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Episode: 516
Airdate: March 29, 2015
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman (episode); Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore (graphic novels); Frank Darabont (creator)

Tonight marks the end of another season of The Walking Dead, a date that always seems to come just a little too soon for fans. And that goes even more so for this season, a season which, heading into the finale, is the best since Season 1 – perhaps even just a little bit better. But in order for Season 5 to be the triumph it’s been setting up to be, it’s final act needs to deliver; after all, there won’t be any more TWD until October, so the events tonight will, by their nature, set the tone for the kind of anticipation fans will feel in the long interim months. And tonight, they did just that – they delivered. Click through for my full review and episode synopsis – it’s a big one, almost 6000 words; the tl/dr is at the bottom, along with a poll regarding who you’re most likely to see as a role-model in the zombie apocalypse. Enjoy!

<<Spoiler Alert: The following review will discuss at length plot points of The Walking Dead S05E16, “Conquer” – read more at your own risk.>>

So, no main-group deaths tonight. I am both relieved and, I have to admit it, surprised. With the life-expectancy of group members being a little on the low side this season, I really thought that they were going to go one up on themselves tonight. I felt that it wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility to see one of the core group go: Carol, Daryl, Glen, or Maggie. When Nicholas started leading Glen out into the woods…but more on that when I get to that part of the synopsis. Not killing off any main group members does nothing to weaken the impact of tonight’s episode, an episode in which everything changed. The group came in separated, divided between themselves, and left united, is only by blood and necessity. But where will this lead us going into the sixth season? I’ve got some ideas, but I’ll discuss those when I do a season wrap-up in the next week or so. For now, let’s stick with tonight’s events, and figure out where we are.

There are two primary locations for tonight’s episode: inside Alexandria, and outside. The stories inside get divided into several parts, most revolving around the impending town meeting regarding Rick’s actions of the previous day. Outside, we follow Daryl and Aaron on their quest for new citizens, and we get to see an old friend. The action does jump around a whole bunch, and while I usually try to condense each sequence and talk about it out of order, I want to work with the direction that Greg Nicotero gave tonight, as I feel it really tied the episode – and the season – together in a way that reordering here might not do justice to. Now, about that old friend…

Beginning the episode with Morgan felt, at first, to be something of a throwaway, if only because it looked very dire for him very quickly, plus the fact that we’ve been teased with him since the season opener. He wakes up in a wrecked car, smiling at his lucky rabbit’s foot where it hangs from the rearview mirror, silhouetted by the morning sun. He goes outside, and is heating water for a cup-of-soup package he’s going to eat, when he’s joined by another man. He has a gun, which he holds on Morgan, and has a “W” scar on his forehead.

They have an interesting conversation, the “W” man confessing that this is somewhat refreshing for him, getting to speak, as he puts it, as “equals.” He tells Morgan that he only gets to meet new people about every two weeks. Morgan asks about the “W,” and the guy tells him about the early settlers to the region, how there was a bounty on wolves, how they got killed off relatively early. Now, he says, they’re coming back. “Everything gets a return,” Morgan tells him, foreshadowing what fans have been anticipating ever since he showed up right at the end of episode 501. He asks the man to put the gun down a couple of times, but he won’t. When Morgan goes to take a sip of his soup, the man tells him not to – he wants to take everything Morgan has. Morgan tells him to go ahead, but he doesn’t want a fight. The man replies, “I’m taking you too, and you’re not, exactly, going to be alive.” He tells Morgan to be still, to be very still, and a second man comes out of the woods behind him, knife at the ready.

Now at this point, I know that the interwebs are going nuts with just how Jedi Morgan goes, but his moves reminded me of another movie: Zatoichi, the blind samurai. I know, I know – Morgan can see – but if you go back and look at the fight scene, there are two things going on that bring the Japanese classic to mind: Morgan’s ability to know where the next attack is coming from, even without looking; and his continual attempts to stop the fight. Here’s a clip from Zatoichi (2003) starring the inimitable Beat Takeshi (warning for gore and lots of fake blood – but if you’re reading a review of The Walking Dead, this is likely not a big problem for you):


 

You’ll note that this clip has a little less of the “let’s not fight” parts, and a whole lot of the preternatural fighting skills.

