Review ‘The Walking Dead Mid-Season 5 Premiere’ From The Editor
The big question heading into The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere Sunday night was a simple one: what’s next?
Since we last saw Rick, Darryl and the gang, Beth had been killed; Noah, her friend from the police-run hospital, had joined the group and Eugene admitted to lying about being able to create a cure in Washington.
So the direction for the second half of the season was non-existent.
Some shows would quickly lose audience interest by this lack of clear direction, but notThe Walking Dead.
Over four and a half seasons, its showrunners have created a world where danger is everywhere and the possibility of dying ever present. Whether Rick and the others set out to attack a group of survivors, go on a routine supply run or take a casual stroll through the forest, the threat of being bitten by a zombie or being captured by bandits is always present.
Which is why Sunday’s mid-season premiere hit it out of the park.
In the opening moments of The Walking Dead‘s winter premiere, it’s safe to assume we are witnessing certain aspects of Beth’s funeral.
For starters, a shovel digging up fresh dirt. Then, the sound of Maggie crying, followed by a glimpse of her next to something burning. Beth’s body, maybe? Next we see Noah crying over the loss of his friend, and it’s clear that everyone is grieving this loss.
From a distance, through the bushes, we see Father Gabriel giving Beth the funeral she deserves, and you can just barely make out the group standing around a fresh pile of dirt.
Interestingly enough, we also catch a short glimpse of the group approaching two large vehicles that would be perfect for them to travel in safely. One is an old blue truck, and the other is a plain white van.
Finally, we see Noah and Rick having what seems to be a heart-to-heart about Beth. “She was gonna come with me,” Noah tells Rick, as he reveals he thinks he may have a safe haven for them to travel to in Virginia.
To no one’s surprise, the camp had already been attacked, but we were barely able to figure out how the walled-off community was destroyed — let alone how Beth’s death was affecting the group — before Noah’s zombified brother took a chunk out of Tyreese’s forearm.
From that point, the episode took on a deeper tone as it explored the very nature of the series.
Tyreese’s character has undergone a number of changes since we first met him in Season 3, but unlike Carol, Beth and Maggie, he has let his postapocalyptic surroundings break him down instead of build him up: he went from being the leader of a survivor’s group into a rage-fuelled killer and finally a pacifist who consciously tried to avoid violence.
His death reminded us of how unfit he was to survive in an unforgiving reality.
Even the way he died — he failed to clear the house of zombies and paid more attention to the pictures on the wall than his surroundings — reminded us that any momentary slip can be fatal, especially powerful considering his death came immediately after Beth’s.
Rick hesitantly shows interest, but as the sound of baby Judith crying kicks in it’s clear this isn’t just interest. He’s already plotting out their trip in his head.
The next step in Rick’s plan is convincing the others. He is still the leader, per se, but it was obvious in the first half of the season that a lot of the group — specifically Glen — lost faith in him when he started to lose it.
Rick’s sales pitch for the new place is that “if it works out, it’s the last long trip we have to make.” It’s no surprise that Glen questions him almost immediately, wondering if the place even exists any more. Rick has a simple answer: “Then we keep going.”
Even Michonne chimes in, because she always has Rick’s back no matter what, saying they can always find a new safe place to settle into. Hopefully, one of them is right.
The episode ended with Rick deciding that the group would not settle down and rebuild the community. Instead, he suggested they travel to Washington in the hope that Eugene’s lie was based on some truth.
That’s the thing with The Walking Dead, it’s a show about a never-ending journey, the fight for day-to-day survival and the hope that things will eventually get better. Not the end game.
So enjoy the blood-soaked ride because it won’t end anytime soon.