The Walking Dead: No Sanctuary

Gareth: “You’re the butcher or you’re the cattle.”

Wow, a great episode with the trademark rollercoaster ride!

I was ready for a blood bath with people dying everywhere, and nobody died. Wait a minute, lots of people died, just not the characters I cared about! And didn't they deserve to die since they were cannibals? I’m not always sure I like where this show takes me. But it always makes me think and question myself. That is an amazing feat for a television show that gets a lot of its appeal from blood and gore.

As always, this show takes me to questions of humanity and survival. Kill or be killed is what we once thought early humans were like. Warring tribes fighting for resources and dominance resulted in survival of the fittest. What anthropologists have now found is that, although we continue to fight wars, it was actually our social skills that helped us evolve. The best of humankind comes out when we work together and protect each other. It is our altruism that made and continues to make us human. The people of Terminus lost their humanity because of prolonged and constant brutalization. I think that is what Carol means when she tells Mary, "You're not here. Neither am I."

Of course, it isn't all that rosy. Even before the walkers, there were people who had lost their humanity. You can't be too altruistic or you will fall to those for whom brutality is a way of life. The theme of humans being the worst enemy of humans continued to play out through this episode. For a small moment I forgot about the walkers as a danger to our little group. For the most part, if it isn't a herd our group seems to have figured out how to deal with walkers, but they keep coming up against the different kind of walking dead. Eugene's "cure" won't help with them.

In terms of character development, this was Carol's episode. We don’t get many female superheroes but Carol sure looked like one walking into that compound. She went in and saved the group single-handed, and she was able to do it because she was ready to risk herself and to kill anyone in her path, human or walker. Does it take inhumanity to deal with inhumanity? Is losing that humanity an essential part of becoming a warrior? I hope not. Carol thinks she has given up her humanity to protect those she loves, which seems to me to be pretty human. The juxtaposition of Carol and Mary was perfect. They had both lost so much and were trying to protect those they loved in horrible ways. I expected Carol to be merciful but she wasn't. I wonder if she will ever be able to heal or if doing so would make her less valuable to the group. Like I said, I don't always like where this show takes me.

Martin was an interesting character. He illustrated how far the Terminus group had fallen into despair and inhumanity. He had once been a "good guy" but he didn’t think of the people at Terminus as friends and he had a very clear sense that being a good person was the fastest way to get killed. In his own way, he actually tried to save Tyreese. But the way he talked about Judith was very telling and echoed in the piles of teddy bears at Terminus. The group did not save children, they ate them. Children are symbols of hope and it was obvious that the Terminus group no longer had any. They were surviving just to survive. While the horror of what they were doing allowed us to justify their deaths, the line between them and our group is thin and becoming thinner. In the coming episodes I hope we don't have to watch the characters we have become attached to descend into the same kind of despair and brutality.

Bits and Pieces

Tyreese did not call Carol his friend. Will that change now that he has had to kill someone to protect those he loves?

When Martin sent Tyreese out to the walkers all I could think was, well, that was dumb, he obviously doesn’t know Tyreese, he can handle those.

That was a particularly cool shot of zombies walking into the propane.

My favourite reunion was Carol and Daryl. It was even better than Rick, Carl and Judith.

Things I could live without: Men lined up like pigs for slaughter and then the slaughtering. Zombie eating a man's face. Continued close-ups on the girl getting eaten.

I don't know if Eugene is lying or telling the truth, but I'm certainly enjoying the character.


Gareth: "We, we're trying to do something good. We were being human beings."
Other guy: "What are we now, Gareth?"

Martin: "Bitch looked like a weapon with a weapon."

Carol: "We're friends with the chick with the sword and the kid in the hat."

Tyreese: "Carol, how you gonna do this?"
Carol: "I'm gonna kill people."

Martin: "I don’t have any friends. I mean, I know people. They're just assholes I stay alive with."

Martin: "Horrible shit just stacks up day after day. You get used to it."

Martin: "It's kind of like saving an anchor when your stuck without a boat in the middle of the ocean."

Martin: "I don’t wanna do this today."

Glenn: "We've got to let those people out. That's still who we are. It's got to be."

Eugene: "The best case scenario, we step out into a hellstorm of bullets, fire and walkers. I'm not fleet of foot. I sure as hell can't take a dead one down with sharp buttons and hella confidence."

Eugene: "I believe with a little tweaking on the terminals in DC, we can flip the script. Take out every last dead one of them. Fire with fire. All things being equal, it does sound pretty bad ass."

Tyreese: "I had to. So I did. I could."

Crazy guy: "We're the same. We're them. We're the same."


Patryk said...

Wonder if Tyreese really killed that guy or did he just leave him beaten and unconcious. After all we enver saw the body. Which rule of TV was that?

Jess Lynde said...

Great thoughts, Doc. I particularly liked your observation that:

… the line between [the Termites] and our group is thin and becoming thinner. In the coming episodes I hope we don't have to watch the characters we have become attached to descend into the same kind of despair and brutality.