After dealing with the two ambushers, Morgan drags their unconscious bodies to the car he slept in, placing them inside and honking the horn before closing the door. To me, this clearly seemed to be an attempt to call in any local walkers, to entrap the men within and allow Morgan to take his time getting away; however, Lennie James, speaking on Talking Dead after the show, stated that this was his attempt to ensure there were no walkers nearby. Apparently, according to the actor, Morgan has turned a new leaf, and holds all life precious. I’m not buying it in this case, however – I think it might just be an attempt to obfuscate (and justify) a little.

We get a brief shot of Daryl on his bike, Aaron bringing up shotgun in his car, and then cut to Rick. He’s sleeping, his face covered in bandages. As he wakens, and looks around, Michonne speaks. She asks him, “Rick, what are you doing?” She wants to be in the loop, and she makes no bones about the fact that he’d lost it. She tells him further that, “We had to stop being out there.” She knows that the group was close to the breaking point, and there’s no further proof needed than Rick’s loss of control in his fight with Pete, and subsequent gun waving speechifying.

They’re joined by Carol, Glenn, and Abraham. When the subject of the gun comes up, Carol tells Rick that he was stupid to steal it, and he plays along – she obviously doesn’t trust the others to know about their little stash just yet. She’s playing the part beautifully, and once again ends up with one of the highlight scenes of the episode just a little bit later. She tells him exactly what he needs to do and say at the meeting Deanna has called for that evening. “These people are children,” she says, “and children like stories.” Rick is assuming the worst – he figures Deanna is going to kick him out of Alexandria – so he lays out the game plan should things go awry. He’s not planning on leaving anytime soon. Michonne is here, again, the voice of reason. Both she and Glenn are obviously hesitant, but it’s not so much that the don’t support Rick, as it is that they want to ensure that there isn’t a better, more peaceful way. We’ve been seeing this debate since the beginning of this season, and while angry Rick often prevails, peaceful approaches have also occasionally borne fruit.

We get a flash of Maggie keeping an eye on Father Gabriel – I imagine she’s been doing so ever since he came to Deanna with his betrayal of the group a couple of weeks ago. We then move to Deanna and Reg’s porch. Maggie is trying to influence Deanna, pointing out that it was her decision to let them all in, that she interviewed and vetted them herself – but Deanna is pretty clearly leaning toward tossing Rick. Reg chases after Maggie as she leaves, and he says he’ll speak with Deanna – he feels that kicking out Rick would be a mistake.

We head just outside the walls. Sasha is piling dead walkers into a pit near the wall, wheeling them over on a handcart. She looks exhausted, resigned, and she lays down on the pile already inside the pit. I can’t imagine the smell is very nice, but it does look kind of comfortable – I bet they’re all really nice and squishy by this point.

Back on the road, Daryl and Aaron have found sign of a recent camp, and think they’re on the trail of a survivor. Daryl is learning Aaron’s usual approach – mostly setting up a hidden mic and then trying to listen in. Daryl asks him about getting things wrong, and Aaron tells him about the three they’d brought in and had to exile, two men (one named Davidson) and a woman. Daryl seems surprised they didn’t put up a fight, but Aaron says, “We had their guns. We had all the guns.”

Carol goes back to see Rick once everyone else has left. They talk about what’s going to happen at the meeting, and Rick tells her he wants to take Alexandria, but that he doesn’t want to lie anymore. “Oh sunshine,” Carol says, “you don’t get both.” Lovely! But still not her best line of the night. Importantly, she’s smuggled in one of their two remaining guns, giving it to Rick to bring to the meeting.

Back in the woods, Daryl and Aaron are watching a man in a red parka walking alone. They see him take wild leeks and rub them on his face, a natural mosquito repellent. Daryl is suitably impressed.

its-a-trap In Alexandria again, Rick leaves the house. He walks past Tobin and two other Alexandrians. They seem wary, but friendly enough. He goes by Deanna’s house, but she just glowers at him. At the same time, Glen is sitting by himself, and Nicholas is watching him from just out of sight – he has murder on his face. Maggie comes to talk to Glenn. He’s worried about the meeting, but Maggie reassures him: “I’m going to try and solve this.” She leaves, and Glen sees Nicholas scrabbling over the wall – it’s a trap, Glenn!

