The fifth season premiere of "The Walking Dead" was the show's most impressive, exciting action spectacle to date. But then, this was a show that had always done action well and always done premieres well, so the quality of "No Sanctuary" didn't tell us much about how good the rest of the season would be.

It was the next five episodes that suggested "The Walking Dead" had finally found a way to get all of its mismatched parts working together in harmony. Some were very violent, some were quiet character studies, but all in different ways demonstrated the lessons that Scott Gimple and company had learned from the show's uneven (albeit hugely popular) previous seasons. There was even a week where half the TV critics in America independently decided to write, "Wait, 'The Walking Dead' is genuinely good, now" pieces.

The good feeling of those six episodes fizzled a bit for me over the next two installments, and particularly after last night's awkwardly-paced mid-season finale. Those two episodes didn't magically undo all the fine work presented in the previous ones, but they did make clear that all the show's flaws hadn't been magically cured during one off-season.

While we wait for the return of the series — and hopefully a speedy reunion between Rick and Morgan — Fienberg and I picked out some things the show did very well this fall, and some areas that needed improvement.

So click through below, and then tell us what you thought worked and didn't over the course of these eight episodes.

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at