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[TV Review] “The Walking Dead” Episode 5.1, ‘No Sanctuary’

“The Walking Dead” returned last night with ‘No Sanctuary,’ and it was not at all what I expected. I’m mildly shocked that the threat of Terminus started and ended in one episode. After all the hype from last season, all the time spent getting there, I’d have thought—in typical “Walking Dead” fashion—that it would have dragged on for at least three or four episodes. And although I love the idea of ‘the intelligent and thoughtful cannibal,’ I’m happy that Terminus is not going to be this season’s major event.

Bookended with flashbacks, ‘No Sanctuary’ shows us a bit of what used to be the humanity of the now sociopathic Terminants. These flashbacks are quick and dark, so don’t blink or you’ll have absolutely no clue what happened. Other than the 30 seconds spent on flashbacks, we remain completely in the present, following three storylines: Tyreese in a run-down shack with a Terminus member and baby Judith, Carol as she breaks necks and takes names to save the captive survivors, and the rest of the crew being held in Terminus, waiting to die. While Rick, Glenn, Bob, and Daryl are taken from the box car (where they were last seen at the end of season four) to a trough to be killed, strung up, and eventually eaten, the rest of the survivors (Maggie, Michonne, Carl, etc.) are forced to wait it out in the box car, fashioning weapons from…I seriously have no idea what.

Taking a step back. That opener was brutal. In more ways that one. Cannibalism is a tough pill to swallow, but watching weeping men hang their heads over a trough as their throats are slit to drain their blood is the type of behind-the-scenes action I’d rather not witness. That’s “brutal” meaning number one. “Brutal” meaning number two is that it was problematic in the practicality sense. There’s a great idiom for it and an accompanying cheeky 90s TV theme song: saved by the bell. Why are they always saved by the damn bell? This is a disease so many shows suffer from. I’d be thrilled if writers could come up with something other than the cliché of the oh-so-perfectly timed distractions to save a life. Glenn is about to be slain and…oh! The bossman walks in the room with an unimportant, completely non-pressing question for the executioner. Glenn is about to be slaughtered a second time and…oh! Another well-timed distraction! It’s not that I want Glenn to die (in fact I’ve said on many occasions that I’ll stop watching the show the day that he DOES die), it’s that I want the writers to work a little harder to make something, anything, believable in this show. And being saved by the bell over and over again, episode after episode, is just so farfetched.


On the flip side, I will say that for the first time in several seasons, I’m quite impressed with the urgency the writers displayed. They moved us from point A to point B with incredible dexterity and for once didn’t waste our time with long-drawn-out…well…everything. It gives me a lot of hope for the rest of this season. The faster things move, the more excited I become. Last season felt like the movement of frozen molasses.

Lastly, we are finally seeing the emotive results of some major events that transpired last season. Rick has gone full metal jacket. I guess it started with him tearing Joe’s throat out with his bare teeth, but it’s now become completely evident that he no longer has any reservations about anything. It’s a refreshing change. Let someone else be the moral compass for a moment. Second, Carol’s emotional state is very much dictated by the events that happened last season: being cast out and abandoned by Rick, only to end up taking care of his baby girl and eventually having to kill Lizzie, a girl who’d become somewhat of a daughter to her. And because of all this and how it’s transformed Carol, I can honestly say that I’ve never loved her more. She feels like the most realistic character to me. After all she’s been through, she’s arrived in season five showing both a hardness and practicality that will keep her and the others alive, as well as vulnerability about being accepted into the group again. After seasons of being all over the place in her actions and emotions, she seems to have grounded herself in the perfect Zombie Apocalypse survival mode.


‘No Sanctuary’ offered a violent, fast-paced, no-holds-barred introduction to season five and for someone who’s felt continually let down by the previous seasons, I feel confident in saying: Bring it, Season Five. I’m enthusiastic about the future of this show.

FYI: My new favorite thing ever is the ‘zombie torch.’