Nicholas isn’t the only one up to something, as Judas…sorry, Father Gabriel…asks to be let out through the main gate. The guard comments on his lack of a gun, but he says he just wants to go for a short walk. “The Word of God is all the protection I need,” he says rather pithily.

Rick goes home to see Carl, and to tell him to stay home during the meeting. He tells his dad that the Alexandrians need them. He finishes with the advice, “You have to tell them.” Ah, the earnestness of youth.

We get a great little sequence next with Daryl and Aaron. They’ve lost track of red poncho man, but they’ve stumbled upon an enclosed yard and factory for a food company, called Del Arno Foods. There are four big semi-trailers backed up to loading bays, and Aaron’s eyes light up at the possibility of being able to bring a haul like that back to Alexandria. The two check things out, and when it looks as though it’s clear, they head up onto the dock. Daryl reaches down and pulls the latch on one of the doors, but he springs a trap – all the doors shoot open, and they trucks are full of walkers. The yard quickly fills, and the two men are forced to take refuge in a car sitting in the parking lot. Interestingly, all of the walkers are wearing the Wolves “W” on their foreheads.

Now we get to the best scene of the night, the scene chosen for AMC’s promo video last week. Carol brings a casserole over to Pete, not as a peace offering, but as a way to get in the door. He tells her to leave, but she reminds him that he’s a surgeon, and that he has responsibilities to Tara. He scoffs at her, and she pulls out a knife. “I could kill you,” she says, then moves the knife closer. “I will kill you. No one’s going to believe I did it because I don’t like you. They’ll believe you tried to hurt me. They’ll believe that.” He shudders and quakes, showing far more fear of Carol than he did of Rick during the fight. She tells him that things have worked out well for him, that there is a possibility he might get to live, all the while goading him on, daring him to attack her. When he won’t, she says, “You’re a small, weak nothing,” and tells him that this world has made even less valuable as a human being. As she leaves, she quips, “I want my dish back clean when you’re done.”

Back in the woods, Glen sees Nicholas running ahead of him and disappearing. Following, Glen reaches a clearing. He hears something – a gun cocking or a twig snapping – and a shot rings out, the bullet winging Glen in the left shoulder. He goes down, and when Nicholas comes running out, Glen is already nowhere to be seen.

Rick continues his wanderings, arriving at Jessie’s house. She’s putting fabric up to cover the broken front window, and she tells him he should leave. As he turns to go, she asks him to stop, and tells him he did the right thing with Pete. This conversation is shot beautifully, with Rick only seen in reflection in an unbroken pane, while Jessie is framed in her window. Cut away, and we see that the lovely Pete is watching the conversation as well, seething.

We go back to Daryl and Aaron. Daryl lights up a cigarette, and tells Aaron that he’s going to make a run for it, try to distract the walkers away from the car. Aaron refuses, tells him they have to do it together, and Daryl finally agrees. So here, I’m thinking that Daryl is about to bite it. I mean, come on: stirring sacrificial talk, an expression of desperate camaraderie, and a final cigarette? They begin to count – in my mind, it went something like this: “One…Two…MORGAN!” The butt end of a bo hits Aaron’s window, as Morgan begins to tear through the crowd outside. The two men join him, and together, the three make it to the gate. There, Aaron invites Morgan back to Alexandria, but he explains he’s already going somewhere, and pulls out the map from Gabriel’s church. When Daryl sees the writing, Abraham’s words about the apocalypse needing Rick Grimes, his face drops in surprise: I suspect he knows who Morgan is, likely through conversations with Rick.

Father Gabriel, meanwhile, has wandered about until he finds a walker eating a still twitching body. The walker has a noose around its neck – surely a symbol of the sinner Gabriel is keeping hidden within his facade of righteousness. He whistles at it, and tells it, “I’m ready.” But when it approaches, he’s too weak to let himself be taken, and he grabs the end of the noose, turning the walker and pulling the rope right through its neck, popping its head off. He grabs a rock and smashes its skull, then smashes the victim’s skull as well. Falling to the pavement, he lies there and cries. Pardon me if I feel absolutely no sympathy for the man – he is his own creation, and he needs to own his actions rather than trying to get the blame placed upon others.

