Even though I haven’t kept up a weekly blog on The Walking Dead, I would be amiss if I didn’t discuss it every once in a while, as it is one of my favorite TV shows. The show just wrapped up the first half of its fifth season in quite a stunning fashion, leaving the remaining group of zombie apocalypse survivors at yet another crossroads, both literally and figuratively. The group has gotten out of a few really tight situations this season, and has even split many times only to regroup again in the end, but after the heartbreaking loss of one of their own, and after learning their hope for a zombie-free tomorrow was a lie, it’s going to be difficult for the group to cope and re-group in order to not just survive but find purpose in their post-apocalyptic world. With all that being said, I want to touch on my thoughts on the first half of the season, talk about my favorite characters, moments, and stories, and discuss what I hope to see for the rest of the season.
Favorite Character of the First Half: Daryl Dixon
- Daryl has really grown to be the true protagonist on this show, and this season has shown him at his best and brightest. His quick reaction to seeing the car that took off with Beth shows his loyalty to those he cares about, as he didn’t waste a second to hop in his car with Carol and leave the group behind in order to try to save Beth. While there have been plenty of heroic actions this season, what makes Daryl the character of the season so far is his strength of character, and his fighting resolve when under duress. We’ve seen Daryl about to get his throat slit at Terminus, about to get bit when fighting one of Dawn’s officers in Atlanta, and in countless other precarious situations, but he’s never panicked and he’s always kept one step ahead of any threat to the ones he loves. Even after all his heroics in trying to save Beth, his greatest scene may have been right after Beth was killed by Dawn. The sadness and pain in Daryl’s face was heartbreaking to see as a viewer, especially after all of the amazing scenes between Daryl and Beth from Season 4, and the moment where he killed Dawn in all of his grief was one of the most gripping moments of the season. Daryl has always been a hero to viewers of this show, but I think he’s truly grown into that role for me just the last dozen episodes or so, after all of the vulnerability he showed with Beth last season, and culminating with his quest to find her after she was kidnapped. Daryl’s bravery and determination this season has made him the standout character for me so far.
Favorite New Character: Gareth
- This might be an opinion contrary to most viewers’ but I genuinely liked Gareth as an antagonist. Gareth was a post-apocalyptic maniac very much like The Governor, and could have provided an excellent source of antagonism for Rick and his group, if he didn’t ultimately meet his end at the hands of Rick in Father Gabriel’s church. Gareth was a charismatic leader, who ran his colony, Terminus, in a ruthless, yet business-like fashion. The way he ran a cannibalistic society with such normalcy was equal parts genius and insanity, and I truly believe his character could have had a long-term menacing effect on the group in the same way The Governor did. I think he was a far more compelling antagonist than Dawn, who really showed no charisma or interesting qualities that a viewer could be drawn to. Don’t get me wrong now, Gareth was a despicable, ruthless character, but the rationale behind why Terminus became the way it was at least understandable enough for me to get invested in him as a character to loathe.
Favorite Storyline: Getting Eugene to Washington D.C.
- While Rick and his group have been fighting for survival for what have likely been multiple years, a new cast of characters came into the group, and brought with them a hope for an end to the zombie apocalypse. After the demise of the prison, Glenn and Tara ended up travelling together and came upon Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita travelling in a tank. The three of them promised a hope for the end to the current state of affairs, as Eugene was a scientist with the Human Genome Project, who could get to Washington D.C. and possibly reverse the effects of the pathogen that has lead to the re-animation of the infected dead. After the disaster at Terminus, and the re-grouping at Father Gabriel’s church, Abraham gave a riveting speech to the group about going to D.C. and ending the current state of affairs. His speech was one of the high points of the season, as he made it clear that the mentality had to change from merely surviving to thriving again. Rick seemed to be cautious about the plan once Bob, Daryl, and Carol disappeared, but it was Glenn who stepped up to Rick, and told him it wasn’t his call whether they went or not, as Tara, Maggie, and he went with Abraham’s group. I loved that the beginning of this storyline challenged Rick’s passive leadership, something I’ll discuss further, and it broke up the group in a way that would probably highlight dynamics that wouldn’t get focused on in the larger group setting. The story lead to some great scenes between Glenn and Maggie, which we hadn’t had since the prison days, and gave us viewers some much needed back-story on Abraham and Eugene. I loved that we got to see the sadness of Abraham’s existence before he met his companions, as it proved that there are more shades to his character besides the gruff army sergeant we see all the time. With Eugene, the fact that he’s been so quiet and reserved lead me to wonder what was up with him, and what he was hiding, and it was great to see his psyche unravel, inadvertently through the counseling of Tara, culminating with him blurting out in the middle of a confrontation between Abraham and Glenn that his whole story was a lie. It was such a shocking moment, and the reactions to it were amazing, as the despair of their only hope being ripped away was almost too much for most of them to take. I always kind of figured Eugene was full of it and that there really wouldn’t be a cure in Washington, but I didn’t expect the lie to come out so abruptly and so soon after their split with the group. I think this story’s result will reverberate through the group for the rest of the season, and that should make for some intense drama going forward.
