“The Walking Dead” recap (5.1): No Sanctuary

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All last season, the signs told them that they would find sanctuary at Terminus. When we last saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Normal Reedus), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the rest of their gang of good misfits, they were forced into a train car shortly after entering Terminus and discovering they had been lured here for one purpose: death by cannibals.

I asked something in my Season 4 finale recap that I’ve been thinking about in the interim: Will Carol reemerge and save the day? As this highly-anticipated episode begins, Rick and the group being held captive by cannibalistic maniacs are wielding together any kind of weapon they can from the clothes on their backs, but they aren’t given a fair chance to defend themselves when a smoke bomb is dropped into the car and they’re led out in a haze. Inside, they’re lined up in a large room where we can see another innocent man is being sliced on a table. There are tools of all kind laying about—knives, chains, and a few people not associated with Rick and group are lopped off and have their throats cut—their blood pouring down into a basin everyone is propped up against.

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This doesn’t look good—Glenn is scheduled next for the batting. Rick has a surprise, though—a sharp wooden pick he made from the wood paneling in the train car. A guy walks in then, holding a walkie-talkie, acting like he’s a delusional do-gooder director for a fucked up camp for Southern folk who probably once lived in the surrounding hundreds of miles of the Southeast where they ate Frito pie and drank sweet tea, and now, they’re flesh-eating monsters who make The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies look like a walk in the park.

Suddenly, we hear a loud noise and see the whole structure begin to shake—what could that be? Everyone scurries. (Side note: All these commercial breaks are making my palms sweat so much.) Outside, somewhere a few miles back on the tracks, we see CAROL (Melissa McBride). She’s totally fine. (But of course she is!) She’s walking with Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and baby Judith. They are making their way to Terminus when they hear gunfire. They stumble upon a man talking with someone on his walkie about the girl with the sword and a boy. It must be Michonne, and Carol knows it. They get the man into a little cabin where he continues rattling off lies that Carol doesn’t buy. After she leaves to forge ahead to Terminus, knowing now that they must have the group captive and something has gone terribly wrong, Tyreese sits with baby Judith as the Terminus man mumbles on about being an asshole who used to watch Sunday night football and go to church—now a killer fighting to stay alive in a place where they make human meat into dinner. He eggs on Tyreese to kill him, but Tyreese hesitates.

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Carol, you’ve come a long way, baby. I still think about Season 1 days with Carol at the foot of that river, washing everyone’s clothes while her husband smacked her around. Now, she’s covering herself with mud and zombie guts so she’ll blend in with the other walkers. As she makes it up to the fence overlooking Terminus, we notice time is a little bit scattered—she’s witnessing something we’ve already seen—Rick and the group being led out of the train car into Terminus, right before we heard that big bang. As they disappear into the building, Carol shoots at a tank and it eventually explodes into bursts of flame. If it weren’t for Big C, Rick, Daryl and the rest of our troop would be lunchmeat.

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The only members of the group that were led in to be killed were Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.). Glenn knows how important it is that they get back to the train car to let out the rest of the group—Carl, Michonne, and of course, their newest group members, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Rosita (Christian Serratos), Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) and last but not least, our favorite post-apocalyptic lez, Tara (Alanna Masterson).

Now that Carol has infiltrated Terminus with her bad-ass skills, looking more like an adorable Ewok in her walker get-up than the undead, she sees piles of jewelry, stuffed animals, armory—proof of the destruction and death that these people have duped outsiders into believing is a real sanctuary. She finds that weird room we saw last season, lit with candles—the writing on the wall saying things like, “Never again.” A woman walks in; it’s Mary, the lady we saw when the group first got to Terminus. She tries to tell Carol that the women were raped when she got to Terminus, and it was be killed or kill. “You’re either the butcher or you’re the cattle,” she says.

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