Welcome to the official Panels The Walking Dead weekly recap! After the mid-season hiatus we are back! I did these recaps occasionally for iFanboy back in the day, and I am thrilled to be bringing them here to Panels. In the discussion, please be mindful of spoilers from the comics, let’s let everyone get their reveals the old-fashioned way. The finale is here! Extra long episode tonight, so settle in for an extra long recap!
We open on a wrecked car with our old buddy Morgan waking up in the backseat. he looks very clean and well-kept relative to others we’ve seen living on the outside. A lucky rabbit’s foot hangs on the rear view mirror, at which Morgan smiles. Morgan enjoys breakfast by a meager fire when someone approaches with gun drawn. Morgan asks him to put the gun down the gun, which he doesn’t, so Morgan then asks about the W on his forehead. The man tells a story about hunting wolves in the early days of European settlement, the wolves were quickly exterminating but now they’re back in the form of these jerks, apparently. The wolf talks about he misses chatting with people like this, how it’s like the movies. Morgan looks around suspecting there are others, but continues to try to eat his breakfast before the wolf commands him to stop. He’s taking everything Morgan has, including Morgan. Morgan offers up all his supplies, but he won’t allow the wolf to take him away. He reaches for his gun but isn’t quick enough. Sure enough another wolf crashes out of the bushes and takes a swing at him with a blade. Morgan dodges and uses his staff to knock both attackers off-balance. Morgan warns them to go but they press the attack anyways, the first wolf now wielding a knife making me think the gun is out of ammo. Morgan pleads with them to go away but they again attack and he succeeds in knocking them both out. A walker approaches and he tries to use the dropped gun but it was indeed empty. Morgan stuffs both of the men into the car, slams the horn a few times, and grads the rabbit’s’ foot.
Daryl cruises down the road on his bike with Aaron behind him in a car. They stop and set out on foot, but where or why remain unknown.
Rick, face all bandaged up awakens in an unfamiliar room. He chuckles to himself and Michonne, who’d been sitting there all night, asks what’s so funny? He says his situation reminds him of the train car at Terminus. Michonne says they moved Pete to another house. They argue a bit about Rick’s strategy before Glen, Carol, and Abraham enter. They want to know where he got the gun from last episode, which I honestly forgot he wasn’t supposed to have. Deanna is holding a meeting in the evening which some suspect she will use to try to exile Rick. Carol coaches Rick how to testify during the meeting, mostly by telling them what they want to hear, her strategy all along. Michonne asks why the deception. “Because these people are children and children like stories.” Bless you, Carol. Abraham wants to know what they’ll do if they still decide to kick Rick out, Carol says knives will be enough for the Alexandria crowd. Rick goes through how he’ll signal an attack and who exactly grabs whom. Michonne isn’t happy even planning this sort of contingency, but Rick says it’ll just be threats to get control of the armory then it’ll be over. Rick at least admits to screwing up in getting to this point.
Maggie talks with Deanna about the meeting tonight. Maggie says it’s bad form to renege on her decision to let Rick in the first place, and kicking him out is bad leadership. Reg points out that it was Michonne, one of Rick’s own people, that stopped him. Deanna remains resolute so Maggie takes off. Reg follows so he can tell her about cavemen using very poor logic and knowledge of history but he means it to say he’ll argue to keep Rick around.
Sasha, still outside the walls, works on burying the bodies that have built up from her sniper fire in the tower. Again, a useful task beneficial to the community but being treated like a mental breakdown which is nonsensical and thus seems very pointless. After slipping into the pit of bodies, Sash lays down on top of them for a nap.
Daryl and Aaron are tracking someone through the woods. Aaron wants to get close enough to use his little listening device before confronting them. Aaron talks about three people early on who had to be exiled after not working out in the community. The only reason they were able to get rid of the three was controlling all the guns.
Carol wakes Rick from his nap to give him another one of the guns they snagged. Carol didn’t tell Michonne about the gun because “just in case.” Rick says he doesn’t want to lie but Carol says he’ll have to if he wants to take this place and that he can’t have both in the most condescending way possible because Carol is great.
Daryl and Aaron catch up to their target and watch him rub something from the ground on his face. Daryl recognizes it as a technique to keep mosquitoes away, so this guy knows his stuff.
Outside the house for a stroll, Rick walks past three tough guys with guns. They seem put in place to keep an eye on Rick, but they let him pass by and don’t seem to follow. Nicholas eyes a glum Glen but Maggie walks up before anything can happen. Maggie tells Glen she’s going to campaign for Rick up until the meeting. She heads off and glen spots someone climbing the fence, doesn’t look like Enid though.
