"Walking Dead" premier leaves viewers hopeful for fast-paced season

AMC's “The Walking Dead” has returned for its fifth season this fall and three episodes have already aired. If you’re wondering how the season is going thus far, these episodes are an indication that there is certainly much to look forward to, but there exist some glaring problems that are hard to ignore. The season premiere “No Sanctuary” was certainly a high point, picking up right from last season’s cliffhanger with an intense episode that hit many of the right notes, while still providing many impressive action sequences. “The Walking Dead” has often faced criticism for how slowly it moves with the main plot, so it was refreshing to see the events unfold so quickly.                    The group also has a clear and defined goal: getting to Washington, D.C. so that Eugene can find a cure for whatever causes people to turn into “walkers.” Hopefully, this signifies a faster paced season compared to prior “Walking Dead” storylines. As good as this episode was, Tyreese’s scenes stuck out by being a bit on the nose, highlighting the show’s occasional struggle to implement subtlety when it comes to conveying a message.

The follow up episode, “Strangers,” helped maintain my optimism for the direction of the season. Despite the show's large cast, many characters were still given effective—albeit brief— moments of characterization without it seeming forced or rushed.  Hopefully, this will continue as the season progresses––with so many characters, it runs the risk of being too disjointed and lacking in focus. This episode seemed to be more geared towards setup and character building, which did not bother me following the beginning to end action of the prior episode.

Unfortunately, the third episode, “Four Walls and a Roof,” had some issues. Early in the episode it was quite pleasing to see the ill-fated Bob turn the tables on Gareth and the other cannibals with his transition from crying hysterically to laughing maniacally, revealing that his flesh they consumed was potentially contaminated from a walker bite. His death was even less effective by being stretched out for the entire episode, making it seem melodramatic. It was also disappointing for Gareth and his group to be killed so quickly.

They were becoming increasingly interesting as we learned more and more about their backstory.  Following the buildup for Terminus last season, it makes both these characters and Terminus itself seem increasingly like a plot device in hindsight.

Given that next week’s episode appears to be set chronologically, we’ve yet to see a consistent pace to determine the rest of the season following the events of this week’s episode. Hopefully the plot will continue to move along, while still balancing such a large cast. Personally, I remain optimistic. “The Walking Dead” will continue Sunday Nov. 2 at 9 p.m. on AMC.