What did you think of “The Walking Dead” season five premiere? Would you have liked to see more of Terminus? Who is you current favorite survivor badass?



  • Benjamin M Romero

    The only thing that bothered me about the episode was the perfectly placed trajectory of the bottle rocket that cause the explosion. Personal experience participating in many bottle rocket battles as a kid would tell me otherwise.

    • Fueltanker Mcsnappy

      Yeah that kind of got to me as well. I thought she was going to pick up the rifle and aim the firework towards it, but no. That rocket would have just went up into the air not down like it did.

      • Bobby Jones

        the one thing that bugged me was Rick cutting his zip tied hands free with a piece of wood

    • Taboo

      I know right? I was like wtf, really? lol

    • GoryGeorge

      A bit too convenient, but then again a spark near the expelling gas was all it would take. Mine never flew that straight.

  • TruthSerum

    I really thought they were going to drag Terminus out to at least the season’s halfway point and do some kind of story arc involving Rick’s group being slaves or something. Nice to see I was wrong, I’ll be going into it next week without a clue of what’s happening.

  • Mauricio Martinez Martinez

    In the comic they didn’t gave much importance to the cannibals, they were taken out in two volumes and Rick killed them with no mercy. The important thing is how they became cannibals and who made them that way. If I’m not mistaken this season is about Negan, really hope it is…

    • GoryGeorge

      I certainly hope so, that caught my eye when the door opened and a man who looked like a Negan thug said something along the lines of “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

  • Domino D

    I really enjoyed this episode. There were a few frustrating moments that have been mentioned,(saved by the bell, bottle rocket aim) but I was one of the best in some time. I too was afraid of a 6 episode, drawn out arc in Terminus. I am so glad it was resolved so quickly. I am sure we haven’t seen the last of Gareth, and I have no idea what is coming next. For the first time in years, I am excited for the Walking Dead.

  • Melissa

    I thought it would have been better if the first distraction and second distraction would have happened sooner either after 1 guy’s throat was slit or the first guy’s throat was slit then the in the middle of the second guy the explosion happens. It should have happened before Glen then it would been a little less predictable.

  • Ravinus

    “the type of behind-the-scenes action I’d rather not witness”…and you write for a horror-themed blog?? Ummm, okay.

    • Solid point. And normally that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. But there was something about that particular scene that had my jaw on the floor.

    • CellE2057

      One of the many, many problems with the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street was that it faced the child molester thing head on. I’d much prefer that topic to just kind of linger in the back of my mind as I watch it. Sometimes what you don’t see is the most uncomfortable and all that jazz. I don’t know if that was Bree’s point but I thought I’d bring it up.

  • GoryGeorge

    You make some valid points — but then again, if you are a fan of the comic, this is not really an issue. Remember, the comic story arcs run in 6 issue or 12 issue durations. Additionally, the whole point in the original comic vision is the life AFTER the initial action of the apocalypse. As to the “saved by the bell,” we have already lost five major characters in the television series, and the writers of the print material are brutal in taking the lives of major characters all of the time without any notice or foreshadowing. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but in print, one major core character killed in the television series is still very much alive. Then again, Shane never made it past the first arc of the comic. A few of those souls running around in Terminus never made it out of the prison. So, cut them some slack. Myself, as an avid fan of the print materials, I find the series enjoyable for the very reason that I DON’T know what will happen next, and the fact that several “hero” characters have much different fates and personalities while the overall story hovers around the comic lines.

