The Walking Dead – “Conquer”

Season Five, Episode Sixteen

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Grade: B

The Walking Dead still has a problem. I’m fascinated by how many people watch and love this show, because to me it’s really not much more than just a guilty pleasure. There are zombies, there are people doing everything they can to stay alive, and that’s pretty much it. The acting is mediocre at best, the writing is often questionable, but the real meat of why people keep coming back to The Walking Dead is because of its thrilling scenes. I’ll admit, TWD knows how to really pump up the suspense and they cranked that all the way up for the finale.

What Worked:

We all knew that Glenn and Nicholas were going to have their showdown, but wasn’t it stupid that Glenn followed Nicholas into the woods after seeing him hop the fence? First, they hate each other, so knowing that Nicholas is a pathetic, dumbass, wouldn’t Glenn just pretend he didn’t see him hop the fence assuming he’s going to die? Second, what was Glenn’s plan when he caught up to Nicholas? “Hey dude! You shouldn’t be climbing that fence and running into the woods by yourself! Now let’s go back!” Whatever the reason, it was dumb because that’s what got Glenn shot (good thing Nicholas can’t aim for shit), and almost bit by a handful of walkers. Speaking of, how did Glenn escape that heart-pounding scene where he was wounded on the ground with a walker on top of him and at least two more within a few feet away?

Aside from Glenn reaffirming his status as a badass with a heart, the Daryl and Aaron story-line was great. The two have really bonded over the idea of recruiting new members into the community and both have each others’ respect as they track any nearby people. Just when they let their guards down, they fall into one of the Wolves’ traps and are surrounded by a hundred walkers. Things looked real bleak for these two characters, and for a moment I really believed that at least one of them wouldn’t make it out alive. Since they’ve been in Alexandria, Daryl’s importance has took a major hit, to the point where he hasn’t had much contact with Rick going crazy and Carol’s plan to overthrow the town. He’s been fixing bikes and following tracks with Aaron, so I questioned if this was the end of the road for the former Walking Dead MVP. Thank goodness that it wasn’t, because they were saved by…

Morgan! The opening scene with Morgan made me giddy like a teenie-bopper in line at a One Direction concert. TWD has been dropping teasers for the past year that Morgan would meet up with Rick for a reunion to remember, but his scenes of him tracking Rick on a map were too vague and far in-between. Still, he remained an anticipated commodity that we finally see in action during the finale. Last we saw Morgan in “Clear” he was a mess, still mourning his family and unable to come to terms with the world. Now, he’s at peace with it all but not without being able to kick some serious ass when he has to. On top of dismantling a couple of Wolves, he saves Daryl and Aaron from the herd of walkers. Morgan to the rescue!

What Didn’t Work:

Gabriel wants to commit suicide. It was strange to me how such an important scene where Gabriel is warning Deanna about Rick and company went practically undetected. Maggie heard the whole thing but didn’t bother to mention it to anyone? Anyway, Gabriel already threw his collar into the fire but since joining Alexandria he’s been back to the faith. Well not anymore, because Gabriel is “ready” to sacrifice himself to leave the cruel world that it has become. Isn’t this all a bit too much out of nowhere to insert into a season finale? We literally didn’t see Gabriel for two whole episodes once they reached Alexandria (seriously, not even in the background anywhere!) and we’re expected to be engaged in a subplot where he’s damaged and suffering from his faith? This only dragged the episode down.

What else didn’t work? The meeting. It seems pretty clear that Deanna and the residents of Alexandria want to throw Rick out of their community. Even though Deanna says they’re just meeting to talk, everyone from Maggie to Rick himself knows this fact. But is that really the big moment of the finale? A bunch of people sit around and talk about their feelings, especially Rick’s company who defend him to the very end? This would’ve been a great story-line to the penultimate episode, but not the 90-minute season finale. Sure, Rick made his point and saved the town from a few rogue walkers, which led to Pete’s death after killing Deanna’s husband. So Rick is in charge now? Is there any viewer who didn’t already believe this would happen?

Listen, there were plenty of great scenes in the finale, but as to moving the plot forward almost nothing happens. There wasn’t a big showdown between Rick’s people and Alexandria. Instead, we get a fight in the woods, a well-planned zombie trap, and in the final seconds we have our reunion of Rick and Morgan. Their dynamic is going to be counted on to carry the emotional dilemmas during the next episode. Morgan is at peace and doesn’t seem to be into killing, while Rick is literally killing his way to wherever he has to be. That should be a very interesting clash of beliefs.

And then there are the Wolves, a very dangerous group of people (not counting the two who let Morgan slip away) who are as demented as they come in this post-apocalyptic world. They’re going to present a very dangerous obstacle for our survivors in Alexandria. Can Rick teach them enough in time to defend the walls? Also, how many more times is Glenn not going to kill Nicholas? Overall, it was a good episode, but not a great finale.

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Seriously! How did Glenn walk away from this after he’s been shot in the shoulder and beat up?

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