Around this time last year, I wrote a column about how I thought “The Walking Dead” was the best show currently on television. I was wrong. In fact, I have rarely been more wrong. While still an excellent piece of television in its own right, the fourth season of what is somehow cable TV’s most watched program did its best to make me look like an asshole. While taking literally forever to finally wrap up the Governor’s storyline, it also spiced things up with what may go down as the worst ever use of a Mountain Goats song and one of the most heavy-handed “Of Mice & Men” knockoffs I have ever seen (“Just look at the flowers, Lizzie!”). However, things picked up again at the end of the season when our heroes finally reunited in Terminus, which of course turns out to be an old train station that a group of cannibal cultists call home. This new development left me tentatively excited for the new season, and when it premiered on Sunday night I tuned in for what I hoped would be a solid hour of Rick Grimes straight murdering the aforementioned cannibals.
Boy, was I thrilled. The premiere started off with what might be the goriest opening of a television program in recent memory and it never really slowed down. Part of this might be because it’s hard to slow down when your characters fight their way through what can only be described as a human slaughterhouse and Carol goes straight John Rambo on a herd of walkers and cannibals at the same time. Season five seems to be going back to the basics of what made “The Walking Dead” so appealing in the first place—a bunch of dirty, grimy people murdering zombies and other villainous elements in increasingly improbable and entertaining ways. There’s a plot, but it’s secondary to survival. The show works best when it’s not so trapped in its characters that it forgets that the outside world needs attention too.
On top of all that, it seems as though my personal favorite season four plot line is about to take center stage in season five: Eugene Porter, Abraham Ford and Rosita Espinosa were introduced as auxiliary characters in season four, but now their mission to get the good Dr. Porter to Washington D.C. to find a way to end the zombie epidemic is shaping up to be a big part of the new season. If this is the “Mr. Grimes goes to Washington” season, I’m down.
This is not to say that the episode did not have its problems and fall into some predictable tropes. I don’t need strange, evil men who “used to go to church” telling Tyreese that he will die because he’s the kind of guy who saves babies instead of abandoning them or turning them into what I can only assume is something resembling pulled pork. And I definitely did not need the inhabitants of Terminus to serve as another reminder of how cruel and terrible people can be when you take away the laws of society and add zombies, and how generally shitty life is (Spoiler: it’s, like, the shittiest).
However, the show has completely recaptured my attention for the first time since the Governor, everyone’s favorite one-eyed dictator, prowled what used to be Georgia. I know I’ll be tuning in religiously for the rest of the season. The reincarnation of “The Walking Dead” is finally upon us.
How did you feel about “The Walking Dead” premiere? Let Jake know at email@example.com.