Favorite Subplot: The degradation of Rick’s leadership
- This has been the one minor feature of the last two seasons that I’ve been following intently. I’ve never really seen Rick as a really strong leader for this group, and this season his authority has been tested countless times. Abraham’s speech about wanting to reclaim the world for the living was a sign that other peoples’ opinions were being taken into consideration over the direction of Rick. From there we saw Glenn tell Rick that whether or not they go with Abraham to D.C. with some of the others M.I.A. was not his call, and Daryl side with Tyreese over the tactics for getting Beth and Carol back. He has not been the pinnacle of strength on this show of recent either, as seen last season when Carl basically had to save him, and his lack of decisiveness and vision as the leader has been noteworthy to me. With Carol constantly coming through for the group, and Daryl becoming the hero of the show, I really see Rick’s leadership starting to crumble subtly. I look forward to seeing what will happen going forward if it falls apart completely and he loses the trust and respect of people.
Favorite Moment: Noah gets away from Grady Memorial Hospital
- This season has seen the group go through a lot of heartbreak and despair, so there weren’t too many great, positive moments for me to choose from, but one moment that stands out as being a great scene was when Noah was able to escape from Grady, with Beth being caught. This was the one shining moment in the season where something worked out really well, with Noah being able to escape so he could finally go home after his long stint of indentured servitude. What made this scene great was the sheer joy on Beth’s face, despite getting caught by the officers. It was a scene where we got to see the best of the Beth character, as she was truly excited and grateful that her new friend got to see his way to freedom, moreso than she was upset about not getting away herself. It was one of the great shining moments of hope in this season, where something great worked out and we got to see the good guy win. I hope for the remainder of the season we get more ‘good guy wins’ moments, but for now, this is the moment that stands out as my favorite moment, a feel good one for sure.
Least Favorite Moment: Beth is killed by Dawn
- This was just so heartbreaking, because it was so sudden, so unnecessary, and so deflating, both for the characters and for me as a viewer. Beth was dead on the ground before anyone could know what happened, before I could truly process that she’d been shot, and just after she was set free after all of the efforts Daryl and the others made to find her. There was such a raw emotion to the moment, as Daryl broke down, and Rick turned to the side in disgust, and even though it was well-acted and well-written, I have to mention it as my least favorite moment because it was such a letdown to what could have been a hopeful moment in their hopeless world. But, alas, that’s not the way ‘The Walking Dead’ works, and I don’t really think I’d have it any other way. Still, I hated seeing Beth die, plain and simple. That moment was just all kinds of horrible.
5 Things I Want to See Happen in the Second Half:
- The group needs to leave Georgia
While the Washington D.C. trip was a bust, Eugene was not wrong in thinking that going to the capitol would be the best bet for survival. There are probably places in the country that have developed some semblance of a stable post-apocalyptic society, and the group needs to stop dawdling about and find a place where they can be safe and comfortable, if such a place could even possibly still exist.
- We need to see more of Rosita
Taking out of the account that Christian Serratos is a gorgeous and fantastic actress, it’s weird that we’ve basically gotten no emotional background on the Rosita character. I’m not sure what the producers are waiting for in terms of developing her character, but given that we’ve seen the background story of Abraham and Eugene, it is time for us to learn about Rosita too.
- A decision needs to be made about Abraham and Eugene going forward
The group as a whole needs to be positive that they can trust these two going forward, and if they decide they can’t trust them, they need to be left behind. Abraham’s reaction to Eugene’s lie was one of the most terrifying moments in the first half of the season, and Glenn, Maggie, and the rest need to decide if they are ok including him in their future plans after his violent tendencies have become clear. With Eugene, the group also needs to make a decision, because his lies prove that he simply can’t be trusted. They will need to decide if they can forgive him for misleading them in such a large way. My hope is that the show doesn’t just reintegrate the two into the group like nothing went down, I hope they both have to regain trust after their true colors have been shown.
- Michonne needs to get a good storyline
So far this season, Michonne hasn’t had a great storyline like most of the other characters have, and her conversations of recent have been limited to Carl and Father Gabriel. She has been a strong, compelling character on this show for a while, and the writers should really give her some hearty story in the second half of the season.
- Rick should die
Yes, I know this opinion will be controversial, but I think his character has run its course. Plus, wouldn’t it be so epic if the lead protagonist on the show was killed on the last episode of the season! Truly, I would love to see how the group does without Rick, even though this would be an extremely controversial decision for the producers to make. Will it happen? I sincerely doubt it, but it would be quite a stunning turn of events to end the season on.