The tension returns full throttle this week, thanks once again to the survivors’ biggest enemy: man. With the undead, you know what you’re getting: brain hungry monsters who only want to end you in the most gruesome of ways. With humans, you don’t know what’s going on in their heads, what’s happened to them to make them so carefree that they want to eat you. The Walking Dead’s replacement of shuffling zombies with tiptoeing Hunters creates such anxiety you grip the sofa tighter and tighter.
There are glimpses into Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) psyche, as the Hunters arrive at the church looking for their next meal. We’ve seen Rick’s animalistic side already – and that he’d do anything to protect his group, even if it means he has lost a part of him. For all Lincoln’s rage and aggression, though, there is still a part of Rick that knows what it was like to live a normal life: you can see it, as he holds and smiles with his daughter.
Glenn (Steven Yeun) offers reassurance that they do what they need to do to survive, that these people deserve what comes to them. He’s changed his tune a little since No Sanctuary, where he wanted to rescue other prisoners because that’s “still who they are”. Even his wife, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), seems accepting of their new lifestyle, when she and her family used to keep the dead in a barn because they were still loved ones.
But they also have a newcomer in their midst: Father Gabriel, still a man of faith who abhors the violence and death that surrounds them. He knows the new world that they’re living in isn’t the same to the one before, though. Despite the actions that take place in God’s house, he understands that everything that Rick and the group have done they have done to survive. And what they’ve done is brutal.
Most of the action takes place in shadows – it all adds to the tension – but the deeds and repercussions are still the most horrific thing on television. Not only is the series confident in airing flesh-eating zombies ripping people apart with their teeth; now we have cannibals happily devouring Soylent Green.
It’s almost become compulsory to have such graphic violence on-screen. While it is wince-worthy, though, it’s integral to the show; it’s not violence for violence’s sake, but establishes the danger they live in, having to resort to their caveman-like instincts, as they forage and scavenge. The gruesome depiction immerses you in the fear; you would never imagine having to do what Rick does and you find yourself thankful that it’s him and not you. He is doing what it takes to keep his group safe – doing not what others won’t, but what they can’t.
The Walking Dead: Season 5 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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