Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: "No Sanctuary"

In which we start with blood and end with fire. In between Carol kicks ass.
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In which Shawn (@genx13) and Kim (@kimfreakinb) have instant reactions to the best walker show ever.

Shawn: Let's get down to this and not go on for 45 pages about this first episode.  We've both kept up with the series as it has progressed.  We anticipated this episode for months now.  I will say that I've typically been underwhelmed with the first episodes of the past few seasons.  We start slow and build through the season.  This time - hell no.  Simply, this might be one of the best episodes since the pilot for action from beginning to end.

My first point about the plot is that I needed the redemption stories.  Terminus is the end to a few plots that have frustrated me.  The first and best is the end of Farmer Rick.  Rick has been too wishy-washy since the farmhouse.  Last season was the worst for me with him until the end.  Rick brandishing the automatic weapon and taking charge through the escape was the Rick I've wanted to see for years.  I see a different guy here.  He was willing to go back and kill all of the members of Terminus.

The next best part was the redemption of Carol and bringing her back to the fold.  Carol's banishment last season was a hard moment for me.  Carol was a true bad ass this episode.   Her plan to disrupt the sanctuary with the explosion was brilliant.  And she used the whole "cover yourself with bloody goo" to infiltrate the compound.  Her final showdown with Mary was a standout in a stellar episode.  The scene gave us most of the answers to the questions we needed about Terminus and sets up what will likely be a refrain for the season - become the butchers instead of the cattle.  (except the butchers don't eat other butchers).  Carol's reunion with the group was my most tearful moment in over a season.  Her hug with Daryl was as powerful as it gets.

I don't even know how to focus you.  What plot points got you worked up?  Was it Tyreese?   Did you survive the butchering room?  Where is your head at?

Kim: Two things you need to know about me before I start this.  First, I generally dislike anything in the horror genre.  Second, I didn't watch the first two seasons of The Walking Dead when they aired. I watched them shortly before Season Three began, solely because I had strep throat and was thumbing through Netflix and figured I'd see what the chatter was about.  I didn't care for the first one, but I was hooked beyond reason by the third.  Knowing this about me, I don't view the show as a zombie show.  They're kind of like the punctuation on what this really is in my eyes:  a show about what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real...oops, wrong show.  It's a show about how people will react and change to any major disaster that affects their lives, with really awesome makeup and effects.

Three things I learned in this premiere:  Carol is a total bad ass, and you should never take her friends or their possessions; Tyreese is also a bad ass when you threaten a child; and Rick is a bad ass and may not be all together anymore. And you don't mess around with Jim (oh wait, that was Season One).

Out of all of that, my favorite part of the show was Daryl realizing Carol is there.  He just runs to her, almost like you'd picture a child running to his mother whom he lost sight of in Disney World.  The amazing bond those two characters had is back and I've been waiting for that.  He never got to say goodbye to her when Rick sent her packing, and then he didn't get to deal with that because we had the Governor problems. Norman Reedus is amazing in that role.  We saw it when he had to take out zombie Merle, we saw it when he was completely irate with Bob for taking the hooch, and we got to see it again here.  I'm really interested in seeing him reunite with Beth should that ever happen.

I liked the bit of background on how Terminus got to be the butchershop it was.  We got our answers to the candle room and how they wound up eating people.  I'm curious as to why they organized all of the stuff they took from people like a Walmart, but I'm assuming there's some OCD there.  I'm glad they didn't draw out Terminus - there are bigger fish to fry.

Where is my head?  It's swimming.  What's up with Morgan and why was he decked out in full-body coverage?  Will he find Rick and the gang?  Why did they put that little scene on after the credits rolled?  Have I missed stuff in seasons past if I didn't watch it that far?  When will we see Beth?  What secret is Abraham keeping?  Come on, you know he is.  Does Eugene really have any idea what he's talking about?  That's where it is - filled with more questions based on the tidbits we saw at the end and the previews for next week.

Where do we go from here?  Do you think we've seen the last of Gareth?

Shawn: You led right into where I wanted to finish some of my thoughts about this episode.  Gareth isn't the Governor.  It's easy to try to paint him with that brush.  The Governor was easy to hate.  He was selfish and manipulative.  He ruled with an iron fist and always chose violence to solve problems and control the town.  Gareth is set up as a much different character.  He could have been Rick at one point.  He was an idealist man who started out with the best intentions.  He was rewarded for that by becoming no better than cattle.  It was through the violence that he became the butcher.

Gareth is terrifying in the way that he always appears calm in the face of ultra violence.  He walks into the opening scene in the butcher room in a very business-like way.  It's more terrifying to think this is just business as usual than it is to think he's doing it for anger or revenge.  He's just making dinner.  I think his story can't just end here.  We have to find a way to punish him cosmically.

His backstory leads to the biggest development in my head.  It's the way they are telling the story.  The "Then and Now" technique was probably used to best effect by Lost.   The show has had some issues for me with the way they've balanced stories.  Characters have disappeared for episodes at a time and then reappeared.  We've spent lots of time watching Farmer Rick plant some vegetables or lots of killing walkers to bridge time to the next commercial.  I encourage this storytelling conceit.  I don't know why it worked better this episode than it has before.  I'm thinking of the Michonne origin story that felt so out of place.

Where are we going?  The flow has to be towards Washington.  Morgan's return is fascinating.  The man that chose to stay has left to fight.  He was headed towards Terminus but I feel like he's going to have a big influence on Rick and the gang.  Ford and Porter have a secret.  That is my guess for where the next few episodes takes us.  Rick has had the same type of experience that Gareth once had.  Is Rick on his way to becoming a butcher?  Is it Morgan that can save him?  I'm as excited about the direction of the show as I have been since early on.  Times are never happy for long in The Walking Dead.  It's just a matter of time before our family is threatened again.

Story dominated my comments on this episode.  I'm sure we'll have stops along the way to talk about character and effects.  You'll remind me to talk about flaming walkers and Michonne's lightsaber.  Let me in on your thoughts about what you want to see.  Is there something even more worse than cannibals around the next bend?  Set us up for Sunday.

Kim: Then and now.  I really didn't care for that, but am happy I got the story on Terminus.  I suppose in the interest of devoting more time to the group of people we care about, it had to be done in that fashion.  I wasn't a fan of the flashbacks when we saw Rick as Farmer Rick at the end of last season, not using them to tell Michonne's story.  There's a better way, I'm sure of it, but I don't know how you'd fit it into an hour and still tell the current story.

Moving forward, you'd think it'd have to be toward Washington, D.C., eventually.  I think what we're going to see is Abraham and Eugene going off on there separate ways because they're keeping some kind of secret that I think will get them excommunicated from the group.  I suppose we'll watch to see how that plays out.

I'm most excited to see Morgan get back together with the group.  I liked his dynamic with Rick, even when he was batshit crazy.  Hopefully he's leveled out and has something to offer the gang.

Heading in to episode two, I'm eager to see what Beth's been up to.  We were so focused on all of the reunions, that I think most people may have forgotten she's still out there.  Will Daryl's reaction to her be similar to his reaction to Carol?  I can't wait to find out!

Now we go dark.

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