And Out Come the Wolves: Walking Dead Season 5 Finale

Old faces return for the finale It’s the night every fan of The Walking Dead equally loves and dreads: the season finale. However, unlike other seasons, this time the fans were treated to an extra half hour of The Walking Dead. This extra half an hour gave us more time for build up and character development. It wasn’t the shot of a cannon finale that we are generally treated to. It was, in a way, a more leisurely stroll leading to the final moments of last night’s finish. By leisurely, I’m not implying easy, simply that the writers took their time to build up tension, to draw it out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, I found myself feeling a certain level of anticipation that felt oddly unresolved with tonight’s conclusion. That’s not to say it was bad. It’s easy to let our expectations drive our emotions leading to either a sense of fulfillment or disappointment and at the conclusion, I found myself somewhere in between. More on that later. The opening sequence of the finale accomplishes two things. We get our first look at The Wolves: a seemingly rogue group of scavengers who ruthlessly take what they want, leaving no survivors in their wake. More importantly, Morgan is finally front and center. Throughout the season, we are painfully teased with glimpses of Morgan following Rick’s trail. More interesting, though, is the transformation from the crazed Morgan of season three to the zen-like, Caine from Kung Fu personality that is seen now.  As much as I enjoy some of the mystery and unanswered questions surrounding The Walking Dead, I am very curious to see his journey Morgan took from heartbroken, crazed loner to the stick-wielding badass he is now. Following the brief introduction to The Wolves in the opening sequence, a larger glimpse is provided as to what the residents of Alexandria will have to face in the upcoming future. While chasing a stranger in a red parka, Daryl and Aaron are lead to a seemingly abandoned food warehouse. There, they not only lose the one they were following, but fall into a trap of walkers stowed away in trailers of semis. Whether to protect their base of operations, to lure unsuspecting victims to them, or a little of both, this new band of people have devised an intricate system to ensure they get, and keep, what they want. I’m not going to lie, the corralling of the walkers back into the trailers using lights and loud music made me think a little. Was the simple act of being drawn to loud noises and flashing lights enough to lure them in so quickly? For it seemed almost an immediate response. Or, is there enough left beyond basic brain stem function to allow for a simple Pavlovian conditioning? Either way, what is seen of The Wolves points to trouble for the residents of Alexandria. Especially now that they are in possession of Aaron’s recruitment photos. Two main events on the finale centered around a central theme. A theme that saved not only the group’s future in the town, it saved lives and Alexandria as a whole. This central message was no matter what dark paths life leads us down, our humanity can and will pull us from it if we allow it to. The first event that highlighted this was Rick’s potential expulsion from the community.  Having occurred after the well-deserved brutal beating of Steve, aka “Porchdick.” It was, to the naive residents of Alexandria, a savagery on a level they had not seen. The walls have provided not only a nice barrier from walkers, but a blindfold as to how the outside world has truly changed. Humanity is in ruins, it’s fight or flight, but even flight can get you killed. Best intentions are not enough, there is little room for grey areas in this new world. Walkers are a nuisance, like a mosquito.  It’s the people you needed to watch out for. Rick tried explaining it to the residents of Alexandria, his already frayed patience ready to sever as his words fall on deaf ears. His decision to take the town, kill who he needs to, seems logical to him because that’s what the world outside has taught him. Yet, in a moment of need, when discovering the gates were left open allowing walkers to enter, he changes his tune. The Ricktatorship will be alive and well, but without the final Governor-like brutality he thought it would take to do so. Secondly, we have the final stand-off between Glenn and Nicholas. After the fateful events at the warehouse, and Nicholas’ cowardice resulting in death, Glenn essentially laid down the law (part words, part fists). Not taking to it kindly, Nicholas lures Glenn into a trap in the woods outside the town’s walls in order to kill him. After struggling not only with Nicholas while sporting a gunshot wound, not to mention several walkers, Glenn is ultimately victorious. The perfect opportunity arises for Glenn to give Nicholas the final justice that, given his crimes, could be argued as appropriate. Yet again, it is at the last moment that Glenn also fully realizes how weak and naive these people are; sparing Nicholas and bringing him back to town. I guess you could go one step further and add Maggie pulling Sasha off the ledge of her own plunge into darkness prior to killing Father Gabriel, fits into the model of your inner humanity saving you. Gabriel, oh Gabriel. This is a man unto himself. He is a coward and that cowardice leads him to project his own guilt on the group. Using what they have done in their weary travels as a means to demonize them and take the weight of his own guilt off his shoulders. However, there is only so much projection one can do before guilt’s heavy hand crushes you under its weight.  Gabriel tries to get himself killed, first by the walker, then by provoking Sasha. Even in this, Gabriel remains a coward. He’d rather let his death be the result of others than take responsibility for it himself. Which, in a strange way, fulfills his own thoughts on Rick and the group being the bad guys. Overall, the season five finale was very good. The one thing I enjoyed the most, and the biggest surprise to me, was that it avoided killing off any major characters. The Walking Dead had seemingly fallen into a pattern of killing someone off to provide shock value. There was a lot of speculation prior to the airing about who would potentially die this episode. What was nicely done with the finale is that there were several scenes that did nothing to dissuade the viewer from thinking that a character death was exactly what was going to happen. This is what I alluded to earlier about expectation. It was nice to see that deviation from the routine, but at the same time, when it isn’t there, there’s a moment of mild disappointment. I mean very mild. Again, the expectation. If anything, for a lack of a better word, we found ourselves with a happy ending. Well, as happy as it can get on The Walking Dead. Justice was finally served to the “Porchdick”, a bloody showdown was avoided in Alexandria, and best of all we are finally rewarded with the reunion between Morgan and Rick we’ve been wanting. Though, it could be me, but there seemed a hint of something, possibly disappointment, in Morgan’s voice having seen Rick for the first time in a long time, in the middle of killing someone without hesitation. Maybe it was just me. Luckily, for The Walking Dead fans, our walker fix will not have to wait until October. Fear the Walking Dead will air this summer. While the title seriously lacks originality, it should at the very least settle our hunger for more walker action until The Walking Dead returns for season six this fall.

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