The Walking Dead season 5 has come to an end! We thought it would be a good time to catch you up on all the things that happened this season. Of course, you won’t have to wait too long to catch up on the episodes on DVD and Blu-ray. The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season will be released on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD on August 25!
Until then, this is your one-stop hub for everything you need to know about The Walking Dead season 5! Refresh your memory with a brief overview of each episode. Click the episode titles to go to the full reviews!
Be warned: after the picture of gagged Daryl and Glenn, there are life-ruining spoilers. If you haven’t fully caught up on season 5, DO NOT proceed…
Season 5 Recap
We pick up right where we left off at the end of season 4. Rick and the group are being held captive in a storage container in Terminus. Turns out the Terminans, led by Gareth, are cannibals and plan to slaughter their newest guests and turn them into a big feast. Luckily, Carol shows up with a sniper rifle and a zombie horde right on time to pretty much single-handedly destroy Terminus and save her friends. Meanwhile, Tyreese is having a bit of trouble keeping little Judith safe from another Terminan outside of the compound. Fortunately, he wins in the end.
Most of the Terminans are massacred, although the fates of many of the key members are left uncertain. Will the remaining Terminans come back to bite the group?
On a happier note, the ENTIRE group is reunited. Everyone’s there except for Beth, who was taken by a mysterious black car in the aftermath of the Prison attack. Where’s Beth? We’ll get there in due time.
Rick and friends make up an army of hardened survivors. They travel in a close formation, rifles at hand. No one is going to mess with them anymore. The group doesn’t necessarily have a destination at the moment, but Abraham is biding his time before he’s back on his journey to Washington. There’s the whole business about Eugene’s cure, after all.
On the road, they meet a priest named Gabriel, who’s about to be mauled by zombies. The group saves Father Gabriel, but that doesn’t mean they trust him. In fact, they’re pretty hostile towards him. In their defense, Gabriel has a very poor sense of humor.
Eventually, Gabriel takes the group back to his little church where the survivors set up camp. The church is running short on supplies, though, so Rick, Gabriel, Michonne, Sasha, and Bob head out to the local town to find some supplies. It is unfortunate that during the scavenging mission, Bob is bitten by a zombie in a flooded cellar and then kidnapped by the remaining Terminans!
The lost shot of the episode is Bob’s amputated leg cooking on a fire…
Bob is slowly being eaten by the Terminans when he reveals that he’s been bitten. “Tainted meat,” he yells at Gareth and the others, as they beat him into unconsciousness. It’s a good opener.
Meanwhile, Rick and Sasha are all business with Father Gabriel, who they suspect is behind the disappearances of Bob, Carol, and Daryl. Oh yeah, Carol and Daryl were out and about scavenging when they encountered the black car that took Beth in season 4. They chase after it, and aren’t seen again until a little later in the season. But Rick doesn’t know where they are, so he assumes that they’re missing along with Bob.
Bob shows up again, of course, only this time he’s beaten, eaten, and bitten. Rick and the group are pissed and go on the hunt for the Terminans. As most of the group leaves to bring the pain to the Terminan camp (they’ve been holed up in a school building somewhere), the Terminans sneak into the church for their next meal. The baddies know Carol, Judith, Gabriel, and friends are helpless to defend themselves. Luckily, it’s an ambush. Rick and company slaughter all of the Terminans with sharp things. It’s very bloody business.
The next day, the group disperses. Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara head out for Washington in a church bus, while Rick and the others stay behind to wait for Daryl and Carol to return. Daryl does indeed return by the end of the episode…alone it seems!
“Where’s Beth?” was one of the main questions of season 5, and we finally got our answer. Beth’s being held captive/had been turned into an indentured servant at a hospital in Atlanta. When she regains consciousness, Beth begins to get the lay of the land. The patients who are saved must then work at the hospital to repay their saviors — creepy cops who are not all that good. The police squad is led by Dawn Lerner, who is a bit sadistic in her approach to keeping the order at the hospital. Beth’s only friends at the hospital seem to be Dr. Edwards, the “kind” doctor that saved her, and Noah, another servant at the hospital. To keep things kind of short, it all boils down to Beth and Noah planning their escape after shit gets really fucked up at the hospital. Unfortunately, Beth must sacrifice her freedom so that Noah can flee their captors. Beth is dragged back inside to continue her servitude. For a brief second, she plans to murder her way out of the hospital when an injured Carol is rolled in on a gurney…Fade to black.
