WALKING DEAD review – S5 E14

“It’s the beginning of…” the end. WALKING DEAD adds another tombstone as it builds towards its Season Finale, giving us one of the series’ most violent episodes ever. Even when our heroes find a supposed safe haven with Alexandria, they themselves are never truly safe.

The episode began with our tormented Priest, Gabriel. He’s still haunted by the guilt of turning his back on his Flock. He enters the community’s church, a thank you note and a bowl of fresh strawberries await. I don’t think he feels deserving. I think he’s still battling his Faith, alongside his personal demons. In a shocking moment, he rips out page after page of the Bible. What’s it all mean? This whole season of THE WALKING DEAD is perforated with religious shrapnel.

Meanwhile, Abraham steps into a leadership role with his construction crew. They are attacked by Walkers as they look for materials to strengthen the Walls of Alexandria. The villagers are more than willing to leave behind a team-mate in peril in order to save their own asses. Abraham don’t play that. He risks his life to do what’s right. After a round or two of Zombie Whack-A-Mole, all is well. The construction leader approaches the Mayor and vouches for Abraham to take over his own job. As the Mayor tells Maggie, your people are taking over all of the positions of power. Hrmmm.

The Priest turns his back on his new flock, as he warns the Mayor not to trust Rick and the gang. He says they’re evil – they’ve done horrible things. The Mayor retorts that this is why she recruited them into Alexandria. Gabriel warns her of Satan’s influence. Rick is truly evil. Gabriel declares that Satan operates under the ruse of innocence. He tricks you into trust. Hmmm. Sounds like the Alexandrians, should my theories prove true and we are not to trust all of them.

Let’s explore the Rabbit Hole and the Big Death…

Jessie and Rick

Another one of my strange theories got some mention again. I’m thinking of the Owl imagery sprinkled throughout Alexandria, and its relation to Wiccan or Pagan beliefs. An owl is a symbol of wisdom. Well, an Owl statue was vandalized in the hair dresser’s garage. JESSIE calls Rick up to investigate. I thought she was testing the waters here. And in hindsight it seems like my suspicions are correct. She asks Rick, what he’ll do if he catches someone who breaks the law. He says they’ll have to be punished. I’ll touch on what Carol discovers to strengthen this theory later on with clearly marked Spoilers.

One of my earlier reviews theorized on the town’s name of Alexandria and its significance. In ancient history, the Great Library was in Alexandria, Egypt. It was burnt to the ground. All the knowledge (wisdom, like the owl) within, intended for future generations, went up in flames. I thought it was interesting when the Architect talked with Noah and mentioned writing everything down for the future. I wonder if these archives are in danger? I wonder if there is a longer payoff awaiting us in the finale? If so, these little Easter Eggs will make it even more enjoyable. All these religious / historical pieces may eventually click into place.

First, let’s tackle Supply Run 2000. Glenn leads the troops: Noah, Tara, Eugene, and 2 Alexandrians. The supply store is surrounded by zombies on one side, and filled on the inside – thankfully these Walkers are trapped behind an interior fence. This is a nice parallel to the Walls of Alexandria. And it shows up again as our heroes try and escape through revolving doors. You’re only safe, until you’re not.

incoming SPOILER ALERT… don’t go any further if you haven’t watched this episode

I’m assuming if you read this far, you must have watched the episode. If not, SPOILER ALERTBeware: Abandon All Surprises Ye Who Enter Here…


Let’s just say the Alexandrians aren’t as prepared or experienced for Walker Battle. One of them shoots off multiple rounds at an armoured Walker – which was pretty awesome in itself. Too bad buddy didn’t see the grenade. One big-bada-boom later and he’s impaled on exploded shelving (or something).

Tara and Eugene

To make matters worse, the stakes are raised as TARA is knocked unconscious. EUGENE stays behind to protect her in a storeroom, while Glenn and Noah go help Vlad the Impalee. This is what our guys do. The right thing. They don’t leave an injured team-mate behind. Although, they probably should have.

from George A. Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

Glenn and Noah can’t free Alexandrian Prick #1. Zombies overwhelm them. And we get one of the goriest scenes ever: a zombie feast straight out of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD. Tom Savini would be proud. The director didn’t cut away either. It was relentless. The zombies just kept ripping, gnashing, and tearing – gobbling up intestines like they were a fresh string of Bratwurst.

Alexandra Breckenridge (JESSIE) as seen here in AMERICAN HORROR STORY

It’s crazy how they can show this level of gruesome blood and gore on TV, but we’ll never see the hair-dresser’s bewbs or Maggie’s bum. Come on, guys. As far as I’m concerned, WALKING DEAD is Rated R. Why are we allowed to watch people get torn apart but we can’t enjoy a little nudity?

