Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E16 "Conquer" 3/29/15

Season 5 finale time!  After all the rampant speculation on the interwebs - Glen's gonna die! Carol's gonna die! Norman Reedus is selling his Georgia home so Daryl's gonna die! - everyone was pretty wound up and nervous about what was going to go down.  Despite some very, very gnarly zombie effects, the last episode of S5 would turn out much less carnage-y than I feared it would be.  Plus, Carol?  Total BAMF.  As if we didn't already know that.

Morgan!!! It's Morgan, hunkered down for a nap in a derelict car somewhere in the woods.  He gets up and boils some water for soup or oatmeal.  Before he can partake, however, a sketchy looking dude walks out of the underbrush, pointing a gun at him.  They talk a little, calmly, almost pleasantly.  Morgan asks what the W carved into the guy's head is for.  The guy explains about how all the wolves in the area were killed by the settlers.  But the Wolves are back now.  Things get a bit tenser when the Wolf stops Morgan from sipping his soup/oatmeal, saying that he's going to take everything that Morgan has and he's going to kill Morgan to boot.  Morgan shrugs and puts the mug down.  After a little more talking, a second Wolf comes out of the woods behind Morgan.  Not to worry, though: Morgan has traded his former feral-craziness for some badass quarterstaff moves and he proceeds to clobber the crap out of the two Wolves.  When they are unconscious, he stuffs them in the car he'd been sleeping in and honks the horn a little to draw any local walkers in.  I have a feeling he probably should have killed them - I'm afraid his mercy will come back to bite him (or someone else).

Daryl and Aaron.  The recruiting team parks their chopper and car, respectively, and heads into the woods on foot.  They're following someone's trail.  Aaron says that when they get close enough, they'll set up a microphone and listen until they're sure whether the potential recruit is worthy.  A bit later, they spot the guy they've been trailing.  He's wearing a red rain poncho and rubbing some wild leeks over his face and hands.  Daryl grunts, impressed that Red Poncho Guy knows such natural mosquito repellent.

Rick.  Rick wakes up, woozy and heavily bandaged, in a room that isn't his.  Michonne is there, watching him.  She asks him WTF he's doing and why didn't he tell her what was going on.  Glen, Carol and Abraham show up and Carol immediately pounces on Rick: "Where'd you get the gun?  You took it from the armory, didn't you? Stupid."  Rick catches on quickly to her ruse and agrees.  Glen says that there's going to be a meeting tonight to discuss what to do.  Carol tells Rick what to say - Pete, abuser, etc. - and finishes with, "Just tell the story that they want to hear. It's what I've been doing since we got here."  Michonne, baffled: "Why?"  Carol: "Because these people are children and children like stories."  Damn.  Carol is stone-cold.  Abraham wonders what happens after all the talking, when they still want to kick Rick out.  They come up with a plan to use their knives (the armory is now guarded), grab Deanna and other key people, and force the Alexandrians to surrender to them.  Glen wants to know if Rick planned all this.  Rick says no, he just hit his limit and screwed up, and now they have to deal with the fall-out.

Maggie.  Maggie is with Deanna and Reg (Deanna's husband).  Deanna says that tonight's meeting is just for people to talk and then she'll make the decision about Rick.  Maggie pleads his case a bit, citing all the things Rick (and by extension, the rest of the group) has been through but Deanna is all, I'll do as I see fit.  Maggie takes her leave and Reg chases after her.  He is on her side and tells her that he'll tell his wife that Alexandria needs Rick and his group - that's what he's going to tell everyone.  Maggie feels a little bit better about that at least.

Sasha.  Outside the community's walls, Sasha has dug a pit.  She collects all the walkers she killed from the clocktower and dumps them in.  Then, she stares into the pit and climbs into it, lying down on top of the dead zombies.  It's a cool visual but her character is so thinly drawn that I just don't care about all this PTSD/depression/what-have-you she's going through.

Rick.  Carol comes back after the rest have gone.  She hands him another gun, saying she didn't tell the others about the guns she took because she's just not sure where they stand.  Rick sighs, saying he doesn't want to lie anymore.  Carol: "You said you don't want to take this place.  And you don't want to lie?  Oh, sunshine, you don't get both."  Later, Rick leaves wherever it was he'd been put, walking down the street without challenge.  Deanna watches him go by, a scowl on her face.  He heads home, where Carl is waiting with Judith.  He warns the boy that he may have to hurt or kill some townspeople to keep from being exiled.  Carl shakes his head, saying all Rick needs to do is tell the Alexandrians just what it is like outside their walls.

