twd5The numbers are in and social media has been slammed with posts from fans about the Season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead. The critics are, overall, impressed with the quality of the episode but more importantly the fans loved it.

The episode was a roller coaster through tension, anxiety, fear and tears as the prison survivors escaped Terminus thanks to Carol and were reunited.

The reunion between fan favorite Daryl and Carol was emotional for fans because Daryl hadn’t seen Carol since Rick exiled her from the group before The Governor attacked the prison in the mid-season finale. Seeing Daryl run to Carol and hug her was the fulfillment that fans had been waiting for. And when Carol leads them to the small cabin and Rick and Carl are reunited with baby Judith there were not too many dry eyes watching. Episode 2 will likely yank that rug of happiness right back out from under the fans’ feet but at least for a few shining moments they got to experience a little peace and a little happiness. It won’t last.

The Story is Just Getting Started

One of the things that impresses both critics and fans of the show is the quality of the writing. The story of Rick and the survivors is so compelling that even though beloved characters are killed off with no regard for fan popularity and the story gets continually more brutal the audience keeps growing. Very few shows can head into the fifth season of the show with fans having no clue what comes next. In a way the story is evolving just as the post zombie apocalypse world is devolving. The more time goes by in the show the grimmer the conditions get and the harder the survivors have to fight. In the first four seasons of the show the characters were really still coming to terms with the world that they had been thrust into. They were far more concerned with the threat from the walkers than the threat of other survivors. There still appeared to be some order in the chaos and some clinging to the civility of the life that had existed before the zombie outbreak.

But now, four seasons in and starting on the fifth, that world is gone. People with no rules can do terrible things to each other and the survivors are starting to see the depths of the depravity that humans are capable of. They need each other more than ever to survive. The story of how they are going to adjust to the bleak post-apocalypse world is over. They know what they’re up against, and they’re not naïve anymore. The story of how they will survive in the world know that they understand the world as it exists now is just beginning. Will they go to Washington? Or somewhere else? They are realizing that they need to venture outside Georgia if they want to find a safe place to try and rebuild their lives.

The Directors and Writers are as Fearless as the Survivors Need to Be

Even in a show known for gore and steeped in blood the opening scenes of the Season 5 premiere were shocking. Just like Hershel’s death was shocking and traumatic. But the writers keep pushing forward, fearlessly cutting characters and upping the ante when it comes to the threats to the survivors. If the writers, producers and crew were not willing to take the risks they take and stay true to the story the show wouldn’t have attracted the massive fan base it is. The story has taken on a life of its own and as long as the writers and crew focus on telling the story, no matter where the story goes, the show will continue to be the incredible success that is has become. Good storytelling, a fantastic cast and crew that clearly respect each other and operate like a well-oiled machine, and great momentum keep propelling The Walking Dead to record audience numbers and millions of fans around the world who will keep it the most watched show on television.