‘The Walking Dead’ returns, takes on cannibals

On Sunday night at 8 p.m., the fifth bloody installment of “The Walking Dead” picked up where last season ended – with Rick and the rest of Team Prison in a train car at Terminus. Just as many fans had speculated, the supposed safe haven is, in fact, a clever trap laid out by a group of cannibals.

“No Sanctuary” is as action packed as it is gruesome, with the largest number of walker kills in premiere history. The episode flashes between “then” and “now” segments. “Then” shows the audience a glimpse of what Terminus was like before it was lead by its current leader, Gareth. It is implied that Gareth and most of the Termites were once held captive the same way Rick and Co. are now. It is not explained yet how this changed, but the experience is likely what caused these survivors to resort to barbecuing other humans for food. They will not, however, manage to kill any of Team Prison, despite a few close calls (Glenn lives!), thanks to the welcomed return of Carol.

Carol, along with Tyreese and Baby Judith, found about their friends’ fates when they came across a lone Termite survivor named Martin in the woods who was preparing to distract walkers from Terminus’ proximity with a few fireworks.

While Tyreese stays behind with the baby and a tied-up Martin, Carol proceeds to blow up Terminus’s gas tank, causing the explosion that saves Glenn, Rick, Daryl and Bob from being slaughtered. The rescue manages to tie up several loose ends regarding Terminus in a short period of time with Carol’s showdown with Mary in that eerie candle light room from last season’s finale. Viewers will remember Mary as the woman who welcomed Glenn and Maggie’s group; unfortunately viewers will also remember that Mary was tending a giant grill full of human meat that she offered to the weary survivors.

Before Carol shoots her, Mary offers up explanation to Terminus ’message, “Sanctuary for all” by revealing that at first, they were offering safety, until another group took over. Mary said, “you’re the butcher, or you’re the cattle.” The meaning of the words on the wall, shown briefly last season, become clear. “Never again. Never trust. We first, always.” The names that are written all over the floor were to mark the deaths of those of the first Terminus group.

Back in the cabin in the woods with Tyreese and Judith, Martin threatens their lives, even while tied up because he senses that Tyreese does not have what it takes to kill – he is dead wrong. After Martin attempts to choke Judith, Tyreese single handedly takes out a few walkers and beat Martin to a pulp.

In the commotion back at Terminus, walkers overtake the compound and devour the unlucky inhabitants. While many die, including Mary, Gareth manages to escape. Thankfully, so does Rick’s group. Now safe in the woods, Carol receives a warm reunion with Rick, along with an emotional embrace with the typically taciturn Daryl. This episode also reunites Rick and Carl with Judith, whom they thought perished with the fall of the prison last season and Tyreese with his sister, Sasha. Now that everyone is back together again – sans Beth whose fate is still unknown – the credits roll.

One quick cut to the return of a familiar face from the very first episode, and the episode ends,  finally giving all the fans some time to gather the chunks of their brains that have just been blown. This season is off to a very promising start, and I know that I, for one, will return for more next week.