The Walking Dead: Conquer

Rick: “Luck runs out.”

This was a satisfying roller coaster of a season finale and I appreciated that the writers wrapped up some important things while still leaving us with plenty to think about for next season.

I spent most of the episode worrying about a whole list of terrible things that could happen. I didn't want to see what would happen if Alexandria tried to throw Rick out. I've grown fond of the place and want our people to be able to stay. I certainly didn't want to see either Glenn or Daryl die. I was even worried about Aaron. The beauty of this show is that all or any of that could have happened so I was genuinely on the edge of my seat.

As Michonne pointed out, something was going to happen, they didn't need to force it and that is exactly how it played out. The idiocy of leaving the gate unguarded or even of trusting someone else to shut it, just shows how protected these people have been. The look on Maggie's face when Deanna intimates that she is the one who has really lost something also indicates that they don't have any idea of what loss on the 'outside' looks like. Of course, Deanna might now be getting the idea. Pete killing Reg was tragic and horrible, definitely accidental but once it was personal, Deanna came much closer to Rick's way of seeing the world and Pete died for it. I know Pete was a loose cannon and not a very nice guy but Rick showed no hesitation. That worries me a little especially with Morgan looking on.

On that note, Morgan is back and he is a badass, a male Michonne. When he saved Aaron and Daryl from the car, I was cheering. The way he took out the 'Wolves' was spectacular. I am very happy to see him back. It looks like Alexandria is going to need him. Which brings us to the Wolves who are a particular form of smart, ruthless, nasty. The trap they set was very clever and they have even developed their own mythology and markings. They are the direct opposite of Alexandria. They don't value outsiders, they use them as bait or maybe worse things. As Wolf 1 said, he doesn't get to speak to new people because they are busy killing them and taking what they have. Alexandria will be a prime target.

There was some great character development pieces in this episode and I'm only going to manage the highlights. Nicholas showed himself to be an even bigger asshole than we might have thought. He shot Glenn. Who would shoot Glenn? Glenn showed his amazing strength in escaping Nicholas, fighting off walkers and then just barely refraining from blowing Nicholas' head off. There was some part of me that wanted him to but then he would no longer be the Glenn we know and love. Gabriel continued to be his openly crazy self, trying to get a walker to attack him and then goading Sasha. I was also happy that Maggie showed up when she did. I'm hoping both Sasha and Gabriel can heal, at least a little bit.

Tara has woken up. I'm glad we haven't lost her and I truly enjoyed the scene between Eugene and Abraham. I have grown to like Eugene quite a bit. He probably doesn't have long in light of that. Carol is still over the edge but in a way that I can respect and appreciate. Her 'chat' with Pete was awesome. She was finally given the chance to confront the abuse she suffered and to prove to herself that she will never be in that place again. Did she know/hope that confronting Pete would put him over the edge? The looks that Maggie and Michonne gave Carol while she was doing her helpless housewife routine at the town meeting were priceless.

Rick and Michonne are back on the same page. It was stupid to keep Michonne out of the loop and Rick knows that now. Rick still doesn't want to be a leader. His plan for taking over the town was followed by his admitting that he screwed up and the way he said it seemed to say, I'm not perfect, don't expect me to be. Michonne is reluctantly accepting that their brief period of respite is over and she will also have to take her place of leadership. After the credits, when Michonne took down her sword I wasn't sure if I should be happy or sad. They do need this town, this break from the outside, but they also need to be ready because bad things are coming and they are going to continue to come.

Bits and Pieces

Wild leeks keep mosquitoes away.

I liked Reg but he was too kind and too civilized. Who else from Alexandria is going to go down because they just don't have what it takes to survive in the new world?

Our group can survive without guns. Alexandria relies way too much on them. The scene of Nicholas trying to use his knife to kill the walker and then reverting to a gun said it all.

Glenn didn't let Maggie in on the plan for the meeting. Was he trying to protect her?

Carl isn't afraid for himself at all. He is afraid for the people in the town. That says a lot about how far he has come.

Picky point - I was disappointed in Daryl (well, the writers) that he didn't notice the tin cans hanging from the trucks and he didn't check out the area more fully. He's smarter than that.

It was very cool that Daryl made the decision for Aaron about bringing the group in.

Are Carol's casseroles ironic or satirical? Discuss.