    • Dave Brown

      Mmm…no, not quite. Actually, you can tell whenever a ‘major’ character is going to buy it in an episode by the mere fact that they suddenly have some sort of issue in the episode they’re going to buy it, or they have some sudden emotional memory or backstory. This cliché started in the first season with Andrea’s sister. You knew she was going to die as soon as the opening scene on the boat elaborated on her and Andrea’s old life for the FIRST time ever in the show. I don’t remember Andrea’s sister’s name because she was such a non-entity as far as a character. T-Dog? Yeah, no character. He was just there. Suddenly, one episode he starts talking and getting something to do, and he’s dead by the end. It’s probably the worst thing about the show, next to the soap-operatic theatrics that are dull, poorly written and eventually besides the point. So, you’re very wrong with the ‘random without foreshadowing’ nature of when a character is going to die. See The Sopranos or Sons of Anarchy for what you’re talking about done properly.

      • GoryGeorge

        I don’t dispute some cliché in the TV program, it’s TV — that is a given. As to my comment: “and the writers of the print material are brutal in taking the lives of major characters all of the time without any notice or foreshadowing.” I was not referring to scripts, but the 100 plus issues of the comic — they kill off core characters all the time without you seeing it coming. It is difficult to comment too far without spoiling something for a fan of the show who is not also reading the comic since the beginning. If you have read them (not sure), one of the strengths of Kirkman and crew in the COMIC is that a core character is NEVER safe, just like real life. A successful TV program on AMC can’t really show the true nature of the relationship between the Governor and Michonne as one terribly more sadistic, evil and barbaric. Of course a network show (Not even sure a movie NC-17 could) can’t have repeated and violent rape scenes followed by genitals being nailed to a board and a castration (Chapter 6: The Sorrowful Life). I LOVE the comic, but I find the show enjoyable — not as a replacement, but an reasonable interpretation. It doesn’t have all of the edge, but it is also made for a more “general” consumption.

  • Necrogeddon666

    The shit this show gets from some horror fans leaves me bewildered at times. Especially in terms of the show’s pacing. The show is about well written, and fleshed out ordinary characters coping with extraordinary situations. I imagine these are the people that thought Annabelle was good, and love Rob Zombie flicks. Paper thin, and terribly written characters with no redeeming qualities, or arcs that no one in their right mind could give a shit less about. It became easier to ignore, and brush off reviews from these people once I reminded myself that the taste of some people is just in their ass.

    • Michael McLaughlin

      Totally agree with this. Characters interacting, developing relationships, going through character changes are thought of as “dragging,” and it seems some people are only here for the “action.”

  • the trough scene was great because they teased about it in the trailers and pictures before the season and “executed” it perfectly, did anyone else notice the penguin from gotham getting his throat cut.. but i didnt like the whole bottle rocket scene, i thought that was too much for some reason, i also liked seeing that the terminus people got fucked with just as much if not more than the main group. it was a solid set up for what the season will hopefully have to offer, in my opinion

  • liltrav88888

    that was a kickass episode last night im happy their all back together last season when they had to do seperate stories on everyone shit dragged ass now it feels like the story can actually go somewhere hopefully Wash D.C.!

  • Taboo

    This episode through me for a loop. I also thought they were going to drag Terminus to like 5-6 episodes. I’m so relieved to know they’re not. This definitely made up for last seasons finale, which left us a cliffhanger. I mean it wasn’t a bad episode per se, but to end a season like that was no fun. This episode was so tense, had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Let’s talk about Carol.. She’s officially a badass! I loved her in this episode more than I ever did throughout the whole show.

    • Taboo


  • G.A. McGillivray

    I have a question for all the fans of this show. I have never watched a single episode of this show. Mostly because I don’t like to watch a new TV series until there are many, many seasons I can watch all together and not have to wait between seasons.

    My question: When I think of shows I have enjoyed in the past like X-Files, or BSG etc – there would always be – in a season of say 20 episodes – 5 episodes that were integral to “The Plot”… and then rest of the episodes were just creature features that in the end – did nothing to progress the show at all.

    Is WD like that? Are there core episodes that are required, and others that are not?

    I mean – I’ll watch it all – but I am just curious….

