In arguably the finest season finale of the entire series, tonight's lightning-paced, adrenalin-filled, super-sized episode titled "Conquer" left the show's rabid fan base breathless. So much, so much, so much happened that it felt like five installments in one.Man Vs. Wolves
Everybody's favorite mystery man, Morgan, kicked things off with the long-awaited development of his storyline that finally went beyond 20 second scenes depicting him hiking in the woods and looking at carved letters on trees. And, boy, did he ever make a grand entrance. Like some sort of Buddhist monk who dabbles in mixed martial arts, Morgan showed us exactly who he has become since parting ways with his neighbor, Rick Grimes, oh so long ago.
After waking up in an abandoned car with a "lucky" rabbit's foot dangling from the rear view mirror, he finds himself on the wrong end of a gun. A tweaker type fellow with a desperate look in his eyes and an even more desperate looking "W" carved into his greasy forehead informs him that he is part of a group of totally rational sounding folks called the wolves. The back story is some gobbledy gook about how natives of the area way back when were convinced the initial outsiders who showed up were wolves who transformed into men. They marked those people with a W on their heads and consequently, a bounty was placed on wolves. Oh, and guess what, the Morgan's captor tells him- I'm gonna not only steal the cup of broth you are drinking, but also everything you own and I will drag you back to the den. Morgan is actually pretty zen about the robbery bit, but he is not willing to be kidnapped.
In the best nope, nope, nope, don't think so response to happen in this show since the time Rick murdered a man with his bare teeth, Morgan opts to beat the guy and his friend who jumps out to ambush him, two-on-one style with a stick that thus far was pretending to be a simple waking aide but in reality is some bad ass weaponry. Smack, smack, smack, wolves, and here's an extra helping of Morgan as he throws them into the back of the car that had served as his bunk for the night. Morgan is sure to grab the rabbit's foot on his way out since you can never have too much good luck in this new world.Team DAaron
Meanwhile Aaron and Daryl out on another run looking to add new members to the community and find out who the identity of the sickos who have left troubling signs of their existence all throughout the woods. Aaron reveals how Alexandria did once have to release three recruits who hadn't worked out into back into the wild with no guns and only enough food for one day which basically translates into a death sentence. He doesn't want to make that mistake again so he is counting on Daryl to help him decipher which people the come across are solid choices.Rick
Rick wakes up bandaged and slightly disoriented from Michonne's K.O. that ended last week's episode. Per Deanna, Michonne has been watching over him. She informs him Pete is now living in another house and expresses how she wishes he had let her in on his whole vigilante justice agenda. Before they can hash things out further, Glenn, Abraham and Carol come in and Carol asks where he got the gun, knowing full well he took it from their secret stash. They also let him know Deanna is having a meeting tonight, which immediately conjures up images of the townspeople with torches driving out their new constable like he's Frankenstein despite the fact that he isn't *really* the town monster and the irony that he is the only one who knows how to protect them from the real threats.
Carol and her JC Penney cardigan persona implore Rick to tell them he only acted out because he was worried about a citizen being abused and to testify that his intentions were good and pure. She advises him to just tell them a story they want to hear which is exactly the tactic she herself has employed in Alexandria since day one. In my second favorite line of the night, when Michonne questions the logic behind this, Carol coolly replies, "Because these people are children and children like stories." Bravo.
Apparently the Armory is now being guarded by more than hapless Olivia with her hapless clipboard. Carol reminds Rick they still have knives. He tells them that at tonight's meeting, if it looks like things are sinking he will whistle. He then deftly assigns who each person will be taking down, or at least holding by knifepoint, till they formally take over the Armory and thus take over the town.
Glenn asks Rick if he wanted this all along and Rick doesn't miss a beat when he says no, he didn't, that he just hit his limit and screwed up. I can't help but think if only he had been honest with Deanna specifically from the start and said, "Thanks for inviting us to come here. It's especially great BECAUSE WE JUST ESCAPED FROM CANNIBALS WHO ATE ONE OF OUR FRIENDS AND TRIED TO EAT US, TOO" then maybe Deanna might have gotten with the program a bit faster.Maggie
Maggie finally takes a break from drafting the Alexandria constitution in Deanna's basement to try and get down to exactly what should be expected at this meeting which is so transparent, Deanna may as well assign that Sam kid leave to flyers in every mail box that advertise, "Come help us kick out Rick Grimes."
