And so it's here, the long-awaited premiere of the fifth season of The Walking Dead. Relax kids, this is not going to be a comprehensive (and boring) recounting of the first four seasons (but if you haven't seen them and plan to today before season 5 starts, stop reading here). This is just my opinion of them.... HEY COME BACK HERE!!!!
When the series first started, I was an instant fan, as tons of people were. It was different, gritty, no happy endings, lots of zombie bashing, and unapologetic violence and gore. Hey, AMC got on the map with this program (No I don't want to hear of all the others before it - this is a TWD review, 'kay?).
Yup, I was all in - liked/disliked Rick, thought Shane was cool but evil, Lori was a slut, Carl needed a serious time out, Andrea was what I thought I'd be if in that situation - looking quickly to be as ruthless and as good a shot as anyone - no wilting flower for her or me. We swore we'd never be like Carol. And of course we all listened to Dale, got mad at Merle (but enjoyed him anyway) and crushed on Daryl. And the rest... we sort of remember.
But by the second season something happened that reduced my personal enjoyment to almost nothing - social media. I was DVR'ing all the episodes, cause for one I didn't want to wade through the commercials, second I wanted to be able to replay scenes I didn't quite get the sense of or just plain enjoyed watching. But I was a heavy Facebooker and even belonged to a couple of TWD groups. And I quickly found out the folly of that.
These people all had smartphones and sat in front of their TV's, watching and texting furiously at the same time. Which meant that if you were on Facebook, even if you tried to ignore everybody (this included all news and entertainment sites), chances were you got the whole program shoved down your throat before you even got a chance to watch it. Many, many times. I think after the 'Sophia' episode I decided that enough was enough and just stopped watching.
But... although I was free of the addiction of seeing who would live and who died each season, I did miss it. I do admit that even though it was getting apparent this was turning into a soap opera with some zombie bashing mixed in, and the CGI work was getting more and more obvious that there was still some pretty neat stuff to be found in this series which is like but not completely true to the comic book series it began from.
And so I thought okay, I'll catch up - but the DVD sets were astronomical in price and I like to get good sets of what I'm collecting - but hey, you've gotta admit that it was just too much. Fortunately, I found a dealer who had brand new still-sealed-in-plastic sets of seasons 1-4 (just the discs, not the 'collectibles') for about half of what I could find them for elsewhere. Boom. Aaaaand then of course Netflix decides to have all four seasons streaming on their service (dammit).
So. Season one saw the introduction of a central group of characters and a lot of peripheral characters that died with regularity during the season. It was a lot of backstory, establishment of character places in a sort of democracy, lots of neat (and still pretty human looking) zombies and, of course, lots of violence bashing, shooting, and spearing said zombies.
For those of us pretty well familiar with the zombie movie genre this was pretty quality stuff - for those who hadn't seen many, it was shocking but strangely compelling. And poor Norman Reedus, playing a character who wasn't even IN the comic series (Daryl Dixon) found himself to be an instant beefcake poster boy for the show. It was tense, it was fun, and it was original. We couldn't wait for the next season...
So. Season two came with changes, as all good series have. But then we were introduced (at least I hadn't heard of it before) to something called a mid-season finale. Say what? We have a hiatus in the MIDDLE of a season? And everrrrrrrybody was talking about the episodes as they happened. I knew the whole damned thing weeks before I was able to sit and get caught up. So, again, weeks after everyone sobbed and discussed and complained, I finally got to see this:
We sat through HALF A SEASON looking for Sophia (and some other stuff happened too) just for this. And by the time I actually got to WATCH it, I could practically quote line by line what happened before it did. It sucked. I quit watching.
So I didn't see (then) that Shane went batshit nuts, Rick got hard and nasty, Carl wouldn't stay in the damned house, Lori played Shane and Rick off of each other, Dale got killed, a kid is captured, Rick wants him released but Shane kills the kid and then tries to kill Rick. I did watch the EPIC episode though - how could I miss this? Shane gets killed, not once but TWICE. The first time by Rick, the second by an impossible act even for a sharpshooter: Never-stays-in-the-house Carl sees his dad and a dead Shane. He also sees Shane get back up. Now IN THE DARK he draws and somehow over his dad's shoulder manages with ONE SHOT to get zombie-Shane smack in the forehead. C'mon people, really?
