And with that, we have come to the end of the ride for Season 5 of The Walking Dead. It was a voyage that started in Terminus, and brought us to Alexandria. We made new friends along the way, a few new enemies, and had to say goodbye to some people we’d gotten to know. But how did the finale stack up, overall?
Overall, pretty well. There was definitely plenty of action, and some tense moments for some of our favorites. After all, things certainly looked grim for Glenn and Daryl both, which made the final result that much more interesting to get to. Allowing a longer season finale could have easily back-fired on this show, but instead it allowed the events a little more chance to breathe, which in turn made them carry more weight. Sure, the conclave meeting about Rick could have easily felt like fluff to fill out the longer running time, but, without the extended talking, Rick’s moment of triumph wouldn’t have been as powerful. And, well, the added time allowed us to really and truly start to hate the man who Father Gabriel has continued to be.
With a well-crafted episode, clearly all of the characters made smart choices, right? Look, if you believe that, you clearly haven’t been reading this particular series of entries from me, and you’ve probably been avoiding watching AMC on Sunday nights for a few years. Since the episode was half-again as long as normal, this list will do the same. Stupidity abounds, even when you’re about to “Conquer”.
7. The Wolves with Morgan
The cold open to the season finale revolved around Morgan once again gracing our television screens, while still leaving (for a while at least) the question open as to where in the timeline he was with regards to the others. As he is sitting at a fire enjoying(?) his breakfast, a man with a “W” carved into his forehead appears, holding Morgan at gunpoint. This allows for the potentially clumsy exposition regarding the Wolves, and there is never an instant where it is made clear that they’re going to let Morgan get away with either his belongings or his life. However, taking a cue from great villains of the past, the first Wolf we see ends up monologuing, explaining everything to Morgan before trying to take him out. Clearly, these Wolves have never realized that, when you’re obviously on the wrong side of the equation, you just need to take eliminate those who stand in your way. Every second you spend spilling all of the beans translates to one minute of getting beaten down by the story’s predetermined hero.
Rick actually pops up here twice this week, for two pretty stupid things. Thankfully, for my organizational mind, the less-dumb one occurs chronologically first, which makes it easy to keep things on track. We see Rick bandaged up, clearly the result of his altercation with Pete. Some of the rest of Rick’s Gang show up to let him know that there’s going to be a meeting of the minds, determining his fate within Alexandria. Rick has no reason to know if they still support him or not, and, given that Michonne was present, it would seem likely that maybe he should start figuring out how to play nice, at least for a little while. But not Mr. Grimes. Instead, Rick decides that he’s going to outline exactly how he’s planning a mutiny to take control of Alexandria away from those that lived there first. True, this doesn’t end up going belly up for Rick, but that doesn’t make it any smarter of a decision. In fact, the only smart thing Rick says is when he admits to Glenn that he didn’t actually want this to come to pass.
Speaking of Glenn, part of the reason that he may not have decided to warn anyone about what Rick was thinking is that Glenn had his own particularly stupid fish to fry. Seeing Nicholas hop over the wall, against his own admonitions, Glenn does what anyone in his shoes would do. He goes and tells Deanna. Oh, wait, no, Glenn’s part of The Walking Dumb. Instead of outing Nicholas twelve ways from Sunday, he decides that he’s going to hop the wall himself. His pursuit of Nicholas ends up being far more eventful than he was hoping, as Glenn ends up getting shot, and almost becomes walker lunch. He escapes with his life, and is able to beat Nicholas into an apology, but it would have been preferable to just let the guy wander on his own.