Maggie tries to diffuse Deanna's perception of Rick but Deanna seems to have made up her mind up -the meeting is really just going to be a formality. Even her husband Reg tries to remind her how historically civilizations only truly began when people stopped running and sending people away and just started living together. But it falls on deaf ears.Sasha
Sasha is still guarding the gates she was never given permission to guard despite her PTSD. She's throwing some walkers in a pit likely to hide her target practice and she makes the leap from potentially going crazy to officially going crazy when she decides to use the pile of rotted corpses as a pillow whilst she stares at the sky wondering where it, she, the world, all went wrong. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW
Carol delivers a gun to Rick who confesses that he is torn between not wanting to lie to people any longer and not disturbing the peace of Alexandria- a peace that so many in his family including Michonne have so happily embraced. No-nonsense town baker Carol gives him the real talk, citing that he can't have both.
Carol, sans cardigan and her cardigan persona, then pays Dr. Pete a visit. She comes bearing a casserole of some sort and reminds him that despite his troubles, he needs to check on his patient, Tara. She communicates this at knifepoint, showing her true colors to him as a warning that he best play his cards right from here on in. After she cheerfully reminds him to return her dish to her (clean!) and departs, Pete breaks the dish and starts trashing his new house. This isn't going to end well.Here, There, and Everywhere
Daryl and Aaron were busy tracking a guy in a distinctive red hoodie who looked like he could feasibly be their kind of people in that he was alone, not foaming at the mouth and knows enough about survival to utilize wild leeks as a mosquito deterrent.
A bandaged Rick emerges from the building he has been held in like last night was no big thang. He says hi to townsperson Tobin and he and Deanna exchange glances as he passes by her porch.
Still elsewhere about town- a square mileage that seems to shift in size to suit each scenario- Nicholas starts to approach Glenn just as Maggie comes to him to confirm the meeting is indeed going to be one giant, bah-bye Rick Grimes party and to inform him she will go to talk to as many people as possible beforehand to change their minds.
Glenn is quiet and says he loves her in a way that distinctly reminds me of all the foreshadowing of every other character who thereafter became walker food or found themselves facing off against the wrong kind of human. Maggie says she will see him at the meeting- another uh-oh red flag-which is quickly followed up by Glenn seeing Nicholas scale the wall and Glenn's poor decision to follow him.
Father Gabriel decides to go for a walk and refuses the gun offered to him by the gatekeeper. The word of God is the only protection he needs, he states, which may as well be his suicide note.
Rick comes home to Carl and informs him that he is staying home with Judith and not allowed at the meeting. That's what Alexandria is now- home. Carl is glad about that but quick to assert his awareness that the town needs them and would die without them. Rick casually tells his son he just might
have to threaten or actually kill one of the townsfolk to make them see the light. Carl is very kthxbai about it.Team DAaron, Part II
Back on the road, Daryl and Aaron are still hoping to find guy in the red jacket. Aaron is thrilled when they come upon a grocery store with a parking lot full of trailers which he naively assumes must stocked with canned goods. After all, Alexandria needs more people and they will find them but when they do that means more mouths to feed.
Cut to them opening the first in the line of trailers which has been shim-sham rigged by some cunning humans (wolves!) . The end result is hordes of walkers not only being released from the trailer they unlocked, but like a demented game of Dominos, every trailer opening up to let the dead out to do their human eating thing.
At first it seems like Aaron and Daryl have a chance to escape. Daryl even takes down three at once by swinging a chain at their heads. They become so outnumbered, their only recourse is to hide in a car which comes equipped with a note from some former passenger sharing the valuable tidbit that the car itself is a trap. This is just like how the trailers weren't so much as filled with cans of sardines as they had walkers stuffed inside them like sardines.
Glenn is still following Nicholas in the woods. As Glenn comes upon the body of a walker, Nicholas shoots Glenn and takes him down. It's a little odd that for someone who was out to kill Glenn, evil bro fool Nicholas didn't just finish the job right then and there.
