The Walking Dead: 5.06 Consumed

There’s a definite discussion to be had around whether this is the best season of The Walking Dead, certainly it gives its debut season a run for it’s money. Showrunner Scott Gimple has settled fully into his rhythm now and the writers are having the confidence to give their characters the time to breathe fully, and to let stories evolve over a number of weeks. It’s impressive, kind of groundbreaking, stuff.

And that confidence has given the show three weeks to provide us with an answer to who was with Daryl when he stepped out of the woods back in the third episode. Since then we’ve spent a week with Beth, a week with Abraham and his team, and this week with Daryl and Carol. Not a Grimes in sight. It’s to the immense credit of the show that those main, and well loved characters, haven’t been missed. And it’s a ballsy move to leave Rick Grimes on the bench just as he’d returned to his badass mode.

So this week we deal with Carol and fill in some of the blanks from her story, they’re mainly used as a device to show us how we got the Carol we have, and how her journey throughout the show has transformed her more than anyone other than Daryl. Juxtaposing his upward moral trajectory, and his importance to the “team” with her fall in the opposite way is nice, if handled a bit ham-fistedly and in your face in Consumed.

Despite this their overall story arcs have been handled brilliantly, every moment has been felt and the decisions made along the way have contributed to where they are as individuals now. Daryl has gone from violent outsider to moral compass and key part of the team, while Carol has gone from beaten wife and mother to protector of the gang, and therefore judge and executioner of anyone that threatens that. They’re both roles that the characters have chosen and their choices make sense. Compared to some of the charicatures in mainstream TV they’re well written and fully fleshed out.

The Walking Dead has also found its stride when taking on these individual episodes, almost turning them into character studies. Balancing the development of these people with enough action and plot movement to keep the hour moving is tough but so far in Season Five the show has got the balance spot on. With three episodes to go until the mid-season finale the scene is set for the next confrontation between Team Rick and another set of bad guys. Will is have enough to lift this show further into the stratosphere?

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