October 13, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “The Walking Dead”



Based on everything we know about THE WALKING DEAD, it seemed a safe assumption after the Season 4 finale that we’d be spending a large chunk of Season 5 trapped with our heroes at Terminus, the supposed sanctuary they’d spent most of the season seeking that turned out to be a hellhole of cannibalism.  But tonight’s season premiere, written by showrunner Scott M. Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero, defied all expectations, blasting apart Terminus seemingly for good, offering a practically rollicking, action-packed hour filled with all kinds of (probably temporary) closure, and leaving the trajectory of the season to come pleasantly mysterious.

The opening act of the premiere seemed to be headed for the expected dark territory, as Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr) were herded into the food preparation part of the complex, and a quartet of non-regulars were summarily slaughtered, their heads bashed in and their throats slashed in a sequence that was brutal even by Walking Dead standards, while the show’s favorite kind of talkative psychopath interrogated Rick.  Before any of our protagonists could meet their end, though, explosions could be heard in the distance, and that turned out to be Carol (Melissa McBride), by now the biggest bad-ass on the show, who’d come single-handedly to the rescue and, wearing that old favorite, zombie blood, made her way into the camp amidst a horde of walkers and saved the day.  The conclusion of the hour was as close to pure happiness as The Walking Dead gets, as Tyreese (Chad Coleman), who had survived his own talkative psychopath, was able to hand off baby Judith, long believed dead by her father Rick, brother Carl (Chandler Riggs) and those with them, for a heartwarming reunion.  And that wasn’t all:  a post-next-week’s-promo easter egg sequence revealed that fan favorite Morgan Jones (Lennie James), who dates all the way back to Season 1 and was last seen as a lunatic in Season 3, had apparently regained his senses and was following Rick’s trail.

Carol’s offensive against Terminus, soon joined by Rick and his troops, was well-staged by Nicotero, and it was all very entertaining–a higher-grade version of the more brainless splatter-thriller Z Nation, which is currently content to be picking up Walking Dead‘s crumbs on Syfy.  The question is whether it all provided a sign that Walking Dead intends to pick up its pace, or whether it’ll soon bog down in trudging through roads and forests (possibly to Washington DC, where one of the Season 4 newcomers claims to know how to affect a cure to the zombie plague), or in a location like Hershel’s farm or the prison, where the characters can return to debating morality, situational ethics and the nature of being human for episodes on end.

The truth is that The Walking Dead can pretty much do whatever it wants.  It’s the biggest non-football hit on any platform of television, and it had a Season 6 renewal before Season 5 had even premiered.  (AMC has a spin-off in the works, too.)  Although it’s always been arresting and well-executed, the astonishing popularity of the series has been somewhat surprising, considering how very seriously it takes itself.  Will Season 5 mark a ommitment to more conventional entertainment values?  We know this:  at least it won’t be the Season of the Cannibals.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."