“The Walking Dead” recap (5.16): Conquer

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The 90-minute finale is upon us. And, like so many finales of The Walking Dead past, this one will culminate like fire. How safe are these walls after all? In the end, will it be the bad stuff on the outside or the bad stuff on the inside that wakes everyone up? We know how finales go. Someone we love is going to die tonight. Either that, or the episode will do the greatest job of making us believe it. You’ve heard it here first: Mega spoilers ahead if you haven’t caught the last episode of Season 5 yet!

Morgan (Lennie James) has been a character hot on Rick’s tail for seasons. Of course, we know Morgan from Season 1 when he first met Rick and they remained buddies over walkie-talkie. At first, Morgan was, as Lennie put it in AMC’s Talking Dead after tonight’s show, “totally and utterly cray cray.” But the character has undergone a fundamental change and by the time he’s camped out on the outskirts of Alexandria, he’s no longer a sheep in wolves clothing. Speaking of wolves…

There’s an answer, finally, to the infamous ‘W’s we’ve seen carved across walkers’ foreheads like they’re all part of the Manson family. A living ‘W’ dude happens onto Morgan’s campsite, armed, and sits down for a chat. Morgan seems calm, confident and far from the intimating guy he appeared to be, like, two seasons back. Another guy emerges from the brush, but in no time, Morgan defeats them, discovering the gun this guy was armed with wasn’t loaded. He leaves them atop each other in a car. These guys with the ‘W’s are bad for business. I was way more interested in Morgan’s Cup-O-Noodles, or whatever, than the speech dude gave about “wolves turning into men.” The organized post-world groups that form are really a cliché waste of time. You dudes aren’t really wolves. But those walkers are actually, literally zombies.

But, everything is returned. Right? You can be anything you want to be in this new world. You can be Daryl: badass, motorcycle hero, leather king. He and Aaron are tracking someone. It’s a guy in a red poncho: We’ll call him Little Red Poncho. This isn’t a rainy day in lines at Disney World, so I’m not sure why the gear.

Rick wakes up in room, tiny white Band-Aids all over his face. (A little while later we see Pete in a similar state—I had no idea they got into a catfight.) Meow. Michonne takes this as opportunity to set Rick straight. She says Pete has been put in another house.

“We had to stop being out there,” she says. Then Carol, Glenn and Abraham walk in and ask where he got the gun anyway. He says he screwed up, but that he’s prepared to slit their throats—explaining how each of them could take them out, if need be. They explain Deanna has a meeting scheduled for tonight for the whole town. Carol tells him how to handle the meeting: “Tell them the story they wanna hear, that’s what I’ve been doing since I got here. These people are children and children like stories.” Carol’s painful complex with children has been a huge arc these past few seasons—ever since the death of Sophia. Her weird shit with Sam, Jessie and Pete’s kid might not make total sense, but behind all these cookies and casseroles is a woman who can take charge in her cardigan in a way she couldn’t a decade ago. She knows where her boundaries are and how to get beyond them in a flash, without remorse or hesitation. She has found every possible means to blend in, and her guts and glory are credited out there in the forest, not in here at a towns meeting in Alexandria. The loss that Deanna believes she’s felt in here is no match for the level of loss the group has felt out there.

5WalkingDead16.1Tell us if we need to change out of these clothes.

“Here we are,” Rick says, defeated. And if tonight’s going to be anything other than bloody, Rick Grimes needs his beauty rest. We see Maggie eyeing Fr. Gabriel with hate burning a hole in his head. She’s at Deanna and Reg’s front porch now to find out what she can about this so-called meeting. Maggie defends Rick, but sees that Deanna is leaning toward kicking him out. Maggie runs off, but Reg runs after her. I like Reg—I want to believe he’s a good guy, like Hershel. He tells her a story about cavemen and civilization, “When we stop running and live together,” he says—civilization can happen in peace. Maggie smiles at him, perhaps grateful for his neutrality and sensitivity. Can he hug her now? I need these people to hug.

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