The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You’re either the butcher or you’re the cattle.”

Things start off bad for Rick and the gang, only before getting worse; as in, throat-slitting and cannibalistic preparation worse. Rick, Bob, Daryl, and Glen are rounded up with a few others to be served, giving Rick face-to-face time with Gareth. Gareth’s motivation is purely survival and it’s presented to the viewer in the form of flashbacks. The “then” and “now” are both pretty blunt and straightforward, but the time shifts do offer a nice symmetry. Terminus was initially offered as a sanctuary, before it was overrun by the less savory inhabitants of the world.

Carol and Tyreese are still searching for Terminus, forcing them to cross paths with one of Terminus’ finest in a Terminus scout. The encounter sets off a pretty tense standoff between Tyreese and the man, with Judith’s life at stake. To this point, Judith has really been used as little more than a plot device, being thrust into the spotlight when peril needs to be manufactured. And that’s how she’s used here too, but she does offer an emotional payoff in the end. Carol is the winner here though, as she proved her loyalty to the group in a big way.

Her awareness that the scout was up to no good, so to speak, paid dividends for the crew. She scouted out Terminus and realized things were amiss, prompting her to trigger a jailbreak. The use of her point of view while traveling through Terminus was very effective. The viewer had some knowledge of the processes at Terminus, but having Carol do the tour gave them more information about the tough conditions there. Their plight was more of the same when it came to the newly created dog-eat-dog world. At first, Terminus was a sanctuary, but then it became a target for those stronger, all of whom had their way with the residents and forced them to adapt in violent ways.

Carol’s been one of the more intriguing characters throughout the show, primarily because she’s been given one of the more complete developmental arcs of all the characters. She’s gone from timid spousal abuse victim to a single mother who lost her child savagely to a woman who did what it takes to survive. That transformation has given viewers something to grab onto when she’s involved and it’s always interesting when she’s on. Rick’s decision to exile her was one that definitely made sense at the time, as it seemed that she stepped out of bounds with her decisions. In hindsight, her actions probably saved the prison from further issues and she was ready to make those tough decisions.

The Terminus residents weren’t ready to make those tough decisions, instead opting to be the caring people they were before the world fell apart. Their transformation from “civilized” to savage perfectly mirrored that of Rick and the gang. In both instances, the survivors struggled to reconcile their need to survive with the means to do so. It’s a lesson that Carol seemed to have grasped long before everyone else. She made the difficult decision to kill the infected inmates last season and seemed to continue to mentor Tyreese in some ways when they were together in the shanty. Gareth seems to realize that as well, making the difficult decision that cannibalism is both a necessary evil and a means of extracting revenge on the violent usurpers.

Aside from the history lesson as far as Terminus goes, there was also some light shined on Eugene and his unique ability to save the world (as he puts it). It’s revealed that he doesn’t have exactly a cure for the walkers; rather, he has a proposed way of eradicating the dead completely and giving the world back to the living. It’s a little suspect in some regards, as it isn’t presented as a flat-out cure. The fact that Eugene does offer a slight glimmer of hope does give the story a renewed direction. The show has always been about solving the problem of life and death. Eugene’s appearance last season gave the survivors a purpose and that’s renewed with his admission to his role in the prior world.

“No Sanctuary” was a very powerful first episode for the new season. It goes right into things guns blazing and doesn’t let up, offering a peek at what direction the season is planning to go. The episode does feel as if it would’ve been better served as last season’s finale, as it answered most of the cliffhanger questions rather quickly. Rick shows that he’s a very changed man, one who’s willing to make drastic decisions for safety. Carol knows she’s made mistakes, but she remains truly loyal to the only family she has left. The others are still discovering their new selves and how they’ll fit in to the ever-changing world.  The upcoming season plans to be more of the same insanity that the show has offered to this point and it doesn’t seem to want to relent on the gore factor. While the episode ended somewhat optimistically, fans of The Walking Dead know things are bound to get worse.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. Sabrina HOctober 13th, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    If this is how Season 5 is starting…I can’t wait for the rollercoaster ahead! Becuase of the ending (after credits) I (SPOILER) went back and watched the Episode “Clear” from season 3 to verify who I thought it was. I’m delighted they brought Morgan back! I’m intrigued to see what’s in store for him and Rick!

  2. BroganOctober 15th, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Holy crap though! This episode was INSANE! Loved it though. I finally started watching the show again (they just did a catch up season in NZ, where they had three or four episodes on a night) and I’m so glad I did. This show is awesome!

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