Next, we get our first look at Tara post-explosion. She’s still unconscious, and under the care of Rosita. Abraham comes in with flowers, but turns to leave when he sees that Eugene is already sitting vigil. Rosita encourages him to go in anyhow, as Eugene’s asleep – but she mischievously knocks over a bedpan and wakes him as soon as Abraham has sat down. There is a moment of silence, and then Eugene apologizes for his lies, telling Abraham that it was he that got them there, and thanking him for that. Abraham says, “I’m sorry too,” and when Eugene asks why, he says, “I nearly killed you.” “There is that,” Eugene replies, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by what’s happened in the past.

Outside, Gabriel comes back to the gates. He looks distracted, and his interactions with the gate guard are awkward, but for whatever reason (lack of training? Lack of foresight?), the gate guard leaves locking up to Gabriel, as he wants to get to the big meeting. Gabriel kind of pulls the gate to, but it bangs back open – he doesn’t care, stumbling away in a near-stupor.

Still on the other side of the fence, Nicholas is hunting Glen. A walker approaches him, and he pulls his knife. Problem is, using a knife means getting a lot closer than he’s comfortable with, so he draws his gun again and shoots it. As he does so, Glenn appears out of nowhere, knocking the gun loose, and struggling with Nicholas. They take turns getting the upper hand, but Nicholas plays dirty, pressing his thumb into Glenn’s bullet wound. A group of walkers approach, and Nicholas gets off Glenn and runs, while the walkers fall on the prone man. Things do not look good for Glenn. At this point, with him shot, hurt, exhausted, and on the ground covered in biting walkers, I pretty much had him written off. I went into this episode fairly certain that at least one core character would be killed off, so for the moment, it appeared that character would be Glen.

The day getting late, it’s almost time for the town meeting. Michonne goes to talk to Rick, and he comes clean with her about the guns, about Carol’s involvement, about everything. When she asks him why he didn’t tell her earlier, he points out that she seems to have accepted this place faster than him, and she did, after all, knock him out. “That was for you, not them,” she says, and Rick sees what she’s saying, casting aside his preconceptions. She tells him that she hopes he can find a peaceful way to stay in Alexandria, but if that there isn’t such a way, they’re still a team. “Something’s going to happen,” she warns him; “Just don’t make it happen.” Wise words – and of course, this gets me thinking – is it going to be Michonne, not Glenn that dies tonight? What if it’s both of them? Daryl seems back in the safe zone for now, but things look bad for Glen, and Michonne’s just gone full moral compass, a la Hershel. (Quick shout-out to Hershel actor Scott Wilson, who’s birthday is today (March 29th).)

Rick, getting ready for the meeting as night falls, wanders over toward the gate. He’s reminiscing, thinking about the last conversation he had with Bob back in Gabriel’s church, the conversation wherein Bob told him that this world was just a nightmare, that he shouldn’t lose touch with what was good in himself. He’s passing by the gate, then does a double-take: it’s open, and there’s gore smeared on the inside of the bolt – something has come inside. He closes and bolts the gate, and takes off at a run, following blood stains and the perimeter of the fence.

Gabriel, meanwhile, returns to his church to find Sasha there. She asks him if he can help her, and he looks at her with absolute hatred and disgust: “No.”

Cut to the meeting – they’re waiting for Rick to show up, but Deanna is champing at the bit. Maggie asks for a delay, for both Rick and Glenn.

We cut to Nicholas, skulking his way back to the town, then back to Rick inside the fence, pulling his knife. In the church, Gabriel tells Sasha that what she’s done is irredeemable, that she may as well give up and die. Why is it that every time he opens his mouth to admonish someone, I feel that he’s talking to himself? He goes far even for himself here, however, as he even blames Bob’s mutilation on Sasha. What a bastard. Back on the streets, Rick finds a walker inside the fence. In the church, Gabriel and Sasha start to fight, he reaching for her gun, she fighting him off. Outside the gates, Nicholas is suddenly tackled to the ground. Glenn, apparently okay after his struggles with the walkers, kneels over Nicholas’s chest and pummels him.

At this point, we cut back to the meeting, which has begun. Carol is speaking, telling everyone that Rick has saved her several times. She gives examples, turning things around in every which way to make Rick look at his best, including telling them that he rescued her from Terminus. Back to Rick, and he’s pushed back to the ground by one too many walkers, and it pins him – is it going to be Rick? Is he going to die? He manages to get his arm free, and starts pressing his gun into the walkers soft tissues in its throat. Glenn, meanwhile, is taking out several years of being picked on on Nicholas’s face, and it provides a wonderfully cathartic feeling watching it happen. Nicholas is a dangerous weasel who got Noah killed, and tried to murder Glenn – he deserves everything he gets, and more.