Rick checks on Jessie. While she warns him that people shouldn't see them talking together, she also tells him he was right on in what he did. In yet another, truly head-scratching moment, Pete can be seem watching this whole exchange between his wife and the constable who saved her from his new house.....which happens to be a couple doors down. Seriously????? This is that the best they could do in terms of imposing a restraining order???? Move him a couple houses down from his victim?Team DAron, Part III
As writhing walkers completely encase the car in which Daryl and Aaron are holed up, and death is obviously imminent for both of them, there's a fantastic bit of dialogue from Daryl to his new best friend."I came out here. I feel all closed up back there. Even now, this still feels more like me than back in them houses. It's pretty messed up, huh?" He starts smoking and informs Aaron how is going to sacrifice himself as walker distraction so Aaron has a fighting chance to escape. "Just let me finish my cigarette," the stoic martyr deadpans.
Aaron refuses and it's decided they will both make a run (HOWWWW?
) for it. Just as they open their doors, the ninja magic that is Morgan's walking stick can be seen shiskabobbing walker skulls. (It seems seriously implausible how one man on the outside could cut through the pile of about 60 walkers but I so enjoy Morgan I am willing to suspend my disbelief.)
All three make it outside the grocery store fence, safe and sound. Daryl and Aaron who just defied certain death, calmly introduce themselves like dudes sitting a bar drinking beers and watching the day go by. They extend an instant invitation for their savior to join them in Alexandria but Morgan is all, thanks but no thanks, I am a man on a mission. I do happen to be lost, so it would be cool if you could tell me where I am and point me in the right direction.
He whips out the map he's been using as his guide. The same map to DC on which Abraham had scrawled the (prophetic!) message about how the new world is gonna need Rick Grimes. A lesson the rest of Alexandria is about to learn the hardest way possible.And then the finale shifted into a bunch of fast-paced, mini-scenes featuring every character as every ounce of drama hurtled to its crescendo
Father Gabriel is still out for his sunny stroll, wearing a pristine white shirt, no less, which is just as practical as everything else he does. He comes upon a walker eating someone, whistles at him and announces he is "ready." Assuming a crucifixion type pose, he allows the walker to get close before common sense and the will to live kick in and he opts to strangle it with a rope and then smash its head. He then calmly walks over to the guy who was being eaten and stabs him in the head as he is turning walker. He ends his adventure by collapsing on the ground and sobbing.
Abraham brings Tara flowers and while there, he accepts Eugene's apology for the whole lying about DC and the cure thing. Abraham apologizes for the whole almost killing Eugene with his fists thing. All is forgiven and a while later, unconscious Tara awakes to the smiling caretaker Rosita at her bedside. (Apparently Dr. Pete has other plans!)
Father Gabriel returns from his nature walk with not so much as a drop of blood or speck of dirt on his white shirt, which may be the most unbelievable moment in the show, unless of course he actually is the Devil. Before scurrying off to the big let's give Rick Grimes the boot town social, the bro guarding the door asks if Gabriel would counsel him about losing his pal, Aidan. Gabriel throws out an un-priestlike "we'll see" at him and then purposely doesn't close the gate all the way behind him.
Lo and behold! Glenn is still alive! He sneaks up on Nicholas in those godforsaken woods in which no one ever runs into anyone else who is sneaking or loitering A fight ensues and is "broken up" by some walkers. It looks like Glenn might be doomed.
Before the big Good Riddance Rick Grimes special event is about to start, Rick finally lets Michonne in on to the original secret gun stash plan and admits he only lied to her because she seemed to like Alexandria and her new katana-free lifestyle so darn much. Michonne assures him she would never stop him if he thought a take over was the only answer and while it's preferable for them to work with the Alexandrites, she will still stand by him. "Something's going to happen. Just don't make something happen," she implores.
Rick is ready for the meeting but before he can leave, he notices the open gate and blood on the ground.The town will have to wait to kick him out until after he has saved all their lives!
Sasha forgoes the meeting in order to seek counsel (HAAAAAA
) from Father Gabriel about how she is losing her head. She sits in his makeshift chapel ablaze with candles and he refuses to help her.
Meanwhile, the main event - the Forum To Bid Farewell to Rick Grimes hosted by Deanna- is officially starting. I get that there's still a power outage since the mission with Eugene to get the thingamabobs in the warehouse failed when Aidan set off the grenade. But surely they've had town meetings before and their entire town is comprised of only like fifty people. WHY couldn't they gather inside and not by a creepy campfire for this very important occasion? Especially given that there's maybe only 20 people in attendance.