Wolf 1: “Little chats in front of the fire with a stranger, that’s the closest thing to the movies now.”

Michonne: “What’s so funny?”
Rick: “It’s like the train car. After the whole thing, I’m still there.”

Carol: “Because these people are children and children like stories.”

Reg: “The cavemen, they were all nomads and they died. Then we evolved into this and we lived. Civilization starts when we stop running. When we live together. When we stop sending people away from the world and from each other.”

Carol: “You said you don’t want to take this place and you don’t want to lie? Oh sunshine, you don’t get both.”

Carl: “They need us. They’ll die without us.”

Carol: “Play your cards right and you don’t have to die. And I want my dish back clean when you’re done.”

Daryl: “I came out here to not feel all closed up back there. Even now, it still feels more like me than back in them houses.”

Daryl: “Why?”
Morgan: “Why? Because all life is precious, Daryl.”

Eugene: “All I did was to craft a top-shelf lie to which a person with strength and heroism could apply their talents.”

Michonne: “You think I would try to stop you?”
Rick: “Well, you did hit me over the head.”
Michonne: “That was for you, not for them.”

Michonne: “Who he is, is who you’re gonna be, if you’re lucky.”

Maggie: "This community, you people, that family, you want to be a part of it, too."

Rick: “The ones out there, they’ll hunt us, they’ll find us, they’ll try to use us, they’ll try to kill us but we’ll kill them. We’ll survive. I’ll show you how. You know, I was thinkin’, I was thinking, how many of you do I have to kill to save your lives? But I’m not gonna do that. You’re gonna change.”

Deanna: “Rick, do it.”

“Wolves Not Far.” written on a car in the food factory lot.


Jess Lynde said...

I liked your perspective, Doc, but I found this finale frustrating in many respects. It had moments I liked --- notably the Abraham-Eugene scene, the Rick-Michonne material, and Tara living --- but I’m really disappointed with how the Pete situation resolved. Deanna giving Rick the order in no way makes him executing the husband of the woman he’s interested in --- in front of her! --- any less problematic in my view. I was also disappointed with the way the Alexandria conflict “resolved” to a certain extent.

Rick is right that the community needs to be harder and stronger, and I’m very glad that he expressed a willingness to teach them how, but to me the conclusion felt forced by narratively convenient developments. (Gabriel wasn't covered in blood after his foray outside? Spencer couldn’t just shut the gate? It took Rick like 10 seconds to do it. No one was keeping tabs on the abusive drunk, or thought to take his booze away? Carl didn’t notice someone breaking into the house and stealing Michonne’s sword?) Deanna giving Rick the order to execute Pete isn’t quite the “collaboration” I was hoping for. Especially since Rick and Carol basically created the extremely volatile situation with Pete. They could have handled it any other number of ways that didn’t have to result in Reg’s and Pete’s deaths. (Start by taking away the man’s booze!)

It always bothers me when the show treats Rick’s behavior as problematic in the set up, but then completely validates it in the end and views him as the righteous badass. I definitely don’t want Rick to be a villain, but the constant “you were wrong, but you were still right” thing really irks. This is exactly the outcome I was concerned about a few episodes ago, and I was really hoping for a different result this time. (Silly me. I really should know better at this point. I’m like Charlie Brown with the football.)

I do appreciate that they pulled Rick back from the hostage-taking, armory-raiding, violent coup edge (thank you, Michonne), and had him admit he snapped and messed up in the street, but the overall resolution still felt too easy and convenient to me (no biscuit for you, writers). Maybe Morgan seeming horrified by Rick executing Pete is supposed to temper the “you were right” stuff. But I doubt it, since Morgan’s mercy has now put the Wolves on the path to Alexandria. Erg. Maybe Glenn’s and Maggie’s mercy towards assholes will lead to something good? For a change? (There I go with that football again.)

Anonymous said...

I think that Carol purposely set Pete up to do something stupid; she confronted him knowing just which buttons to push so it'd send him over the edge.

When he first comes in, Rick is ready to shoot him but Carol tells him "not yet".

Jess Lynde said...

