UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 1 (No Sanctuary)
Neil Brazier | On 13, Oct 2014
The Walking Dead Season 5 will fill you with real tension right from the start. Never before has the show seen such genuine moments of fear that you will be struggling to gather breath thanks to the heart in your mouth.
The opening scene is one of real horror, with every beat emphasised by a new, bold score. When we last saw Rick and the other survivors, they were left for dead in a train cart at the supposed sanctuary of Terminus. It was the first time that the series has ever ended on a cliff-hanger and the 15.7 million viewers who tuned in won’t have to wait to get answers. No Sanctuary answers more than enough questions in its opening five minutes to satisfy those left wondering what was going to happen.
The Rick of Season 5 appears a changed man: grizzled, weathered by imprisonment, ruthless. Rick has every reason to have grown into who he is – the world around him ravaged by the undead, his loved ones ripped from him – but is he losing his grip on humanity? What does that mean for his companions, especially his son, Carl, who has been by his father’s side through everything?
Violence is integral to The Walking Dead. Since Season 3, the threat to survival has moved away from the walkers and more on the living. There is no more real a monster than man and it is that which makes the heart flutter throughout this episode. Those expecting the undead don’t leave empty-handed, though, with some incredibly gruesome kills that give the riot-gear zombie scene of Season 3 a run for its money.
The result is an outstanding piece of television, which is only let down by its over-use of convenience. Just when things look bleak, suddenly there is a distraction at the most opportune of moments. Once, fine, but to continually use this device spoils some of the threat that has just been built up. Still, there is a lot of fear running through every scene, scenes that can be difficult to watch: the show no longer pushes the boundaries of what can be shown on television; it’s broken right through them.
But can The Walking Dead keep up this level of tension throughout Season 5? We get a hint at who changed Terminus from a sanctuary, which might have an impact on the wider walker walker world. Creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman has hinted in interviewes that this season may follow the comic book arcs much more closely, leaving fans to salivate over who that figure is. Either way, with the opening moments of this new season generating more fear than the entire first half of Season 2, No Sanctuary is an indication that we’re in for an adrenaline-fuelled ride.
The Walking Dead: Season 5 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Gene Page / AMC