Daryl’s gotten hooked up with Aaron for a reason. Both have proven that they’re skilled survivors, and both seem to have an innate tracking ability. The two see a poncho-wearing individual, cleverly using survival tactics of his own, and set off in pursuit, thinking that there’s a chance that they’ll be able to find more survivors to benefit Alexandria. Instead, they find a rundown grocery store, one that’s lined with refrigerator trucks seemingly waiting to be unloaded. While it is Aaron who convinces Daryl that they should take out the small group of walkers and raid the trucks, it’s Daryl that forgets to actually tune in his senses. The trucks are all clearly rigged with primitive alarms, which should have caused caution. Instead, Daryl seems to ignore them, and doesn’t hesitate to open up one of the trucks, setting off the trap that emptied out a mini-horde against the two recruiters. The cans were a tip-off to stay on your guard, but Daryl didn’t bother checking to see if the trucks were rigged in any way. However, his dumb move did lead to the admittedly awesome chain attack, so maybe we should just give him a pass.
Now we’re getting into the real meat of the finale’s list of idiocy. First off, we get the reappearance of Rick Grimes. What is one of the first things that Rick does when he recovers enough to wander town? He goes to visit Jessie. Yes, the woman who was at the center of his brawl with Pete, the brawl that lead to him drawing his illicit gun on the citizens of Alexandria. Rick clearly is stuck on her, and wanted her to know that he wouldn’t change a thing about his actions. After all, he’s just trying to protect her, and potentially get her to fall in lust with him (he’s been on the road for a while, love probably isn’t entering the equation yet). Still, he should have probably given it a couple of days. Even though he couldn’t be certain he’d be allowed to even stay in Alexandria, the last thing he should have been doing when already walking a razor-thin line of acceptance is go back to talk to the married woman who he’s pining after. Especially in broad daylight, when anyone could be watching.
Speaking of anyone watching, the worst possible person to watch the exchange between Rick and Jessie was Pete, so guess who was the only one clearly shown to see the whole thing? Pete, not being creepy at all, is keeping an eye on Jessie’s house now that he’s been relocated, so he’s going to be naturally twitchy to see Rick brazenly back. This, coupled with his own alcohol problems, and possibly Carol’s earlier threat, eventually led to Pete stealing Michonne’s sword and stumbling into the community meeting. It might not have been quite so bad if Pete had also made a point of keeping the weapon sheathed, but that just isn’t his style. After all, he clearly had intentions of taking off Rick’s head, possibly while proclaiming that, for Jessie, there can be only one. One attempt to prevent bloodshed later, and Deanna has lost her husband, and possibly her moral standing, after, in grief over Reg’s death, she tells Rick to finish Pete off. Which just goes to prove that, unless you’re Michonne, you really shouldn’t bring a sword to any fight that involves Rick Grimes.
1. Father Gabriel
Oh, Father Gabriel. You were already popping up on the hated radar thanks to your recent chat with Deanna. How could you possibly make it worse? Well, you could just be yourself. After a solo expedition outside of the walls, one where he was actually forced to defend himself, Gabriel could have turned a corner. Instead, he spirals even deeper into the despair that allowed him to lock his parishioners out at the start of the infection. This time, though, he clearly isn’t planning on being the last man standing. Instead, he’s going for a full cleanse, but not without wanting to establish himself as something of a martyr. Upon his return to town, Gabriel is tasked with closing the gate, and he gives exactly zero concern to doing just that before he heads off to his church, finds a disturbed Sasha, and almost goads her into killing him. Gabriel had planted some serious doubt into the mind of Deanna with regards to Rick’s group, and then shot himself in the foot by enabling the exact scenario that would allow Rick to survive. If any character should feel lucky for escaping the fifth season, it should be the man of the cloth, who’s going to need some serious redemption. Otherwise, he might not making it out of season six, episode one.
That wraps up another season of The Walking Dead. The show will return in the fall, so there’s going to be some serious downtime for this column for a while. But worry not, because the downtime won’t actually be as long as the hiatus! This summer, we’re going to get to see the beginnings of the apocalypse, thanks to Fear the Walking Dead. If the parent show has taught us anything, there’ll be plenty of stupid decisions that need to get made, and we’ll be right here, to bring a whole new cast of characters into The Walking Dumb. See you this summer!