Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Walking Recap - Season 5

   WARNING : WALKING DEAD SEASON 5 SPOILERS BELOW!!!

  The only ‘must see TV’ I’ve had the past few months was AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’. Last Sunday was the finale of the second half of season 5, leaving me another six months of being ‘deadless’ unless the summer companion series ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ is something I find myself addicted to. I’ll have my Sunday nights free until late June when TNT’s ‘The Last Ship’ and ‘Falling Skies’ resume their yearly summer sagas.

  There was an incredible amount of speculation that at least one of the long time characters would meet their demise in the season finale. The speculation got more intense when it was announced that the season finale was extended to 90 minutes. There were two of the most grisly deaths in the entire series in episode 14 when Aden and Noah both were torn to bits by zombies while on a scavenging expedition to get parts for the electronic grid which led to the thought that the only way the showrunners could top that was to kill off one of the main characters.

The second half of season 5 finds Rick's crew on the road in dire circumstances...

  I didn’t think that any of the mainstays were going to meet their end. There were no deaths in the season 4 finale and there are only five of the original characters left: Rick Grimes, his son Carl, Carol, Darryl, and Glenn. I suppose we can count Morgan as an original cast member but he has only been a guest star in four episodes before seemingly joining the crew at the end of season five. The only character left from season two is Maggie since her sister Beth died in the first half of season and the other notable deaths were season three inductees Bob and Tyreese and newcomers Noah and Aden.

  The showrunners played on this speculation to perfection in the season finale with Glenn being shot in the shoulder and left to fight off zombies while Darryl was caught in a trap set by the nefarious ‘Wolves’ and stuck in a car surrounded by dozens of zombies beating on the windows. Our heroes managed to survive and the only deaths were suffered by newcomers to the show. The second half of the season found our band of survivors on their last legs without food or water and seeking shelter in a barn when they were afforded refuge in a self-sufficient and self-contained community near Alexandria, Virginia. The community has a solar power grid, an aquifer, and 20 foot steel walls for protection. When the group arrives in Alexandria they are in as close to a pre-apocalypse society as they have been since the zombies appeared with running water, electricity, plenty of food, and clean clothes. The main theme of the second half of the season was to show how the characters have changed since the zombie apocalypse by putting them in a normal setting.

Back in civilization, Carol is stealing weapons and telling bedtime stories!

  Rick and Carol made the most effort to outwardly fit in but they conspire to steal guns, planning to take over the town if they don’t think the current residents can keep it safe. Carol has proven to be a real scene stealer. She plays the part of the wide eyed housewife when around the town’s residents, discussing recipes with the women and nodding in assent when the men offer to show her how to handle a rifle. The real Carol that will do whatever it takes to survive surfaces when a youngster catches her stealing weapons and she gives him a choice to either keep his mouth shut in return for cookies or wake up one night tied to a tree outside the compound where no one will be able to hear him scream while the zombies eat him alive. In the season finale she brings a casserole to the town’s only doctor (wife beater Pete) and asks him to look in on an injured member of the group. When Pete refuses, Carol puts a knife to his throat and tells him that if he doesn’t she’ll kill him and tell everyone that he tried to abuse her and asks Pete who does he think the townspeople will believe. She then leaves but not before telling Pete return her casserole after cleaning it.

  Rick seems to fit in and is appointed the town constable but makes friends with Pete’s wife Jessie and gets a haircut and a kiss from her which probably doesn’t help Pete’s mood. When Rick has a confrontation with Pete over his abuse they get into a Wild West brawl in the street and Rick pulls one of his stolen guns and waves it around at the mayor and the rest of the onlookers. When the town leaders schedule a meeting to decide whether to banish Rick, he plots with Carol on taking some of the town leaders hostage in order to take over the town if it looks like he is going to be banished. Rick was interviewed when he got to Alexandria and he told Deanna the mayor that they shouldn’t have let his group in and that in the new world people just look at you to see what they can take from you. It seems to me that is what Rick has become – from the first moment he entered the town he has been plotting to take it over unless everyone agrees with him.

  The rest of the crew seems to be fitting in nicely into Alexandria. Darryl was a delinquent before the apocalypse but his skills as a hunter and tracker have made him a leader. He initially rebelled in Alexandria by gutting his freshly caught possum on the porch of the group’s new house but has bonded with recruiter Aaron and refused Rick’s offer of taking one of the stolen guns. The katana wielding Michonne has repressed her violent side in order to fit in with the rest of the townspeople although she offers to help Rick take over if he thinks it necessary. The cast member that is having the most trouble adapting is Shasha but she was having issues before coming to Alexandria after her lover Bob was bitten by a zombie and had his leg amputated and eaten by the Hunters at the beginning of the season and her brother Tyreese was bitten and died in episode 9.

  The final episode went 85 minutes without a death. There were some character studies as Glenn and Sasha were confronted with the opportunity and motive to kill the traitorous Nicholas and Father Gabriel, respectively. Both retained some of their humanity and didn’t resort to killing the living. Father Gabriel set out to commit suicide by zombie but chickened out at the end and ended up killing a zombie as well as a human the zombie was feasting on. The town meeting wasn’t going well for Rick until he dumped a dead zombie in the middle of it and told the people they were lucky so far but he was going to teach them to survive. Everyone seemed to be calming down when a drunk Pete burst into the meeting holding Michonne’s katana and accidentally slit the throat of mayor Deanna’s husband as he tries to calm him down. As her husband bleeds out, Deanna comes around to Rick’s way of thinking and tells Rick ‘Do It’ at which Rick fires his gun, presumably killing Pete.

Rick Grimes explains his world view and brings Mayor Deanna around to his way of thinking.

  I may be a little prejudiced since this is the first season of the Walking Dead I’ve watched week to week instead of on a binge but I thought it was by far the best season yet. My favorite episodes were the escape from Terminus (episode 1), the killing of the cannibals (episode 3), the kidnapping of the Greely hospital police (episode 7), the death of Tyreese (episode 9), and the failed excursion to the electronics warehouse where Aden and Noah get torn to shreds (episode 14). Season six could begin minutes or months after the end of season five but the featured bad guys are sure to be the ‘Wolves’. The Wolves aren’t in the comics but their reach has extended all the way from Noah’s home to Alexandria with dismembered zombies, zombies with ‘W’’s carved into their heads, and the disconcerting ‘Wolves Not Far’ signs. This group isn’t just after what the other survivors have – they want to kill the other survivors and one of the methods of execution is to tie the victim to a tree to become zombie food, which is what Carol threatened to do to the little boy that caught her stealing guns.

  I’m looking forward for the next season of The Walking Dead but I’ll just have to wait along with everyone else. When 8 o’clock rolled around last Sunday I instinctively turned the TV to AMC but there was some show about 1960 advertising men on. It was hardly the post-apocalyptic drama I’ve come to expect and I turned the TV off…