Back to the meeting, and it’s Abraham’s turn. Here, we get the second-best line of the night (after Carol’s earlier). “Simply put,” he begins, “there is a vast ocean of shit, that you people don’t know shit about. Rick knows every grain of said shit, and then some.” This goes right up there with “Who’s Deanna?” for best Abraham line so far. Back to Rick, he’s got the gun and most of his hand inside the walker’s throat, and he pulls the trigger. We barely hear the report, muffled by walker skull as it is, but we see the brief flash of gunpowder in its eyes and mouth. Some lovely slop spills out all over Rick’s face, which leaves him spluttering and spitting.

As he does this, we cut back to the Del Arno Foods yard from earlier. The two men who tried to kill Morgan are outside its gates, bringing the man in the red poncho with them. The one who did most of the talking earlier says, “Looks like the laundry reset” while staring at the yard full of walkers. He turns and nonchalantly slits the red poncho man’s throat, saying “Welcome home,” as the man bleeds out.

Back in Alexandria, Maggie is having her turn, talking about how her dad really respected Rick. This is kind of an odd tack to take, as no one here knows Hershel from Adam, and the kind of second-hand hearsay she’s trying to pass off as evidence gets repeated right after by Deanna. She interrupts the proceedings, and tells everyone she wants to come clean about something. She fills them in on Gabriel’s conversation with her of the other day, and then points out that Rick pretty much lived up to those dire predictions the very next day. Although no one called Maggie out for hearsay, Jessie quickly jumps on Deanna here. “Did you record it?” she asks, and then points out that Gabriel isn’t there either to back up what she’s saying. Looks like Deanna’s control is beginning to erode.

We flash back over to Glenn and Nicholas. Glenn has out Nicholas’s gun, and is pressing it down into the man’s forehead – but he’s obviously struggling with what he should do. Back in the church, Gabriel and Sasha continue their fight, Sasha getting the upper hand. With both her and Glenn facing down opponents they want to see dead in the moment, we cut back to the Wolves again, and see them reset the “laundry.” The talker uses a remote control to start up music in the backs of each of the tractor trailers, along with flashing strobes to get the walkers’ attention. For anyone interested, in a wonderfully ironic move the song being played is called “Love and Mercy” by Brian Wilson. No love and mercy from these Wolves – but how about from our own wolfpack of survivors back in Alexandria?

Tobin, one of the Alexandrians, is now talking, and he’s leaning toward saying they should get rid of Rick, when the man himself walks into the firelight, carrying a walker body which he dumps on the ground. He tells them where he found it, that the gate was open. The guard explains to Deanna that he’d left Gabriel to close it, and Maggie takes off to the church. Outside, Glen is still holding the gun on Nicholas, and Nicholas is gibbering beneath him. “Shut up,” he says, echoing what Rick said to Sergeant Bob Lamson back in Episode 507, “Crossed.” The difference here is that Glenn doesn’t pull the trigger. Instead, he pulls the gun away and rolls off of Nicholas. The shot slam cuts from a prone Nicholas to a prone Father Gabriel, both with the same desperate and despairing demeanor writ large on their faces. At the church, Sasha has her gun trained on Gabriel, and looks ready to use it. Maggie arrives, and pushes the barrel down. Gabriel is sobbing and pathetic, a broken thing on the floor. “They died,” he says. “The all died because of me.” Maggie agrees that they – his parishioners – did, but she offers him her hand, which he takes.

