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REVIEW: The Walking Dead 5×14 “Spend”

Written by Alex Reale

Even if you didn’t think tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was awesome, then you have to admit that it at least provided us with enough meme-fodder to last us through the end of the year. I would even call it the best episode since the show’s return from mid-season break. (spoilers ahead!)

A question that has been on everybody’s minds over the past few weeks is, “Where the hell is Father Gabriel?” Even I was a bit perplexed as to his mysterious absence after the group entered Alexandria. Father Gabriel actually opened up tonight’s episode with a powerful scene that wonderfully illustrated his descent into madness during the zombie apocalypse. Not only that, but it seemed to demonstrate the possible decline in his faith and his overall stance on religion in the current world.

Notice how Father Gabriel is still wearing his priest uniform. It’s okay to assume that he had additional outfits when he was back at the church, but the group has been on the road for weeks. We don’t see Father Gabriel carrying baggage, nor do we witness him changing his outfit. It’s strange how he is so adamant about keeping his priestly garments on him at all times. Could this be because he still believes in God and hopes for salvation? Alternatively, what if he only wears the outfit to give off a false appearance of someone who can be trusted and accepted? If you think about it, in a world of the walking dead and marauders and savages, who would look twice at a priest? Father Gabriel could be using this disguise to earn the trust of others, and then manipulate them, as shown in the last scenes of the episode.

While Rick is on patrol in Alexandria, he stops by Jessie’s house, where he discovers that someone has destroyed her artwork. Rick wants to find the culprit and bring him to justice, either because of his moral obligation to enforcing the law, or because he really wants to get in Jessie’s pants. Maybe a little bit of both?

This subplot intertwines with Carol’s role in the episode. Jessie’s son, Sam, sneaks into Carol’s home and pesters her to teach him how to make cookies. Carol is very stand-offish and rude to the boy, which is fairly understandable considering that this was the same kid she threatened to tie to a tree and leave for walker-bait in the last episode. I was really, really annoyed with Sam’s nosy and inquisitive manner until his last conversation with Carol, where he asks for a gun to protect himself. Sam runs out of the house before he can elaborate, and Carol follows him home. She asks his father, Pete, about what happened, but he is very dismissive and closes the door in her face. That’s when things get real.

Carol tells Rick that Pete is abusing his family. Carol has lived many years with an abusive husband, so she knows the tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship. Instead of telling Rick to just bring up the issue with Deanna or to handle it civilly, she tells him that the only way to solve the problem is to kill Pete.

Whoa, there. Let’s take a step back. You may be thinking “Hey now, abusers don’t need to be killed, do they?” As I’ve mentioned before, Carol was in an abusive relationship before; she knows what it’s like to live in constant fear by someone who you thought you loved. Jessie and Sam are already fearing for their lives in a walker-infested world. They don’t deserve to also be afraid of coming home to Pete. In addition to this, Carol has gone full psycho the last several years. It’s not out of line for her to go the extreme route and suggest Rick kill Pete. The best part is that Rick seems fine with it! He doesn’t freak out or threaten to rat on Carol. By the end of the episode, he looks like he’s all for it. Perhaps he sees it as an excuse to eliminate the last barrier between him and Jessie?

Of course, I can’t glaze over the most shocking part of the episode. Glenn, Tara, Eugene, Noah, Aiden, and Nicholas venture out into the wild to get power supplies for Alexandria. In an abandoned warehouse, Aiden accidentally shoots a grenade on a zombie in riot gear, causing an explosion that impales him on an exposed bar and knocks out Tara. The group tries to save Aiden, but Nicholas abandons him and runs for it. Glenn and co. do the same when they realize they can’t rescue him.

Eugene, who has been a pain in the ass for a while and the black sheep of the group, finally steps up to the plate in this episode. He’s been trying to prove himself ever since he revealed that he doesn’t have a cure for the walker epidemic. In an act of uncharacteristic courage, he throws the unconscious Tara over his shoulder and shoots his way to safety. On the other side of the warehouse, Nicholas, Glenn, and Noah get trapped in a revolving door with walkers surrounding them. All hope seems lost until Eugene shows up in the group van, blasting music and honking the horn to distract the walkers long enough for his companions to escape. Nicholas, once again only caring for himself instead of the safety of his group, escapes the revolving door, which causes Noah to be eaten by the walkers.

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I hated Noah ever since his first appearance. I wanted nothing more than for him to be gone. But I still have to say that his death hit me hard. Glenn’s reaction of punching Nicholas into pulp seemed totally justified, but if I was him, I probably wouldn’t have stopped hitting him. He could’ve gotten away with putting a bullet in his head, and that would’ve been fine in my book. Luckily, Glenn decided that it was important for the group to get back to Alexandria as soon as possible with no more casualties.

Nicholas’s reaction may have revealed a hidden flaw in the Alexandria community mindset. Everyone works together to survive, but when %$&# hits the fan, it’s every man for himself. So it appears that Alexandria is based on a warped sense of “survival-of-the-fittest” intertwined with very light socialism. This may seem oxymoronic, but this episode proved how it’s entirely possible in a post-zombie apocalypse world, and how deadly it can be to society.

Finally, I have to mention Father Gabriel’s last scene when he confronts Deanna and tells her not to trust Rick’s group. He uses his religious background as leverage to explain how Rick is Satan infiltrating Paradise and that the guests should be removed from the community. Who would’ve thought that a priest would be such a scumbag? But then again, Father Gabriel is the same guy who locked his townspeople out of his church during the apocalypse. We can only hope that he gets his comeuppance.

There was a lot going on in tonight’s episode. I loved almost every minute of it and I’m glad the show is finally picking up the pace again. It’s just a shame that the season is ending in two more weeks. I’m hoping that the finale blows our minds and shows us a different side of both Alexandria and Rick’s group.

Final Grade: A –

+ Father Gabriel is a character you love to hate; Seth Gilliam‘s performance is golden as always.

+ I’m loving Carol’s evolution into a ruthless killer.

+ Eugene is finally proving his worth to the group.

 

– In Aiden’s dying breaths, he muttered something incoherent to Nicholas. I couldn’t understand a word he said.

– It looks like The Walking Dead is trying to constantly keep us surprised by killing off characters. While this definitely gets a reaction, there are only so many characters you can slaughter before it becomes predictable and boring. Main characters should be killed sparingly.

 

What were your thoughts on tonight’s episode? Were you sad to see Noah go? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!