The The Walking Dead: Season 5
The entertainment industry is a lot like the gold rush the 1800s. When a productive and lucrative vein of gold was discovered a horde of people rush out West to stake their claim. When a certain genre or archetype becomes especially popular television and movie studios are quick to come out with their own variations of this theme. Again like those prospectors of old some set off well-prepared and succeed while most have shoddy methods and yield results that are woefully inadequate. The latest gold rush moment fulfillment television is the zombie story. On television there is one series that eclipses the efforts of both television and film; ‘The Walking Dead’. Currently the original programming flagship for the basic cable network AMC some of the uninitiated by the prone to dismiss it is just another zombie apocalypse variation like dozens seen before. This statement makes it quite obvious that that person has never seen a single episode of the show or possesses a complete lack of appreciation for what constitutes excellence on television. Based on a comic book series of the same name this show began with a very simple premise that has grown into a cultural phenomenon, and rightfully so. At the core of its success is the ability of the writers to be flexible in the main theme of the series. Originally the high concept plot concerned a man, sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) awakening from a coma discovered he is now in the middle of a full-blown zombie apocalypse. A theme like that would quickly become old but the genius here is that the writers realize this fact and embraced it. When they realized that it was on the precipice of becoming overused they subtly switched the focus of the show not only preventing the loss of audience but a rapid increase. The main theme has always been concerned with survival. No talk of saving mankind is ever heard, the band of human beings thrown together by circumstances of far too busy living another day to be very concerned about a big picture.
Towards the end of the previous season the core group has been a split apart only to reunite in time to find a place they hope will provide sanctuary, Terminus. Road signs have been posted all over the region pointing to the location, promising safety and food for any who arrive. Unfortunately for this much put upon group once they arrive at Terminus they discover the source of the after supply of food. To paraphrase iconic piece of movie dialogue, "Terminus Eats People". It’s one thing to be ripped apart and consumed live by a Walker to be coldhearted and systematically butchered by people who offered you a safe place to live is despicable. As the audience watches the extras being prepared for the butcher you’re overwhelmed by two overwhelming thoughts; only going to get out of this and when do I get to see these lowlifes killed. The series has a habit of killing off main characters so fans understand that there’s a strong probability that no one is safe that even the principal characters. When we see Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) substantially armed the potential for our favorite characters populating the season ahead suddenly becomes realistic. Overstock is an abused wife for transformation to a maternal figure for both the kids they find along the right and many of the adults; Carol has been slowly hardened to the point where she can readily kill the cannibalistic captors of her friends as easily as she can put a bullet through the head of a walker. This just happens to be a particularly good example of a theme that pervades this entire series. The story is concerned more with how it affects survivors the killing the zombies. While technically classified in the horror genre special case can be made for psychological thriller as a far more accurate description.
In this fifth season we face several panels that have been visited upon the previously. This can be demonstrated by the character of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney). Season four she had been kidnapped versus a group now she finds herself alone waking up in Grady Memorial Hospital. A facility once used to provide care to the sick has been repurposed as a prison used by the remnant of the local law enforcement. Although she was once very close to Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), the circumstances at hand these are to form a relationship with a and over prisoner, Noah (Tyler James Williams). There is nothing superficial about the raid this series depicts relationships. Very few are stable, a luxury no longer found in their world. Daryl had once been an outsider, Ilona reticent to be seen as part of the group. Slowly over the years this character has undergone dramatic change. By this season he is now Rick’s second-in-command and best friend. A natural born hunter he is lethal with his ever present crossbow. Best relationship with two men provides a very natural means to contrast Daryl with Noah, a young man with survival experience in the polar opposite of Daryl.
Two of the relationships that are strong enough to survive the arduous challenge of this nightmarish environment are Rick and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs). It is difficult enough for young boy entering the uncharted realm of life as a teenager you on the run from zombies constantly a threat of being murdered by of the survivors this normally bolsters transition can become unbearable. In this season Carl is still suffering from a previous traumatic event. His mother died in childbirth and fell upon him to kill her before she could turn. In this season he is torn between his new personas hardened by battle anymore only guided nucleus that still persists. Carl is allowing these moral values overgrown what he knows is best for the group.
There is a very organic explanation for how so many characters could be so robust when it comes to changing their beliefs. In order to make it this far into the apocalypse individuals had to learn the one crucial fact that nothing is ever constant. There are zombies at every turn and every conclave or small they find has surrendered their freedom and autonomy to whoever has declared himself in charge. After the nightmare of Terminus you might think the group would be formal wary of any safe haven. Several all too human traits are accurately albeit painfully displayed. The human being is a herd animal that naturally gravitates into groups extensively for safety. Born into a society with the authorities it will be created to safety, it is only natural to want to submit to the order of someone in charge. As they inevitably find out there are far too many would be warlords that then saviors. The main force hope for the group in this season is when they come upon the ‘Alexandria Safe-Zone’, specifically Aron (Ross Marquand), who serves as the recruiter for the zone.
The largest obstacles for TV series to continue to be popular is that the showrunner is faced with the two-edged sword of Damocles; retain the elements that made the series popular in the first place that make changes that can keep the series fresh as it moves forward. The zombie genre is notoriously ill-equipped for such a challenge. Zombies can be used as an allegory for social wrongs or even as an extreme example of an uncontrollable virus, such plot contrivances can only go so far before being stretched to their limit. What is so exciting about this series is how it is able to move from one bad situation to the next with such style. On paper made more likely repeating the same thing, they find the CDC only to be disappointed, to make a prison into a stronghold only to be overrun. The group comes to works more community offering safety only to discover their cookbook reads "To Serve Man’. Each of these dangers may appear to be variations cut from the same cloth and there’s no denying the degree of truth about that statement. What does matter is that in a situation such as this is a repeat of the promise of safety is certain to be used among those harboring selfish of and nefarious intentions will be found in multiple locations. This post-apocalyptic world evil is franchised Rick and his people have found more than his share of participating locations. Do zombie thrillers can make the claim of being emotionally challenging but thanks to the exceptionally talented ensemble cast assembled here I’m still looking forward to the upcoming sixth season of the show.