The Walking Dead season 5 is a big deal to the many attendees of Comic-Con 2014, and the show is (at the time of writing this) ready to bring down Hall H with the roar of its massive fandom. In terms of the actual show, Walking Dead season 4 left Rick Grimes (Andrew Linclon) and his band of survivors in a precarious place, trapped by the inhabitants of Terminus and facing an ominous fate. ‘
As revealed in the Walking Dead season 5 trailer, things are about to get much more complicated than many fans (of either the show or the comics) probably expected.
UPDATE: At this point, it’s ben well established that AMC’s Walking Dead TV show is a departure from the comics. While certain events and story beats remain consistent between screen and page, many other things have been changed or rearranged so that both experiences (reading and watching) can be respectively enjoyable.
All that said, at the end of season 4 it was highly debated whether or not certain iconic (read: horrifying) events from comics were being rolled into the Terminus storyline of the show. Walking Dead season 4′s latter half broke into a unique new format in which smaller odd groupings of survivors were featured in their own character-centric episodes, before the scattered group (mostly) reunited at their beacon of hope, a town called Terminus. Of course, this being Walking Dead, the survivors were tricked and violently herded into a train car – but only after running past a gruesome stack of human bones.
The Walking Dead comic has dealt with murder and rape aplenty, but cannibalism was an especially jarring part of the reading experience as well. Exact recreation of the most memorable “survivors vs cannibals” moment from the comics is impossible on the show (certain characters needed for it are already dead in the show continuity) – but the idea of cannibalism is one that holds much more potential for the TV version of Walking Dead.
At this point, it has not been confirmed that the inhabitants of Terminus are in fact cannibals (pretty likely, but not official yet); but here’s the thing: it doesn’t really matter if they are or they aren’t. The title to this article works just as well as an observation for the thematic arc of this season, as evidenced in the trailer: The question of whether or not people can work together toward a greater purpose, without first dragging down and destroying one another.
In other words, can humankind rise to its noble potential, or will we “cannibalize” one another first? (And all the real-world metaphors that come with that question.) Looking at it like that (figuratively), Rick and his groups have just as much potential to be “cannibals” as the mysterious Gareth and his subjects do.
The early part of the season will hinge this thematic quandary on the dangling beacon of hope that is Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). Fans of the comics know how Eugene’s arc played out in that continuity; that same thread holds lots of potential for Walking Dead season 5 to take some drastic and interesting turns come mid-season – hopefully continuing to open up the format of storytelling to the sort of fresh approaches we saw in season 4.5.
Until then, the new dynamic of having new characters interacting (“heroes” and “villains” essentially in one camp) should be enough to carry things.
The Walking Dead season 5 premieres on Sunday, October 12 @9pm on AMC.