Warning. This review contains several spoilers about the fifth season of the TV show “The Walking Dead”!
On March 29 the fifth season of the show “The Walking Dead” ended.
The fifth season was produced and broadcast with the format has become usual: 16 episodes of which 8 were broadcast in October / November 2014 and the other 8 in February / March 2015. The record audience no longer makes news and people are waiting for the spinoff, which according to the latest news will be titled “Fear the Walking Dead”.
The fourth season of “The Walking Dead” ended in Terminus, where Rick and some members of his group realized that the place was inhabited by cannibals, who captured them. The fifth season begins with the brutal struggle of those who don’t want to become cattle to the slaughter.
“The Walking Dead” fifth season cast consists of:
- Andrew Lincoln (photo ©Angela George) as Rick Grimes
- Danai Gurira as Michonne
- Steven Yeun as Glenn
- Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
- Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon
- Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes
- Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
- Lauren Cohan (photo ©Gage Skidmore) as Maggie Greene
- Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
- Chad L. Coleman as Tyreese
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha
- Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler
- Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford
- Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter
- Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa
- Seth Gilliam as Gabriel Stokes
The fifth season premiere has a frenzied pace with Rick’s group’s struggle for survival. In this case, the danger isn’t caused by the walkers but by Terminus’ cannibals. This mini-arc extends for a few episodes even if the group immediately resumes traveling, crossing with the subsequent adventures.
The group meets Father Gabriel, a strange priest who lives in a church and says he never killed walkers or people. After a very strong start to the season, the show is back to episodes at a pace that tends to be slow, which again often focus on the characters’ psychology.
From the beginning, we see that what happened to the group is bringing greater darkness in some of its members, starting with Rick. This also leads to friction with Abraham, who wants to immediately set off to Washington, D.C. with Eugene. In these episodes, various subplots intertwine and the one set in Atlanta, where Beth wakes, starts.
In Atlanta, a small group of people controlled by some former police officers and in particular by Dawn in a little dictatorship barricaded in Grady Memorial Hospital. Unfortunately this plot culminates in one of the moments that have become typical of “The Walking Dead” in which a character acts in a totally idiotic way. Beth has the fantastic idea to use a pair of scissors to stab Dawn while she’s holding a gun. Rightly, the consequence is that Beth gets killed.
In the second half of the fifth season, the changes go on in some of the group members but we also wee other effects of all that happened to them. All of them suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder and on one occasion Tyree is overwhelmed by a walker because he’s now so disturbed that deosn’t even notices that it’s coming behind him and can’t defend from it.
This second half of the season, however, is devoted primarily to the the Alexandria narrative arc. It’s a town that managed to save from the walkers invasion. Aaron, an envoy of Alexandria, must convince Rick and his group to join the town and that its inhabitants are friendly.
The group is skeptical after the past experiences with Woodbury and Terminus but eventually goes to Alexandria. The town seems indeed a little happy oasis well protected even if the fence that surrounds it doesn’t seem particularly strong. Alexandria’s inhabitants seem to enjoy an almost normal life and the contrast with the group of travelers is remarkable.
Rick and the others try to get used to living in a city but for some of them it’s not easy. Some of them still suffer a lot from the trauma suffered while on the contrary Michonne seems to find her stability. The inhabitants seem often unprepared for the risks they take every time they get out of the fence and among the inhabitants not everything works at its best.
Outside of Alexandria, in addition to the normal dangers there are some strange things. In particular, Rick, Daryl and Carol kill a walker and discover that is “branded” with a “W” carved on it. That’s clearly someone’s work but no clues are provided to his identity.
We get to the end of the season with a time of crisis caused by some events. An expedition in search of resources ends with the death of Noah and the son of Deanna, Alexandria’s leader. When Rick discovers that Pete, one of Alexandria’s inhabitants, beats his wife Jessie, decides to deal with the situation. The fact that Rick likes Jessie raises the man’s fury so he ends up facing Pete. Only Michonne’s intervention prevents Rick from killing him.
The season ends with the best and worst of “The Walking Dead”. Rick’s story is the most predictable and is carried out with no subtleties. Gabriel is giving signs of mental instability, leaving Alexandria’s gate open and no one notices. Glenn, though wounded and unarmed, manages to escape from an attack by a group of walkers but they don’t show us how he did it.
The good thing is that maybe there was a real development of at least some characters, such as Daryl, part of what I think was the most interesting subplot of the last part of the last episodes of this season. He met Morgan, a character who occasionally pops up in the course of the show, and especially came across a trap of what presumably will be the enemy of the next season.
In my opinion, the fifth season of “The Walking Dead” was overall better than the fourth. Even with all the faults that are now an integral part of this show, it had fewer pseudo-introspective episodes and a bit more action, though not always of exceptional quality. The criticisms to the show are right but I think that there are hopes for the sixth season and for the spinoff.