We go back to the campfire, and Rick has one of his great soliloquies. As he speaks, we see him addressing the Alexandrians, as well as interspersed shots of other people and what they’re currently doing. He begins by talking about the walker: “I didn’t bring it in. It got inside on its own. They always will, the dead and the living, because we’re in here. And the ones out there”; cut to a scene of Judith, watching the dancer in the music box, as Carl holds her; “they’ll hunt us”; Glenn and Nicholas, arms around each others’ shoulders, helping each other back to town; “they’ll find us”; the church, where Gabriel, Sasha, and Maggie are sitting in a prayer circle, holding hands; “try to use us”; Rosita, reading a book as Tara wakes and they smile at each other; “They’ll try to kill us”; Aaron’s dropped backpack being picked up at the Del Arno yard, as the flashing lights dim with the truck doors being closed. Close-up on the main Wolf, as he goes through the Alexandria pictures, which now include one of Rick and Carl together. The shot lingers on the Wolf as he uses the remote to shut off the music and strobes, as we hear Rick continuing: “We’ll kill them“; back on Rick at the campfire; “We’ll survive, I’ll show you how. You know, I was thinking. I was thinking, how many of you do I have to kill to save your lives. But I’m not going to do that. You’re gonna change. I’m not sorry for what I said last night. I’m sorry for not saying it sooner. You’re not ready…but you have to be. Right now, you have to be. Luck runs out.”

As he finishes, he turns his back on Deanna. Beside him, Jessie suddenly looks frightened as she looks back behind him. It’s Pete, and he has Michonne’s sword. “You’re not one of us,” he growls. “You’re not one of us!” Rick starts to go for his hidden gun, given to him by Carol earlier, but she shakes her head at him – she wants to see how this plays out. Reg jumps between them, trying to hold Pete back, but in pushing him off, Pete slices Reg’s throat right open. Abraham and Michonne tackle Pete to the ground as Deanna goes to her stricken husband. As Abraham holds his face in the dirt, Pete keeps trying to yell something that sounds an awful lot like “It’s him! It’s him!” – but it isn’t easy to make out.

Reg dies in her arms, and Deanna, the realization of the horror hitting her, looks up at Rick through tear-filled eyes. “Rick,” she says. “Do it.” Without an ounce of hesitation, he points the gun at Pete’s head and pulls the trigger. “Rick?” comes a voice – it’s Morgan with Aaron and Daryl. They’ve just arrived in time to see the execution, and the horror on Morgan’s face is matched by the horror that is Rick’s, covered in blood and walker gore.

We get two more moments in a stinger at the very end of the episode. In the first, Michonne is in her house, and she’s going to place the sword back over the mantle. She pauses, looking at the blade in her hands, and then changes her mind. She puts the sheath back over her shoulder – she’s going to wear the sword. In the second, we’re back briefly at the Del Arno yard, where red poncho guy is now shambling along in his new unlife. He walks by the car where Daryl and Aaron holed up earlier; on it’s side is painted, “Wolves not far.”

What a great finish to a great season. I was, to be fair, expecting one of the major characters to die tonight. While neither Reg’s death nor Pete’s has even the impact of a Noah or Bob level event, not to mention a Beth or Tyreese passing, they still serve as a bookend to the innocence of the Alexandria community. Pete was the dark underbelly of what happens in a place with no leadership or knowledge of the real world, whereas Reg represented all that is optimistic. That they both died means that the new Alexandria, with what appears to be a potential co-leadership by Rick and Deanna, will fall somewhere in the middle. Unbridled optimism in the future a la Reg (or even Noah) lead to death just as surely as the self-destructive behavior of a Pete type character. The safe ground – the only survivable ground – lies somewhere in the middle.

Choosing Brian Wilson’s “Love and Mercy” was a poignant act, as the whole episode revolved around these two concepts. Morgan fully embodies them, with his joy in all things living, and by the end of the episode, with the execution of Pete, it would appear – at least superficially – that Rick now embodies the opposite concepts. That he doesn’t actually is largely irrelevant in the moment, as it is Morgan who will be a kind of spiritual judge on what he has just seen. Context will help, but I don’t see him looking at Rick the same after this.

Interestingly, this positioning of Rick and Morgan as opposites at the end of the episode/season also mirrors the microcosm of the Pete/Reg dichotomy, with Rick then being the dangerous Pete doppelganger, and Morgan the same for Reg. They represent two modes of survival, both extremes, and because they both survive, they can serve as templates for the community going forward, where neither Pete nor Reg can.

The love and mercy theme shows up in the resolutions to several of the threads we saw running tonight. While Glenn mimicked Rick’s “Shut up” statement, we saw he and Nicholas helping each other. There’s hope there, although he’s giving Nicholas far more chances than I would (does this mean I’m more like Rick than I am like Morgan?). Seeing Sasha sitting with Maggie and Father Gabriel was a good thing. She’s been lost since Tyreese and Bob’s deaths, and it looks like she may be on the road to recovering herself. This is not to mention seeing Gabriel also being possibly recuperated in the bargain. Earlier in the episode I was cheering the walker on to get him; now, I see that he might have some hope.

