The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer”

The season finale of The Walking Dead is intense.

Hold on to your butts, because the finale of TWD’s season 5 is freaking intense. Stuff, and things, happen, Carl.  The episode opens with Morgan waking up in a car, fresh-faced and well-rested thanks to the lucky rabbit’s foot charm (and possibly his excellent survival skills and riot gear). He gets up and makes a cuppa, only to be approached by an armed man with a W drawn on his forehead. They exchange greetings, and the man explains about the W, telling a story about when there was a bounty on wolves and how the native people were talked into hunting them to near extinction.  He says the wolves are back now, and we realise that, despite some witty banter, he is part of a gang rounding people up, killing them and taking their stuff. The man intends to take Morgan but Morgan won’t allow that. Another guy jumps out of the bushes, and they fight – Morgan is like a zen master and bo staffs them into submission.  He takes out a stray walker, carefully cleaning his staff, before dumping the Wolves in a car and making his exit (he takes the lucky rabbit’s foot with him).

Back in Alexandria, Rick wakes in bed, his face bandaged nicely and he has a chuckle to himself. Michonne is there and asks him what’s so funny. He tries to explain (badly). Some of the group arrive to check on him, and Carol pretends that Rick is the only one with a gun and hides the fact that it was a plan between her, Rick and Daryl. She tells Rick to make up a story when he needs to explain himself at the town meeting, because the townsfolk are like children and children like stories.  Carol is keen for a takeover, and Rick makes a plan – Michonne and Glenn are pretty disappointed.

Maggie speaks to Deanna about Rick, but Deanna is resolute that the meeting will go ahead. Maggie tells Deanna that she is not being a good leader. Reg makes a point about how cavemen died out because they were nomadic, and that civilisation means living together – he assures Maggie that he will speak against exile.

Sasha ferries the walkers she has killed to a big pit in the forest. I wonder if this is some kind of closure for her, until she gets into the pit and lays down on top of the walkers. I suddenly realise she thinks of herself as dead now, that she is one of them. Remember Rick saying earlier in the season that they’d need to consider themselves that until they were safe? Seems Sasha took that to heart big time.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

Daryl and Aaron are tracking, and they discuss what happened with the previous people who were exiled. Aaron feels responsible for bringing in bad people and resolves not to do it again.

Carol wakes Rick and talks to him about what happened last night; she thinks they have more cover, that the townspeople will be lulled into a false sense of security because Rick’s been “found out” – she gives him a new gun. Rick is feeling uncertain about it all now, especially after talking to Michonne. Carol is pretty patronising.

Daryl and Aaron find the guy they were tracking, wearing a red poncho, and follow him.  Rick leaves his house, and goes down the street. Toban and his friends greet him but let him go unmolested.  Deanna watches on impassively.

In another part of the town, Nicholas is watching Glenn; the ominous music indicates he’s definitely out to get him. Maggie comes out to see Glenn and tells him she is trying to get a diplomatic solution to the Rick problem.  I start worrying that Nicholas will do something to her – we did see Glenn crying in the promo last week! She leaves, and then Glenn sees Nicholas climbing the fence.  He is understandably suspicious, but I wonder, did Nicholas do that in Glenn’s view on purpose, to lure him out?

Gabriel decides to go out for a walk, dressed in white like her is some kind of prophet. Spencer offers him a gun, but Gabriel reckons the word of God is the only protection he needs. We’ll see how that goes.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

Rick returns to the house, and tells Carl “you’re staying home” and Carl says, “that’s what it is now, right? Home?” Rick realises that yes, he does want it to be home. Carl wants Rick to make the townspeople understand what he was trying to say in his crazy ramblings last night – just not in such a whackjob way.

Daryl and Aaron lose sight of the red poncho guy but find a warehouse that appears to be full of food trailers. There are some cans on strings hanging about the place, but no one else notices which I find particularly annoying. Daryl sees scratches on one of the trailers and just as I’m saying to the screen “no, wait, it’s a trap”, they open one trailer and it sets off a tripwire that opens the rest and a literal horde of walkers shamble out. Daryl and Aaron flee, cutting a swathe through the herd; Daryl smashing walkers with a chain, and Aaron decapitating them with his latest license plate acquisition. They make it to a car and clamber in. While looking for something to block the walkers’ view, Aaron finds a note inside that says “Trap. Bad people coming. Don’t stay.” Argh, I can’t handle this!!

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

There is a knock at Pete’s door, and it’s Carol. She’s come bearing threats and a casserole. She thrusts her knife at Pete and tries to provoke him into attacking her. He backs down, and when she leaves, he rails against his situation, smashing stuff and yelling “this isn’t my house!”

Glenn is out in the forest following Nicholas into what is clearly a trap. He here’s a twig snap, and when he looks up, he’s shot in the arm. Nicholas runs to the spot where Glenn was, but Glenn has gotten away. A forest pursuit is about to begin.

Rick goes to see Jessie, who after a little hesitation confesses that she thinks Rick was right (presumably about pretty much everything he said last night). He leaves, but Pete was watching, so you know that won’t end well.

