Monday, March 30, 2015

The Walking Dead Recap Episode 16: Conquer



Episode 16: Conquer


These recaps are just a discussion tool and a chance for me to geek out about my favorite show and do some over-analyzing. Maybe throw out a few theories. Remember, spoilers run rampant below. Don't read if you haven't watched!

This episode started out with Morgan. (Yea! I totally freaked out when I saw him. I was like, "Finally!" And he did NOT disappoint.) We see him wake up in the back of a car, then start a fire to make himself some breakfast. A stranger approaches who has a W carved into his forehead and the two begin to talk. It becomes obvious that this dude is one of the "wolves" Daryl and Aaron are tracking. When the guy turns hostile, and another of his buddies tries to jump Morgan from behind, Morgan graves a quarter staff and goes all Jedi Knight on these guys. So great! I was practically jumping up and down.

Back in Alexandria, Rick wakes up after the fight with a start. Michonne is watching over him from a nearby chair. After a moment, he chuckles and when she asks why, he says he thought he was back in the train car at Terminus. There was a mirror theory which I'll talk about below. It didn't pan out the way I thought it would, but I guess you could argue that this episode mirrored episode one of the season in a way because Rick sort of woke up in captivity and had to make plans for what to do with his group. Michonne tells Rick that Pete has also been separated into another house and Deanna is holding a meeting with everyone in Alexandria that evening to try and decide what to do about Rick. 


Glen, Carol, and Abraham show up. Carol tells Rick to tell everyone what they want to hear. That's been her strategy so far. Rick says that's fine, but he lays out a plan for what they are going to do to take control of Alexandria if they can't convince Deanna to let them all stay. Glen obviously isn't very comfortable with the whole thing. 

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Maggie, meanwhile, talks to Deanna on Rick's behalf, telling her kicking him out won't work for the group and that his actions were due to extreme frustration. While she doesn't outright say it, Deanna kind of seems bent on kicking Rick out. When Maggie throws up her hands and walks away, Reg, Deanna's husband, follows her. He assures her that he's going to try and convince Deanna and all the other Alexandrians to let Rick stay. 

After that, she talks to Glen, telling him that she's going to talk to as many people as possible before the meeting to try and get them on Rick's side. He's still troubled but doesn't talk to her about it, just telling her he loves her. After she leaves, he sees Nicholas climb over the walls. After only a slight hesitation, he follows. (Nicholas has been expressly forbidden from leaving, and he was watching Glen and Maggie talk, so it feels like he's luring Glen into a trap.)

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Back outside the walls, Daryl and Aaron are tracking someone--a guy in a red poncho. When Daryl asks, Aaron tells him a little bit about the three people who were banished to the outside. I was hoping to get some good back story here, but it really wasn't a whole lot more than we already knew. He says it was two men and a woman, and that he had to see them out after bringing them in when they didn't work out. He didn't go into any detail about why they didn't work out or who they were. They later lose track of him but find a food factory, complete with trucks. Daryl want to keep looking for the guy in the red poncho, but Aaron convinces him to help bring back supplies to Alexandria. When they open one of the semi trailers, hoping to find cans, it triggers a complex trap that unleashes tons of walkers, all with Ws carved into their foreheads. Daryl gets an awesome walker kill here by whipping a chain at three of them. Gross, but also pretty cool. They end up taking refuge inside a nearby car, but are surrounded by a horde of walkers.

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Back at Alexandria, Father Gabriel wanders outside the walls by himself for a "walk." Rick returns to the main house to talk to Carl. He tells Carl he may have to threaten or even kill the Alexandrians. Carl says he understands, but that first Rick needs to talk to them, to make them hear him. 

Carol goes to confront Pete. This was awesome! Yet another time I was laughing hysterically at Carol's antics. Under pretense of bringing Pete a casserole, she pushes her way in and says he needs to check on Tara. Tara is still not well yet and needs her doctor. He just tells Carol to go away. She takes out a knife and brandishes it at him, saying that she could and will kill him right there in the entryway, and no one would believe she did it just because she didn't like him. They'd totally believe that he attacked her. She then says that if he plays his cards right, he may not have to die, but it's totally up to him. Gotta love this Carol! He's like two feet taller than she is, but he was totally cowering. I saw this beforehand in the sneak peek, but I was laughing hysterically. It was especially great when she says in no uncertain terms that he'd better clean her casserole dish and give it back to her. 

Outside the walls, things are heating up. Glen loses sight of Nicholas, but when he stops to stare at a dead walker (the one they killed when they went out on the trial run with Aiden and Nicholas, I think) Nicholas shoots him in the shoulder. (I knew Nicholas would try to kill Glen! Scumbag!) Nicholas then runs out to finish the job, but Glen has disappeared.

Father Gabriel, meanwhile, finds a walker and says, "I'm ready." When the thing approaches, he ends up beheading it using the rope around its neck. Looks like this walker might have been hanged at some point. Then Gabriel falls to the ground and cries. Like a little girl. I'm not sure here but it seems to me that maybe he was going to kill himself, or let the walker finish him off, anyway, but at the last moment he fought back. It's good that he fought back, but I can't imagine what's going through his head. First he tells Deanna to kick Team Family out, then he tries to kill himself? And I really didn't have much respect for this guy to begin with, but what was left was lost when he curled into a fetal position in the mud and cried. Really?

