Television Series DVD
The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
With the start of Season 6 just around the corner, I am happy to announce that I have binge-watched The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray and am ready for the next storyline. But what a season 5 was!
Season 5 picks up some time after Season 4 left off with most of our heroes stuck in cannibal country at the supposed sanctuary called Terminus. The men of the group are about to be slaughtered when Carol (Melissa McBride) comes to the rescue, blowing things up and providing the distraction Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his friends need to escape. Of course, Carol doesn't find Rick and the others at that moment - that would be too easy. Instead, she catches up with them later. Thus, it is revealed to Rick that his newborn baby daughter did not perish at the prison, but has been kept safe by Carol and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman). The only person now missing from Rick's group is Beth (Emily Kinney).
Leaving Terminus, the group travels through the woods scavenging until they come upon a priest in need of rescue. Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) appears harmless enough, unable to even defend himself against the Walkers. But as the group travels with him to his church, they become unsure about the priest. If he has never killed a Walker before, how has he stayed alive so long? How is it that his church is stocked so heavily with food? It appears that Gabriel is hiding a terrible secret...but how will this affect Rick's family?
Meanwhile, the surviving leaders of Terminus are looking for retribution. Their hunt for Rick's family ends in the death of Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.), but not before he exacts a little revenge of his own. After defeating the Terminus cannibals, the group gets separated again, Maggie (Laruen Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) heading off with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) on their mission to bring Eugene (Josh McDermott) to Washington, D.C. and hopefully the cure to all of this mess. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol have a lead on Beth's location and take off to the city of Atlanta to find her.
I'll bet folks were wondering why Eugene was always so reluctant to head into hordes or even continue his mission to Washington, D.C. Well, we soon learn that Eugene is not a scientist at all...just a con man who managed to trick a distraught Abraham into living just a little longer for one last mission. This revelation almost gets Eugene killed, but in the end, he survives and the group heads back to the church, just in time to rescue Michonne (Danai Gurira), Gabriel , Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith as it is overrun by the dead. Michonne informs Maggie that Beth is alive and Rick and the others have headed out to Atlanta to save her.
Meanwhile, Beth's adventure in the Atlanta is revealed. She finds herself being held captive by the remnants of the Atlanta Police Department in Grady Memorial Hospital, now containing one doctor and orderlies who happen to be those saved from the dead by the APD. As Beth soon learns, once rescued, you now owe your rescuers and the debt never seems to be repaid. The leader of the hospital is Lt. Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods), a sadistic officer willing to do whatever it takes to keep the hospital under her control. Most of her officers are decent men, but some are brutal, seeing those that have been rescued as their playthings, beating and raping them indiscriminately. Beth attempts to escape with the help of another "inmate" Noah (Tyler James Williams), but though Noah gets free, Beth doesn't make it out. Unfortunately, Rick's efforts at rescuing Beth aren't much more successful.
It is at this time that the group starts to realize their nomadic adventures are beginning to take a toll on them all. The losses they have endured individually and as a group are starting to cause them to fray, both emotionally and physically. They start to look for places to hole up and regroup, much to Rick's disdain. One such search leads to another tragedy and the loss of yet another of our heroes. The group is on its last legs when they are approached by Aaron (Ross Marquand) who tells them about a community in Alexandria, Virginia, a community into which Aaron believes Rick's family would be a perfect fit.
Though not exactly trusting of this new community, the group agrees to check it out, if only for a bit of rest and recuperation. They soon discover that the Alexandria Safe Zone is full of people who have never been out in the midst of the zombie hordes. Led by former Congresswoman Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) and her family, the community is basically self-sustaining with solar electricity, its own water supply and more. Small raids are conducted for other supplies, but, for the most part, the community avoids the problems of the Walkers. However, Deanna realizes that Rick's people are needed in order to fortify the Safe Zone. They have experience among the hordes of dead and can help the community become stronger...if they don't take it over completely.
As it turns out, this community contains secrets...not such nice ones either. And though some judge the newcomers as dangerous, some of those inhabiting the Alexandria Safe Zone are even more dangerous. Can Rick and his family find a safe haven in Alexandria or will it become yet another place of tragedy and destruction?
Have you ever noticed that every time Rick and his ever-growing family find a place they might be able to start a community in, they eventually learn that they've been fooled. They eventually begin to believe that safety is a joke...something that can never be found again. And yet, it is the former loner, Michonne, that reminds Rick that they need to remember what it is like to be in a community. This season's theme is a reminder that being on the road too long can change an individual. Being on the road too long makes you hard and you just might lose yourself along the way. However, the opposite is also brought to light in this season - not enough time on the road makes you soft and unable to face or handle the road's challenges.
There are more revelations about various characters in this season - characters we thought we already knew. We learn about Carol's time spent with her abusive husband and the time she took Sophia to a shelter for battered women. We learn that Beth is a lot tougher than we could have imagined, willing to make sacrifices to keep others safe. We watch Daryl become more of a leader in the group, taking control of his temper and desire to lash out in anger. We see how past decisions have come back to haunt characters like Tyreese and Rick, complete with the return of long dead characters. We watch Maggie, Glenn and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) get put through the proverbial ringer this season and the changes their individual hardships cause in them. We watch Carl develop a relationship with one of the residents in Alexandria (possibly taking the place of the comic book Sophia who grows up with Carl during the series).
In addition to the action, anguish and anxiety of the fifth season, we are treated with the return of an old character. Morgan Jones (Lennie James) has apparently been following Rick Grimes and crew. When he arrives at the Alexandria Safe Zone, it is to see a bloody Rick Grimes standing over someone he has just had to kill to keep the community safe. Just what is Morgan's angle? Is he friend or foe? He didn't seem like much of a friend the last time we saw him...and you'll remember that he wasn't exactly in his right mind then either. Just what kind of twist is his arrival going to be in The Walking Dead storyline? And what about this group known as the Wolves? What kind of new hell are they going to reap on our survivors? We'll just have to wait until next season.
In the meantime, I'm happy to check out all of the extras found on the Complete Fifth Season DVD, including Deleted Scenes, The Making of The Walking Dead featurettes, Inside the Walking Dead featurettes and various tributes to characters lost. I loved The Making of Alexandria, a featurette in which we learn that much of the Alexandria set were actual houses built by the set designers in a community that is on the rise. That means, that the houses, built to code and maintain habitability, will be available for purchase once the movie crew vacate the premises. How cool is that?! Sort of like a film crew giving back to the community in which they are filming. Neat! There are also some fun featurettes like A Day in the Life of Michael Cudlitz, A Day in the Life of Josh McDermitt and Rotters in the Flesh.
So, I had a lot of fun...and scares...watching The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season on Bluray - in my opinion, the best format in which to watch this series, providing the cleanest, clearest view of the action. I can't wait for the start of Season 6!