The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale Review: Conquer

The Walking Dead season 5 has come to an end. Here is what we thought about the season finale!

I think that was as good a season finale as we were going to get. That’s not really a complaint as much as it is a comment on the very much expected finale of The Walking Dead season 5. Were there really any surprises tonight? If so, did any of them really matter? In an episode with zero stakes (Really, who thought Rick was going to get exiled?!)(Just because Norman Reedus sold his house in Georgia doesn’t mean the dude will ever die. In fact, he tackled a HORDE of zombies tonight without a scratch.), we should count ourselves lucky that we got as much closure as we did. 

Because there was A LOT of closure. Glenn and Nicholas convincingly squashed their beef in a fight outside the gates. It was nice to see Glenn get a bit more of a storyline in the bottom half of the season. His evolution from babyface to stone cold killer wasn’t as drastic as Rick’s, and when it came time to doing the right thing, to preserving his own humanity (what’s left of it), he passed the test with flying colors. Glenn remains one of the moral centers of this group, and for good reason. You can count on him to be on the side of good.

Which isn’t something I can say about the dastardly Father Gabriel, who’s about as likable as a zombie bite to the neck. It’s really to Seth Gilliam’s credit that he could turn this cowardly priest into such a loathsome chickenshit. By the end of the episode, you can’t really feel bad for the guy at all. Not only did he abandon the people who trusted him the most (his congregation), he also betrayed the people who took him in despite his sins. He fell in with a group of sinners, but couldn’t accept that was the way of things now. He just had to turn. Who knew their could be someone more useless and cowardly than Eugene (who I really enjoy watching)?

Eugene and Abraham have a bit of closure. It’s funny how they didn’t really show these two interact after their big confrontation in the first half of the season. Abraham was still understandably perturbed by Eugene’s lie, but we hadn’t quite seen too much of that post-midseason. So it was nice to see them finally have a talk about that. And it gave Rosita a chance to be in a scene…

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More importantly, we finally learned what was behind those zombies with the Ws carved on their foreheads. The Wolves are out there, preying on the living (how fresh!…*rolls eyes*), and by the end of the episode, we know they’re getting a little closer to Alexandria. How many more of them are out there? 

The opening scene with Morgan and the Wolves is so great. It remained my favorite part of the episode (the first five or so minutes were the best), as Morgan outsmarted two dirty bandits in the woods. The scene really reminded me of something out of a Cormac McCarthy book, which is obviously intentional. This show has been aiming at a more mature feel this entire season, and many pages have been taken from the master of postapocalypse himself. I’m surprised we didn’t see any cooked babies this season.

Anyway, Morgan is like the Master Yoda of this series. The way he vanquished his enemies without having to pull a trigger or stab them to death was the coolest part of his technique. When the hell did this guy become a martial arts master? I don’t really care. Thank God Low Winter Sun got canceled, and we got Morgan back. 

Quickly on Daryl and Aaron, who I surprisingly have little to say about: I love their dynamic as recruiters. I didn’t flinch once during the mandatory “Is Daryl going to die?!” scene. C’mon, guys, Daryl TACKLED his way through a zombie horde in one of the most unconvincing setpieces in Walking Dead history. He’s untouchable. I was a little worried about Aaron, but I figured he wouldn’t go either. Aaron is such a nice chase of pace for Daryl that it would be a shame to see him go before he causes a profound change in the loner. Nice few scenes overall.

Finally, let’s talk about Rick Grimes. Sheriff Rick. This season has really put Rick through some moral dilemmas, ones he’s mostly answered with the pull of a trigger. We saw a good man walk too close to the edge of darkness. He welcomed that darkness inside and became stronger for it, but also a bit more carnal. By the end of last week’s episode, some of us might have even questioned if Rick’s way was the correct way to go about surviving in this new world. Did I ever think the main character of the show was EVER going to get banished from Alexandria? No way. You’re crazy. And the writers delivered the right scenario to ensure Rick’s new status as a leader in this community.

Having Rick out on his own for most of the episode was the right way to go about his trial. For one thing, if the episode has consisted of Rick defending himself in a courtroom-style set of scenes, I would’ve turned off my TV. Luckily, the writers understood that Rick isn’t about all that talking. He’s a man of action, and they certainly gave him something to do this episode, even if the threat was very low. Rick started saving people again. And that proved to be his saving grace.

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Too bad Deanna didn’t take to Rick’s ways in time. She lost both her son and her husband for her hesitance to adjust to the ways of this new world. I’m sure she won’t make that mistake again. By the time season 6 comes around, I expect big changes in the way Alexandria is run. 

At the end of it all, I’ll say this: season 5 was a very different animal. The threat was not so much a singular villain or group as it was the entire world. A group of survivors vs. their environment. Some will say it was a weaker season, pointing out that the plot proceeded too slowly for its own good, while others will applaud the show’s decision to go into more mature territory. I’m in the middle, but anxious to see more.

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John Saavedra is an assistant editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or listen to his Walking Dead podcast! Or just follow him on Twitter.


3.5 out of 5