The home stretch. The last few laps. Only a couple of ticks left on the clock. That’s where we are with regards to the fifth season of AMC’s hit zombie show. Thankfully, the show hasn’t turned into a reanimated corpse that’s merely a pale representation of its former self (yet, there’s always season six for that), and that’s largely due to the fact that they seem to keep being able to mine new stories out of familiar situations.
That’s exactly what these past few episodes have been doing, dealing with Alexandria. Previously, if Rick and his group were going to run across an inhabited settlement, we could rest assured that someone living inside those walls (if not EVERYONE inside those walls) was insane and evil, clearly only gathering like-minded people to act as more of a blight on the landscape than a savior. With Alexandria, sure there’s some subtle evil lurking behind its walls, but the much bigger threat seems to have been generated by our outsiders being brought in. While the notion of being turned into exactly what you fear isn’t a new one, it’s being handled pretty well over the last few episodes.
It also isn’t surprising to see a penultimate episode that serves more to set up some a season finale game changer. Especially coming away with a couple of deaths in “Spend”, it was pretty refreshing to allow the cast to step back into more human interactions. There were still plenty of animated corpses around to make sure people didn’t start thinking they’d slipped into an especially gritty soap opera, but this episode was packed with people trying to deal with people, to varying levels of success. Not to worry, though, because there was still plenty of bone-headed moments throughout. After all, when looking for someone on this show to be an idiot, all you have to do is “Try”.
Look, Deanna’s dealing with Aiden’s death, and all of the questions dropped into her head by Father Gabriel’s recent visit. Even with that, she’s trying to hold strong as the leader of Alexandria. Naturally, when one of her new constables shows up and proceeds to talk about how they might need to kill off good ol’ Doctor Pete, she’s going to react poorly. It’s not just that she admitted to Rick that she was well aware of Pete’s predilections towards hurting Jessie that’s problematic. In fact, that’s small beans compared to the strong belief that exile is preferable to execution. First off, exile for most people is a death sentence anyway, so it’s just a way to get the blood to splash on different hands. Secondly, anyone who survives could potentially find another group, and lead them against you, all because they know what you have and have taken away from them. While execution isn’t necessarily the best option, either, at least it shows people that there’s a level of accountability that must be taken in the new wasteland. It’s too bad that no real third options were explored, although it’s pretty clear that Constable Rick would have shot those notions down just as fast.
Poor Sasha. First, she lost her boyfriend. Then her brother. Now she’s dealing with losing Noah, so quickly after she told him he wasn’t made of the right stuff to survive in this world. These types of things affect everyone differently, and, for Sasha, they’ve turned her into a very cold, cynical sniper. But is she content to stay in the tower and pick off walkers as they approach the walls? Oh no. Sasha is “tired of playing defense”, so she’s taking the fight right to the walkers herself, hunting them down while alone. Did we mention the alone thing? Because, if she had continued to remain that way throughout this episode, she probably wouldn’t have escaped it. It was only the timely intervention of Michonne and Rosita that kept Sasha from becoming lunch, which only served to make her angrier. Just because you’ve become a bad-ass with a gun doesn’t mean that you should be tromping around with a death wish. Take a note from Little Shop of Horrors… there are other, much more suitable sacrifices if you just want the dead to eat.
Speaking of more suitable sacrifices, we come to Nicholas. We’ve pretty much only witnessed how terrible of a person Nicholas is. Heck, Glenn even takes the time to point out to him that people like him aren’t supposed to make it. But Nicholas has no respect for anyone whose name isn’t often used in place of “Santa Claus”. The truth about the previously failed raids was outed, at least to Glenn, last episode, but Nicholas is going to double-down. While he’s clearly fighting out of a need for self-preservation, but eventually his lies will catch up with him from someone other than a new arrival into town, right? And, if Deanna is really as good at reading people as she claims, is lying about what happened in your interview the best way to save yourself? Sure, you couldn’t throw Aiden under the bus, but maybe take the time to craft a story where everyone got duped by crafty zombies or something.
Remember last year, where it seemed like Carl was fawning over Beth a little? Well, he’s finally got someone of an appropriate age to chase after, and chasing her he is. Now, admittedly, Carl’s still a teenage boy, so he’s expected to make some bad choices, especially after meeting a girl he might actually have a shot at for the first time in forever. That said, maybe a little more awareness of everything? Yes, Carl, you SHOULD be chastising Enid for sneaking over the wall all by herself. But, um, does anyone know that you followed her to tell her that? Also, when you hear a pack of walkers roaming nearby, you should try to get away from them, maybe hiding if you aren’t sure you can outpace them completely. But can’t you pick a better hiding spot than a hollowed-out tree; one that ensures that you and Enid can’t breathe without feeling the other one do the same? Maybe the walkers around Alexandria all have really bad hay fever, but there’s no way that the tree is going to mask the scent of two frightened, hormonal teenagers. Especially not when one uses the line, “You’re scared of me, too”.
Welcome back, Crazypants! Hints of your long-dormant insanity started popping up again recently, but you did a good job holding it back. That is, of course, until Carol kind of pushed you over the edge with regards to Jessie and Pete. No, what Pete is doing to Jessie and Sam isn’t cool. Not in the slightest. But you definitely could have handled it better than confronting Jessie about it, and then subsequently letting your feelings for her blind you into saying that you wouldn’t be reacting this way with anyone else. Still, that isn’t the worst of your mental lapses, and neither is brawling with Pete, taking your fight out into the middle of the quiet Alexandria streets. No, you dropped the smart ball completely when you drew your gun, started waving it around, and declared loudly to anyone who could hear that you knew what was best and that the people of Alexandria were doomed without your expert guidance. Even if that’s true, it just isn’t something you say when you’re the new guy in town. There’s a reason Michonne knocked you out.
And that’s where we stand with only one episode remaining before next week. Quotes from the cast seem to hint that we’ll be saying goodbye to a couple of people, and possibly in ways that will make the viewer angry. All we know for certain? We’ll get an extra 30 minutes to analyze which mistakes get made along the way, and poke at it for amusement. Also, if you have a strong feeling about who might not make it to season six, leave a comment, and let’s get a discussion going!