For a community trying to build a civilization, the people of Alexandria have always been myopic. Unable to truly look at the bigger picture or to focus on more than one thing at a time, they betray a nearsightedness that has cost them some of their own people while the wolves circled ever closer.
In the season finale of The Walking Dead, “Conquer,” Rick (Andrew Lincoln) managed, once again, to convince people that his way is the best way. Also, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was the worst, yet again, and one of our main heroes was nearly killed. An old friend finally returned, and we met the villains – the wolves – who will inevitably be specifically targeting Alexandria next season.
Thrown to the Wolves
We haven’t seen Morgan (Lennie James) since the midseason finale – and he hasn’t encountered Rick since season 3 – but he came back with a vengeance to kick ass and take names.
Morgan was ambushed by a man (Benedict Samuel) with a W carved into his forehead. This is a motif we’ve been seeing all season, be it as subtle as the trees in the forest being arranged in that shape or as direct as the “Wolves not far” graffiti scrawled on a brick wall in Noah’s community – not to mention the walkers littering the perimeter of Alexandria with the same letter carved into their heads.
Despite having a gun trained on Morgan, the man engaged him in a relatively measured conversation about wolves, history, American colonialism and the act of conquering. “Sometimes we find camps, we run through them. But we have traps, too,” he said.
The man then calmly informed Morgan that he would be losing not only all of his supplies but also his life. However, the wolf was in for a rude awakening. Another man came out of the woods, and Morgan used a stick as a bo staff to drop him to the ground. Since the time we last saw Morgan, he had clearly been training directly under Mr. Miyagi. He completely annihilated his attackers, stashing them in a car and honking the horn to leave them as zombie bait (though James speculated during Talking Dead that it was, in fact, a “righteous” move on Morgan’s part to make sure there were actually no walkers around).
After completely losing it last episode, Rick woke up in a fairly calm mood – but with a fighting spirit.
It was decided that his situation would be discussed in a town meeting later that night, and Rick had no problem coming up with a “just in case” scenario that involved threatening to slit the throats of Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh), Spencer (Austin Nichols) and Reg (Steve Coulter) unless everyone listened to him.
Later, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) implored Deanna to understand that Rick had simply been “frustrated. The things he’s seen, the things he’s lost the things we’ve all lost.”
Given that Deanna had just lost her son, Aiden, she was not too sympathetic to that angle. However, once Maggie turned away to leave, Reg told her, “The cavemen, they were all nomads. Civilization starts when we stop running. When we live together. When we stop sending people away from the world and from each other. That’s what I’m going to tell her. That’s what I’m going to tell everyone.”
The Aaron and Daryl Adventure Hour
Fulfilling his new role, Daryl (Norman Reedus) went out recruiting with Aaron (Ross Marquand). They spotted a likely candidate – a man in a red poncho – but they kept losing him.
They stumbled upon a grocery store with a fenced-in parking lot littered with zombies. After killing them all, they decided they would at least bring food back home since their recruiting mission had been a failure.
However, when they opened one of the food trucks, zombies came pouring out. It was a trap laid by the wolves – all of the zombies had W’s carved into their foreheads.
Following a pretty spectacular fight scene that involved Daryl using a heavy chain to whip off three zombie heads at once, they both rushed into a car that quickly became mobbed by walkers. In the car, Aaron found a piece of paper with “trap bad people coming don’t stay” written on it.
Daryl offered to distract the walkers and sacrifice himself so that Aaron could run free, but Aaron actually has the attitude that the rest of the Alexandrians pretend to inhabit – that of community. It’s the kind of civilization he’s been trying to cultivate in the recruitment process, but it hasn’t been a stellar success for him so far. However, it showed more than ever that he’s not truly a part of the community for which he’s recruiting, as he told Daryl when he gave him his new gig.
Just as they were about to make a break for it, Morgan came to the rescue. Between the three of them, they managed to fend off enough zombies to make their way to the gate and shut it behind them.
Aaron offered to take Morgan back to Alexandria, but Morgan had other plans: “I’m on my way somewhere,” he said. “Fact is, I’m lost, so if you could tell me where we are?” Then, he handed Daryl his map you know, the one that Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) left for Rick on which “Sorry I was an assh . Come to Washington, Rick Grimes,” was written.
In Which Glenn Is a Pure, Tender Heart
Nicholas (Michael Traynor), still nervous about his role in the death of Noah (Tyler James Williams) and the fact that Glenn knew the truth, had the nerve to shoot Glenn from a distance in the woods. Being as terrible at shooting as he is at everything else, Nicholas only grazed Glenn’s shoulder, and Glenn was able to escape. Instead of running back to Alexandria like a normal person, however, Glenn jumped Nicholas, and the two beat the hell out of each other.
