“The Walking Dead” has a fantastic track record for season premieres and finales. “No Sanctuary” certainly continues to live up to that. Putting Carol front and center was a brilliant decision. She was one of the brightest spots last season, with “The Grove”, the episode that focused on Carol and Tyreese’s experiences as one of the season’s high points so having her carry so much of the season premiere seems like an obvious choice.
Carol has one of the most compelling series long arcs, one that parallels Daryl’s journey in the depth of self-discovery, change and growth, for good or for bad. Both have lingered on the periphery, quickly becoming fully realized characters, and shading and layers continued to be added on, building in a slow burn. At this point in the series, starting off the 5th season, it’s time for those from the peripheral characters that have been building all this time to come in and take center stage.
For now at least, Rick’s story has been told. Other characters that have stood closer to the centre are gone, and Glen and Maggie, while characters I adore, haven’t had a whole lot to do lately. While I understand the inclination to want to stay with our original center, The Walking Dead has developed characters including Carol and Michonne (and there are more in the background of the cast that could become much, much more), that it could continue to be complex and interesting if the focus continued to shift and find a new center or continue to shift to a more even ensemble structure.
Carol demanded attention on screen last night. With the quiet resolve that exudes power, miles from the scared woman she was when we met her. “The Walking Dead” often carries its most powerful moments with silence. Melissa McBridge is brilliant in her pauses, in what her face and body language is telling us, and what it’s holding back. She’s not a butcher, she’s not cattle. She’s a warrior, and she’s a survivor.
Watching her maneuver her way into the enemy territory of Sanctuary, forging ahead (and leaving Tyreese “home” with the baby!!!) was terrifying and brilliant. Carol has become a one woman zombie apocalypse rescue squad. The reunion when the group discovered Carol was behind that terrifying jailbreak simultaneously uncomfortable and joyous. The tension with Rick was there but quickly vanished in his relief to see Judith still alive. But it was Daryl’s tearful face, and run to hug Carol when he sees his best friend has survived was wonderful. Their bond is probably the strongest (and my favourite) relationship dynamic in the show, as two broken people who have come together and forged something that we’ve only seen small pieces of on screen, but I’d love to see more of.
I know, I know, I only went on about Carol because well… Carol. What were your favourite parts of “No Sanctuary?”
Photos Courtesy of Gene Page/AMC