For some reason, we need to know what Abraham was up to before he signed on to escort Eugene to Washington. So there are a bunch of unimportant flashbacks that bog down to a) the deaths of Eugene’s wife and children, and b) his almost-suicide right before he meets Eugene. Abraham’s only sense of purpose is the mission. His obsessiveness with keeping Eugene safe is called into question in this episode.
Too bad Eugene isn’t really a scientist. He doesn’t have the cure. He’s just a very good liar leading a band of idiots. This revelation crushes Abraham, who punches Eugene in the face until he’s unconscious (dead?) on the ground. Ahead is a zombie horde that’s blocking their way forward. What will they do now?
Ah, we finally get the Carol and Daryl Power Hour. Little bits and pieces of Carol’s life come together in an introspective episode about her many rendezvous with death. Her clock seems to be ticking, her time almost up, and it’s never more apparent as it is in this episode. She’s basically walking the green mile.
Daryl and Carol are on Beth’s trail. They enter Atlanta in the middle of the night, tracking the black car. Along the way, Carol returns to her the battered women’s shelter where she used to stay with Sophia when things got really bad with her husband Ed. Carol ruminates with Daryl about how they arrived to this point in time, such different people, like shedding skin. Really, this episode really slows things down and allows the themes of the season to do the talking.
Eventually, Daryl and Carol are ambushed by Noah, who’s trying to survive in the zombie-filled city. He takes their weapons and is on his way. Of course, they meet up again later in the episode, after Daryl and Carol suffer a fall from very high bridge in an ambulance. This time, Noah needs their help. Daryl hesitates, but eventually helps Noah get away from a zombie.
Right before the end of the episode, Carol is run over by a police car. She’s quickly taken back to the hospital. Before Daryl can rush in guns blazing, Noah convinces him to go back to Rick and ask for his help.
All paths cross in this penultimate episode of the first half of season 5, but not really. This is more of a tale of three cities. Abraham and friends are coping with Eugene’s revelation that there is no cure or secret lab in Washington. They’re pretty much screwed. This group spends the entire episode figuring out what to do next, making sure Eugene isn’t dead, and making sure Abraham doesn’t just start killing people.
Beth watches over Carol at the hospital. After an altercation with Dawn and another officer, who wants to unplug Carol so that he can continue to power his DVD, she is sent on a secret mission by Dawn to save Carol’s life. Beth asks Dr. Edwards, who tricked her a couple of weeks ago in order to save his own life, what medicine she should give Carol to save her from her injuries. Beth unleashes a plan and successfully acquires the medicine.
Rick and friends are ready to kill more things. They strip the church of anything that can be turned into a weapon, much to Gabriel’s chagrin. Gabriel’s been going through a bunch of stuff all along. It was revealed earlier in the season that he survived the apocalypse by locking out all his congregants in order to keep the church free of infection. So all this time he thinks he’s being punished for his sins. Eventually, he decides to get away from the group by locking himself in his office and crawling out of the church from under the floorboards…
Anyway, Rick and friends are to kill more things. They plan to trap a couple of cops outside of the hospital and then initiate a trade with Dawn for Carol and Beth. Things don’t work out as planned, as one of the cops is able to escape…Will Dawn find out about Rick in time to mount a defense of the hospital? Things are about to get really sucky for one or two survivors.
The episode picks up where the last left off. Rick chases down Officer Bob and kills him. The plan is still on. They’ll trade the cops they took prisoner for Carol and Beth. There’s a cold-bloodedness to Rick in the midseason finale that is not unlike past villains on the show.
Meanwhile, Beth and Dawn have to team up to eliminate another officer, who overhears how Beth murdered another officer in “Slabtown.” Beth and Dawn push him down an elevator shaft. These two have become closer throughout the season, but it’s more a “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” situation. By the end of the episode, we see that their alliance was only temporary.