Gabriel has the gate opened for him so he can go for a walk, no gun though, because “the word of God is all the protection I need.” May this be the last we ever see of you, Gabriel.
Rick heads home to Carl. Referring to the place at home is a big deal for them both. Carl can’t go to the meeting but understands that their group is necessary to protect this place. Carl pleads for a lack of violence but Rick isn’t sure they’ll be able to listen to reason.
Daryl and Aaron have lost track of their guy. Aaron is ready to give up the search and raid a food canning facility to take back to Alexandria. Why don’t they go back and get their vehicles for this? The place looks to have been fortified for survivors at some point, with some rudimentary alarms set up. Aaron gets excited over an Alaska license plate on one of the trucks. I guess they’re planning on just stealing an entire truck. Daryl opens one of the back doors to see the haul but it’s full of zombies! The doors to all the other trucks are linked up so they all pop open, all also full of zombies with W’s on their heads. This now appears like certain death. Daryl grabs a chain so he can perform frankly absurd multikills. They then just plow through the parking lot and manage to get in a car where they are completely swarmed. The now empty trucks still contain a few struck up torsos and heads, but without any limbs. How odd. Daryl wants to find some way to block the view so the zombies will eventually lose interest. In looking for anything to achieve this, Aaron finds a scrap of paper with the words, “TRAP, BAD PEOPLE COMING, DON’T STAY” written on it, the final lines in blood. This looks bad.
Carol drops by Pete’s new home demanding that he go check on Tara since she’s his patient. He tells her to get out and she pulls a knife on him saying she could kill him and get away with it because everyone knows he’s willing to attack to women. He looks terrified and there’s a great shot of the two of them, him towering over her but clearly submissive. Carol tells him to be smart so he doesn’t have to die, gives him a casserole, demands a clean dish back and leaves. Pete throws a temper tantrum.
Glen, on the trail of the escapee whom I think is Nicholas, loses him for a moment then gets shot in the shoulder by yes, Nicholas.
Rick calls upon Jessie who doesn’t really want him there, no great shock. She has a black eye from getting hit in the previous episode. Rick isn’t sorry about what he did, Jessie tells him that he was right as he leaves, and Pete watches from the window like a maniac.
Back in the deathcar, Daryl admits that this situation feels more at home than in the houses of Alexandria. Aaron tells Daryl about the moment when the storm hit and Daryl brought everyone to the barn was the moment he knew that his group was worth bringing in, and that they should have just kept tracking the guy with the poncho. Daryl lights up a cigarette and says he’ll run out and lead the zombies away long enough for Aaron to escape. I know there is usually a death in the finale but I really really don’t want it to be Daryl, however noble the sacrifice. I normally don’t like Deus Ex Machinas but in this case I’d happily make an exception. Aaron doesn’t like this plan, and says that they fight together and go for the fence together. Daryl agrees. They count down to their escape but then a zombie dies against the window. It’s Morgan! They get out of the lot and shut the gates. Introductions are made but Daryl wants to know why Morgan saved them. “Because all life is precious, Daryl.” Aaron is quick to welcome Morgan back to Alexandria but he can’t because he’s on a mission. He is lost though, and asks for some directions, handing Daryl a map. It’s the same map Abraham gave to Rick with the note on it! Connection made!
Gabriel whistles on his walk and sees a zombie feasting on the road. He walks towards it and whistles louder. Is this a death wish? Yes, definitely a death wish. He gets the zombies attention and says arms out crucifixion style saying “I’m ready.” He’s not ready and when the zombie gets close he grabs it by the convenient noose around its neck and pulls the rope straight through for a decapitation, finished off with a rock bash. The guy the zombie was feeding on is still twitching, possibly not even turned yet, but Gabriel rock bashes him too, Cain style. He then cries on the road for a while.
Abraham comes by Tara’s place with flowers but nearly leaves upon seeing Eugene. Rosita tells him to stay because Eugene is asleep. Abraham is super careful to not wake Eugene but Rosita knocks a pot off the counter because the women in the show are great. Eugene thanks Abraham for keeping him alive this whole time, and apologizes for lying even though he thinks Abraham needed a mission. Abraham apologizes too.
Gabriel returns as the gate guard was preparing to leave for the meeting. He asks if he can come talk to Gabriel sometime about the loss of Aiden, he doesn’t know who else to turn to He asks Gabriel to close the gate which he does but in Gabriel style without locking it or even making sure it was all the way closed. Guessing some walkers are going to interrupt the meeting.