Glenn and Rick aren't present.Deanna ignores Maggie's plea to delay proceedings.
Sasha tells Gabriel she thinks she wants to die and instead of talking her out of it, he criticizes her choices, says she deserves that feeling and even goes so far as to trash talk Bob and Tyreese. Oh no, he didn't.
Sasha lunges for him and yet another fight is on.
While Rick is busy killing a walker inside the gates with his bare hands (choking it until its eyes pop out of its skull) Michonne, Maggie and Carol (in full JC Penney cardigan mode) are trying to eloquently explain to all the simpletons what kind of great leader Rick is and how he's better equipped than anyone in this new world to keep people safe. Instead of ousting him, they should all strive to become a part of his family. Their impassioned remarks were starting to reach cult-leader-infatuation level when in the best line of the night, Abraham hits the nail on the head, as he is prone to do in complex situations by stating how "there's a vast ocean of shit and you people don't know shit about it. Rick knows every fine grain of said shit and then some"
Sasha and Gabriel continue to tussle over her gun, each facing the darkest night of their respective souls.
Nicholas gets taken down by Glenn who thankfully isn't dead after all! Glenn just about kills him as payback for leaving him for dead but then the Glenn moral compass kicks in and he allows the whimpering bro to live.
Elsewhere, miles from the gates, at the grocery store from hell, the guy in the red hooded poncho, whom Daryl and Aaron had been tracking, is led to his death by the same two "wolves" that tried to mess with Morgan earlier. The music of Brian Wilson is then eerily blasted on stereo speakers to lull all the walkers back into the tractor trailers to serve as a booby trap for the next scavenger to come along.
Over at the campfire, where I really thought there'd be s'mores, Deanna drops the bomb about Father Gabriel warning her to not trust anyone in the group worth a damn and how not one day later, Rick proved all his points were valid. Maggie, who for reasons unknown, wore an oversized men's jacket for most of this episode (which makes me think there's going to be a baybee friend for Judith in Season 6 and maybe Deanna is aware of this and that's why she has been hiding her in her basement under the guise of a less physical work assignment for so long) immediately runs off when she realizes how very strange it is that Gabriel has not shown up at this meeting. Maggie breaks up the Sasha-Gabriel grudge match right before Sasha pulls the trigger.
Rick makes a grand entrance into the Let's Throw Out Rick Grimes Summit by tossing the body of the walker he killed with his bare hands next to the fire. WHAT'S UP, EVERYONE? SORRY I AM LATE.
Rick lets the town fools know the gate was left open. He points at the present he brought them. "I didn't bring it in. It got inside on its own. They always will. The dead and the living. Because we are in here. And the ones out there, they will hunt us. They will find us. They will try to use us. I will show you how to survive. I was thinking how many of you do I have to kill to save your lives? But I am not going to do that. You're going to change. I am not sorry for what I said last night. I am sorry for not saying it sooner. You're not ready. But you have to be. Right now. You have to be, Luck runs out."
And with that, drunk Dr. Pete shows up at the campfire and during an outburst aimed at Rick, he winds up slicing the throat of innocent, peace-keeping architect, Reg. Without a moment's hesitation, Deanna gives Rick the order to kill Pete, a task that is immediately carried out via gun at pointblank range.
In the worst timing of the night, Morgan, who believes all life is precious and who has been searching for his long lost, law-abiding friend, Rick for forever, arrives with Daryl and Aaron just in time to witness Pete's execution. It's hard for him to reconcile that the blood covered man who shot someone two feet away from him is the same sheriff he once knew with whom he has longed to reunite within the post- Apocalyptic world.
In a sneaky bit of extra footage after the credits which I have come to expect, Michonne is seen taking her katana off the mantle and strapping it to her back where it belongs.
Back at the grocery store, more walkers are roaming about and graffiti sprayed onto a car bears the warning, "Wolves not far." This is surely setting the stage for next season's primary plot of Alexandria vs. The Wolves.
It's a wrap! Season 5 is officially over.And now it's your turn:
What did you think of all the finale craziness? Where will all this lead??? And is everyone ready for the end-of-summer premiere of the new prequel companion series, 'Fear The Walking Dead'??? Happy Hiatus, everyone!