The one we didn’t see any love or mercy in was, of course, the Wolves. The only mercy there was Morgan’s. We know now that it was them that killed off Noah’s community, and if it weren’t so far away, I would suspect them of the camp we saw massacred back in Episode 407 “Dead Weight” – but that was all the way down in Georgia, and we know that they’re currently about fifty miles out of Alexandria. The way they just tear through people with no compunction is scary, but you have to think that there must be more than two of them. Two simply won’t be much of a threat to a group as strong as Rick’s.

I stated earlier that I think we may see co-leadership going forward, but Deanna may simply be broken after all she’s been through. Remember how Rick reacted to Lori’s death? If we see Deanna carrying a cell phone around with her, watch out.

This was an excellent episode – the best of an already great season, save for perhaps Episode 501. There is much to look forward to, what with Morgan finally reuniting with Rick, and the inevitable fall-out of the two deaths. Plus, what’s going to happen with Nicholas? My betting is that he’s going to become something of a lapdog for Glenn, becoming extremely loyal to him. We’ll see. One thing’s for certain – we’re not going to find much out for another six months. Here’s hoping that we all get to enjoy a bit of a zombie fix when AMC’s spin-off series, Fear the Walking Dead runs later this summer.

Bonus:

Here’s a video of “Love and Mercy” by Brian Wilson:


 

And here’s a little poll to see where you stand:

Steve’s Grade: A+
Although there were no major tragic moments in this episode, the build-up and the handover of power were masterfully done, the cast and director using the full 90 minutes to excellent effect. An outstanding ending to the best season of The Walking Dead so far.

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Comments
  1. dave says:

    Excellent review. Glad to see you toiled through the night so I could enjoy it with my morning coffee!

    • Heheh – hope it made the coffee just that little bit tastier! It was a great episode, with a bunch of resolutions, with just enough left over to keep us salivating for next season.

  2. Bronn says:

    Fantastic episode to finish a fantastic season. Nice recap. Can’t wait for Fear the Walking Dead!

  3. Aleks says:

    this whole story of this season can be sayed in 1 sentence – dont be so convinienced and assured in what are you living now – if the problem are right behind you – you cant run away/ Rick’s line is right – but in not such perfomance / you know as for me – people which was ivolved in war – cant explain what do the’ve experienced for peacefull people like “flower people” – / read the ”vietnam syndrome”… obviously this Ricks ”vietnam syndrome” was boiled whole this time which he was behind this shelter in this part of the season…. Intresting Female part (mostly) of Ricks group have ”cold mind” – they know what to do and see things – but Rick was overwalmed to bring the real life to this shelter – i’d tell to Rick – to be more cold minded – and be a killer of bad guys – not to see them everyday and of course interfere witht hem – not in this sircumstances

    • Nice to see you back, Aleks. I agree – this is a real dog-eat-dog world (or should that be wolf-eat-wolf?). Rick’s showing that he’s finally gaining full awareness. While Shane’s approach was brutal, Rick’s definitely borrowing from his playbook. The main difference is that Rick has clearly defined who his “family” is. Now the question for next season will be: do they sit around and wait for the Wolves, or do they go hunting?

  4. Neh says:

    Steve damn it, why is it that your reviews are always so damn good? *hints from your FIC student*

  5. Pauline says:

    I was so bugged that I couldn’t figure out what Pete was saying when Abraham was holding him down…so glad my mind is at ease now! Thank you for sharing “Pete keeps trying to yell something that sounds an awful lot like “It’s him! It’s him!” – but it isn’t easy to make out.” My mind is at rest now! LOL BUT do you think Pete saying “it’s him” could possibly tell us something in the new season? what do you think he meant by that?

    • I felt that he was trying to justify his accidental (?) killing of Reg. His crazed mind was telling him that, if it hadn’t been for Rick and co. messing up his perfect little world, Reg wouldn’t have been killed – exactly the sort of justification abusive bastards like Pete are used to making up to convince themselves that they’re not all that bad.

      But I’m still not 100% convinced that’s what he was saying – I’d love to get my hands on a shooting script!

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