(Written for Filmoria)
And there we have it: the finale of Season 5 of one of the best shows on TV, The Walking Dead. But as much as I would love to write that it was the epic conclusion that we had all been dying to see, it was, instead, an episode that split its audience quite broadly.
So let’s start with the good.
The second half of Season 5 left us with many unanswered questions, but what ‘Conquer’ does well is to give us all of the answers. Where’s Morgan? He’s on the right track to finding Rick! And he’s no longer crazy. Who’s been marking bodies with W’s on their forehead? That would be The Wolves. Fans of the comic books will know more about these ruthless killers, but we get enough insight into their group to see that they’re not a very nice bunch. Can Rick and the rest of Alexandria get on? Well, he gives them no other option.
Story wise, ‘Conquer’ is one of the best episodes yet. But it’s more of a fantastic trailer for Season 6 than a decent finale for Season 5.
Looking at my star rating criteria above, this episode rates incredibly high. I chose to score episodes by writing and story, gore, and twists, as these are three things that make an episode of The Walking Dead great.’Conquer’ hits the nail on the head regarding story, has some of the best gore of the series, and the twists and revelations are what will make you excited for the return of the next season. So, in theory, there should be nothing else left to say.
But my expectations were let down. After last week’s episode, Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, told fans to prepare for the worst and to get the tissues ready. Reading this, myself and many other’s were expecting a huge blood fest, or at least something to shock the audience in disbelief.
With the rest of the second half of the season playing out quite slowly, as well, the season needed to end on something big to keep the audience invested.
So, of course, it was easy to presume that some kind of mass slaughtering was going to happen. I’m not saying that I wanted any of the main cast to be killed off, because we’re all attached to every one of them, but the thought that one of them might be breathing their final breaths made for tense viewing. Yet, when the episode came to end, I couldn’t believe that nothing jaw-droppingly shocking happened.
‘Conquer’ really was a great episode, but as a finale it was quite poor. There are a number of twists and lose ends tied up, with other stories slowly introduced, but the events of ‘Conquer’ were all very minor/slow in action.
For example (and here comes some spoilers), after the gate has been left open and Rick discovers that walker’s have entered Alexandria, he doesn’t tell anybody and sorts the mess out himself. We see a couple of really gory kills, but there was no panic or mayhem about a situation that could have helped to pick up the pace.
Nevertheless, Season 6 is definitely going to be a good one, and if for nothing else, Season 5 has been full of some excellent character development.