Meanwhile, in the car and surrounded by walkers, Daryl and Aaron have a mini heart to heart. Daryl says that even in this besieged situation, he feels more like himself than he does inside Alexandria and isn't that messed up? Aaron just replies that at least he was trying. Daryl says he'll take one for the team and lead the walkers off (suicide mission) so that Aaron can get away. Aaron protests, but Daryl insists. Aaron then says that it's not acceptable and the two of them will fight their way through together. Just as they're about to go for it, someone kills the walkers on Aaron's side of the car and they have a route out. It turns out to be Morgan. (Yea!) The three of them make it successfully to a fence they can shut to separate themselves from the walkers. Aaron falls all over himself thanking Morgan, then invites him to Alexandria. Daryl asks why Morgan helped them, to which Morgan replies, "All life is precious." He declines going to Alexandria, saying that he's trying to get somewhere, but is lost. He then pulls out his map. You know, the one that has Abraham's writing and Rick's name on it? Daryl sees it and gives Morgan a knowing look.

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Back inside, Abraham goes to visit Tara, bearing flowers (aww!) but tries to leave when he sees Eugene is there. The two of them haven't talked since Eugene revealed that he lied about the cure and Abraham nearly beat him to death. Rosita convinces Abraham to stay because Eugene is dozing. As soon as he tries to sit down, she purposely drops a dish, waking Eugene. Eugene and Abraham talk about what happen, swapping apologies in a very macho, un-touchy-feely sort of way. I was glad they finally made up.

Michonne goes to talk to Rick again, and he tells her everything about he, Daryl, and Carol stealing the guns. He said he didn't bring her in on it because he didn't know how she'd react. She assures him that, while she wants to stay, she'll always be with him. She says something is bound to happen eventually, but she just doesn't want him to make something happen. 

Finally Father Gabriel returns and Spencer, Deanna's other son who is manning the gate, asks if he can come speak to Gabriel in a priest/parishoner capacity later on. Gabriel agrees and Spencer moves off, asking Gabriel to shut the door. Gabriel just casually throws the sliding door toward its closing position. It hits the wall and rebounds, coming to rest in a wide open position. Gabriel doesn't deign to notice. 

After talking with Michonne, Rick remembers Bob's words about nightmares ending while he gets ready to go to Deanna's meeting. Then he looks out the window, notices the gate is open, and runs to see what's happening. 

Outside, Glen and Nicholas fight again. This time Nicholas gets the upper hand. Glen ends up on the ground with three walkers practically on top of him, and Nicholas leaves him to die. 

Then comes the chaos of the climax. Rick finds blood on the gate, which means that something came through. He closes the gate and runs through Alexandria, looking for it. Gabriel gets back to the church, where Sasha sits with her gun. She says she cant' deal with what's in her head and asks him for help. He tells her not only can he not help her, but that Bob's death was her fault. She, of course, freaks out and attacks him. Yeah, he's being a totally douche, but I think once again he's trying to get someone else to kill him. He wants to die, but is too much of a coward to do it himself. Glen and Nicholas still wrestle outside the gates. We see these three things intercut many times with the meeting: Rick tracking and killing walkers inside the walls, Glen and Nicholas fighting, Sasha and Father Gabriel struggling, all while the meeting proceeds without any of them. Michonne, Carol, Abraham and Maggie all speak on behalf of Rick. It culminates with Rick being surrounded by walkers, Sasha ready to kill Gabriel with her gun, and Glen finally getting the upper hand against Nicholas, screaming at him that it was his fault Noah died. 

Abraham's touching speech on Rick's behalf (Source)
Meanwhile, outside, the man with the red poncho has been found, but not by Daryl and Aaron. The same two men who attacked Morgan at the beginning have him and slit his throat at the food factory. They then use a remote control to turn on music and direct the walkers inside, saying they need to "reset" the trap.

Inside, Maggie leaves the meeting in time to stop Sasha from killing Gabriel. They all pray together. Glen nearly kills a sobbing Nicholas (yeah, he's about on par with Gabriel in my head) but ultimately can't. Not sure how I felt about this decision. I was really hoping Nicholas would die, but then Glen is the only one left of the original five who've been in it since season 1 who hasn't killed a living person. Plenty of dead ones, but no living. Killing Nicholas would have profoundly changed Glen's character. Not necessarily for the worse, but still. While it was very in character for Glen not to kill him, which was nice, I would have been okay if it had gone the other way as well. He ultimately helps Nicholas limp back toward Alexandria. 

And Rick finally shows up at Deanna's meeting, carrying a dead walker over his shoulder. He throws it down and tells everyone it came through the gate on it's own. Spencer runs off to see about the gate. Rick says that both the living and the dead will continue to find their way inside the walls, simply by virtue of the fact that they (Team Family and the Alexandrians) are living inside. He said he was prepared to kill some of them to save their lives, but has decided against that. He says he will teach them to survive, and that they are the ones who will have to change. 