Daryl and Aaron are still trapped in the car, and Daryl is bemused by the situation – he felt claustrophobic in the town, and even here trapped in a car, he feels more like himself.  Aaron tells him he how he knows Daryl’s group were good people.  Daryl decides to hold the walkers off while Aaron escapes. Aaron says they should do it together. These guys are such good buds! They are about to make a break for it when Morgan arrives in the nick of time and is cutting down walkers with his staff like he’s reaping wheat. Morgan is more of a priest than Gabriel is, despite the collar. He’s like a priest from a fantasy game, calm but imbued with a righteous strength. I love it!  Aaron and Daryl try to get Morgan to come with them, but he says he’s headed somewhere, though he is lost and needs to know where he is. He pulls out a map – and it’s Rick’s map with the note saying to find him. Yay, reunion time!

Back near the road with Gabriel, he’s whistling and thinking he’s ready to die. A walker comes at him (which had been feasting on someone), and he suddenly changes his mind, decapitating the walker very slowly by way of a noose around its neck. He smashes its head with a rock, then does the same courtesy for the poor, dying man who was recently the walker’s latest meal. Gabriel has not a spot of blood on him, and he curls up in the dirt and sobs.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

Abraham comes to visit Tara, but sees Eugene and is too chicken to face him. Rosita assures Abraham that Eugene is asleep, so Abraham quietly sits down. Rosita “accidentally” drops a pan on the ground to wake Eugene up. They talk and finally apologise to each other, and make up. YAY!

Gabriel returns and Spencer asks if he can talk to him later about the death of his brother, Aidan. He needs to get to the meeting, so he asks Gabriel to shut the gate. Which Gabriel doesn’t. Geez! Who or what will get in later – you know someone or something will.

Nicholas is trying to find Glenn, when Glenn gets the jump on him. They fight viciously and then Glenn is mobbed by walkers. Glenn, nooooo!

Ricks confesses the gun stealing plan to Michonne, who forgives him and tells him she thinks the town life will work. He just needs to not make something bad happen. She lets him keep the gun, then leaves for the meeting, telling him to not be too long.  He remembers some things Morgan had said to him a while back, about coming out the other end of being bad to survive; and how out there is just a nightmare, not the real world. Rick looks ready to accept his new life, but then sees the gate is partially open. He runs to check and notices skin and blood on it – from a walker – and realises the town is in trouble. He starts looking for it.

Sasha goes to Gabriel for forgiveness and guidance, but he rejects her vehemently. The town meeting begins without Rick there, despite Maggie and the others trying to delay it. Meanwhile Nicholas is making his way back home in the dark, clearly thinking Glenn is done for.  Rick is running through the town, still trying to find the walker.  He follows the sound of dogs barking.

Sasha tells Gabriel she thinks she wants to die, and he tells her she doesn’t deserve to be there.  He blames Sasha for the death of Bob and tries to provoke her into killing him. Rick finds the walker and takes it out. Back at the meeting, Michonne speaks on Rick’s behalf.

The scenes switch back and forth quickly: Rick realises there is more than one walker, and struggles to kill the last one in what must be the slowest walker kill of the entire show. Meanwhile Sasha and Gabriel fight for control of her gun.  Glenn finds Nicholas, and is understandably furious. Carol continues her charade of being a helpless housewife, but suggests the group listen to what he was saying.  By the way, the Wolves have the poncho guy.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

Abraham and Maggie speak up for Rick and the rest of their group at the meeting, and finally Deanna tells the townsfolk what Gabriel said about them being dangerous and not trustworthy. Jessie calls her out, saying that Gabriel isn’t there, so it’s just hearsay.  Maggie excuses herself from the meeting.

The next sequence includes a fast switch back and forth between Glenn and Nicholas, and Sasha and Gabriel. Glenn has his gun pressed to Nicholas’ forehead, while he begs and pleads to live. Conversely we see Sasha with her gun trained on Gabriel, while he begs and pleads to die.

Back at the warehouse, the Wolves slit the poncho guy’s throat and lure the walker herd back into the trailers with loud music and flashing lights. Clearly they will be the big threat to deal with next season!

Toban begins to speak about just wanting his family to be safe, when Rick arrives and dumps the freshly killed walker into the circle in a very dramatic entrance. He speaks to the group, basically saying everything he said last night but in a much more calm and far less crazy way. Maggie stops Sasha from shooting him. He wants to die, he confesses it’s his fault all his people died, and Maggie acknowledges that, then takes his hand. Glenn also doesn’t shoot Nicholas, and helps him back to town.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

Rick warns the the town that there will always be a threat because of what they have.  His monologue continues while we see short scenes of different characters: Carl playing with Judith (is that Maggie’s music box?), Tara finally waking up. We also see the Wolves going through photos which show the town and its people (including one of Rick and Carl). They must’ve taken it from Aaron’s backpack that got lost along the way, during their escape.

Just as Rick seems to be getting the crowd on-side, Pete bursts in brandishing Michonne’s sword. Reg tries to stop him and Pete cuts his throat – whether on purpose or not, it’s hard to say, but the effect is the same. Deanna is enraged and beset with grief – how many loved ones does she have to lose this week! – she looks at Rick and says “do it”. Rick turns and shoots Pete without hesitation. Just then we hear a voice, “Rick?” and Rick turns to see Morgan, flanked by Aaron and Daryl, arriving on the scene in utter disbelief at what just happened.

The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 Review: “Conquer” - n3rdabl3

So there you have it, season 5 is wrapped up, with the mysteries of Morgan and the Wolves mostly answered. But things are definitely at a dangerous point, with the Wolves only some 50 miles away. I expect Rick will need to teach the town a thing or two about survival in the season ahead, after he explains himself to Morgan, that is.

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