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SEASON FINALE REVIEW: The Walking Dead 5×16 “Conquer”

Written by Alex Reale

I’m already accepting the fact that I will get a lot of flack for this review, but I can’t help how I feel. With such a strong opening to this season, and a fairly consistent track record, I figured tonight’s finale of The Walking Dead would be mind-blowing. While it was definitely entertaining for the most part, it wasn’t as good as last season’s finale. (spoilers ahead!)

The beginning of this episode was outstanding. Lennie James is back as Morgan, still making his way across the country to catch up with Rick. A man with a W carved into his forehead attempts to rob Morgan, but not before he explains the meaning of his brand. As we’ve been speculating for months, the W does indeed stand for Wolves, who appear to be a group of marauders that dismember their victims and leave their personal insignia on their foreheads. The robber says he’s going to take Morgan with them, which I’m guessing means that he’ll take them back to the Wolves as a slave or errand-boy. As another man jumps out of the brush to ambush Morgan, he takes up his walking stick and easily defeats both of his would-be assailants. I don’t even care if it seemed like something you’d find in a Jason Statham movie; the scene was awesome. Morgan may become the new group muscle in upcoming seasons.

After his fight with Pete last episode, Rick is kept in a holding cell with Michonne watching over him. Carol and Abraham join him and the group has a discussion regarding Rick’s erratic behavior. The people of Alexandria are planning to have a forum to talk about what happened and how they will deal with the situation. Rick casually tells his group of a strategy that consists of holding citizens hostage so that they can gain access to the armory. On one hand, Carol seems to be supportive of Rick’s aggressive stance, while Michonne takes the opposite approach and attempts to keep Rick level-headed. It’s interesting seeing the two sides try their hardest to win Rick over; it’s like a darker version of that cartoon trope where a character has a little angel and devil on their shoulders. The best part of the scene was Rick’s nonchalant attitude towards it all. He just gives his idea and then tells everyone to leave so that he can sleep. He doesn’t even give it a second thought anymore.

One of my least favorite moments of the show involved Sasha creating a pit filled with slaughtered walkers and then lying in it. That’s the entire scene. It made no sense. We all know that Sasha is slowly losing her mind, but this was so bizarre. I’m not entirely sure what this is meant to signify besides maybe her desire to be amongst the dead? We don’t see much of Sasha again until the end of the episode when she goes to the chapel to confront Father Gabriel.

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Father Gabriel is not quite as crazy as Sasha yet, but he’s getting there. He leaves Alexandria and goes for a walk (which I thought was strange that the community was okay with this). He encounters a walker and lures it toward him as if to sacrifice himself. At the last moment, Father G kills the walker and breaks down into a sobbing mess. I’m curious as to whether he intended to do this all along, or if he was really considering turning into walker chow and had a change of heart at the last minute. I’m assuming it’s the latter due to his strict moral code against killing, but it still slightly baffles me.

Plenty of people wanted to see Father Gabriel bite the dust tonight. I stick by my notion that he’s an amazing character who I love to hate. I’m glad he survived tonight’s finale, though I think his time is coming soon. His whole thing was that he was a silent villain against Rick’s group. Now that they’re aware of his betrayal, they may want to exile him or straight-up have him executed. Father G might be next on the chopping block.

Aaron and Daryl go on another recruiting mission to a fenced warehouse packed with big rig trailers. They figure they can get some canned goods from these trailers, but when they go to open them, a trap is sprung and an army of walkers emerge. Aaron and Daryl hide out in a parked car, and just when you think they’re about to meet their makers, Morgan shows up to save the day! A little too convenient if you ask me, but I don’t care because Morgan kicks ass. There was also an awesome shot of Daryl using a chain to go Ghost Rider on a trio of walkers.

This raid/recruiting mission was important to the plot in more ways than one. Not only did it lead to Daryl and Aaron finally meeting up with Morgan, but it also gave us another glimpse at the Wolves. Apparently, this is their home-base, and they’re not too happy about people breaking into the compound. Later on that night, after Daryl, Morgan, and Aaron are gone, one of the marauders picks up a discarded bag and finds pictures of Rick and Carl. Uh-oh.

Nicholas and Glenn have a score to settle. The two end up in a violent struggle in the woods, which almost leads to both of their deaths. However, Glenn being the kind, merciful guy that he is, spares Nicholas and helps him back to Alexandria. Glenn may be a nice guy who’s willing to give people a third chance, but I think this will lead to his downfall. Nicholas deserved to die. He wouldn’t have hesitated to leave Glenn in the woods. He’s toxic to Alexandria and to anybody who’s around him. If we find out by next season that he’s caused another death, I’m just going to shake my head and say “I told you so!”

Let’s wrap up this review with more talk about Rick. As he ponders his life decisions, he notices the gate to the community is open. It turns out that when Father Gabriel came back from his casual stroll, he didn’t properly shut the gate all the way. This leads to a walker infiltrating Alexandria and almost causing a panic. Rick kills the walker and tosses it into the middle of the meeting. He gives one of his trademark speeches and essentially reiterates his point that his group only survived this long because of his leadership and that Alexandria won’t survive without heeding his advice.

For a moment, you think Deanna will simply brush off his ramblings, until Pete makes an appearance wielding Michonne’s sword. Deanna’s husband Reg goes to calm him down and gets his throat slit. As Deanna mourns over his corpse, you see the realization dawn on her that Rick was right all along. She tells him to “do it”, and watches as Constable Grimes gives the first execution of Alexandria, all while sporting a smarmy expression that just says “I win.” Not a minute later, Morgan, Daryl, and Aaron show up. End of episode, end of season.

A lot of people say they thought this was the best finale yet. I’m sorry, but while I did like it, it was a little underwhelming. For a finale that was extended to an hour and a half, you’d think they would’ve gone all out. I hope that the show hasn’t peaked yet. There’s a long way to go for all of our characters.

Final Grade: B +

Final Season Grade: A –

+ Morgan’s entire role this episode was awesome.

+ I enjoyed seeing the completion of Rick’s transformation into a psycho.

+ I loved Michonne’s scene after the credits when she dons her sword.

– I’m not a fan of Glenn letting Nicholas live; it goes completely against what Rick is trying to establish and seems uncharacteristic.

– I didn’t understand Sasha’s whole “sleeping in the walker pit” shtick.

– The episode overall was underwhelming; I enjoyed last season’s finale much more.

Extra Thought:

– I wonder what will happen to Nicholas; maybe he’ll be executed or exiled for his cowardice?

What did you think of the finale? Did you love it or hate it? Tell us what you think 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!

1 Comment

  • The sasha lying in the pit mirrored Michonne’s own descent into walking among the dead and being part of them. I get those examples as the feeling of being on auto pilot and feral in a dead world. I got the symbolism and its a theme that the writers are trying to promote in the story.

    I thought the sword slash was comical and really forced. There is no way one can accidentally slice the throat of another with a katana the way Pete did. It was just laughable. I suppose they used Michonne’s katana to illustrate a point that in anyone else’s hands, the sword is cursed and kills innocents (such as Herschel). Michonne has to carry that sword to keep it from being used against others.

    The walkers still are able to pin a person down. That totally drives me nuts and also looks fake. I can see several of them, but one of them? It’s too much for me to suspend disbelief.

    My favorite part of the show was Rick’s dispassionate and blank look as he shot Pete, whcih I think mirrored the scene of him going to sleep after talking to the group in his holding cell. It seems anymore that violence and killing are not a moral issue, and he doesn’t wrestle with the weight of it. Glenn is the contrast – he still refuses to just take a life, even if it immediately threatens him. Killing and Death are still weighty issues for his brand of morality.