That said, I can’t believe this wasn’t the goriest scene of the episode. It actually got worse. I was totally shocked when the director pulled a SPINAL TAP and cranked the gore amp up to 11 for the next death. Before we get into that, let’s set up some context…

Fast forward a minute or two… Eugene hauls Tara out of the building, slung over his shoulder as he John McClanes a Baker’s Dozen of zombie fools. This proves he’s changing. He’s becoming a hero, like the rest of our group. He used to be like the Alexandrians. But now he does the right thing.

Meanwhile… Glenn and Noah and Alexandrian Prick #2 are trapped in a set of revolving doors. Zombies crowd the entrance outside, and more rush in from the inside. This was a near perfect CATCH 22. I was sweating bullets. No matter what they do, it seemed like it was a lose-lose situation. I was thinking, how can they possibly survive?

Then along comes Eugene, bursting onto the scene with the van, his music blaring to call the attention of the Walkers surrounding Glenn and Noah. Who thought that all it took to save the day in THE WALKING DEAD was a little EDM and a mullet. Glenn argues with Alexandrian Prick #2 to do the right thing. They can all survive, if he just listens. But he doesn’t. They were so close to hopping into the Mullet Van and riding off into the sunset to the beat of Skrillex. Instead—

You know what happens next. This is THE WALKING DEAD. We know what happens to people we come to know and love. Even if these characters have a long term goal, or believe in Alexandria enough to envision their future there. Like Noah. He approached the town’s architect and asked to be his Padawan – an apprentice in training. Noah wants to build houses for the children yet to be born, for when they have their own families. He’s thinking long term. Noah has plans for an Ark. Noah has hope. The Master Architect gives Noah a notebook to preserve the past for the future. By the end, we see what Noah wrote on page one: “It’s the beginning of…” Poignant. Heart-breaking. Opaquely beautiful.

Hope dies in THE WALKING DEAD. Whoever has hope dies – their aspirations marked by a tombstone. Noah was developing nicely. I was getting to know him. I cared. Then we’re hit with the most violent scene I’ve ever seen on television. Noah is literally ripped apart. Zombies grab his face and rip it apart. His scream is torn open wide. Savage brutality trumps hope yet again.

But the show doesn’t lose itself in the process. Neither does Glenn. He knocks Alexandrian Prick #2 the f**k out. He deserved it. Yet Glenn doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. He makes sure they don’t leave him behind. I can’t believe how many characters are dead and buried this season. No one is safe – even when they live in a walled community in their own houses.

Which leads me to Rick and Carol… And setting up the Season Finale. Rick already suspects that Jessie wants to tell him something important. Someting a Sheriff should know. Carol garners some information by interrogating Cookie Monster, the little boy. I’m guessing Daddy broke the Owl statue. And Cookie wants the gun to protect Mommy. Earlier, Jessie tested the waters with Rick earlier to see if the guilty party would be imprisoned or something. Her next thought must be, what’s the punishment for a worse crime.

So Carol comes to Rick. She knows what an abusive relationship looks like from experience. I’m guessing Rick will confront Jessie’s Hubby. They’ll argue about authority – something like “Why can this new guy come in and tell me what to do? I helped build this place. I’m the doctor. You need me.” If the power structure tumbles how will our heroes defend themselves? Will the Mayor support an exile, should Rick impose one on Mr. Wife-Beater? I’m sure these rising tensions will come to a boil for the Season Finale.

The sneak preview for next episode suggested that Daryl comes across a cabin in the woods – a solitary light beckons him to further exploration. Who is out there in the woods? Are these the Wolves? Did Carl’s teenage friend meet up with these guys when she climbed the wall? Is Walkee Talkee Dad inside? I’m thinking it’s reveal will push our group towards conflict. Imagine if the inhabitants are exiled Alexandrians?

What do you think? Leave a comment below?

Who are The Wolves? Are we going to find out next episode?

What’s with all the Religious subtext? What’s with those Owls?

How will Rick handle the Hairdresser situation?

Will next week highlight Michonne? I missed her this episode?

What will Daryl find during his recon mission in the woods?

How will Rick and the gang react to loosing another team-mate?

How will Glenn explain what happened out there?

Is Maggie set to be the new Mayor? Will she confront the Priest about what he said to the Mayor?

Did you like seeing Eugene’s character evolve?

If Tara survives will she develop a relationship with her hero, Eugene? There have been some seeds sprinkled earlier.

Alexandra Breckenbridge (Jessie) in AMERICAN HORROR STORY… All that blood and guts, but somehow nudity is going too far? What’s up with that? Ditto for AHS.

Will Jessie join the cast as a regular? If our heroes move on will she and her son join them?

So... What'd you think?

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