**SPOILERS. Do not read unless you want to know in detail what happens in the Season 5 premiere**
Season 5 of The Walking Dead kicked off with a premier that was probably one of, if not the most, anticipated shows of the year. AMC played the first four seasons of the show in a marathon for the entire week preceding the premiere and fans were fervently tweeting and watching on Sunday leading up the premiere. From the trailer that had been released in July at San Diego Comic Con fans knew that there would be no time jump between the end of Season 4 and the start of Season 5. When the premiere opened the prison survivors were still in the train car, but preparing for a fight. They all were fashioning weapons out of whatever they could make or fight and they were prepared to fight for freedom when the train car was opened. As voices outside told them to get against the back of the car the roof opened and a tear gas canister was dropped in. Then there’s just blackness.
The audience sees what Rick see as he starts to come to and the view is terrifying. They are in a warehouse style room and there is a man in an apron seemingly sawing up a bloody human body. Rick, Daryl, Bob and Glenn are bound and gagged, placed on their knees with their hands behind them and their heads over a long, shallow trough. They are in a line of similarly bound and gagged men. One of the Termites wearing an apron and a face guard walks to the end of the row, where Rick sees Sam. Rick and Carol met Sam and his girlfriend in Season 4, in the episode where Rick banished Carol.
The Termite bashes Sam on the back of the head then slits his throat so that his blood spurts into the trough and oozes towards a drain in the center. He walks down the line repeating the procedure until he gets to Glenn. As he is bringing up the bat Gareth comes in, and asks them both a question. As fans cringe there are several more instances where it looks like Glenn is going to meet the same fate at the others, which is a clear reference to the graphic novel in which Glenn dies when Negan beats him with Lucille, a baseball bat wrapped in razor wire.
So from the very beginning fans were on edge and cringing in their seats. Shots are heard outside, and the survivors get a reprieve while everyone is rushing to figure out what is going on. Rick and the other take advantage of the confusion to cut themselves loose and escape. During their escape they find a meat locker type room where there are human bodies hanging on meat hooks and carved up like roasts. It’s clear that the Termites have been killing and eating their hostages.
The confusion has been caused by Carol, who is amazing in this episode. Tyreese and Carol, like Rick and the other survivors, were suspicious about Terminus. They nearly overrun by a herd of walkers, and change direction to avoid the herd. While they are approaching Terminus from the new direction they come across one of the Termites planting charges for an explosion that will confuse the walkers and lead them away from Terminus. He is talking on the radio to another person about the chick with the sword and the kid with the hat they captured. Carol, knowing he means Michonne and Carl, takes the man hostage and puts him a small house they come across. Tyrese stays behind to guard the prisoner and take care of Judith while Carol sets out to save Rick and the others.
In order to draw the walkers towards terminus she uses some of the firepower that she took from the Termite she captured to blow up a propane tank inside the Terminus compound from a vantage point behind a fence. Then she covered herself in walker guts, just like Rick and Glenn did in Season 1, so that she could move among them safely. Disguised as a walker she walked right into Terminus in the middle of the herd that converged on Terminus.
Rick and the other survivors fight the walkers and the Termites to get back to the train car and rescue the others. They still have no idea that Carol has caused the herd to attack Terminus or that she is on the grounds. Rick, without a shred of the humanity that Hershel tried to cultivate in him, gunned down the people of Terminus as well as walkers. In one of the best scenes of the episode Carol is walking through the memorial room in Terminus and she finds the watch that she gave Rick and Daryl’s crossbow so she know that Rick and Daryl are among the captured as well as Carl and Michonne. She is confronted by Mary, and the two of them fight. Carol shoots Mary in the leg and opens the door to let in walkers to finish her off. Carol, still covered in guts, walks out freely among the walkers.
While Carol and prison survivors are battling to get out of Terminus the man that Tyrese is guarding tries to get into Tyrese’s head without much success. But when Tyrese turns his back the man jumps over to a small cooler where Judith is laying and puts his hands around her neck, threatening to snap her neck if Tyrese doesn’t let him go. He tells Tyrese to drop his weapons, then forces him outside where walkers are surrounding the small house. Tyrese, who has been unable to fight or do much of anything because of the tragedies they have been through, snaps back into fighter mode to save Judith. He bursts back through the door and attacks the man, knocking him out and eventually killing him to save baby Judith.
Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Tara, Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Carl and Michonne all make it out of Terminus. They head back to where Rick buried the bag of guns and supplies at the end of Season 4. Carol come up behind them and fans get a moment they have been waiting more than half a season for. When Daryl sees Carol he runs to her and hugs her several times, picking her up and then putting his head on her shoulder. Rick, seeing Carol, approaches her with no awkwardness or weirdness over his earlier banishment of her and asks if she was responsible for the diversion that got them out of Terminus. When she says yes he hugs her, and it seems all is forgiven. She tells Rick they have to follow her. She leads them back to the little house, where Tyrese is standing holding Judith. Rick, seeing that Judith is alive, runs to her and hugs her. Carl also runs to her and fans everywhere cried happy tears to see the family reunited at last.
In the very beginning of the episode and in the very end of the episode the audience sees flashbacks of what made the people of Terminus turn into the brutal cannibals they become. Originally Terminus was supposed to be a place of sanctuary, but it was taken over by very evil people who brutalized them and tortured them, killing many of them. They somehow managed to overpower the evil people and take back Terminus but the terrible experience turned them into cold killers. The unspoken question lingering from the flashbacks is if the same thing will happen to Rick and the prison survivors, who have also been through some terrible things. In the second flashback there is a shadowy look at one of the evil men who may be Negan, one of the worst villains from the graphic novels who supposedly is going to show up by the end of Season 5. At the very end of the episode the group sets off looking for a safe place to shelter and audiences see Morgan, walking along the tracks that the group had walked on earlier.
The season premier episodes of The Walking Dead have always broken records, and if this one meets expectations it should shatter the previous record that the show set for the Season 4 premiere which beat NFL football for the first time ever. This episode had everything the fans wanted and more. The action was nonstop and intense but fans still got the feel good moments they had been waiting for when Carol rejoined the group and Rick and Carl were reunited with Judith. While there are still lots of loose ends to tie up there is no doubt that this season is going to the most intense, action filled, and exciting of any season so far. By the time the 5th season of a show rolls around it’s usually starting to wind down and fall back on tired old formulaic plots but The Walking Dead gets better, stronger, and more original every season. Judging by the season premiere this season is going to exceed everyone’s expectations.