During the negotiation, which goes off very smoothly, Dawn asks for Noah. At first, Rick refuses, but Noah obliges, so that Beth can get out of the hospital alive. Just then, Beth stabs Dawn with a pair of scissors. Dawn shoots Beth in the head and Daryl shoots Dawn.
The episode ends with Daryl carrying Beth in his arms, Maggie watching from the hospital entrance. A post-credits sequence shows Morgan still on Rick’s tracks. He’s getting closer.
The season 5 midseason premiere will undoubtedly become one of the most controversial episodes of the season and the entire series. Not only for its unconventional style — it watches a lot more closely to a Terrence Malick film than anything you’d expect from the show — but for its decision to kill off a supporting character that was on the rise.
Tyreese, bless his heart, was becoming the new wise man on the show. After Dale and Hershel both fell victim to violent deaths in past seasons, Tyreese seemed to confirm — as if we needed any further confirmation — that the fate of the wise man on The Walking Dead is death.
In the episode, he attemps to guide Noah and give him hope, after the newcomer discovers that his settlement has been completely taken over by the walkers. Everyone he loves is now either a walker or a mutilated corpse scattered on the street. Noah decides to visit his home, where his zombie little brother is waiting for him. The rest of the episode is pretty much about Tyreese looking back at his life and coming to terms with his death.
The plot itself doesn’t move ahead too much, except that the group has already made its way up to Virginia (goodbye, Georgia!), which means that they’re getting closer to a specific location from the comics…More on that in Page 2!
It’s another very, very slow episode. Honestly. There isn’t much to tell. Rick and the group are still on the road to…well, nowhere now that Noah’s community is a zombie buffet. The group is continuing on north, maybe to Washington to see what’s out there, even if it isn’t the cure that dumb Eugene promised.
The episode really focuses in on the characters and all of the suffering they’re going through after the recent deaths of their loved ones. Sasha, Daryl, and Maggie especially get a bit of on-screen sulking time. Sasha is raging against the machine, Daryl is being the loner, and Maggie keeps finding dead people. She even finds a zombie teenager tied up in the trunk of a car. It’s super awful.
The one big moment in the episode comes when the group is chased into this flimsy barn during a storm, and have to work together to keep the damn thing standing. But that’s only about five minutes of the episode. Other than that, everyone is crying, dying of thirst and hunger, or just not talking. No one is having a good time.
At the very end of the episode, Maggie and Sasha, who have decided to have a little bit more faith than they have shown in the rest of the season, are approached by a well-groomed and very fashionable man named Aaron. They point guns at him because OMG STRANGER, SHOOT IT!
Maggie and Sasha bring Aaron back to Rick, who is less than friendly with the newcomer. In fact, he punches Aaron in the face. When Aaron wakes up, he’s tied up, but that doesn’t seem to bother him much, as he tries to convince Rick and the others that they should come back with him to his community in Alexandria. Of course, Rick is very, very hesitant.
Eventually, they group does decide to take the trek to the Alexandria Safe-Zone, but not on Aaron’s terms. Rick decides to take an alternate route to the Safe-Zone, which proves to be deadly, as the walkers surround their cars on the road. The group is separated, and Rick, Glenn, Michonne, and Aaron have to fight their way through the horde to reach Daryl and the others.
At the end of the episode, the group reaches the gates of Alexandria. Rick cannot believe what he’s seeing…
For all intents and purposes, the Alexandria Safe-Zone seems like a civilized community led by former congresswoman Deanna Monroe. She welcomes Rick and the others into Alexandria interviews each of them individually.
Later, Deanna gives everyone a job, except for Rick, Michonne, and Daryl. She says they’ll find out soon enough. Obviously, this makes them suspicious of Deanna’s intentions. But by the end of the episode, Rick and Michonne are declared the new constables of the community. Daryl, though, still waiting…
Ah, yes, we were missing nice cocktail parties on this show. Not enough formal attire and beer to hold us over. Luckily, we get just that in this episode, as Deanna decides to throw a welcome party for the newcomers. Everyone is in attendance except Daryl and Aaron, who decide to try and bring back this wild horse to the Safe-Zone. Too bad the horse is mauled by zombies, but at least that sparks the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Daryl and Aaron.