I hope Carol didn’t intentionally force that situation (although she should know how volatile an abuser removed from his family can be), because I’d have a pretty hard time respecting her after something like that. Putting other lives at risk to give Rick an excuse to kill Pete is a step too far. Reg died. Carl and Judith could have been hurt when he was stealing the sword. If she wanted him out of the picture that badly, I’d hope she’d just do it herself using the “self-defense” excuse she threatened him with in the house. Don’t manipulate the situation in a way that puts innocents at risk. I hope Carol isn’t that far gone.

Billie Doux said...

Personally, I thought this finale was quite possibly their best season finale ever.

I thought Alexandria would be overrun and that people would die, probably our very own Glenn. And I thought walkers would come up behind Deanna during the meeting, and we were supposed to think that because of how shots of Deanna were framed in that open doorway. I thought our guys would have to stage the violent takeover that Rick and Carol had planned. But no. Deanna losing her husband pushed her into the realization that she was wrong about how she was governing Alexandria, and Rick was right. If she had listened to him before, she'd still have a husband, and possibly her son, too.

I really liked the way they did the Rick/Jessie scene, with only a reflection of Rick in the unbroken glass, and Jessie talking over the broken glass destroyed in the fight. Obvious symbolism, but beautifully done, and I hope that isn't foreshadowing for Jessie. I loved Carol bringing Pete a casserole and facing him down. (Doc, I think those casseroles are ironic *and* satirical.) I loved Carol calling Rick 'Sunshine'.

But mostly I loved what Abraham said, so much that I had to write it down. "Simply put, there is a vast ocean of shit that you people don't know shit about. Rick knows every fine grain of said shit, and then some."

And Morgan! When did he become a Jedi knight? I hope Morgan hangs around for more than another episode or two and that he might be the one to temper Rick's violence with more of Morgan's "life is precious" attitude.

Billie Doux said...

One more thing!

I have ... well, maybe the word "enjoyed" doesn't fit, but I've appreciated that they have explored the idea of what to do with someone like Pete. There are no jails, and banishment won't necessarily work. What Pete needs is an effective restraining order and mandatory counseling. He's not going to get that in the zombie apocalypse. Deanna's solution was to let him continue to abuse Jessie. It might have been a little simplistic that Rick's solution, execution, turned out to be the right one, but as someone who grew up with abuse, I found it emotionally satisfying. Maybe it just hit my buttons the right way.

Thanks so much for another season of fine reviews, Doc. You always put a lot of thought and effort into them.

Jess Lynde said...

Yeah, based on a lot of things I’ve read, expectations seem to be the key ingredient informing reactions to this finale. Billie’s and many others’ were subverted in a way they found really satisfying, whereas mine were unfortunately met, when I was desperately hoping they would be subverted. Ah, well. Can’t win ‘em all. As ever, I’m eager to see where it goes next. I just need to temper my expectations, or take a bit of Princess Bride advice: “Get used to disappointment.” :)

ras349 said...

I think Carol did force the situation. I find carol's ruthless actions and need to lie about those actions to be an interesting character arc. She is the one who decided ,without consultation with anyone else, to kill several sick people at the prison. It seems like she is becoming more manipulative both within and without the core group everyday.....pete's anger issues needed to be dealt with a long time before Rick's group ever got there. I dont understand why pete wasn't seperated from jesse as soon as it was found out he was abusing her. I understand that his skills as a doctor are necessary but by not seperating Pete from Jesse, Deana implied Jesse's life was worth less than his. As for punishment, why didn't they use something like shunning or public shaming. older societies have used both those techniques to good effect and it provides an alternative to banishment or death...I still don't understand why Rick has a thing for Jesse. He just met her five minutes ago.

sunbunny said...

I'm so glad other people think Carol was being more than a little manipulative here. I especially felt it at the meeting when she signaled Rick to wait before doing anything about Pete. She knew he was going to do something terrible and violent and she wanted it to play out. She wanted the Alexandrians to see and to learn.

I love Carol as a character and I think that her motivations in any given situation are good, but her methods for the past few seasons have been...let's say extreme. Like killing the sick people at the prison. She did it to protect people but the way she did it was questionable to say the absolute least. Here, she wants to serve her group and the Alexandrians (in that order) but the way she's using deception and manipulation makes me uncomfortable. At least when Rick screws up, it's out in the open. There are really no checks on her power, no one who knows exactly what's going on with her who can reel her back if that's something that needs to happen.

