Even the best TV dramas start to show signs of slowing down after a few years. And while AMC's The Walking Dead has arguably had its own share of stumbles in the past, the confident, action-packed Season 5 premiere suggests a show that's just getting warmed up.
A quick recap: After Rick (Andrew Lincoln) & Co. had their quiet life at the prison disrupted — first by a deadly flu and then by the Governor (David Morrisey) — the survivors were scattered to the wind. However, the individual groups overcame some setbacks — Daryl (Norman Reedus) lost Beth (Emily Kinney), Carol (Melissa McBride) dealt with crazy Lizzie, and Rick ripped out a man's throat with his teeth to protect Carl (Chandler Riggs) — as they each made their way to a supposed safe haven called Terminus, which was overseen by a man named Gareth (Andrew J. West).
By the end of Season 4, Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl and Carl were reunited with Glen (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) — as well as their new cure-seeking friends Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Unfortunately, they all realized Terminus was no safe haven at all, as they were all locked inside a train car awaiting an uncertain fate.
So, what lies ahead in Season 5? We took our biggest burning questions to executive producer Scott M. Gimple.
1. What's going on with the people of Terminus? Although there were plenty of unsettling signs that the Terminans were cannibals, both Gimple and executive producer Robert Kirkman, who created the graphic novels upon which the show is based, have kept mum about whether the show will explore the comic book story line involving the cannibals. We'll say only this: The Season 5 premiere wastes very little time showing you exactly what the people of Terminus are up to and also provides some interesting insight as to why.
2. How do Rick & Co. get out of that train car? Again, you'll see that within the first five minutes of the Season 5 premiere. However, Rick & Co. are ready for a fight. Although Rick did much soul-searching last season to stay in touch with his humanity, Gimple says Rick (and others) will do whatever it takes to move forward. "[They] can't go back to how things were, who they were, how they lived," Gimple says. "If they're not the person they were and they can't be human beings in a way that they once were, who did they become? It's an enormous part of this season."
3. How much of a threat is Gareth? Although there are similarities between Gareth and former big bad The Governor, Gimple suggests the two men have very different motivations. "I look at this character as extremely different," he says. "The Governor has serious issues that we saw, actual psychological issues, and I think there was a certain level of enjoyment that he derived from some of the things he did. Somehow, it was personal to him. With Gareth, from what we've seen so far, there's protocols being employed. It seems a bit more procedural, a bit more institutional, a bit more dispassionate." And while Terminus' leader is certainly calling the shots for now (and West has been made a series regular), Kirkman insists that Gareth isn't the chief villain our heroes will face this season.
4. Is the cure real? While the goings on at Terminus dominate the Season 5 premiere, there is still some time for discussion about the possibility of a cure in Washington, D.C. Expect to get a little bit more information about exactly what Eugene knows. And even if the group does get out of that train car, it's a long way to D.C.
5. Will the whole group of survivors be reunited? Let's not forget that Beth has completely vanished and Carol and Tyrese (Chad L. Coleman) are still en route to Terminus with baby Judith. While you can expect at least one reunion in the premiere, Gimple suggests reuniting may not feel so good. "They all had different trips to Terminus," Gimple says. "Some were very positive like Glen and Maggie's. Some were very wrenching like Rick's. I believe these journeys in many cases made them into different people and changed them. In some ways, this group is meeting each other for the first time."
The Walking Dead premieres Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
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