Season five of The Walking Dead ended with a bang, literally, even though it didn’t end quite as dramatically as some could have expected. The season turned out fantastic as the group found a new home in Alexandria, and while assimilating to the confines and the people was difficult for Rick’s group, they made some serious inroads with the people, and with leader Deanna, who sought the group because of their survival instincts. While Deanna and the people of Alexandria had doubts about the intentions and ways of Rick and the whole group, everyone ended up proving themselves little by little, and I think by the last few scenes we ended up seeing that the two groups have a real chance at coalescing and living harmoniously together. It was great watching them embark on a new chapter in their lives, in a community that has somehow preserved pre-apocalyptic society, and it was fascinating watching them all struggle, in their own ways, to assimilate back into a stable society. This season’s been full of ups and downs, we’ve seen the whole crew regroup in the first half, and find a safe stable home for the first time since the prison, yet they’ve faced some real tough losses, with the deaths of Bob, Beth, Tyreese, and Noah. Still, it seems like there’s hope on the horizon looking forward to season six, even if trouble may be looming on the horizon. Here are some of my favorite moments, characters, and storylines from the second half of season five:
Favorite Character of the Second Half: Rick Grimes
- I’ve never really been a big fan of Rick, I’ve kind of seen him as emotionally unstable and irrational at times, the leader the group may not need. But, something happened when he stepped in to the confines of the Alexandria Safe Zone; he got his savvy back. You could see it in his eyes when he shaved his beard off, when Jessie cut his hair, and even when he gave his testimonial to Deanna, he was starting to feel a little bit more at ease now that he didn’t have to be as on guard as he was in the wild. I immediately saw the leader in Rick come out as he put that sheriff uniform on, as he began to handle the Jessie and Pete situation, and when he had the meeting of the minds with Carol and Daryl where he told them this would be their home, and if the Alexandrians couldn’t adapt to them, they would just have to take it. Finally, this is the Rick I’ve always wanted to see, a guy who can balance the animalistic and cunning sides of his personality, someone on guard enough to protect his extended family, but smart enough to be able to let people in. Maybe it’s Jessie who’s changed him, maybe he’s starting to see from the innocents in Alexandria that human beings can be like they were before the zombies, that they can be warm, trusting, and good. While we still see a little bit of instability from him, a little bit of the rage that’s made me question his leadership in the past, there’s no denying there’s something about the way he’s become within the confines of Alexandria that’s admirable and heroic. I’ve always seen Rick as more of the anti-hero of the group, but I’m starting to see him as a true hero now, and I love the way his character has taken to their new home.
Favorite New Character: Deanna Monroe
- When Aaron surprised the group with a proposal to join his guarded community in Alexandria, I think Walking Dead fans everywhere (myself included) took a really guarded approach to their future. These guys have been promised society and stability before, but Woodbury and Terminus were both frauds, and their safe prison was destroyed before their very eyes. It was much easier to expect a psycho along the lines of The Governor or Gareth to be behind the Alexandria community, but that luckily wasn’t the case. Instead, the leader of Alexandria was a more benevolent leader, a former Congresswoman named Deanna Monroe. I think the reason why I’m so fond of the addition of Deanna is because she has built a society that models itself on pre-apocalyptic standards. She preaches accountability, open government, and communal living, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any hypocrisy with her. Sure, everything in Alexandria is far from perfect; the people aren’t ready for the realities of the world outside their walls, crime and punishment have not been properly examined, and their society is perhaps a bit fickle, but Deanna has done a great job preserving the lives of her people, along with her dearly departed husband Reg. Having Deanna as a counter-leader to Rick, being the planner and organizer to balance out Rick’s emotionality and strength is wonderful to watch. I think it will be interesting to see how the two of them learn from each other next season, because I think both of them have qualities to teach the other to help them improve their community.
Favorite Storyline: Sheriff Rick is back on duty
- There was something really special about the moment when Rick put on his new sheriff uniform after Deanna put him in charge of security for their community. It’s as if everything in the show came full circle to the first episode when Rick woke from his coma, and it’s really great for the show to give a nod to where it came from, so to speak. It felt so natural for Rick to emerge as a leader in this group, and Deanna’s faith in him to take a leadership role really helped to establish Alexandria as the right setting for these guys to finally call home. With Michonne by his side as his deputy, Rick has managed to stand up to Pete’s abuse of his wife in a way Deanna was afraid to, and has brought to these people a sense of urgency that they lacked, that has gotten many of them killed on supply runs. The story is great not only because it brings back memories of the early days of the show, but because it’s also been a huge part of what’s made them able to accept this community as a home. This story feels right in so many ways, and every beat its hit so far has quelled any concerns about the group finally establishing roots and finding a home.
Favorite Subplot: The struggle for the group to assimilate into a semi-preserved society
- Between all of the storylines of the different characters finding their place within the society in Alexandria has been this overriding tension for all of them, in terms of adapting to their new home. I’ve heard it been likened to wild animals struggling with being domesticated, and I think that’s fairly accurate. It’s been both sensational and sometimes scary to watch these characters struggle with their new home and the sheltered way they have lived in Alexandria. Everyone has struggled mightily to either cope with the way the Alexandrians live or with their place in the grand scheme of things, and these struggles have made for some of the more compelling scenes of the second half. Glenn’s scenes with Nicholas, Daryl’s scenes with Aaron, Carol’s scenes with Sam, Abraham’s scenes with the workers, and Sasha’s scenes with just about everybody have been compelling ways to show how dire and intense the struggle is for these guys who have been through hell over and over again to settle down and meld into society, and this subplot is going to be interesting to watch next season, as this struggle hopefully dissipates for the group going forward. They deserve a home, and I think they have one, I just hope they can handle it.