Then Pete shows up, wielding Michonne's sword and says that Rick isn't one of them. When Reg pushes Pete back, trying to stop him, Pete (accidentally, somehow) slits Reg's throat. Abraham tackles Pete and holds him down. Deanna screams as her husband dies in her arms. She looks up at Rick and says, "Do it." Rick shoots Pete. 

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Just then he hears his name and looks up. Daryl, Aaron and Morgan all stand there, looking at him.

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The end.

Aww man! Stupid Walking Dead that makes us care so much!

Okay, some theories. As I thought, the wolves are a major set up for next season. They'll be dealing with these wolves probably all of season 6, as they no doubt make their way to Alexandria's walls eventually. 

Some things that didn't happen: I really thought, and kinda hoped, that Nicholas and Father Gabriel would die, which they didn't. Obviously. It's not that I particularly care that they're still alive, but I think the finale would have been more satisfying if they one of them had.

Me when neither Gabriel nor Nicholas died. Source
Also, there was some talk just in the few hours before the finale aired that Glen might die. On the one hand, I really didn't think so. There hasn't been much foreshadowing of that. At least, not for this episode. Next season possibly, but not tonight. On the other hand, that would have been super shocking for the finale, so I was mildly worried. I'm glad Glen's still with us! :D

Mirror Theory: The mirror theory says that season five, parts a and b mirror each other. The hinge of the mirror would have been between episodes 8 and 9. That's why they had a death on either side (Beth and Tyrese). A few episodes out either way and you have Noah and Bob's deaths. In the first episodes we had a ton of great reunions after Terminus, so people were hoping there would be some great reunions in this episode to mirror episode 1. Now, there was Rick and Morgan, but that was less a reunion and more a see-each-other-and-gasp sort of thing. And there really weren't any others. So that aspect of the mirror theory didn't really pan out, though there are definitely some parallels.

Quick note on Beth: I promised if she didn't show in the finale, I'd quit talking theories of her return, and I will. I'm sad we didn't see her. There are people who think she may still show up next season. After all there is a lot of precedent for seemingly deceased characters returning a season later (Merle, the Governor, Morgan) and I'm all for it, but I'll admit I don't have nearly the hope of seeing her now than I did for seeing her this season.

Two things I WILL say: 

1) The music box. I still think there's a good chance that symbolizes Beth, and the finale made a point of showing Carl and Judith looking at the singing/dancing music box. If that does represent Beth, then she's alive and well somewhere. It has to represent something, right? And I can't imagine what else it would be.


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2) The timeline would make more sense if she didn't show until next season. There were people who theorizes she would show up in episode 12 or 13 and I never bought that. The finale I could have believed, but 12 was too early. If the music box springing back to life does represent her waking up, no way she could have made a 500 mile journey that took Team Family more than three weeks in a few days. Granted, we're talking about her surviving a head shot, so maybe "realistic" isn't the best word for me to be using, but that timeline just wouldn't have been plausible. If she finds her way to them weeks or months later, that would make more sense.

So, I will continue to harbor a hope that we'll see her again, but I won't be holding my breath from episode to episode like I have this season. I've accepted that we might not (even probably won't) see her again and that's okay. I wish we would, but I still love TWD and will continue to watch my favorite show and characters.

All that said, there are still a TON of unanswered questions, and not just concerning Beth. We still haven't seen her funeral or what happened directly post-Grady, but it's more than that. We kept hearing this season about how they were playing with time and there would be some massive time reset in the second half of the season. Other than some non-chronological story telling, which happened almost entirely in the first half of the season, we really didn't see that. And that's not a theory. It's something that both the writers and the actors (Andrew Lincoln, specifically) mentioned. So, was that a load of crap, or are they really not gonna let us in on the joke until next season? And what was all the "both sides of the truth" and "the truth is not what it seems" promotions about? I kept thinking the finale would be 90 minutes because there was going to be this big reveal that would show complete deception on the writer's part. But...not so much.

Don't get me wrong, I really loved the finale for what was in it. Lots of tension and suspense, and great setup for next season. (7 months away! Aww man!) But there were so many unanswered questions that in a lot of ways the finale was as unsatisfying for me as it was satisfying. 

I'm also wondering how Morgan will react to seeing Rick kill Pete. He seemed shocked, and not in a good way. He told Daryl that all life is precious, and I wonder if he's going to be less than impressed with this new Rick. On the other hand, he beat the snot out of the two wolves who attacked him at the beginning, so maybe he'll be sympathetic given Pete's abuse of his family and the death of Reg. I hope Morgan hangs around to be part of the group for a while, but maybe he won't want to stay. On the other hand, Morgan could be the new Hershel, serving as Rick's moral conscience to keep him grounded through the coming battle with the wolves. Not to mention, Morgan has total Yoda fighting skills, which may come in handy. Can't wait until next season to see.

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What did you think of the finale? What do you think is in store for next season?

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