That said, I was really hoping Carol would pull out her gun and shoot Pete as he charged the group. It would have avoided the weird love triangle implications of Rick killing Pete and would've made Carol's badassery public.

And I think accidental throat slit is the lamest way to die we've seen yet. Poor Reg. No noble death for you.

drnanamom said...

@ Billie - I loved that quote and meant to include it. I'm glad you brought it into the comments. I actually don't think that Carol told Rick to wait about Pete. I think she was trying to tell him that they didn't need to go with their original plan. I don't see Carol as that manipulative. I think she may have pushed Pete but more to bring that situation to a conclusion. She did tell Pete that he had a choice, that he could make things better if he wanted to. I also think we are being a little harsh on the people of Alexandria. There are thousands of women in Jessie's position right now with people who know what is going on and do nothing and those abusers are not scarce doctors in a time of apocalypse, they are just the guy next door. @ras 349 I like your ideas for dealing with abusers in Alexandria or even now.

Enid said...

I'm sorry but don't agree with the public shunning or shaming because most abusers find a way to still abuse their victims even killing them and others if they deem it necessary. So that conclusion for Pete felt right for the world they live in. Speaking of which I think it's nice to have Morgan's sentiment. However, it will become problematic as the foreshadowing at the end suggested. My biggest issues are the zombies themselves. There are moments when there are none like when Daryl was riding his bike. As noisy as it was, it should have attracted several zombies. Yet people walking down a road attracts more zombies than that. I get why it happens that way. However, it inconsistent so it's a pet peeve just like how easy it seems to be to bash a skull with any type of weapon. I did like this finale. This season as a whole worked better than most. I would put it up there with Season 1. I look forward to next season as well as the new show which they showed the briefest tease for.

Marianna said...

Jess, I don't think Michonne lives with Rick and family, which is why Pete went unnoticed stealing her sword. They all stayed together the first night, but then they split up into different houses.

I don't think Carol anticipated what happened with Pete. Based on Melissa McBride's interview in Talking Dead, Carol was sincere when she told Pete that he could recover from what happened and continue to be a part of the community. Plus who could have anticipated THAT happening? If anything, she would have figured he would go after Rick, and Rick can handle himself in a fight with one drunk guy with a sword. My guess is she figured they should let Pete rant on so the townsfolk could see that the situation required action and Deanna's strategy of hoping it got better on its own was the wrong choice.

I actually disagree with the assessment that Rick is just like Shane was or that Shane's world view is being justified now. One of the things I like about this show is it raises complex ethical dilemmas for the audience to think about how they would handle it. Institutions like the criminal justice system aren't there to simplify right and wrong. While Rick's character has moved closer to Shane, they are still very different people and saying they are the same is an oversimplification in my opinion. Basically Rick has more trust issues now than he used to (and who wouldn't?) so he won't go out of his way for a stranger if it might put his family and extended family in harm's way. Current Rick would still never shoot an innocent person to save himself like Shane did.

Jess Lynde said...

I'm pretty sure the group split up between the two houses that Aaron said Deanna had assigned them. They are the two right next to each other. And Rick and Michonne are living in the same house. If memory serves, when Pete came to visit Rick at home and offer him the beer, you could see the sword on the wall in the background. I think that Sasha is living in that house, too, but I'm not sure how the others have split up. I'm curious though! I wish we knew more about their jobs and living arrangements there.

I do agree that Rick has not completely become Shane, but he has been entering some distinctly Shane-like territory of late. He's not as far gone as Shane, for sure, and fortunately has been able to resist his darker impulses thus far. But he is constantly being pushed farther and farther into that zone, and I think he is struggling with how much he has to become like Shane to function in this world. I agree that the way things have played out thus far doesn't necessarily validate the Shane world view as the only way, but it does seem that a certain amount of Shane's hardcore approach is needed. It is a balancing act. I just can't help getting worried when all the hopeful ones get killed, mercy only ends up biting you in the ass, and more extreme (and sometimes really disturbing) methods end up being proven "right." Extreme is certainly called for sometimes, but I think I need the more merciful ones to get a win a bit more often.

But maybe I should stop worrying about Rick and turn my focus to Carol. I have a lot of the same concerns sunbunny voiced about her methods and unchecked power. And if some of you are right about how she may have manipulated that situation with Pete ... damn. Carol scares me.