The Walking Dead Warning: Spoilers.
The fifth season of The Walking Dead kicked off earlier this month and a lot of our questions were answered after Rick and the gang were reunited in a Terminus cattle car at the end of the last season. We learned about the history of Terminus and their leadership. We watched Tyreese and Carol become the guardian angels of the group. We met a new character, Father Gabriel. We said goodbye to another.
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Most importantly, we watched Rick make and deliver on a promise to Gareth, the leader of Terminus. As far as the story goes, though, nothing has happened. That has me concerned.
Of course, all the stuff mentioned above is a lot of ‘happening’ and there was plenty of action. But when you look at it all that has really happened so far is the tables have been reset and we’ve seen most of the characters back together. The writers could tie up all the threads and set up three new stories for the rest of the season.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am relieved that Rick took care of Gareth quickly. I was afraid we were going to see a Governor Redux in Terminus. You know, a psychotic leader who loses control of his sanctuary and makes every effort to exact revenge on those responsible. However, with Gareth gone I’m left with a few questions about what happened and what is still to come.
First, it seemed too easy, right? I can’t be the only one who thinks that Rick outsmarted Gareth too quickly. We saw how precise this guy is in everything he does. Last season he lured the group into train cars with a clever trap. He took meticulous counts of ammo usage. He had a pristine cut room.
I have to assume that every viewer knew that Gareth was going to return to the church when Rick left which means we wouldn’t be too surprised that Rick expected this as well. Shouldn’t such an intelligent guy know that Rick would return and set up some sort of counter measure like Trinity did in Dexter? Why did Gareth spend the time talking about the horde busting out of the school? Why were we later shown the glass cracking at the school?
Next, “Tainted meat!”? Bob had been bitten. Without knowing this the cannibals ate his leg. Then Bob screamed and laughed about how he was tainted meat. Throughout my college career, my writing instructors all said the same thing to students, “use it or lose it.” Simple. If you put emphasis on a particular part of a story or add a quirk, deliver on it or cut it from the story. The tainted meat and the horde in the school are use it or lose it components. The writers are smart, so I hope they will bring them back in some way. Maybe Gareth made some Bob jerky and stashed it somewhere for Rick to find.
With the Terminus mess all cleaned the story this season is ready to begin. Story one is part of the group going to D.C. Story two is the rest tracking the car Daryl saw. Story three apparently involves Beth in a medical facility. And this is why I’m concerned.
In an effort to make up for the terrible second season search for Sophie, the writers burned down Hershel’s farm then introduced us to Woodbury and The Governor. And it worked. The Governor turned out to be a great character for the show. I have a feeling that the creative team mistook the success of their character and assumed it was the story and its structure. After Hershel’s farm the writers started telling more parallel stories then moved on to give characters their own episodes.
Here’s the problem with this. Ensemble shows work because viewers identify with one of the characters. I may watch The Walking Dead for Daryl while someone else likes Michonne. Last season Rick Grimes and the group got two weeks off so we could watch what happened to The Governor in the fallout of Woodbury. Then again we didn’t see Rick, Carl, or Michonne for nearly a month while episodes were devoted to other characters searching for Terminus. This unpredictable story structure bothered me and I wasn’t particularly fond of watching Beth and Daryl bond in a cabin over drinks.
Considering Beth and her singing is generally unlikeable and that episode 4 is going to feature only her and possibly Carol, I am worried. Hopefully we will be introduced to an excellent cast of new characters and I would hope, though it is unlikely, that they will be part of the spinoff. If not, story three may not go well. In general I don’t think fans are going to respond well to another un-ensembled season where the characters experiences until the mid-season break can be told in three sentences and their end of episode cliff-hangers aren’t answered in the next week.
Still, I admire the story of The Walking Dead and the events in the episodes. The line of prisoners over the Terminus tub was suspenseful and the escape was exhilarating. I’m looking forward to the three stories I expect we will see, I just don’t feel that they will be told to their full potential with the current structure. One thing is for sure though, season five hasn’t even gotten started yet and we’ve already seen lots of excitement.
What are your thoughts? Do you like the structure? Dislike it? Do you share my other concerns or disagree? What do you think about season five so far? Leave a comment and let us know how you feel.