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TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale (Episode 516 “Conquer”)
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The Walking Dead Episode 516 Conquer Walking Dead Season 5 finale Aaron and Daryl

The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 16 “Conquer” (Season 5 Finale)
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohen, Norman Reedus, Michael Traynor, Tovah Feldshuh, Michael Cudlitz, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Major Dodson, Alexandra Breckenridge, Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt
AMC
Air Date: March 29, 2015

Warning – Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale – Episode 516 “Conquer.”

For tonight’s Season 5 finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead, the showrunners promised us blood. They promised us loss. And we got both of those things in Episode 516 “Conquer.” But, for this final installment of the season, we also saw redemption, forgiveness, and enlightenment, as well as a look at some of the real horrors that await the residents — both original and new — of the Alexandria Safe Zone.

It’s well known that fans of The Walking Dead have every intension of rioting if one of the main, fan-favorite characters dies. The show has made it a habit of shockingly killing off some of the beloved people who we’re just not ready to say good-bye to. Thankfully, for the season finale, they didn’t pull that gimmick. Instead, we see the culmination and resolution of some of the biggest, most contentious relationships and situations of this season.

First up – Rick (Andrew Lincoln). He’s been the group’s fearless leader for five seasons now. But last week, he basically lost his shit. He threw diplomacy out the window when he through wife-abuser Peter out a window and pummeled his face in, and then waved a stolen gun around at the Safe Zone residents. He was trying to explain to them that they were in danger from those outside their walls – both alive and undead — who will harm them. While what he was saying was correct, how he was trying to stress his point was what was wrong and what was scared the residents. This is what Maggie (Lauren Cohen), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Michonne (Danai Gurira) tried to explain at the evening’s town meeting, where all the residents gathered to talk about Rick’s behavior. The way things were going, it seemed like the residents and their leader (Tovah Feldshuh) were going to decide to exile Rick. But, so much more was happening in this episode that ended up being part of the process that would dictate events.

We saw Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) dragging dead Walkers into a pit, where she then willingly laid down right on top of them, arms outstretched, eyes closed. Her journey has led her here, where she feels dead already. We then saw Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) out in the woods and the end result to their altercation was really quite something; same thing with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and those who he comes up against — it seemed like this man is really off the deep edge and won’t be able to hide it much longer. Matter of fact, the entire theme of this season has been about the characters finally reaching their breaking points. Rick’s group has held it together for so long, mainly by maintaining their commitment to each other as more than just a group of survivors, but as a family. This dynamic is what attracted the scout Aaron (Ross Marquand) to them, making him want to bring them into the fold at the Safe Zone. He saw in them people who do what they have to do to survive, but not if it means sacrificing someone else. They are strong and moral. They are what’s needed to help the people at the Safe Zone survive.

And now Aaron, along with Daryl (Norman Reedus), is out scouting for more people to being back to the Safe Zone. Aaron and Daryl spot a man in a red poncho; Daryl wants to approach him, while Aaron would rather move along to the food depot to bring back food for anyone they might recruit. The consequences of this decision comes into play several times in this episode. We also see what stuff Daryl is made of in this finale.

A surprise in this episode was the welcomed return of Morgan (Lenny James), who we saw first in Season 1 and then again earlier in Season 5. In the finale, he seems a changed man, like he’s found his zen. I think we all wanted so badly for him and Rick to meet up again and lead the new world! Several scenes with Morgan are revealing, including his encounter with one of the “Wolves,” who we see here are worse than we thought. Season 6 is going to be terrifying!

The first half of Season 5 was Rick and his group just trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, with no home base and dwindling supplies. The second half saw them protected inside the walls of the Alexandria Safe Zone, but Rick just couldn’t stay at ease. His gut told him they were not safe, for whatever reason. Of course, he was right, and these last few episodes have slowly revealed what evil lurks.

This season finale might be the best one yet for The Walking Dead because it did give us many resolutions for the characters, for those who were fighting, for those with inner conflicts, and for those on the road, as well as the partial at least revelation of the new danger out there, which seems to be far beyond the horrors faced at The Governor’s communities and at Terminus. No gimmicks, no shockers, no riots. Pure perfection.

Episode 516 Image Gallery

Video

Sneak Peek: Episode 516: The Walking Dead: Conquer:


Don’t miss the next episode of The Walking Dead, Sun., March 29th at 9/8c.

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