Glenn’s injury briefly gave Nicholas the upper hand, and he was about to kill Glenn when walkers came ambling by. Nick scrambled off of Glenn and ran away, and the zombies descended on Glenn.
Hours later, once night had fallen, Glenn jumped Nicholas again. It was idiotic – seriously, get out of the woods – but at least we knew he was alive. However, we didn’t see whether or not he was bitten.
Glenn was about to shoot Nicholas in the damn face and then, for some reason, decided to let him go as Nicholas sobbed about how he was “scared” and how he “[doesn’t] belong” in Alexandria. You live to be scum another day, Nicholas.
Father Gabriel Is Seriously, Without Hyperbole, the Actual Worst
Ugh, Father Gabriel. The biggest hypocrite on the planet decided to go for a walk in the woods without a gun and only “the word of God” to protect him. It’s shocking that he still considers himself to be a man of God when he let his flock die, but whatever.
After spotting a stray walker, he opened his arms and said, “I’m ready. I’m ready.” Too much of a coward to even accept death, Gabriel killed it at the last minute and then began to sob. It is so difficult to have sympathy for this character. Does anybody?
Upon Gabriel’s return to Alexandria, Spencer asked him for some time to talk about Aiden. Gabriel agreed grimly, leading to the question: How can nobody in this town recognize that Gabriel is a sweaty, shifty lunatic? A clerical collar does not an honest person necessarily make.
Long story short: Spencer asked Gabriel to close the gate – he didn’t.
Back in his house of worship, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) had lit some candles and was lying in wait for him. “I don’t know what to do can you help me?” she asked. “No,” Gabriel replied.
After an argument about how sinful she is (which, again: hypocrite), Gabriel went too far when he told her: “Bob was mutilated, consumed, destroyed because of your sins. Your brother felt he was apart from it, but he was a part of it. He didn’t deserve to be here. You don’t.” She shrieked and threw him up against a wall before aiming her gun at him. Maggie arrived in time to stop her – or maybe Sasha was never going to do it anyway.
Rick noticed that the gate was open and was late to his own defense when he went in search of the walker he knew was on the premises thanks to a helpful trail of blood.
In his absence, the town hall was not going in Rick’s favor despite Carol and Maggie’s passionate defenses. Carol had gone full housewife: “There’s terrifying people out there,” she said, “and he rescued me from them. People like me, people like us, we need people like him.”
Rick arrived carting a walker in a fireman’s carry, flopping it in the center of the meeting. “I didn’t bring it in. It got inside on its own. They always will – the dead and the living. Because we’re in here. The ones out there, they’ll hunt us, they’ll find us.”
Like, the wolves, perhaps?
“How many people do I have to kill to save your lives?” he asked the assembled group. “But I’m not gonna do that. You’re gonna change. I’m not sorry for what I said last night. I’m sorry for not saying it sooner. You’re not ready. But you have to be. Right now. You have to be. Luck runs out.”
Indeed it does at that, Pete (Corey Brill) came rushing in, brandishing Michonne’s sword, screaming, “You’re not one of us!” Reg tried to fend him off and got his throat slit for the trouble. Poor Reg. He was so sweet.
Abraham tackled Pete and held him pinned to the concrete, and Deanna gave the order she swore she never would, showing that Rick had conquered Alexandria, too: “Rick. Do it.”
And Rick did it. He shot Pete in the head just as Aaron and Daryl returned with Morgan. Morgan, the man who didn’t want to fight the two wolves who ambushed him, watched as Rick, who was once his friend, killed a subdued and restrained man.
At the end of the episode, we saw Michonne putting her sword back on her back. Wolves not far.
Also Worth Noting
• Tara (Alanna Masterson) woke up!
• Abraham and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) had a heart-to-heart in which they apologized and thanked each other.
• Aaron left his backpack by the wolf trap, and they found his photos of Alexandria and of Team Rick.
• For a woman trying to keep her true nature under wraps, Carol had no problem threatening Pete with violence when she dropped a casserole off at his house. It was incredible to see her in such a position of power when squaring off against a man much like the husband who abused her. “I could kill you right now,” she said. “I could. I will. And then who would believe I did it because I didn’t like you? They’d believe you tried to hurt me. You’re a small, weak nothing. And with the world how it is, you’re even weaker. Play your cards right, maybe you don’t have to die.” Obviously, he played his cards wrong.
• Though Michonne did knock Rick out last episode, she insisted that she did it for him even while she still wanted to make it work. “I don’t need my sword. I think you can find a way. We can find a way. And if we don’t, I’m still with you.”