A short review of “The Walking Dead” Season 5 (SPOILERS for this and past seasons!)

I loved “The Walking Dead’s” fifth season; I’d give it a 9 out of 10.  Just when I worry that this great horror serial is becoming redundant, the show finds new ways to top itself.

***** [SPOILER WARNING!]*****

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We begin with one of the best episodes ever, as Carol, the prodigal son (daughter?), redeems herself with a fantastic action set-piece that saves our heroes from the cannibals at Terminus.  What a great job the show’s writers did in voicing these antagonists, complete with (twisted) humanity and realistic motivations.  We’ve got ‘splosions, gunfire, regular fire, zombies run amok, baseball bats, mass confusion, bloody vengeance and last-minute rescues, and it’s all staged and directed wonderfully — I do believe the show is getting better at depicting both large-scale battles and individual melees.  Compare this season opener with The Governor’s brief, confused and incredibly disappointing initial attack on the prison (the first attack, not the one with the tank).  And what a surprisingly touching emotional payoff at the end of this de facto small-scale war.

The show still continues to scare and surprise.  I thought no one could compete with the folks at Trapinus as bad guys.  But the new “Wolves” (just how many are there?) are satisfyingly unnerving and well portrayed.  The (obviously longstanding) ruse with the trucks?  People killing people this time purely for fun and savagery?  Yeesh.  And Benedict Samuels’ performance as the nameless Wolf is superb.

Some of the drama after the group’s arrival at Alexandria seems forced.  I don’t like seeing Rick as a bad guy, and I don’t like seeing him going bananas.  Papa Alcoholic is just a plot-convenient character that can rationalize Rick’s overtures toward Jessie, as well as his Draconian attitude towards his new community.  The inept Alexandrians are obvious foils for the capable characters we know and love.  C’mon … we all knew Aiden was zombie fodder.  (And thank God — I was sick of listening to him.)  In fact, few of the Alexandrians are interesting characters.

Exceptions include Deanna and her husband.  Their presence here actually answers interesting questions that I’ve never really seen in zombie fiction.  What would happen if the apocalypse was survived by national-level leaders?  And what if they were nothing like the negative stereotype of politicians, but instead were good people trying to rebuild?

Carol continues to entertain me, played beautifully by Melissa McBride.  She might be the best actor on the show (although Russ Marquand’s portrayal of Aaron is also perfect.)  Carol is my favorite character, followed by Carl, despite the universal adulation elsewhere for bad-asses Daryl and Michonne. (You know a show is working when you literally shout and cheer for the character you like best, right?)

This was a great ride, suggesting that a great show is getting even better.  I can’t wait for Season 6!

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One thought on “A short review of “The Walking Dead” Season 5 (SPOILERS for this and past seasons!)”

  1. Reblogged this on Readsalot and commented:
    Eric, I didn’t read all of this one yet due to the spoiler. However, Marilyn and I love this show and have gotten half way through season 5. We just got the rest of the season, but will be starting over from Terminus again, just as a refresher.

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