‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Finale Recap and Review

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The Walking Dead Season 5 Finale Recap and Review

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon and Ross Marquand as Aaron in ‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 finale (Photo Credit: Gene Page / AMC)

Season five of AMC’s The Walking Dead went out strong, with every member of Rick Grimes’ group playing key roles in setting up season six. The season five finale titled “Conquer” aired on March 29, 2015 and here’s a look back at what went down along with a brief review of the season.

Last episode found Rick almost killing Pete (Corey Brill) while trying to stop him from abusing his wife, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge). Rick escalated the situation by pointing a gun at the residents of Alexandria before being knocked out by Michonne (Danai Gurira). This episode, Rick wakes up with Michonne watching over him and Carol (Melissa McBride) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) informing him of the town meeting Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) is going to have later that night to determine whether Rick will be exiled from Alexandria. Knowing Deanna and the rest of the residents don’t have what it takes to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, the group makes plans for what to do if the vote goes against Rick. Their decision: to take the town by force, if necessary.

A little later that day Daryl and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are on patrol looking for any other wayward survivors who might be worth bringing back to Alexandria. They spot a man wearing a red poncho and track him from a distance, trying to size up if he’s safe to approach. Daryl and Aaron end up losing him but find a compound with huge containers of canned goods. When they open one of the containers, to their surprise and horror they realize too late that it’s rigged to release dozens of hungry zombies from all of the containers. Unable to get back to the gate of the compound, Daryl and Aaron find temporary safety in a deserted but unusable car. With walkers completely surrounding the car clawing and banging to get in, it’s only a matter of time before they break through. Daryl and Aaron seem to be trapped with no way out.


Back just outside of Alexandria, Glenn goes after Nicholas (Michael Traynor) who’s climbed the fence and disappeared into the woods. But, it’s actually a plot by Nicholas to get Glenn alone in the woods where he can shoot him. Wounded, Glenn disappears deeper into the woods with a scared Nicholas hunting him.

Meanwhile, while Rick is preparing to head to the town meeting to defend his actions, he sees the security gate has been left open. On closer inspection, he realizes walkers have entered the town. Instead of heading to the meeting, Rick goes looking for the undead intruders hoping to find them and stop them before they kill any of the inexperienced citizens of Alexandria who have limited zombie-killing abilities.

“They’ll hunt us, they’ll find us, they’ll try to kill us but we’ll kill them,” says Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to the residents of the town of Alexandria after dumping at their feet one of the three walkers he destroyed. The walkers found their way into the walled-in community due to the security gate being left open by Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) who’s going through his own crisis of faith, blaming everyone but himself for the deaths of innocent people.

Action-packed, suspenseful, and extremely gory, the season five finale of The Walking Dead ends with the fate of Rick and his group decided and Rick reuniting with an old friend who single-handedly saved Daryl and Aaron from an army of walkers. Morgan (Lennie James) showed up at the exact moment in time when Daryl and Aaron decided they couldn’t just sit in the car and wait to be eaten but instead had to make a run for it in what would have been their “going out in a blaze of glory” scene. Fortunately, Morgan came upon the scene and took out enough walkers so that Aaron and Daryl could escape.

As with previous seasons, the special effects and zombie makeup in this season were incredible, and the direction and pacing was tight and tense. The writing and dialogue was crisp and realistic, with the characters struggling with coming into Alexandria and putting their killer survival instincts on hold – except for fan favorite Daryl.

There were many standout performances in season five including Melissa McBride as Carol. McBride’s Carol fooled the residents into thinking she was a timid, weak woman who was a great cook and who needed Rick’s group to keep her safe. In actuality, she’s the second most lethal member of the group and arguably the smartest. Her performance was so outstanding that it’s time for her to be recognized with an Emmy nomination.

Andrew Lincoln delivered perhaps his best performance of The Walking Dead thus far as Rick, the group’s leader who seems to be suffering from being in survivor mode and out in the wilderness a little too long. And Norman Reedus showed more depth and emotion this season, both with his desire to rescue Beth and with his reaction to her death, and with his new friendship with Aaron. Not since season two and Daryl’s search for little Sophia and the development of his friendship with Carol have the writers given his character this kind of growth.

With Rick winning Deanna and the residents over and taking control of Alexandria and the arrival of Morgan (Lennie James) with Daryl and Aaron to the town, here’s looking forward to what season six holds in store for Rick, Daryl, Carol, Carl, Glenn, and the rest of the group who seemed to have found a new secure home…for a while anyways.

GRADE: A-

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Kevin Finnerty
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