[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
Well that didn't take long.
The Walking Dead's hotly anticipated Season 5 premiere wasted little time getting right into the action — and as a result, quickly paved the way for our band of survivors to escape Terminus, the presumed safe haven they arrived at last season only to be thrown into a train car. Although Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Glen (Steven Yeun) and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) were pulled out of the train car to meet a grisly, throat-slitting fate, they received a stay of execution thanks to the crafty work of Carol (Melissa McBride), who created a diversion by blowing up a gas tank and unleashing a herd of flaming zombies on the Terminans.
The Walking Dead: 5 burning questions for Season 5
What followed was an all-out war that ended with Rick rescuing the rest of the group from the train car and escaping Terminus as the compound descended into chaos. According to executive producer Scott M. Gimple
, he never intended the group to have an extended stay at Terminus. "People might've expected us to be there a long time, and I wanted to pursue the unexpected on that," Gimple tells TVGuide.com
. "We wanted to have this very, very tense, deep, affecting moment at Terminus rather than a long, labyrinthine story, and I think we achieved that. We wanted to throw the audience into the season and we were excited to do it that way."However, the episode did
offer some answers about how Gareth (Andrew J. West
) and his fellow Terminans became the twisted group of cannibals — yes, cannibals — they are. Thanks to a couple of key flashbacks and a tense conversation between Carol and Terminus' Mary (Denise Crosby
), we learned that Terminus was indeed once a sanctuary. But as Gareth & Co. endured brutal attacks (and even their own time locked in a train car), they adopted a simple motto: "You're either the butcher or you're the cattle."Although Gimple and fellow executive producer Robert Kirkman
spent all summer dodging questions about whether the show would be following the cannibal story line from Kirkman's graphic novels, Gimple says it was important to have a unique take. "It's important to me that we mix things up, that we surprise comic readers by remixing what's there and sometimes potentially telling stories in much different ways, which in many ways Terminus might have been," Gimple says. "It's exciting to take the work that Robert did and to find ways to crank it up or to crash it into other stories. I think it makes it really exciting for someone who's very familiar with the comic book, but also allows us to perhaps even increase those moments that are loved so much in the comic [and] have them hit even harder."
The Walking Dead renewed for Season 6
But the most important part of the Terminus story line for Gimple was those flashbacks, particularly what they might suggest for our heroes. ""It was important to me that we show, for a variety of reasons, the story of how Terminus became Terminus — how the signs came to be out, was it always a trap, how these people changed," Gimple says. "The Terminans changed because of the people that they wound up tangling with. And now our people might change because of the Terminans that they tangled with. There is perhaps a cycle happening."Indeed, Rick has adopted a "kill anyone who stands in your way" mentality since his run-in last season with the men who attempted to rape his son Carl (Chandler Riggs
). But Gimple suggests Rick hasn't totally lost his humanity. "The ending last year really captured what he had achieved," Gimple says. "On one hand, to protect Carl and Darryl and Michonne [Danai Gurira
], [Rick] bit into another man's neck, tore out his throat. But that morning, still covered in that man's blood, he was able to be very, very vulnerable and tell Darryl that he was his brother. I think that's who his character is. The fact that he cares so much about these people is what enables him to do sometimes these very ghastly things that he might've had a problem with before."Rick was able to show his softer side when he was reunited with Carol — who perhaps regained Rick's trust with the zombie flambé — and his daughter Judith, whom Tyrese (Chad L. Coleman
) went to lethal lengths to protect. But don't look for the happy family routine to last forever, especially when the group begins to discuss heading to Washington D.C., where Abraham (Michael Cudlitz
) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt
) believe they can find a cure for the zombie apocalypse.
The Walking Dead Postmortem: Are the people of Terminus cannibals?
"The trailers that we put out certainly put D.C. on the table as an important element to our story and potentially a source of conflict," Gimple says. "Is Rick really the guy who's like, 'Oh, yeah, let's go to D.C., that sounds great!' Is he in the mental state to do that? And if he isn't, how is that going to pan out?"But it won't just be the newcomers to the group that Rick has problems with this season. In fact, Gimple says all of the survivors have been changed by their experiences leading them to Terminus. "They don't completely know each other anymore," Gimple says. "They aren't all completely on the same page. They haven't all had the same experience. There will be positives that come of that and there will be negatives come out of that."There's a lot of unfinished business between Rick and Carol, between Rick and Tara [Alana Masterson
]," Gimple continues. "Last time they saw each other they were on opposite sides of a fence and Tara was standing in very close proximity with a one-eyed fellow of note. There's a lot of business to attend to between these people. There are conflicts that have not been concluded. We get to those story points pretty quick. These also aren't people who beat around the bush."The Walking Dead
airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. What did you think of the premiere? Watch the chilling opening minutes of the premiere again right now!