Glen and Maggie.  Maggie fills Glen in on the deal with Deanna, saying that she's going to spend the rest of the day talking to people and campaigning for Rick.  She heads off and he sits, lost in thought until he sees Nicholas scaling the walls.  Curious and/or pissed off, Glen follows him.

Gabriel.  Father Gabriel, wearing nothing but a white shirt and not carrying any weapons, leaves Alexandria via the front gate.  Deanna's remaining son Spencer questions the wisdom of going out unarmed but Gabriel says he's just going out for a short walk.

Daryl and Aaron.  Outside a fenced cannery/warehouse, Aaron shrugs: they've lost the trail of Red Poncho Guy but they're found this place - they need more food and this is a potential gold mine.  Daryl seems a little fashed at giving up on chasing their recruit but ultimately agrees.  They quickly kill the few zombies wandering around in the fence and head inside.  Four or five semi trucks are backed into the loading dock, doors closed.  Daryl opens one of the trailers - which trips a wire and suddenly ALL of the trailer doors fly open.  And the trailers are FULL of walkers.  The zombies swarm out and they are everywhere.  Daryl and Aaron take cover under a trailer, just to regroup, but they can't stay there and scramble out again.  Daryl snatches up a length of chain and when he's out from under the trailer AWESOMELY DECAPITATES THREE ZOMBIES with one lashing of that chain.  Best. Zombie. Death. Ever.  They try to make a run for it but there are way too many zombies and there's no way to get clear.  They make their way to a small station wagon, left parked behind the trailers.  They jump inside - Aaron crushes a walker's skull trying to get the door closed - and are safe for the moment.  For the moment.  There are so many zombies, all looking at them through the glass.  They look for something to block the windows, hoping the zombies will get disinterested, but there's nothing there but a scrawled note on a scrap of paper: "TRAP BAD PEOPLE COMING DON'T STAY."  Well, duh.

Carol.  Carol has brought a casserole over to Pete, who is sitting in a house in the dark, telling him that he needs to go check on Tara (remember Tara?  Massive head wound?).  He is not well-pleased to see her.  When he starts to get belligerent, Carol calmly unbuttons her cardigan and pulls out a hunting knife.  "I could kill you right now," she says, almost conversationally.  "I could.  I will.  And then, who is going to believe I did it because I didn't like you? No one.  They'll believe you tried to hurt me."  Pete laughs nervously, leaning in at her, and she pushes the point of the blade right up under his chin.  That stops him.  She tells him that the way things have played out, he has a chance - him here, Jessie over there.  "You're a small, weak nothing.  And with the world how it is, you're even weaker.  Play your cards right maybe you don't have to die."  She shoves the casserole dish into his hands, snarling that she wants her dish back - clean - when he's done.  When Carol leaves, Pete throws the casserole to the floor and stomps into another room, breaking things and shouting, "This isn't my house!"  Carol, you goddamn glorious puppet-master.

Glen.  Out in the woods, Glen hears Nicholas moving off but has lost sight of him.  Bad move, Glen.  Because Nicholas can see him and wastes no time shooting him with the gun of Rick's he pilfered an episode or so ago.  The bullet hits Glen in the shoulder and knocks him over, backwards down a ravine.  When Nicholas runs up to check, Glen is nowhere to be seen.

Rick.  Because Rick can't stop being a fairly creepy stalker, he swings by Jessie's house where she is halfheartedly picking up broken glass from the window Rick and Pete crashed through.  She tells him that he shouldn't be here, that they shouldn't be seen talking, but he insists that he just wants to know if she's okay.  He also says he's not sorry he did it, not matter what happens or what he ends up having to do.  As he turns to go, she tells him that he was right.  And across the street, a glowering Pete watches Rick walk away from his house and his wife.

Daryl and Aaron.  The guys are realizing that there's really no way out of this for them.  But Daryl laughs a little, saying that back at Alexandria, inside houses, he felt all closed up, but out here - even trapped in this little car - he feels more like himself.  "Pretty messed up, huh?"  But Aaron understands.  He says that the moment he knew he needed to bring Rick's group back to the community was when he watched Daryl lead his group to safety in the barn during that storm.  That was when he was sure they - and Daryl - were good people.  Daryl thinks about this for a couple of seconds and lights a cigarette.  And then he says, "I'll go.  I'll lead 'em out and you make a break for the fence. Just let me finish my smoke first."  And at that moment, thousands and thousands and thousands of Daryl fans screamed in horror at their televisions.  But Aaron's like, "No, no way.  We do it together - whether we make it or not - we have to."  Daryl nods in agreement and they decide to make a run for it, count of three.  One, two ... and a zombie's head splatters all over the window.  The guys are shocked.  It's Morgan!!!  And the guys realize not to look a gift horse in the mouth.  They rush out of the car as Morgan lays waste to enough walkers for them to get clear.  All three of them run for the fence and dash through the gate, slamming it closed behind them.  They introduce themselves and Aaron gasps out a thank you.  Daryl wants to know why.  Morgan: "Because now all life is precious."  Aaron starts his Alexandria sales pitch, noting that whoever set that trap is likely on their way.  Morgan says he has his own destination, but he's lost and could they maybe point out where they are on his map.  He hands his map to Daryl and it's the one he found with Abraham's note to Rick on it.  Daryl looks at the map and then looks intently at Morgan.