    • CellE2057

      I’m sure you’ll get a wide variety of answers to this so to give you an idea of where I’m coming from; I stopped watching TWD midway through the last season after continually trying to convince myself the show was going to get good. Part of the reason was related to your question. There aren’t any “creature feature” episodes per say, although there are a few B Plot stories the show kind of dabbles with. Every episode continues the story along in some way or another. The formula with my watching was Season opener set up the premise, every other damned episode in the season reminded you of it, and the season closer finished the premise the opener gave you.You’ll get as much info over a whole season of TWD as you got from the five “plot” episodes of X-Files. This show fucking creeps by, man. At least in my opinion. Others will tell you different but you’re much better off getting season 10 of the X-Files and reading that.

      • PedJun

        Yeah, as you recognize, it’s your opinion. Mine is completely different. There are, indeed, some episodes for character development and if you see the series you’ll notice their evolution. For instance, Carol. Or even Carl… Everyone evolved. To me, it IS the greatest show airing right now. And that’s my take on it.
        Your vision is contradicted by last season’s plot: it started with a disease thing, moving on to the Governor’s vengeance and the path to Sanctuary. See? Three independent things…

        Okay, you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I don’t see Game of Thrones, because I don’t like it. But I’m not criticizing it or saying that it drags just because. Don’t take me wrong. But I like TWD so it makes me cringe to hear someone who doesn’t trying to spoil my fun when there should be fun and space for all.

        As for the original question, you’ll get to see each and every episode, because they all add a point to the plot.

        • CellE2057

          I don’t like it so I don’t watch it. There’s plenty of TWD stuff online and I breeze right past it because no one wants to hear my opinion on how one dimensional the characters are (Carol is definitely an exception to the rule, Carl was a kid that always did his own thing and didn’t listen to anyone….that hasn’t changed has it?). This person ASKED for thoughts on the show so I gave mine. Seems like we agree that this person should watch every episode if they’re going to watch it though, so there’s that.

  • Brian

    Does anybody else get pissed off when they see characters firing full auto and hip firing in a zombie apocalypse where head shots are the only shots that matter ? Seriously you see Rick rocking out with an AK and hip firing full auto long bursts … and you see he is only carrying the AK – no extra magazines. The same thing in LAND OF THE DEAD when the supposed para-military survivors go full auto on the zombies and aim and bullet riddle the torsos of the attacking zombies. WTF ?
    Does anybody really aim in Zombie movies ????
    And yes how about Carol ??? When did she join and complete her SEAL Team Six / Delta Force training ? I could see her shooting and blowing up the gas tank with a bullet or two BUT blowing it up with a bottle rocket ? Man she has great aim and is really , really , really lucky.
    As for Carol walking through the zombie hordes wearing zombie guts / zombie camouflage ? FINALLY !!! They know it works from the 2nd or 3rd episode ( the GUTS episode ) but they never use it again until last night ?

    • liltrav88888

      are talking about when rick slit the last guys throat got his gun and sprayed the terminus people? he was firing from the hip that time because it was humans and i think he wanted to let them get eaten after they dropped

      • Brian

        Actually I rewatched the scene and Rick actually does try to aim / I see the rifle raised up a couple of times. He does do a couple of hipfire bursts. The Terminus guys all hipfire full auto. As an ex-Army guy hipfire full auto will mean you are shooting at clouds / the birds. Plus it wastes a ton of ammo. And the Terminus guys don’t have magazine holders either. They can’t be carrying much ammo / magazines.

    • lkjdlfkjdlkfjdf

      They’ve used the zombie guts thing since then. Michonne used it last season when she started rolling with a heard of walkers. She used it in season 2 when she was being hunted by the guys from woodbury. Other characters have used the same idea at other times when they’ve hid underneath dead walkers.

      I don’t get pissed when I see people shoot from the hip. Those non-head shots are meant to slow the walkers’ advance when there are too many. Body shots are much quicker and easier than head shots.

