'Walking Dead' Season 5 Premiere Recap: 'No Sanctuary' Is INSANE

Walking Dead season 5 premiere

WHO. IS. READY. TO. Talk about the season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead? I’m feeling a little rusty with my recapping skills, so bear with me as I limber up my typing fingers here. Okay! Wow, has it really been seven months since the show has been on the air? Yes, looks like the season 4 finale was back in March. That’s when we last saw our survivors, who were mostly trapped in that boxcar at Terminus, except for Beth (kidnapped) and Carol/Judith/Tyreese (presumably out in the woods somewhere).

If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead premiere episode, titled “No Sanctuary,” click away now! Otherwise, let’s get to the recap. Because hot damn, this was a doozy.


Flashback! Gareth, trapped in a boxcar like Rick, looking like a very sad Starbucks barista with too much product in his hair. We’re getting a glimpse into Terminus’s tragic past, and it’s this theme that runs throughout the episode: you’re the butcher, or you’re the cattle. Step up and fight or lie down and die. Then we click into present time and our survivors are getting ready for battle, everyone’s sharpening belt buckles and fashioning sticks into spears and honing guns out of chewing gum and basically MacGyvering up for war.

Tear gas drops into the boxcar and Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Bob get dragged to a slaughter floor where they’re bound and positioned over this horrifying steel trough set piece from, like, Hostel, and dudes start hacking people’s throats open and blood’s running into the trough and you know how AMC kept teasing us that the premiere was going to be intense and we were like okay okay AMC we get it the premiere’s going to be intense but wow this is seriously intense. Glenn is poised to take a massive blow to the head, as we saw in the trailer, and it really really really looks like it’s going to happen then SHWOO it doesn’t oh man that was close.

Elsewhere, Carol, Tyreese, and baby Judith are out on the tracks, fighting off walkers, then dodging a massive freaky herd that’s heading towards Terminus. They stumble across a lone Termite and Carol takes him captive as part of the total badassery she continues to display throughout the entire goddamned episode, which also includes sliming herself top to bottom with zombie guts to camouflage herself and shuffling into Terminus with the herd. (My husband, from the adjacent couch: “If this works, why don’t they do this all the time?”) She shoots a ... what is that, a firecracker? Anyway, she shoots a propane tank, zombies infiltrate Terminus, and we’ve switched from Hostel to Apocalypse Now. Walkers are on fire, explosions ring out, gunfire rattles, everything’s terrible.

Rick, Daryl, Bob, and Glenn get free. Back in the boxcar — the boxcar? Oh yeah, jeez, there are still people in boxcars — Sasha is pressuring Eugene into giving up information about the cure. Lady, the world is burning! Literally! Eugene says some good stuff, though, so he sounds like he’s on the up and up. Comics fans frown at Eugene because we think we know better, but DO WE?

Back in the woods, the Termite captor gives Tyreese a serious run for his money and it really seems like Tyreese is going to die when he’s forced to leave baby Judith and head outside the walker-infested cabin, but no, the Termite dies horribly, just like many people and undead creatures died horribly during this episode. Was this the goriest, most violent thing you have ever seen on basic cable? I’m thinking yes. I’m thinking that as annoyed as I was that it aired so late here on the west coast (9 p.m.! I am very old!), I’m glad my kids were asleep and couldn’t overhear it, because damn. This was definitely rated M for Man, This Is Kind of Fucked Up.

At the end, we get a wonderfully satisfying moment when Daryl gets reunited with Carol and they run to each other and hug (“Awwwwww,” 80 percent of the viewing audience  audibly sighs). We get another horrifying Terminus-origin flashback with Mary and Gareth, trapped and telling themselves they have to be the butcher or the cattle, the windshield or the bug, more metaphors that excuse our behavior, hey let's start chowing on our fellow humans OM NOM NOM. (And is that NEGAN we briefly see, comics fans??) We get a look at Rick spray-painting his Yelp review on a Terminus sign: NO SANCTUARY BAD SERVICE DEF. WOULD NOT EAT HERE AGAIN. And I’m kind of reeling from all the craziness of the last hour, but is that Morgan on the train tracks?

What do you think, zombie fans? BEST PREMIERE EVER, RIGHT?

Image via AMC

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