The Walking Dead RECAP: F*cking With The Wrong People (S5:E1)
It took roughly sixty minutes with commercials for The Walking Dead to win me back after last season. I was ready to chalk it up as a show that was going to shift itself into neutral and stay there. As one of the top shows on TV and something that can beat out football, why change what isn’t broken.
They still might go into neutral and they still might return to the meandering type of story that populated a lot of last season. But for this one episode, they threw it out the window and blew their wad on every bit of action the show can muster.
Last season we saw the prison go down in a blaze of glory, complete with a tank, samurai swords, and plenty of bullets. This was better than that. Terminus turned out to be a mistake. A supposed sanctuary that ended up being Hell, and there’s a reason for that. A reason that the show will explore, just not in this episode. For now these people are evil, they’re slitting throats, and they’re holding Rick Grimes and his crew captive.
The episode is book-ended by flashbacks to Terminus before their shift in mission statements. Turns out it used to be a true blue sanctuary, but some rough guys showed up and ruined the party for everyone. That’s why the people in Terminus now take captives, barely trust anyone, and slit throats like they’re taking out the trash.
Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Drunken Bob are all led into this morgue/slaughterhouse type of area alongside four other helpless fools (one fool is Sam from last season, but fuck that guy). The nameless ones are instantly smacked with a ball bat before having their throats slit into a trough. It seems a bit like overkill to hit a guy with a bat while his hands are also tied behind him and then slit his throat. I suppose you need to do a job right if you’re going to do it at all, though.
Gareth, the leader of Terminus, enters the room just in time to “save” Glenn from execution. Turns out Rick had a bag of weapons in the woods and Gareth wants them. Drunk Ass Bob attempts to talk Gareth into freedom. The request is denied, and he ends up with a knife pointed at his forehead. Rick talks, but not before laying out some idle threats at Gareth’s future life prospects. You can tell that he’s sticking to his “fucking with the wrong people” speech from last season.
The bat guy and butcher guy (they had no names in the credits) start to get back to work, but a massive explosion rocks the building and shotguns us into the credits.
Rewind a moment and we meet up with Tyreese and Carol walking along the train tracks. They’re the only two not to make it to Terminus and end up in a train car, but they’re fresh off dealing with that little psycho Lizzie, which is almost as bad. Shooting kids seems fun, but it just lacks that follow-through of good feelings.
Tyreese seems to have an aversion to killing people, even if they are already dead, and who can blame him. This launches Carol into action, killing an incoming zombie and revealing a large herd following in the woods. They hide as the herd passes and then wander a bit before stumbling upon a Terminus scout named Martin, ready to set off a fireworks diversion for the zombies. Tyreese and Carol overhear him talking about their friends and they take him captive, revealing him to be a real prick.
Carol decides to use the herd to rescue the rest of the group while Tyreese stays with Baby Judith and Martin the Prick. Martin is big on goading Tyreese, asking why he is even keeping him alive despite the world they currently live in (a good question considering later events).
Meanwhile, Carol has found her way to the fences of Terminus and has covered herself with zombie guts to mask her scent. Using a sniper rifle and Martin’s fireworks, she manages to nick the Terminus propane tank and cause that major explosion that rocked the opening of the show. She also gets a nice peek at the Termites dragging Rick and crew away to the slaughter room.
The explosion is fantastic and allows the zombies to pour into the base, causing the demise of plenty of Termites along the way. If this episode does anything, it really goes out of its way to make you hate the Termites. It is something you know is going to spin around so you see both sides, but it really provides a lot of joy at the moment. After spending an entire season hiding, walking, and hoping for good things, it’s nice to see the main characters get a chance to whoop some ass.
Gareth runs to see what caused the explosion… and Rick uses the lull to bust out a makeshift knife, cut his restraints, and kill the bat and the butcher. He then frees his buddies, and they’re off to free the others locked in the train car.
Speaking of the others, all hell is breaking loose around them. Michonne is watching through a crack in the door, Maggie and Abraham build makeshift weapons, Carl is still Carl, Eugene tries to create an explosive to open said door, and Rosita is still looking pretty damn good. There are some others there, but Christ, you expect me to name them all? No one is dead yet that we grew to tolerate last season, so maybe that’ll change.
Carol is walking with the zombies across on the other side of Terminus, taking out Termites with her rifle while letting the zombies take care of others. Their screams please me and that frightens me just a bit. She soon ends up in the memorial room that was super creepy at the end of last season and is confronted by Mary, the BBQ hostess that welcomed all comers to Terminus before all hell broke loose. She chides Carol for what she’s done, claiming they used to be good people but were forced to either be the butchers or the cattle.
Their standoff doesn’t last long because Carol has been through taking shit for a few seasons now. They fight a bit, and Carol ends up shooting Mary in the leg before letting a bunch of zombies in to finish her off.
Rick, Daryl, Bob, and Glenn manage to get back to train car too, killing a few Termites of their own along the way and rescuing some other folks, including one of the guys who turned Terminus into the hellhole it is now. There’s also this really cool bit where Rick lays out around 5 Termites with an assault rifle and let’s the zombies pick their bones. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m really questioning my life path.
All of this hell breaking loose captures Tyreese’s attention long enough for Martin to pounce and grab Baby Judith around the neck, threatening to kill her. This is a mistake.
He forces Tyreese outside with a pack of zombies, thinking it is going to spell the end of the peaceful giant. He’s wrong though because Tyreese proceeds to beat every zombie to death outside of the shed before busting back in and beating Martin to death. Good riddance. Tyreese might’ve put on a few pounds in the off season, but he hasn’t lost anything in his crazy zombie-killing skills. Beating Martin to death is a nice bonus.
Rick and crew escape from Terminus, but not before getting a few good shots at Gareth as they hop a nearby fence. Rick goes for his guns in the woods, determined to return and finish the job, but Carol shows up and reunites with the group. This leads to a tearful reunion of Rick with his daughter Judith, Tyreese with his sister, and Daryl with Carol. It’s all pretty nice, and it seems to melt away the murderous desires within Rick for the moment.
Terminus is practically in ruins, and the main group is free to get back on the road. Gareth might still be out there somewhere, but I can’t see him being able to live long. He doesn’t seem like Governor material, but he has been bumped up to a series regular for this season. We will just have to wait and see.
The real shock comes right at the end of the episode with the return of Lennie James as Morgan Jones. James is a great sight, having been a part of some of the stronger episodes in the series to this point. On top of that, he’s got a good track record of nice roles. Low Winter Sun might’ve sucked eggs, but Jericho was solid and I’ll always enjoy Snatch. Seeing that he’s no longer attached to being a crazy shut-in and is now trying to catch up with Rick makes me happy. The sooner the better.