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The Walking Dead doesn’t come back from its annual midseason hiatus for more than a month, but when has that ever stopped AMC from hyping their biggest property? The second half of season 5 of the massively popular zombie drama promises to be full of craziness, pushing the group of survivors in new directions over the next eight episodes, and in that spirit, the network released this bleak piece of key art.
We may wind up getting into spoilers for those of you not caught up on The Walking Dead season 5, but then again, if you’re not caught up, why are you reading this?
After the heartbreaking death in the last episode, “Coda,” the Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang once again find themselves in a familiar situation, on the road with nowhere to go and no steady place to lay their head. After a while that’s going to grind on you, as is losing a key member of your party. They’re basically in a super shitty headspace, surviving day-to-day, clinging to the last remnants of their humanity, and losing what little hope they had, something that was never all that plentiful to begin with. All of this is encapsulated in this single, grim image.
We don’t know for sure where they’re headed, but we have some ideas. In interviews and features, the cast and crew have repeatedly stated that, as opposed to running from things as they’ve done in the past, the group is moving towards something. While that’s vague, many familiar with Robert Kirkman’s comic books that serve as the source material for the series suspect this means they’re going to head towards the Alexandria Safe Zone, or at least some approximation of it.
The series follows a rough outline of the narrative from the comics, and at this stage, now that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) has revealed that he was lying about Washington and they no longer have a concrete goal in sight, it’s possible they could move there. In the comics it’s a stable community of survivors that have barricades themselves behind sturdy walls, and it forms a key piece of story up until the most recent issues.
A while back, we saw photos where the production built walls around a suburban Atlanta neighborhood, which seems to support this hypothesis. Also, when Beth (Emily Kinney) meets Noah (Tyler James Williams) at Grady Memorial Hospital, he mentions that his hometown, in Virginia, has walls around it and is secure. They may not get there soon, but if I had to put money on it, I would guess that the group will arrive here before the end of season 5.
And I really hope they do. Since Scott Gimple took over as showrunner, The Walking Dead has steadily been improving and is as good as it’s ever been right now. And though this marks a big narrative shift, it’s definitely time. So far the pattern has been that they move, find a place to settle, lose it, hit the road again. They can only do that for so long before it gets too old and it’s definitely getting a bit gamey and tiresome. When they find Alexandria, that marks the beginning of Rick and the other starting to build something. They talk about that all the time, and this will present them with the opportunity to do just that, as well as opening up a variety of new story possibilities.
The Walking Dead season 5 returns to AMC on Sunday, February 8.