Meanwhile, at the cocktail party, Rick hits on a married woman and Abraham drinks lots of beer. Sasha, who’s been losing it these past few episodes, loses her shit at the party, disgusted with how the Alexandrians spend their time inside the gates.
Carol has been playing double agent since she arrived to Alexandria. Coming off as a motherly, kind, and inexperienced survivor who can barely use a gun, she pretty infiltrates everyone’s good side. She even bakes cookies!! But really, she’s trying to steal guns in case the Alexandrians decide to go rogue on Rick and the others. When she’s almost caught by a little boy, she threatens to tie him to a tree outside the gates so that the zombies can pick the meat off his bones. It’s terrifying.
This was one of the bloodiest episodes of the season, as we watched two members of Alexandria get disembowled and mutilated by a horde of Walkers during a supply run. Eugene must save Tara from a similar fate, showing that the man with the mullet has just a tiny bit of backbone. Abraham, meanwhile, is having a hard time coping with the trauma he’s suffered for the past few months. Can he get past his demons?
Rick finally confronted scumbag Pete and gave him a very stern talking to with his fists. It’s awesome to listen to a fight from the outside before seeing the combatants flying through windows. It reminded me of so many Westerns, and every time Rick gets into a fight, it’s nothing if not a Western.
We also got to really witness the evolution of Rick’s character. What would season 1 Rick think of season 5 Rick? Surely, the younger, less scarred Rick would put the mad dog down. After an entire season of murdering things in cold blood, everyone finally turned on the man who was once a symbol of hope and goodness on the show. It brings me back to the way he killed Officer Bob in the midseason finale. “You can’t go back, Bob,” he said right before killing the cop, the same words Gareth uttered to our Bob in the season premiere all those months ago. Can Rick really be considered one of the good guys anymore?
Abraham told Rick that the new world would need him, even after the massacre at Gabriel’s church. It doesn’t really seem that way anymore. Rick is a product of the outside world, and civilization no longer suits him. Michonne, who also fed her violent side a bit this episode, is the one to knock Rick out at the end of the episode, and it totally had to be her. She was most likely the second most bloodthirsty character on the show, but unlike Rick, she’s been able to change for the better quite a bit.
In fact, so much of this episode is about change, putting some of these characters under a magnifying glass to see how much the tragedies and the darkness beyond the walls of Alexandria have changed them. Sasha, who’s completely losing it, is almost catatonic except for her ability to slaughter walkers. Michonne realizes the right thing to do is not to stand by Rick’s side at the end of the episode. Carl was on the verge of becoming a sociopath a few seasons ago, but now has a lady friend. Rosita is wearing pants.
This season has really put Rick through some moral dilemmas, ones he’s mostly answered with the pull of a trigger. We saw a good man walk too close to the edge of darkness. He welcomed that darkness inside and became stronger for it, but also a bit more carnal. By the end of last week’s episode, some of us might have even questioned if Rick’s way was the correct way to go about surviving in this new world. Did I ever think the main character of the show was EVER going to get banished from Alexandria? No way. You’re crazy. And the writers delivered the right scenario to ensure Rick’s new status as a leader in this community.
Having Rick out on his own for most of the episode was the right way to go about his trial. For one thing, if the episode has consisted of Rick defending himself in a courtroom-style set of scenes, I would’ve turned off my TV. Luckily, the writers understood that Rick isn’t about all that talking. He’s a man of action, and they certainly gave him something to do this episode, even if the threat was very low. Rick started saving people again. And that proved to be his saving grace.
Too bad Deanna didn’t take to Rick’s ways in time. She lost both her son and her husband for her hesitance to adjust to the ways of this new world. I’m sure she won’t make that mistake again. By the time season 6 comes around, I expect big changes in the way Alexandria is run.
At the end of it all, I’ll say this: season 5 was a very different animal. The threat was not so much a singular villain or group as it was the entire world. A group of survivors vs. their environment. Some will say it was a weaker season, pointing out that the plot proceeded too slowly for its own good, while others will applaud the show’s decision to go into more mature territory. I’m in the middle, but anxious to see more.
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