Nicholas tries to find Glen but finds a zombie instead. He almost knifes the zombie but then shoots it right as Glen tackles him. They battle for a bit, each having the upper hand for moments, but then Nicholas pins Glen by jamming his thumb into the gunshot wound, holding him there long enough for him to be beset by several walkers. Not looking good for Glen.
Michonne comes by the Grimes household to escort Rick to the meeting. Rick admits her to that they still have two of the three guns they stole from the armory. He offers one to her. Michonne thinks they can find a way to make this work without violence, but if they can’t she’s still with him and not them. He offers the gun again and she refuses.
Rick prepares for the meeting over memories of Bob’s optimism but then sees something out his window that causes him to hustle out the door. It’s the gate Gabriel left open! There’s something bloody on the hatch with a trail leading into the community, a lone walker inside the walls?! Gabriel gets back to the church and Sasha is sitting there, she asks him for help and his does his best Rorschach impression.
It’s dark now and the meeting hasn’t yet started on account of Rick’s absence. Deanna wants to proceed but Maggie asks her to wait for Rick and Glen. Deanna starts anyways. Nicholas is still out in the woods and Rick is still running around on the hunt, knife drawn.
Gabriel blames Sasha’s sins for Bob’s horrible death. She shoves him. The two least interesting arcs this season cannot be fixed by adding the most dramatic music, Bear.
Rick finds his walker, lets hope it’s the only one. Michonne speechifies to the group about how hard it is transitioning to life on the inside, but he really just wants them and his family to live. It was not the only walker, there are at least two others. Gabriel and Sasha grapple over the gun, with a lone shot going off through the window. Glen finds Nicholas, the fight is back on! Carol plays the den mother role and talks about how ‘weak’ people like her need people like Rick for protection. Rick has the last zombie on top of him. He gets his gun up to its chin but instead of pulling the trigger, which everyone would hear, he just slowly shoves the guy up into the walkers head and finishes him that way. Nicholas is down, and it looks like Glen might finish him off.
Abraham tells the Alexandrians that they’re naive and Rick isn’t, and that should be enough. Rick finally pulls the trigger, guessing the skull will be enough of a muffle. Back at the canning facility, we see poncho man was captured by wolves and is about to be fed to the hungry horde. They slit his throat and prepare to reset the traps. What is these weirdos end game?
Maggie talks about Rick as a father and a caretaker. Deanna takes a turn to say that Gabriel admitted to her that Rick and his group couldn’t be trusted, that they would put themselves above the community if necessary. Jessie calls her on it since Gabriel isn’t there. Did she tape him like she tapes everyone else? Glen puts Nicholas’ gun to his head, and Sasha points hers at a downed Gabriel. The wolves play music from the trucks to lure all the zombies back into the traps. An Alexandrian takes a turn to speak but is cut off when Rick shows up with a walker over his shoulder. Nicholas breaks down and admits that he doesn’t belong out here. Glen seems to decide to spare him. Gabriel asks Sasha to do it, but Maggie walks in and diffuses the situation. Gabriel continues to whimper and beg for death but Maggie takes his hand because she’s a good person.
Rick admonishes the lack of a gate guard, which allowed a to get in. He speaks truth to the sheep as we cut to Nicholas and Glen walking back, Tara waking up with Rosita at her bedside, Judith and Carl, and the wolves looking through some photos from Alexandria that maybe Aaron dropped? Big bad for next season I suppose.
Rick continues his speech and seems to be making his point even against Deanna’s scowl. He is interrupted when Pete shows up drunk with Michonne’s sword. Reg tries to stop him and gets his throat sliced in the process. Abraham puts Pete down as Deanna sobs over a dying Reg. Deanna looks at Rick and gives him permission, he shoots Pete in the head right as Morgan, Aaron, and Daryl show up. The End. Whaaaaaaa?!
I thought this was a very well-paced and enjoyable episode. So much of the tension this season has come from interpersonal relationships between Rick’s team and the Alexandrians rather than simply putting a character in a life-threatening situation. I think it serves to make the moments of physical danger that much more tense, because it’s a bit rarer when most of the group are safely ensconced inside Alexandria’s walls. I think it’s especially present here because we get through the entire finale without a major character death, a rarity for the show especially given how many characters in the show seem to literally be asking for it. I think ending the episode with the non-violent and life-affirming Morgan show up at the moment of Rick’s ultimate brutality sets up a nice bit of drama to kick of next season but I hope they give us a bit more info on the wolves and their endgame, because right now it isn’t clear and thus feels less threatening.
Overall I think this was a solid season and I’m looking forward to season 6! What did you think? Are you happy with how the show is going now? What are you most looking forward to next season? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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