The Walking Dead Review: “No Sanctuary” (Season 5, Episode 1)

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The season five opener gives us some great insight into the people of Terminus via flashbacks and Carol’s encounter with a woman named Mary (Hello Denis Crosby!) in some kind of sanctuary lit with candles and with messages on the wall that say “Never Again. Never Trust. We First.” Mary says that Terminus really was once a sanctuary that welcomed all, but maybe a few too many as unscrupulous types came and took over the town, murdering and raping as they saw fit. The good people of Terminus took it back with even more ruthlessness by turning their antagonists into food. Lesson learned I guess. Not that Carol cares about the hows and whys though. She shoots Mary in the leg and leaves her to the walkers. (Goodbye Denise Crosby!)

The info about Terminus’ cannibalism as risk determent against strangers was probably an unnecessary detail, but it was one of those things that makes the implications of the Walking Dead’s post-apocalyptic setting so delicious. Terminus wasn’t a sanctuary for our heroes, but it wasn’t a den of evil for the sake of evil either. Terminus’ ruthlessness comes from an understandable place, and although we know that Rick and gang aren’t the raping and pillaging sort, no one else knows that. Does inhuman conditions demand inhuman reaction, or is such action all too human in the end? Those are fun questions that The Walking Dead likes to teases us with but doesn’t always achieve with an acceptable level of success. I think “No Sanctuary” is an example of the theme working best.

Still, did we literally burn through Terminus too quickly? The vast majority of season four’s back end was about finding our way to Terminus and after one whole episode dedicated to it, we’re already moving on. Either the writers realized that they had no where else to go with Terminus, or the citizens of Terminus who survived are going to be an ongoing pain in the rear from this point on. Either way, it was a bold choice on the part of the Walking Dead team to leave Terminus as quickly as they arrived there. They did indeed screw with the wrong people.

On another note, long time fans will have surely found it touching when Carol re-united with the others. Daryl’s reaction was particularly emotional, running up to Carol and giving her a big hug with tears in his eyes. There were no words, and Norman Reedus didn’t need any, playing the scene just right. And you couldn’t help but chuckle as Rick asks Carol in a mix of disbelief and admiration if she was responsible for their Terminus escape. It seems that all is forgiven between them too. Tyreese is re-united with Sasha, and Rick and Carl have a tearful reunion with the thought dead Judith. Like the man said, it was the best of times and the worst of times. And “No Sanctuary” delivered the rare Walking Dead happy ending.

But wait. A post-credits scene? Yes, and it appears Morgan Jones (Lennie James) is about to become relevant to the survivors again. When we last saw Morgan he was coming apart mentally, but what’s his present condition, and where did he get all that sweet hardware? While we’re at it, what impact will Eugene’s “cure” and the need to get him to Washington, have on the season’s storyline? Of course, I wouldn’t expect the zombie apocalypse to be cured any time soon. After all, The Walking Dead has already been renewed for season six.

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