I think it is the lack of despair and angst that intrigues me. Gareth and his crew certainly no longer seemed remotely troubled by the terrible things they were doing. Just another day at the office, full of necessary slaughter. So what does that mean for Rick and Carol? What happens after you reach the point where you don’t really have any more qualms about doing the vicious, brutal things that are "necessary," but can still have and express love for your family or group? (Carol seems slightly more conflicted than Rick about the necessary killing, but not much. They both seem to have reached their “human vs. monster” equilibrium, and seem relatively comfortable with it.) Is that balance good, or does it open the door to more and more heinous actions starting to seem acceptable? In this instance, I had no quibbles with Rick wanting to go back and make sure all the Termites were dead --- they were luring people in for slaughter! --- but where’s the line? And how does their attitude affect the entire group?

Carol, indeed, owned this episode. I just loved seeing her taking charge in her gut-spattered Clint Eastwood-esque poncho. And I also really “loved” that the first guy down on the trough butchery line was Sam from ‘Indifference’ and that Carol got Rick’s watch back. It’s a small thing, but I enjoy little bits of minor continuity like that.

The other familiar face I was overjoyed to see was in post-credits teaser. Are we allowed to talk about that?

Patryk, I’m leaning towards, yes, Tyreese did kill that guy in the cabin. But I’m prepared to be wrong, because, as you say, not seeing the body always leaves a question mark. Gareth, for example. We just saw him get clipped, so he’ll likely be showing up again. And, of course, now Rick’s got to kill him with the red-handled machete, since he made the threat, right?

Henrik Bennetter said...

Best episode of TWD in a looong time!
Although I just simply have to gripe over the slaughter-scene. In my world there is just simply no way ANYBODY would just sit there with their heads lined up waiting to be killed.
Why NONE of them tried anything is beyond me.
I think the writers should've had them tied down somehow.
Sure, that would have made it hard for them to get loose and get back at them, but still - noone would just sit there waiting to be slaughtered.

Billie Doux said...

Terrific season opener, although like you, Doc, I'm ready for the eating people alive scenes to stop being so graphic. We get it. Enough, already.

Carol was marvelous. What a great pay-off for her character. And the Daryl and Carol reunion was my favorite, too. I loved the way he just dropped his head on her shoulder. No words necessary.

I also liked how Glenn reminded Rick of who they were, and how they did *not* go back and slaughter everyone, even though it was what Rick wanted and probably what they should have done.

Excellent review, Doc.

drnanamom said...

@Henrik - excellent point about the not waiting around to be killed. You would think they would use the baseball bat first but I wonder if the 'butchers' had even killed an animal by themselves before? I guess one has to suspend disbelief quite stringently sometimes for the sake of plot.

drnanamom said...

@Patryk I think he did kill the guy. Tyreese doesn't strike me as the kind of person who would lie about it. I think that he lost control when hitting Martin but then when he realized he was dead, he came to terms with it as much as he could. I'm not sure what the repercussions for Tyreese will be but I am expecting some.

Heather said...

Doc, loved the review. Very thorough yet succinct! Everyone made good points here, too.
A few random thoughts:
--The quote about Michonne being a weapon made me howl with joy.
--The Grimes' reunion just made me so happy.
--I'm starting to hit my own limit with human torture on this show, particularly the last 'THEN' scene. Billie, I echo your sentiments here, yes TWD writers, we can do the math, things were hideously unbearable to turn these people into brutal automatons.
--I am sure everyone already knows the true meaning of the name of this show but I love any episode that actively reminds me that 'the walking dead' refers to the living characters.

Finally, Jess--First of all, what show even dares to add a post-end credits teaser or coda or whatever that was?! Can't wait to discuss next week.

Jess Lynde said...

They seem to be referring to it as a "bonus scene." It was actually at the end of the credits in the Itunes version of the episode, so it seems like it is meant to be treated as part and parcel of this episode, and not as a "sneak peak" or a spoiler teaser. More of a coda, as you say, Heather.

It was interesting that it seemed to take place some time after the events of this episode. The sign was much more overgrown and worn looking. So I'm not sure if they'll even get into it in next week's episode, or for awhile, unless they go with another fractured time structure. Regardless, it was pretty exciting!

drnanamom said...

Wow, I totally missed that last little bit! Very interesting. Thanks for bringing it to attention.

Docnaz said...

I personally thought the bathtub scene was the best part of the episode. It scared me more than anything I have ever seen on television. The tension of having to watch those we have some attachment to killed in such a nonchalant way, then the pause before killing those we are REALLY attached to, then the frequent interruptions ramped up the suspense. ( I do not like graphic violence and cover my eyes for the graphic parts).

The Walking Dead has kept me watching because there is not much on anymore that is better. But the show really bogs down at times. This may be my favorite episode ever. I am really looking forward to tonight.

Lamounier said...

Wow, Carol, again! She was the freaking boss of the episode. I’m still not behind her killing of Karen and the other guy, but every other aspect of her character development (including how she owned the killing and confessed it to Tyreese) has been great. This episode was the crowning of Carol, the Awesome. I usually don’t rewatch scenes of The Walking Dead, but I rewatched all of Carol’s scenes on this premiere. Melissa McBride slayed it.

I totally expected the plot of Terminus to take at least a few episodes to be resolved. If this was the intended way to solve it, wouldn’t have made more sense to have this episode (or most of it) as last season’s finale? What with the epic triumph of our heroes and all the touching reunions... As it is, though, it was a great season opener. And it’s clear they are setting up Gareth to return later on (the story of the people of Terminus was indeed pretty sad, but it does not excuse them from their actions).

Good catch on the meaning of the line “You’re not here. Neither am I”, Doc. That was a terrific moment.