After last week’s batshit crazy (but totally awesome) penultimate episode, there was a whole heck of a lot of potential in this week’s 90 minute (!!) finale. As per usual with the show, it’s uncertain as to whether or not it will live up to that promise, as the show displays a week-to-week variance in quality that few other shows can match. So let’s get to it and take a look at the finale, titled “Conquer”.
As per usual, don’t read this review unless you’ve seen the episode. Spoilers are abundant beyond this point.
1. Rick wins (ish)
I suppose Rick’s win is a win, but it’s one with caveats. In the end, zombies get into Alexandria and Rick has to figure four leg lock them to death (TAKE THAT WRESTLEMANIA!), he then uses that as proof as to why he’s the mega badass that will lead them to the promised land, and just as it’s not certain whether his point has been made, Pete shows up sort of accidentally (but not really) kills Deanna’s husband with Michonne’s sword, leading to Deanna telling Rick to kill Pete. Right as Morgan shows up and is all like, “RICK?!”
So Rick wins. Alexandria has bought into his methods even if it hasn’t bought into his madness. His family is behind him. Deanna finally loses something that says “yeah, okay, time to stop effing around with this business.” But Morgan definitely gave him a crazy face, most of Alexandria (and possibly some of the family) are terrified of him, and he’s lost maybe a little more of his humanity. Is that a good thing? Probably. He’s the hero they need and the hero they deserve, and as Carol pointed out earlier on, Alexandria is a whole bunch of children, and the children need a protector.
It’s going to be interesting to see where things go from here, but I really have dug Rick’s character arc through this section. Sure, he’s been a bit loony, but it feels right for the story and as I said, it’s what Alexandria needs. Especially with more danger on the horizon.
2. Wolves Among Us
I’m of two minds about the Wolves. On one hand, Morgan (who is now apparently Darth Maul) wiped out the only two Wolves we’ve met so far in like…no time flat, so at least those two aren’t exactly a fearsome pair. On the other, those two also were the ones who went all Pied Piper on the zombies and have the amazing trap set up at the Arno Foods area where Aaron and Daryl get trapped. So they’re apparently wizards at setting up traps but more or less incompetent at taking out a single guy who they had the jump on.
But, you know, they’re probably minions. I’m sure those two guys by themselves don’t call themselves the “Wolves” and I still think they’ll be how Negan is introduced. So time will tell on how intimidating the Wolves really are but, so far, they’re not all that. Unless Morgan with a stick is their kryptonite, in which case they’re definitely not all that.
3. But seriously, how is Morgan such a badass now?
He’s Donatello minus the half shell. He’s like one of the Crazy 88. He’s Darth Maul but written better. Morgan, since we last saw him, has apparently been rigorously studying manuals on how to properly fight with a bowstaff because he is a machine with that shit these days.
But that’s neither here nor there. However he became the mega badass that he is, he’s back, and he showed up at a fortuitous time, saving Aaron and Daryl from a certain suicide mission. I really enjoyed his work here, and Lennie James – as per usual – was excellent as the character. He in himself is proof of the value of Rick, as he’s traversed half the country (vertically speaking) in hopes to find his once and future BFF. He’ll be a great addition to the cast, and we can finally stop wondering, “where the hell is Morgan?” It will be interesting to see why exactly he’s not crazy like he was last when we saw him at full length in “Clear”, but it’s good to see him back, even if he came into their lives at a really weird point.Continued below
4. Gabriel, Nicholas and Sasha need to go
Adding Morgan to the cast makes it even more crowded, as Lennie James – hopefully – will not be the type of actor they force into hiding for episodes on end. Characters need to die. Gabriel has run his course, and no one cares about him (even as Maggie prayed with him at the end) at all, especially the fans. He’s completely unlikable in every way, and the show needs to kill him off. Same with Nicholas, as he shot Glenn and nearly killed him, and he’s completely irredeemable even if he did have his emotional breakthrough where he realized he can’t survive out there. They’re both completely broken from a likability standpoint and a general character state and need to go.
Sasha is at a different place. While Sonequa Martin-Green has done as much as she can with the character, they’ve written her into a place where she’s completely and utterly broken and she’s a caricature of a character. She’s defined by her grief in a way that is not involving at all, and while she could turn at any moment – hey writers, how about give her a change of direction? – they’ll have to kill her if she doesn’t. If characters have to go in the future, I foresee those three.
As the season closes, I have to give my rankings for season MVP. It’s hard to pick as there was a lot of greatness this season and the first half feels so damn long ago, but I’m still going to make an attempt. Here we go:
5. Bear McCreary
This is the season where his music really felt like it stood out and made the show a whole lot better. This final episode, in particular, had some serious, nerve wracking tension, and a big part of that was how his music drove those feelings. Sure, there were a lot of people who did great things in the show, but never underestimate the man making the music. He did some marvelous stuff to amplify the emotions caused by the show.
4. Gareth (Andrew J. West)
Gone but not forgotten. I love, love, love me some Gareth, and while he was brutally killed after only a few episodes and only really had a little bit of time on the show, he was by far the best villain we’ve had on the show so far and creeped the living hell out of me. I liked him so much that I hope to see him in more things. Act more Andrew J. West! The world needs more of your talents!
3. Aaron (Ross Marquand)
He also earns the Rookie of the Year award, as Aaron was a hell of a charmer who was the only person at Alexandria that REALLY felt super welcoming. His relationship with Daryl is a personal favorite and I really love seeing those two together. I could watch a spin-off series of just them recruiting people. They’re super great. Plus, in short work, Aaron and his relationship with his boyfriend Eric became the healthiest and most real feeling coupling in the show. Nice work, Ross!
2. Rick (Andrew Lincoln)
This was his breakout season, finally, and all it took was Rick losing his mind. Lincoln did an incredible job displaying that descent into madness without ever making it anything less than obvious that Rick believed that he was in the right. It was really awesome work, and I’m happy to say that Rick the TV show character is finally on the right track to approaching the awesome of the comic character.
1. Carol (Melissa McBride)
MVP! MVP! MVP! It couldn’t have been anyone else, as she started the season wearing zombie blood and launching bazookas in her assault on Terminus and ended it threatening to murder Pete with a casserole in her hand. She’s a god damn saint, and Melissa McBride’s utter chill with the character is such a welcome break in a cast full of high stress characters. We’d been building to it for a while but I am oh so happy she made her full breakout here. Well done to you, Melissa McBride, our Season 5 MVP. Who was yours?