The Walking Dead Awards: “Everything gets a return”

Season 5, Episode 16: So . . . two weeks until Game of Thrones!
Photograph courtesy of AMC

(Spoilers ahead)

Each week, we comb through the guts of “The Walking Dead,” much like a horde of hungry walkers, to bring you the episode’s best moments, surprises, and other post-apocalyptic curiosities. This week: Broken casserole dishes, broken jugular veins, and broken-down society.

Season 5, Episode 16: “Conquer”

twitter_walkingdeadadWeirdest pre-show ad: We came across this Twitter ad before the show. At least they didn’t launch this campaign last year with Terminus.

Best martial arts master: We’re not sure when Morgan learned bō staff fighting skills after the apocalypse, but we’re glad he’s become the series ronin.

Best thought about next season: We found it really interesting that the Wolves didn’t have a loaded gun when they attacked Morgan. For a group that’s done a lot of damage and gained a lot of supplies, they don’t seem very well equipped. Maybe that’s because they’re like actual wolves, preying on the weak and only attacking when they need to?

Do you really want to go there? When Maggie appeals to Deanna regarding Rick’s possible expulsion, she pleads that the group has lost so much. Deanna sarcastically responds, “The things you’ve lost,” still upset over her dead son. Deanna, do you really want to go there with the woman who’s lost her father, mother, sister, farm, nearly been eaten alive, nearly lost her husband to the flu, etc?

Seasonal affective disorder: Was it fall last week in Alexandria?

Biggest mystery: How does Carol keep finding enough rations to continue baking threat-laced casseroles? Especially now that everything’s being guarded?

So close to an Internet meme: Did everyone shout “Bro!” at their TVs when Carol told Pete to “Come at me?” Good.

Worst trap deduction skills: Both Aaron and Daryl need a refresher in basic trap detection. Aaron, we understand, since Alexandria is the 2008 Detroit Lions of survival skills, but Daryl? The man’s a tracker, and there are strings running everywhere! Plus, wouldn’t you hear or smell the dead?

Best apology: Sitting at Tara’s bedside, Eugene showed his soft side by apologizing to Abraham, saying he, not Eugene, truly lead the group to Washington. In an even bigger display of kindheartedness, Abraham apologized back for trying to kill Eugene. The awkward banter was nothing short of charming. In Alexandria, they say that Abraham’s mustache grew three sizes that day.

Most important lesson: We saw a dramatic shift in Deanna’s governing style this week. We’re glad she finally had her “no half measures” moment. Unfortunately, she also earned this honor.

Biggest decline in society: By the time the credits (and the bonus scene!) had rolled, Alexandria not only lost its innocence, but also its doctor and architect. Those are two cornerstone jobs of human society.

Best people: If you didn’t think Glenn and Maggie were the best people on the show before, tonight you should. Not only did they observe patience, but also compassion, logic, and forgiveness. Glenn did not kill Nicholas, the thrice proven human wasteland, and Maggie did not kill Gabriel, the thrice proven worst priest ever. We hope they never die . . . which means . . .

Lowest body count (of characters we actually care about): Somehow we made it through a 90-minute season finale without losing anyone in Team Rick and Co. This means we are very, very apprehensive about next season, because a lull in bloodshed never lasts in this universe.

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

Best kill: In a move that made Indiana Jones jealous, Daryl swung a metal chain and scalped three walkers, thus earning a triple kill bonus.

Most disturbing image: Sasha finding comfort in a grave of walkers. She’s been teetering on Rick levels of crazy this season, and this moment took the cake. In an almost humanizing scene, we found her resting comfortably on top of the doubly dead, much like a pet whose owner has just passed. By the end of the episode, it was clear that she wanted to die, and it was up to Maggie to bring her back from the brink.

Episode MVP: Morgan, for showing us (and we assume Rick next season) that you can survive out there without losing your way. In fact, Morgan is a poster child for lost-and-regained humanity. When we last saw him (as more than just a cameo) he wasn’t doing that great. Season 3 “Clear” Morgan was miles beyond Rick’s worst day so far. Let’s hope we’ll get plenty of Rick/Morgan bonding time this fall.

And once again, where exactly does Rick fall this week on the calm/crazy scale?

Illustration by Matt Walljasper; photographs courtesy of AMC

See you all in October!