Gabriel.  Gabriel whistles as he walks, approaching a feeding walker.  He's decided to commit suicide by zombie and spreads his arms wide, whispering, "I'm ready" as the monster lurches closer.  But as the walker gets within biting distance, Gabriel can't go through with it.  He struggles with the zombie and manages to pull its head off.  Crying, he smashes the still-growling head with a handy rock and then walks over to the still-twitching victim and smashes his head too.  Then he crumples into a fetal position in the middle of the road and sobs.  You know, this guy is a good enough actor but I just don't care.

Abraham.  Abraham brings some flowers for Tara.  Rosita is keeping watch over her and Eugene is there too, asleep in a chair.  Abraham makes to leave when he sees Eugene, since they still have unresolved issues, but Rosita waves him in, then knocks a metal pan off the counter.  The racket wakes Eugene, forcing Abraham to deal with him.  They talk, both awkwardly, each apologizing to the other - for lying about Washington D.C.; for trying to kill Eugene over the lie - and also Eugene thanking Abraham for saving his life countless times.

Gabriel.  After his crying jag, Gabriel returns to Alexandria and Spencer opens the gate for him.  As the preacher walks back inside, Spencer leaves the gate open for Gabriel to close, in what is CLEARLY a plot device, saying that he wants to sneak off to the meeting.  The kid was like five feet away and he couldn't close the gate?  That's bullshit and even a flaky guard would never have done that.  Weak writing, especially since the meeting won't actually get going until after dark.  Regardless, Spencer runs off and Gabriel, who is in a daze of self pity, doesn't close the gate.

Glen.  Nicholas heads back towards Alexandria through the woods.  When a zombie approaches, he draws his knife and tries to be brave enough to put it down without shooting it.  But he isn't brave enough and shoots it instead, and that's when Glen comes charging out of the underbrush at him.  They fight, kicking, screaming, punching, clawing, stomping on knees, gouging fingers into gunshot wounds, and the ruckus they make draws several zombies.  Nicholas rolls away and a zombie falls on Glen.  He's weakened from being shot and I actually get a little nervous - because we're an hour in and no one has died yet.  Will it be Glen?

Rick.  Before the meeting, Michonne goes to check on Rick, asking if he's ready for the meeting.  He tells her that he, Carol and Daryl stole guns from the armory, working it out together.  He says he's been lying to Michonne because he wasn't sure how she'd take it and he hands over the gun Carol brought him.  Michonne:  "You think I'd try and stop you?"  Rick, with a bit of humor: "Well, you did hit me over the head."  Michonne is not joking around, however, and tells him that she did it for him, not the Alexandrians.  She says she thinks they can find a way to live here without their weapons ... but if they can't, she's still with him.  "Something's gonna happen.  Just don't make something happen."  And then she gives him his gun back and heads out to the meeting, telling him not to be too long.  As he gets ready to go, he looks out the window and immediately goes tense.  Next shot: Rick running down the street towards the open gate.  He slams the gate closed, noting a trail of blood drops heading into town.  Oops.  Something is loose in Alexandria.

Sasha and Gabriel.  But before we can get to the excitement of possible zombies roaming the town, we have to pause to go to the chapel.  Sasha is already there when Gabriel gets back.  She is lost, she says, and asks for his help.  And Gabriel decides to try suicide by Sasha instead, telling her no, he can't help her, she doesn't belong her because of what she did, beating those people to death back in his church.  He knows all the right buttons to push, invoking Bob and Tyrese, and she gets more and more distraught, finally struggling with him, getting him on the floor and shoving her rifle in his face.  "Do it," he whispers.