      Regarding the propane tank explosion, shots using most bullet/guns wouldn’t blow it up. A lot of ammo wouldn’t even be able to pierce it, but you didn’t know that, did you? Norman Reedus has also said about his crossbow that it’s extremely hard to pull back the string for a shot on the real thing, yet on the show he quickly pulls it back and makes shots with ease. I bet you didn’t know that either. Most people don’t know how these things really work, nor do the shows creators, and that’s what they’re counting on. When I watch TV I take it for what it is, entertainment, and try not to worry too much about how things would work in real life because it doesn’t matter.

      • Brian

        Michonne didn’t use gut camouflage … she used her brother & ex as pets to mask her scent. The thing is, obviously the guts camouflage works and deters attacks. They should all use it all the time.
        Shooting a propane tank with a M-16 will pierce it. A 9mm won’t. Yes I saw the MYTHBUSTERS piece too. I looked it up after you replied. I even rewatched the end scenes too. The Terminus guys all shoot from the hip full auto…. wasting a ton of ammo.
        Yes I know how real firearms work… I qualified as an expert with M-16s in the Army. Fired M-60s, M-249 SAWs, M203, etc. blah blah blah.
        Yes I watch tv for entertainment too but if a show tries to play realistic or close.. it ought try to be more realistic or intelligent. I hate seeing shows or movies with the guy the endless clip of ammo. The Walking Dead show sets up rules of only head trauma puts down zombies and damage anywhere else is a waste. Even last nights episode belies that fact with zombies walking at you on fire. On fire ! A body shot won’t do much slowing down and with very limited ammo you would use it more wisely. Unless they have ammunition factories with tons of black powder they would treat bullets like gold.

    • Polsdofer

      Spine’s divine but the knee’s work just fine.

  • zombie84_41

    This was the best opening ep of walking dead ever. It was so brutal, so intense, and actually pretty damn sad. Carol was a huge bad ass, who would of ever thought. I’m hoping the rest of the season will continue to run strong.

    • lkjdlfkjdlkfjdf


      • zombie84_41

        Lets hope it continues though.

  • lkjdlfkjdlkfjdf

    Best show on television. I also love the new bad a s s Carol.

  • J Jett

    this is my all time favorite ep since season 1’s pilot ep! it’s a perfect episode IMO.

  • brewers_rule

    I’m surprised they’re skipping over Terminus so quickly too. After a whole season getting there, they not only left it but recapped the history of what it was & what happened there up to 2 measly flashbacks. Could’ve at least given us one more episode or so to flesh it out a bit more, couldn’t they?

  • huntermc

    With the ISIS beheadings in the news recently, I’m glad to see that AMC didn’t get cold feet and “butcher” the throat slitting scene.

    • Golic

      there is so much more realistically graphic violence on tv than what you see in those alleged “executions” videos that “ISIS” put out recently. now I’m not saying ISIS isn’t a real organization; I’m just saying that those “ISIS” beheadings are the most laughably fake I’ve ever seen; especially when compared to the dozens of obviously REAL beheadings I’ve watched over the years.

  • thedudefromspace

    Yup, saved by the bell again, you nailed it. It’s like an unwritten US-TV “law”, but in this case, the scene was gut-wrenching (head-wrenching?) enough, they really couldn’t pile on top of it. Only GOT gets away with a Red Wedding.

    Other than that, an awesome episode. Agree with other comments, probably the best opening ever, even though the pilot episode will always have a special place in my heart.

  • Beanis

    Great episode. I, like most, was put off by the saved by the bell moments but was still happy with the end result. That opening was brutal and I’m so glad they didn’t spend forever at Terminus, maybe the writers are listening to valid criticisms. After the “killing Lizzie” episode last season, Carol became my favorite character and this episode cemented her as such. Judging from the first season, I am amazed that the writers saved and developed her so thoroughly. They could have easily killed her off a few seasons ago. They can go ahead and kill off Carl, no great loss there.

  • Both action packed and touching at the end.

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