout its 16 episodes. And binge-watching on Blu-Ray is the best way to take it all in, even if it means forcing yourself to wait an entire year to do it.
This season hits the ground running, picking up right where the last one left off, with most of the cast lured into Terminus, supposedly an idyllic community, but controlled by people who've resorted to cannibalism to survive. While that particular plot thread is wrapped up in the first few (horrific) episodes, Rick Grimes and his group soon deal with other dilemmas, such as a church pastor barely clinging to his sanity, the debated decision to head to Washington D.C. (Eugene claims to be a bio-engineer who can destroy the walkers if they can get there), a hospital holding Beth captive and run by a cop-turned-dictator, and an invite to live in Alexandria, a fortified suburb holding the promise of a new life, free of the daily struggle to stay alive.
Storywise, Season 5 is big improvement over Season 4, arguably the slowest and most meandering of the entire series. Whereas Season 4 seemed content to let its characters separate, wander and do a ton of soul-searching during the final half-dozen episodes, this year is loaded with more action and more intriguing conflicts, both internal and external. There's no villain as gloriously hateful as The Governor, but Season 5 gives us a few who are pretty despicable in their own right, and one we may actually empathize with on occasion.
As usual, the writing is superlative, especially regarding the characters and how years of fighting for survival has affected them, both positively and negatively. For example, by the time everyone gets the opportunity to take a collective breather in Alexandria, several major characters are simply unable to switch-off the survival mode that’s kept them alive for so long, leading us to wonder if someone like Rick, seemingly the only one who knows the undead aren’t the real monsters, can ever fit-in there.
As with every other season, compelling new characters are introduced. At the same time, in true Walking Dead tradition, other longtime friends end up dying. As usual, those deaths are always shocking (we almost never see them coming) and occasionally heartbreaking. But the willingness to kill-off major characters has always been one of the more intriguing aspects of the show. Other than Rick Grimes and (maybe) Darryl Dixon, we're never 100% confident of anyone surviving the next episode (not even little Judith).
Most importantly, The Walking Dead continues to be the most compulsively watchable show on TV, an undead soap-opera which allows core characters to continually evolve. Its cinematic production, psychological tension and relentless bleakness put it in a class all by itself, not-to-mention the increasingly creative barrage of unflinching violence (the gag where Daryl uses a rotted walker’s skull as a weapon, its eyes serving as finger-holes, is easily this season’s biggest OMG moment).
- "Inside the Walking Dead" & "The Making of the Walking Dead" (both consist of individual featurettes for every single episode)
- Featurettes: "Beth's Journey"; "Noah's Journey"; "Bob's Journey"; "Tyreese's Journey" (you are advised not to watch these until after seeing every episode)
- Featurettes: "A Day in the Life of Michael Cudlitz" (Abraham); "A Day in the Life of Josh McDermitt" (Eugene); "Rotters in the Flesh"; "The Making of Alexandria"
- Numerous Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Digital HD Copy