The meeting.  Deanna has gathered everyone (and there really don't seem to be very many Alexandrians - I wonder what the community's population is/is supposed to be) to talk about Rick and what he did and what he said.  Maggie and Michonne protest that Rick and Glen aren't here yet; Carol, with a sweet smile on her face, says that she's sure Rick will be here and she's sure they can work all this out.  But Deanna forges ahead.  Many of Rick's people - Maggie, Michonne, Carol (doing her best manipulative Stepford-talk) speak up on his behalf but Abraham is the best and I'll quote it in full:  "Simply put, there is a vast ocean of shit that you people don't know shit about.  Rick knows every fine grain of said shit.  And then some."  After that, Deanna tells the group the shortened version of what Gabriel told her about Rick and his group.  Jessie speaks up, saying since Gabriel isn't at the meeting, what Deanna is providing is just hearsay.  Maggie takes this opportunity to sneak away to look for Rick and/or Glen and/or Gabriel.

Not in the meeting.  Nicholas tiptoes through the woods, limping.  And then Glen, who is apparently unkillable, walks up behind him and clobbers him on the back of his head, dropping him.  Rick runs through the streets of Alexandria, looking for whatever got in.  He finds what he's looking for when he hears a dog barking.  It's four or five zombies.  He puts several down easily, knife through the skull, but the last one manages to get him on the ground.  Rick can't reach his weapons and so instead, squeezes and squeezes and squeezes until the zombie's head pops, splattering goo and rot and nasty liquid all over Rick's face.  SO GROSS.  Back out in the woods, Glen sits on Nicholas's chest, punching him for a while and then pulling out a gun.  Shaking, spitting, near hysterical, Glen pushes the barrel of the gun into the other man's forehead.  Nicholas begs for his life, shrieking, cowardly.  Glen comes very close to pulling the trigger ... but because he's still a good guy, he doesn't do it and even ends up helping Nicholas stagger back to Alexandria.  Meanwhile, back at the cannery, those two Wolves that Morgan didn't kill have caught Red Poncho Guy.  They slit his throat and then, using a remote, turn on flashing lights and loud music which are emanating from the trailers.  The zombies follow the distractions back into the trailers and the Wolves reset their trap.

Also not in the meeting.  Maggie enters the chapel before Sasha can pull the trigger and gently takes the gun away.  Sasha is crying.  Gabriel starts crying too, saying "They all died because of me."  Maggie takes his hand in hers, agreeing, "They did."  And then the three of them sit and quietly pray together.  Because faith in God has been so helpful thus far.

The meeting.  Some Alexandrian speaks up, saying that all he wants to do is protect his family and if that means exiling some or all of the newcomers ... well, he doesn't get to finish that thought because a gore-drenched Rick has finally arrived at the meeting.  And he's brought a visual aid: the corpse of one of the zombies he just killed.  He throws the corpse down and all the Alexandrians recoil.  (None of Rick's people even flinch.)  He says there wasn't a guard and the gate was open - he didn't bring the zombie in, it got inside on its own.  (Deanna glares at Spencer and he scampers off, back to his post.)  "They always will [get inside], the dead and the living.  Because we're in here.  They'll hunt us and find us and try to use us, try to kill us.  But we'll survive.  I'll show you how."  He says that he'd been thinking of how many Alexandrians he'd have to kill to save their lives - but now he thinks he doesn't have to [kill anyone].  He knows they'll change.  "Luck runs out."  And on top of those sage words, a drunken Pete staggers into the meeting, waving Michonne's sword wildly and raving, "You're not one of us! You're not one of us!"  Reg goes up to calm the doctor down.  Rick puts his hand on his gun and gives Carol a glance.  She shakes her head, hissing, "Not now" because she knew her confrontation with Pete would set him off OMG Carol you manipulative genius.  But Pete will not calm down and keeps waving that sword until he inadvertently slashes poor Reg's throat.  Reg goes down, choking and splashing blood everywhere as Deanna wails and cries.  Abraham pounces on Pete, knocking him to the ground and holding him there.  Reg bleeds out quickly.  Wild with grief, Deanna looks up at Rick, her constable, and snarls, "Rick.  Do it."  And without hesitation, Rick pulls his gun and shoots Pete in the head.  And just then Daryl and Aaron and Morgan walk up.  Morgan, Mister "Life is Precious," looks at dead Pete and looks at his old acquaintance, and says, shocked, "Rick!"

Post credits.  Michonne goes to the mantel to hang her sword back up.  She pauses, jams the sword back in its scabbard and slings it across her back.  It goes well with her constable's uniform, I think.  And back at that cannery, as Red Poncho Zombie lurches around the fenced-in yard, we see a message graffitied onto a derelict car: WOLVES NOT FAR.  That can't be good.

So, as I said, not very carnage-y.  Carol, Daryl and Glen all survived - all our gang survived, surprisingly.  As much as I am relieved that none of my favorites got killed off, this season finale seemed a bit anti-climatic, like it's just setting us up for the Wolves in S6.  I guess we'll find out.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

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