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13 October, 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 5 Premiere - Episode 1 "No Sanctuary"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.

Tonight's episode was the much anticipated season five premiere, and it was full of action. In fact, it may represent an example of one of the most action-packed episodes in the series, which was a refreshing change from the sedate atmosphere of last season. With all of that said, here are my thoughts:

We last left Rick and company as prisoners of the people at the compound known as Terminus, and that's where this episode picks up. As we saw before, Terminus is not the hopeful paradise these characters were looking for, and we find them imprisoned in an abandoned railway car, improvising weapons to use against their captors at their first opportunity (i.e. weapons they have fashioned from their belts, earrings, etc.). As it turns out, however, their captors are accustomed to dealing with prisoners and handling them, so not only do their weapons do them little good (initially), but we also see a terrifying side of the people at Terminus which has only been hinted at previously.

I do my very best not to end up simply describing everything that occurred in the episode, since it is preferable by most people to see it for themselves and not be spoiled on the Internet, so I won't say what exactly occurs to get them out of the mess they find themselves in. Rather, as a member of the Prepper / Survivalist community, I find it more useful to center on a discussion about Terminus. It isn't hard to figure out, from the clues we were shown in the closing moments of season four, that the people of Terminus are cannibals. This is a tried and true plot device of virtually all Doomer Fiction. The cannibals always seem to show up eventually. And, to be honest, it's a particular aspect of the things that we discuss, read, and write about that I would really like to believe to be impossible... but, then, I remember everything I know about human nature, and I am disheartened in my faith that in a truly apocalyptic / societal collapse situation, such behavior would occur. In fact, we know that it has been practiced throughout human history in times of great hardship, so we would be fools not to believe it could (and very likely would) happen again.

Somehow, though, the behavior being practiced by the people of Terminus is even more terrifying in how they go about things. One thing I truly enjoy about "The Walking Dead" is that a running theme throughout the entire storyline of, basically, every season has been and the writers of the show have never shied away from the basic truth that we were all taught as children, watching "Scooby Doo" - the real monsters are always other people. Terminus is a perfect example of that, but it's so much more as well. They go about their particular brand of cannibalism in such a way that it is almost clinical in its utter lack of passion. They have essentially adopted the mindset that, since the collapse of society, each person must either choose to be the cattle or the butcher, and they go about their evil deeds much in the same fashion that a butcher would deal with livestock. In my mind, this makes their actions even more disturbing.

The writers of the show also utilized some interesting time jumps in this episode to give us enough background to understand just exactly how Terminus became the slaughterhouse we see it to be. Sadly, it seems it really did start out as a refuge for survivors. The only problem with that plan occurred when untrustworthy people accepted their invitation and took over the place, raping and killing at will. Eventually, the people of Terminus escaped, fought them, and retook their haven, but it is obvious from what they have become now that they would have been better off had they died. They allowed the things that happened to them to completely steal their humanity, turning them into something not entirely unlike a cult which lures in unsuspecting people in order to rob and consume them like livestock. Needless to say, the lesson we each need to learn from this type of subject matter is one that I have preached many, many times, and that is the importance of operational security. These people advertised their safe refuge in an effort to bring in other survivors and build a community. A lofty and commendable goal, in truth. But, in return for their humanitarian efforts, they saw their haven taken from them and their people raped and murdered; and, in the end, it destroyed them. Be very careful who you allow into your circle when it comes to your efforts toward being prepared, and, even if you have a mind toward charity in emergency situations (as I do), be smart and use proper discretion with regard to how you choose to dole out that charity. Always be cognizant of the dangers posed by outsiders. In a societal collapse situation, the threat represented by other people will be the greatest threat we all face.

Another very important theme that plays out throughout this episode is that one must be willing to do what is necessary in order to survive. Needless to say, the people of Terminus are a shining example of taking this ideal in a very bad direction. The difference being, of course, that the only people they were justified in killing were those individuals that victimized them, not the countless others they have murdered and eaten since. The flip side of this ideal, however, is presented to us in the person of Tyreese, who is still traveling with Carol and the baby, but seems initially unable to bring himself to kill even a Walker. Carol basically tells him he has to get over it in order to survive, but it isn't until one of the people from Terminus threatens the baby that he can bring himself to kill again. The moral we must all take from this is that it doesn't have to involve violence, but the fact is that in any type of true societal collapse / TSHTF situation there are going to be things we will have to do in order to survive that we may not be able to imagine ourselves doing right now. And that's okay. But, if you have the foresight to be preparing (which should describe most of the readers of this blog), then I would say that your preparations are lacking if they do not also include the mental preparations required to bring your self to do what is necessary for you and your family and friends to survive.

One nitpicky complaint: no matter how much fun it might be to show it as a plot device in Doomer Fiction, the scene where Carol shoots a hole in the large propane tank - from a pretty great distance, no less - is *NOT* indicative of reality. The gentleman on MythBusters proved quite a while ago that putting a hole in one of these tanks is damn near impossible. I won't speak to caliber and whether or not that could make a difference, because I do not remember the calibers they tested on MythBusters, but the best they were able to get was a pretty big dent in the metal, if memory serves.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

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