The farm is overrun by walkers, lots of extras get killed so that you have a small and familiar group to see and they wonder what the hell they're gonna do now. Sorry people, but season two could have been cut in half and been a whole lot better.
So. Season three starts with a very pregnant Lori struggling to keep up with the group when they finally find the prison they've apparently been circling for months waiting for the season to start, and begin cleaning out the 'walkers' inside, mostly guards and prisoners (and some visitors). They find several live prisoners but they are all killed before any attachments are made so we still have our basic group left over from season 2, with wise veterinarian Herschel taking the 'place' of the lamented Dale. Lori has the baby during a walker attack and dies at Carl's hand.
And we get to meet the Governor (wonderfully played by David Morrissey), a psycho who runs the 'safe' town of Woodbury, where Andrea and Michonne (who finally shows up) end up. He seems to be a benevolent man until it is revealed that not only does he kill for fun, but he keeps his zombified daughter chained up, pressuring a scientist to find a 'cure' for her, he has a collection of heads in fish tanks, and also has found Merle and made him his right hand... uh no, wait, he lost that - his henchman.
This was a great season, almost as great as season one. There was lots of action, lots of conflict, lots of twists. And some weird, weird stuff. But I honestly think that season three was the best of the four and worth a look even if you're not a TWD fan.
So. Season four. I'm sorry to say this TWD fans but I was very VERY glad for my fast forward button. Since they took in all the people left from Woodbury, that was apparently too many people to keep track of, so there's a bad infection that kills a lot of them. At the start, two who had it badly (you cough up blood and die) were mysteriously dragged outside and set on fire. Rick somehow finds out it was Carol and banishes her out of the prison.
Aaaand then we have endless exposition of characters we don't give a crap about. What happened to the Governor and what he does next was interesting but all the rest? Geez, they're just filler, right? Almost a WHOLE SEASON of filler.
After the Governor kills Herschel and tries to take over the prison, everybody scatters and we get individual stories that we. just. don't. care. about. Really.
Even though they are all scattered, they all manage to find a sign to a place called 'Terminus' which apparently means that they scatters to a small area yet never manage to run into each other, as the signs are all by a railroad track. Duh.
There are two disturbing events in this season, the first worthy of a horror movie by itself. Carol had tried to teach the children to defend themselves, determined to make sure no one was a victim their whole lives like she was. One of the children, about ten or so, is a developing psychopath but she didn't know that. One of the new characters saves the girl and her sister, along with Judith (which Rick and Carl did not see and presume she is dead). He finds Carol and she resumes her teaching, noticing the older child a bit strange but what comes next is pretty shocking.
Lizzie (the ten-year-old) is left to take care of her younger sister Mika and baby Judith while the two adults look for water. When they return they're shocked to find that Lizzie has killed her sister and is about to do the same to Judith. Lizzie explains that her sister will be fine because she did not 'hurt her brain'. A grieving Carol takes Lizzie into the forest and puts a bullet in her head. Ouch. Carol and Tyreese take Judith and go on the road.
The other event is when a group of toughs led by 'Joe' (the very talented face-you-know-instantly-but-not-his-name Jeff Kober) find Daryl, make him part of their group, but show their true colors when catching up with Rick who had been forced to kill one of them. As they prepare to rape BOTH Carl and Michonne and then kill Rick, Daryl helps the three wipe out the gang and escape - on to Terminus.
One thing I found interesting: Some time has passed since this 'apocalypse' happened, right? Well the writers have also kept up with that. The zombies are 'aging', in that they are no longer as human looking as they were in the first season, and many of them are only partially there, such as this one who is actually mostly slime melded with the ground. The 'fresh' zombies are the ones who were recently killed (or died of whatever) and so most of the 'walkers' smushed by our heroes were mostly smushed in the first place.
So the end of season four finds most reuniting at Terminus, the 'safe haven'. But when Rick notices that several 'citizens' are in possession of things that had belonged to his group, he attempts an escape and all are shoved into a railroad car and that is where the season leaves us. Rick, who by now is a very hardened man, says "They're going to feel pretty stupid when they find out they're screwing with the wrong people." We can expect a lot of bloodshed beginning the next season.
And I'm done 'cause I badly need a nap and want to see how this is going to start. Since the whole season is called 'Terminus', I expect their escape and revenge to take quite a while.