Submitted by: Alex Westphal
SPOILER ALERT, obviously.
As most Walking Dead fans already know, last night's Season 5 opener to AMC's perennial hit was incredible television. Many of the story, action, and horror elements from the last four seasons were present in the S5 opener, "Sanctuary"... and the episode was a notably intense and satisfying opener, compared to the slow start of Season 4.
To begin, almost all of the surviving cast from last season made an appearance at some point in the episode, with the exception of Beth, who is still MIA after her apparent kidnapping in season 4. Rick, Daryl and Bob carried the main story arc for the first portion of the episode, which picked up moments after the S4 finale ended.
In classic WD fashion, it appears at the very beginning of the episode that the recently reunited band of heroes has a solid plan in place, and are crafting weapons from belt buckles, jacket zippers, and shivs made of wood from the walls of the train car... and in following classic WD fashion, our hopes for their violent and blood-soaked escape are crushed when their captors toss a flashbang in through the roof of the traincar. Yes, folks, the roller coaster ride continues in full force.
Subsequent scenes detail their cannibalistic captors' brutal methods of dispatching their human prey, and even allude to a bit of the history of the Terminus captors, and how they got to be the way they are. Brutal stuff, of course - but this is what makes WD so special from a plot standpoint. Every person or group that the main cast comes into contact with comes with a back story, and a purpose. Even though they were mostly killed of by the end of the episode, there were still several notable anecdotes about how they became the militarized group whose fates collided with another hardened band of survivors.
In no way is this last point more apparent than in the Rambo-like display of self-sufficient destruction that Carol puts on over the latter half of the episode. And holy crap does she dish out the pain.
IMO (and I'm sure you will all agree), Carol was the reason to watch this episode, and it was a hell of a fun ride watching her don the smelly, walker-blood-soaked rags that allowed her safe passage into Terminus, and her subsequent EXPLODING OF A GIANT PROPANE TANK, and SNIPING OF TERMINUS GUARDS, and QUICK DRAW STANDOFF. Carol just became my new favorite.
This all isn't even to mention the insane escape of Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob, which was, itself, a bloody joy to watch. Starting off with shivs and butcher knives, and eventually graduating to automatic rifles, they swept through the Terminus camp with impressive efficiency, killing both zombies and captors without blinking. This was, as I'm sure you all feel, very satisfying to watch.
The end of the episode sees the ENTIRE surviving cast reunited (even Rick and his baby daughter! But not Beth...) for some smiles and manly shoulder-clasping (adorable moment, Rick and Tyreese). However, this is The Walking Dead, and the past is right around the corner, in the form of Morgan (the guy with his son from the very first episode of the show, who later attempts to kill members of the main cast in S3 after the death of his son). He will most likely play a key role in the near future, and it may not be good for the newly reunited group (presumably).
Overall, this episode is exceptional, even for a quality show like WD, and the momentum will get you pumped for the rest of the new season!