The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 16 recap.


So we finally learn what the deal is with the W-zombies, and it is, in fact, a human hunting operation. The “wolves” are a couple of guys—so far as we know—who have baited and rigged traps to catch and turn people. We learn this courtesy a W-man at the top of the episode who encounters Morgan, returned at last. These people, the “wolves”, catch people, mark them with Ws and then hunt them until they’re killed or zombified. So that’s awful. The good news is, Morgan is back and he’s awesome! He’s come a long way from his nutso Atlanta days, and is now a bo-staff wielding ninja badass who escapes the wolves by basically defeating the Clever Girl trick from Jurassic Park.

The major thread of this elongated finale episode is the people of Alexandria deciding what to do with Rick. That means there is, by necessity, a lot of standing around talking, but since the B and C plots involve Daryl and Glenn outside the wall, the pacing is maintained with frequent bouts of action. Daryl and Aaron encounter one of the traps set by the wolves on their expedition to find new recruits, and I hope this—combined with Morgan’s intel about the wolves—is enough to convince the people of Alexandria to stop recruiting. It’s just not safe. They lucked out with Rick & Co.—sort of—but as Rick says at the end, “luck runs out”.

In the end, despite all the plans of how and when to take over, Rick ends up in charge of Alexandria almost by default. Because he’s f*cking worthless, Gabriel leaves the gate open and Rick ends up having to take down several zombies on his own. He interrupts Deanna’s campfire about his fate to dump proof that they’re not ready—the zombies got in because no one was watching the gate—and drives home the point his people spent all episode making. Rick has become a darker, scarier version of the man we first met, but he is fully capable of defending Alexandria. And ultimately, it was the monster Deanna protected—Pete—who brings death to their door.

Daryl’s plot serves to further elucidate the truth of the wolves, and also link him up with Morgan who has been searching for Rick—I presume, since he was following the map Abraham Ford left behind. One of the best episodes of The Walking Dead was “Clear”, in which Rick tried to bring a delusional Morgan out of his madness. Now, the tables are turned as Morgan, pretty well together, finds Rick at a low point having just killed Pete. The scene is really well shot, particularly the image of Rick staring down at Pete, his eyes black holes and the frame leached of almost all color. It’s a graphic image of just how stark and monstrous Rick has become—but he’s still not as far gone as the wolves.

This is a very strong finale, providing good resolution to the immediate action but still leaving some threads open for the next season. There’s a lot of reconciliation, between Deanna and Rick, Michonne and Rick, Abraham and Eugene, Gabriel and Sasha and Maggie, and even Nicholas and Glenn seem to settle their sh*t after nearly killing each other. We’re in good shape for these relationships to move forward in season six, instead of continuing to tread water, and we have a new threat on the horizon in the form of the wolves. Now if only I felt that the show as a whole had similar momentum and we’re not just walking in metaphorical circles from one collapsed society to the next—if the wolves vs. Alexandria turns out to be the prison vs. Woodbury, round two, I don’t know what I’ll do. Give up, probably.

Status Check:
Rick – The Ricktator is back.
Glenn – Turning into Rick Junior.
Deanna – Making the right call and ceding power to Rick.

Worst thing seen/heard this week: Rick getting a face full of zombie brains.

Zombie kill of the week: Daryl to the head with a chain times three.

Attached – Steven Yeun at the iHeartRadio Music Awards last night.