It feel’s like it’s Walking Dead Week. The new season is still weeks away but now there’s a couple of things to tide you over until then. This past Sunday saw the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off series that focuses on the start and spread of the walker virus. And now, The Complete Fifth Season of one of the most watched shows on Cable TV is available on DVD and Bluray. It was a crazy season full of high action moments, mounting tension between the group and new comers both good and bad, and more than a few important character deaths. Needless to say that The Walking Dead is still on top but does it hold up well upon second viewing? Of course it does.
This season of the Walking Dead treated us to a number of locales. It started with a bang as the one woman army that is Carol attacked the Terminus stronghold and gave Rick and the gang a chance to escape from the crazy cannibals that captured them at the end of last season. Then after a group split, a road trip here and there, and a showdown with said cannibals, the group came back together at the middle of the season just in time to return to Atlanta, where a group of militant cops controlled the area from a hospital stronghold. Following a standoff, we said goodbye to a cast member and got back on the road. That road took a few twists and turns but the gang ended up in Alexandria, a gated community that was far too naive about how to handle this post apocalyptic world. Just the type of place for Rick Grimes to assert his authority…..or go bat-shit-crazy. A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B.
The one thing that was constant in Season 5 was that there was always a forward motion with the storytelling. The pacing rarely slowed down, and when it did, it didn’t stop outright. There was more than a few “gut punch” moments with the deaths of certain characters that the audience had become attached to, some of which had only been around for a short time. There was also a number of reveals that had not been done on the show before. While the 4th season traded on the name of the season previous, Season 5 really came into its own. We got to see new stories that took us to places the show had not yet gone to, both physically and contextually. It was a year of new surprises…..and one return that was built up over the season to perfection.
The return of Morgan (played by Lennie James) was one that most fans did not see coming. He popped up at the end of the season premiere and was not seen again until after the events of episode 8. It wouldn’t be until near the end of the season that we’d get some insight to what’s actually going down with this wayward traveler who’s had only a few episodes over the whole series but has had one of the most dynamic character arcs on the show. His appearances were just window dressing on an already beautifully complex season that was dense with character and plot development.
The blu-ray set contains a number of special features, including 40 “behind the scenes” featurettes. There are two series of videos, Inside The Walking Dead and The Making of The Walking Dead, that cover each episode. Inside gives you a look from the eyes of the creators and the actors on the emotional journey of that episode while The Making Of vids show exactly that, with a look at what production on each episode was like. Pretty cool insights for any die-hard fan. There are also 4 featurettes on those important characters that died this season, showing the actor talking about the journey they’ve taken on the show. And after the heaviness of that, there’s a few “Day in the Life” vids, following actors Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) and Josh McDermitt (Eugene) respectively, to lighten the mood.
The best special feature would have to be the commentary tracks, especially those done by producer/director/zombie guru Greg Nicotero. Greg gives an interesting perspective on how these episodes are put together. Whether it’s his breakdown of “attack on Terminus” in the season premiere “No Sanctuary”, or the explanation on how Terrence Malick was the inspiration for the style of “What Happened and What’s Going On”, Greg adds layers to the enjoyment of these episodes by providing knowledge and insight to his directorial choices. I have to say that he does himself a disservice by comparing the episode to a Malick film as his work is way more entertaining and exciting that that hack.
If you are a fan of The Walking Dead, you don’t need to hear me tell how great the 5th season was. If the previous season wasn’t your cup of tea due to its slow, methodical pacing, you’ll want to come back for this one as the pacing is fast and the tension is high. The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay. Pick it up today. You need this box set like the New World needs Rick Grimes.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!