Pivotal Episodes of The Walking Dead, Part 3: Season Five & Six
I’m back with the third installment of the most pivotal episodes of The Walking Dead! Carrying on with the series, Part Three features three episodes from Seasons 5 and one from Season 6. You can read Part One (Seasons 1 & 2) HERE, and Part Two (Seasons 3 & 4) HERE.
9. Season Five, Episode 1: No Sanctuary
Written by Scott M Gimple
Season Five starts with a blast in this fantastic, important episode, as Carol saves her friends for the second time, by blowing up the gas tank at Terminus, home of Gareth and his cannibals. Although previously exiled by Rick, Carol is welcomed back into the fold, and there are three wonderful reunions: Carol and Daryl, Sasha and Tyreese, and the most tearjerking of all: Rick and Carl discover that Judith didn’t die in The Governor’s prison massacre after all, but had been rescued by Tyreese. This is the start of The Group post-prison, including new members Tara, Abraham, Eugene and Rosita—and after the credits, we see the return of Morgan, travelling in the same direction…..
The Terminus experience shows Rick how truly evil this new world can be, and it leads him to distrust others: Father Gabriel, and the lovely Aaron from Alexandria.
In this episode, we see the first ‘can’t-kill’ dilemma, and its repercussions: Tyreese says he has killed Terminus Martin, but he couldn’t, which leads to bad news down the line. Made me think about how people can be swayed into good or evil; Martin was, potentially, an okay guy ~ although you could argue that anyone who would indulge in cannibalism was always going to turn bad. But when he was talking to Tyreese about his past, I thought of Martinez, from Woodbury—if they had met Rick’s group, instead of The Governor/Gareth, the good within them might have come out, instead.
10. Season Five, Episode 9: What Happened and What’s Going On
Written by Scott M Gimple
Reeling after the loss of Beth, this episode takes the group to the next physical place in their journey, as they move hundreds of miles from Georgia, through the Carolinas and up to Virginia, in the wild hope that Noah’s gated community might still be intact. Of course, it isn’t—and it’s here that we first see the spectre of the Wolves. No one notices the words ‘Wolves Not Far’ on a wall behind where Michonne is standing, but, later, while exploring, Michonne, Glenn and Rick discover their handiwork: dismembered corpses.
Michonne realises how imperative it is that they find a place to live; she sees that ‘you can be out here too long’, when she hears Rick and Glenn talking about how easily they can kill, now, and Rick makes the decision to head for DC, as the most likely place to find safety ~ which, of course, leads them to a new beginning….
This is the episode in which we lose Tyreese, which sends poor Sasha spiralling down into self-destruction for the rest of the series. We also see the possibility of life after death; at the moment of Tyreese’s death, he is travelling in the car not with Rick and co, but with those who have died before: Beth, Bob, Lizzie and Mika, who tell them that ‘it’s better now’.
11. Season Five, Episode 11: The Distance
Written by Seth Hoffman
After the brilliant ‘Them’, which showed our friends travelling country roads at their lowest ebb, good fairy Aaron takes them to their new home and new hope, at Alexandria. When he enters the barn where they’re staying, the gulf between their life on the road and the civilised existence of Aaron is so apparent ~ it makes you realise the effect of the harshness of life since the prison.
We see how Rick has changed; his unwillingness to believe the good in anyone, to see the possibility of danger everywhere, has turned him into a ruthless leader who is willing to take any steps to keep his ‘family’ alive ~ he’s become the man who will attack rather than just defend, and who will, in the not too distant future, instigate the massacre at the Saviours’ outpost. Carol has become harder, more cautious and cynical, too; even after the rest of the group have persuaded Rick that Aaron is to be trusted, she tells him that ‘even though you were wrong, you were still right’.
This episode sparks off the empathy between Maggie and Sasha, after they’ve lost their siblings (Beth and Tyreese), little knowing how that bond will be reinforced, later. At the end, when they reach the gates of Alexandria, we see perhaps the most pivotal moment of all: a close-up of Rick’s eyes. All the tension drains away, as his face relaxes….
12. Season Six, Episode 1: First Time Again
Written by Scott M Gimple and Matthew Negrete
Watching Season Six again, I was as in awe, as ever, of the brilliance of it, particularly the first half. The first nine episodes actually take place over only three days in Walking Dead time ~ the continuity is amazing.
This fabulous episode is one of my all-time favorites and such an important one for this later era of the show. It’s the first time we see Rick take the helm at Alexandria, as he directs Operation Quarry—and Deanna accepts the new order. The quarry plan has a huge knock-on effect for the rest of the season—it leads to devastation by the Wolves (because most of the community are otherwise occupied), a Walker invasion, various minor and secondary character deaths and, ultimately, the first encounter with the Saviours.
The new ‘all life is precious’ Morgan is back, and in this episode we see the start of the growing closeness between Abraham and Sasha. Also, Ron’s growing hatred of the Grimes family (Rick killed his dad and made moves on his mum, and Carl nicked his girlfriend, so you can kind of see his point, objectionable though he is!) leads to bad news for Carl down the line. In this episode, we see the first exchange between Carol and Morgan, the beginning of their complex relationship.
Next Week: More important episodes from TWD Season 6, and a couple from Season 7.