Favorite Moment: Enid and Carl “bonding” in the woods outside of Alexandria
- I don’t know why, but I found the bond that Carl and Enid formed in the woods to be a refreshing moment of innocence in what’s always been a gut-wrenching and painful show. There has been so much pain and upheaval for the characters in the dystopian world they live in, and it’s been tough on all of them, so imagine how bad it must be for a teenager growing up in this world. Seeing Carl go through everything he’s been through in this series, it was really quite nice to see him be able to have a moment of relative normalcy with someone of his age. The scenes with him and Enid as they ran around the woods dodging walkers, and ended up hiding in a small tree trunk were cute, and somewhat atypical for the show. Carl’s a kid, he should be allowed to have fun, be with people his age, maybe even have a crush, and I’m glad the show threw that storyline in there. Sure, maybe that girl is sketchy, and is tied in with the Wolves group that’s been introduced, but taking it for what it is was, I really thought those were some nice, light-hearted moments in between the constant tenseness and awkwardness that the rest of the characters had so far in Alexandria. A runner-up in this category would be Tyreese’s hallucination scenes before his death. Those were some of the best directed moments of the entire second half, and seeing all of the dead characters back in his hallucination was a high point of the season.
Least Favorite Moment: Carol threatens Sam
- While I understand and respect the fact that Carol has gone very deep undercover in Alexandria, keeping her true self under wraps and putting on a ‘Suzie Homemaker’ façade to protect her friends, it was downright scary and unsettling to watch her threaten a small child who saw her stealing guns from the town’s armory. This was probably one of the most uncomfortable scenes to watch in the whole season, with perhaps the only exception being Noah’s gruesome death. We’ve seen Carol be able to be both compassionate and ruthless when needed, but taking it to the extent she did with Sam when she threatened to abduct him from his bed, tie him to a tree, and feed him to the walkers was a bit too much. Perhaps after Sophia, and then Lizzie and Mika, Carol has put her guard up in terms of caring for kids, but her ruthlessness in that scene was just so intense, it made me uncomfortable with the character just a bit. Real kudos go to Melissa McBride and the child actor playing Sam, both did brilliant work in those scenes together, but I’d have to say they were my least favorite of the second half of season 5.
5 Things I Want To See Happen Next Season:
- The continuance of Rick and Morgan’s relationship
This is another full circle moment for the series as Morgan, who Rick first encountered on the pilot episode of the series, is crossing paths with rick one more time. Morgan was one of the first people Rick encountered as he went to find his family, and it ended up being Rick who helped Morgan cope with the loss of his son and the hopelessness he was feeling, way back in season 3. Their paths have crossed many times, and now Daryl and Aaron have stumbled upon Morgan and brought him into Alexandria. I would really like to see Morgan stick around with the group next season, the place of zen he seems to be in currently gives me reason to believe he could be useful to some of those who are struggling with their new way of living. Plus, those sick bo staff skills he showed on those Wolves could really come in handy!
- Sasha gets her grip back and finds her identity within this group
It’s been really difficult to watch Sasha come quietly unglued after the death of her brother Tyreese. She’s found some comfort in destroying zombies, taking a job in the community as a watch-out and using it as an excuse to play target practice with the living dead. It’s sad that the people who have kept her a part of the group, the ones she was closest to (Tyreese and Bob) have been lost, and now she seems unsure who to turn to and what her place is. She lashed out at the Alexandrians at the welcoming party, she’s constantly rebuffed Michonne who has tried to help her cope, and she even turned on Gabriel when she sought guidance from him. I’m hoping that the fact that she was able to stop herself from killing Gabriel, that Maggie and the two of them were able to have a moment of peace and reflection at the end is a sign that maybe she’s reached her lowest point and will rebound.
- Deanna learns to adapt to Rick’s worldview and vice versa
I spoke of this a little earlier, but I really want to see Rick and Deanna be able to cooperate well together going forward, because I think they are both strong leaders with different attributes that have made them successful at keeping their respective groups alive. Instead of these two becoming enemies, like it looked like they were building to be, we saw Deanna bow to Rick’s way of seeing things in the last scene of the season, allowing him to put a bullet in Pete for accidentally killing Reg with a sword. I think Deanna might be able to come around to understanding why Rick is the way he is, and I hope Rick learns to understand Deanna’s ways of leadership too. I do want Alexandria to be a cohesive, happy group going forward, these guys deserve a stable home.
- I’d like to see Gabriel leave and go far, far away
Yeah, Father Gabriel needs to pack his backs and go. How dare he throw the group under the bus, call them false prophets or what not when what’s he’s done in his life is just as bad as anything Rick’s group has had to do. Gabriel has been dead weight for this group, he has turned his back on them, disobeyed orders and protocol, and has been shady and to himself most of the time. I like Seth Gilliam’s acting, but this character needs to have his leg chewed up by a walker.
- The wolves become a major player in the series
From what we saw with Morgan’s encounter in the woods, to the elaborate trap that Aaron and Daryl almost fell trap to, there’s a dangerous, sadistic group of survivors sniffing around the territory of Alexandria, and it seems like they’re calling themselves The Wolves. With Alexandria being a very safe place to live, it’s likely we’re going to see a tremendous fight for the place, and this group, which we know basically nothing about, is probably going to want to take it. That just seems to be what happens in this world though, fortress style protection is something to kill for when safety can’t be found with any ease. It will be interesting to see what these new antagonists might be like, and how bad they truly are. The Walking Dead thrives on the good vs. evil dynamics, and especially thrives in exploring the gray areas of good and evil, and bringing in another group of threatening antagonists is only fitting going into the sixth season.