After his violent confrontation with Pete (Corey Brill), Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) residency in Alexandria is put into question. With Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) hosting a forum for people to speak their minds, everyone begins to question their place. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) meanwhile run into trouble on the road.
In the weeks leading up to this finale, the internet was abuzz with one rumor: Daryl Dixon was going to die. How did this come about? Well a few weeks back, Reedus himself said that viewers should “bring their Kleenex”. It honestly was a harmless statement because sad things happen on The Walking Dead all the time, but it kickstarted some gossip that spread like wildfire. Before long people were debating on whether or not this show would have the guts to actually go through with something like this. Daryl is, of course, the most popular character. Even the m concept of his death is enough to get people riled up. As we saw at the end though, the rumors were garbage. Daryl is alive, as he was always going to be, because the people who run this show aren’t idiots.
Stupid gossip aside though, “Conquer” was one awesome finale. Making this an hour and a half long was an exceptionally wise move by AMC. There was a lot of ground that needed to be covered, along with setting the stage for Season 6. For the first time in weeks, every character on the main group was present. Each had their nice little bows, some peppered with blood, that wrapped up their individual arcs over the past year. “Conquer” had it all too. There were plenty of blood and guts, but we also had some solidly sentimental moments that might have actually prompted some viewers to grab tissues. The ending was an incredible capper too, almost pulled exactly as it was from the comics. “Conquer” really was the best way to end a season that many viewed as The Walking Dead reaching a critical apex.
So much of this episode was intense, as it should have been when you consider the simmering anger beneath certain characters. All conflicts came to a head too. The big one, Rick vs. Pete, reached a bloody conclusion as Rick executes this abusive husband in front of many people. I think we all knew going into that meeting that everything was going to work out for Rick. Despite how insane he looked last week, what he said was right. The people in Alexandria are blinded to reality and Rick is the best man to open their eyes. It’s interesting that he was able to do this almost exactly how he was after his brawl with Pete, all covered in blood an exhausted. This time though, he was much calmer and brought a dead walker as proof that he just saved their lives. It made a massive difference in his defense! Of course, so did Pete killing Reg (Steve Coulter) in a drunken rage.
The entire forum felt a bit lacking though. Namely, not a single person spoke up against Rick. Sure it was pleasant watching our main cast talk about how Rick has changed their lives, with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) especially delivering the best speech of them all, but surely someone other than Deanna had other opinions. How are we really supposed to care about everyone else if they don’t even speak up at major events? Maggie (Lauren Cohan) even made a point to talk to as many people as she coulc to not get Rick exiled. Are we expected to believe that she spoke to everyone and they all saw her point? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) issues with Nicholas (Michael Traynor) reached their expected conclusion too. You have to give both the actors and the writers a lot of credit for making this conflict as emotional as it is. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been so angry, and subsequently so invested, at something a character has done on this show. I still consider Nicholas to be a massive shitbag for what he did to Noah, but it makes perfect sense for him to consider Glenn a threat. Glenn’s the first one to call him out on his shit after all. Their fight in the woods was insane, as was Glenn putting a gun to the forehead of a sobbing Nicholas. This alone was a great showcase of Glenn’s moral ground in this messed up world. Even when someone tries to kill him, Glenn still finds a way to make peace. I also honestly believed he was going to die, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.
Speaking of not dying, let’s focus on Daryl’s story for a bit! Using his scouting mission with Aaron as a means to introduce The Wolves, the next big bads, was very clever. This is the very first time we’ve seen them outside of those W’s that are on the heads of many walkers. Clearly these Wolves a complete psychopaths who only want to take things from the weak sheep around them. That elaborate trap in the canning factory is a great example of how messed up these people are. I’m glad we got to see that in action too because it lead to some of the night’s best scenes. Daryl and Aaron fighting through a massive group with Daryl utilizing a chain and Aaron a license plate for kills. These two scouters forming an unshakable bond of friendship as they were both locked in the car. Aaron even revealed that it was Daryl bringing his group to the barn before the storm that convinced him that they should go to Alexandria. That was a great moment.
All of this is eclipsed though by the return of the one and only Morgan (Lennie James). Finally, after all season, Morgan has reunited with Rick in Alexandria. How he got there was the best showcase of badassery I’ve ever seen this show perform. I guess being on the road for so long turns you into a Jedi style fighter with a staff! I literally cheered when he rescued Daryl too. What an amazing way to weave him into the Alexandria tapestry and back into Rick’s life. This also completely justifies relegating Morgan to after credit sequences up until this point. It was so worth it to finally watch him thrive in this world.
The other group members had some minor moments of note. My personal favorite was Abraham having a heart to heart with Eugene (Josh McDermitt). I honestly forgot that these two had never discussed what happened back on the road. Watching them put this issue behind them was great, and it opens the door for a whole new level of respect between these two major members. Also, right at the very end, Tara (Alanna Masterson) woke up from her coma. I was probably as excited as Rosita (Christian Serratos).
Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) issues were less interesting. We still don’t have a concrete reason for her actions. I mean, taking a nap on a pile of walker corpses? Is that her expressing her comfort in the wild? Is it her conveying that she wishes she was one of them? It’s honestly not clear. It was appropriate that she spoke to Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) though, but that asshole almost got everyone killed. I’m not exactly sure what the writers were trying to do with him as of late. Hopefully his issues are mostly resolved now that he found peace with Maggie and Sasha.
It’s safe to say that Rick is there to stay in Alexandria. Even though Deanna was clearly being convinced to let Rick stay, Pete killing Reg sealed the deal. This community needs Rick Grimes more than anything else. Not only are the walkers always a threat, but the Wolves are on their way (wolves not far indeed). They have Alexandria’s pictures and might have even heard Rick’s gunshot. Death is coming to Alexandria’s gates, and it’s going to be up to Rick and his group to keep everyone safe. I cannot wait to see how this unfolds next October.
See you Summer 2015 for Fear The Walking Dead!
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.