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29 March, 2015

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 5 Finale - Episode 16 "Conquer"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.

So, we find ourselves yet again at the end of another season of The Walking Dead. I, for one, will definitely miss this program and the lessons I'm able to draw from it, until it returns around time for Halloween next fall. Luckily, this summer, we are being treated to the initial pilot season of a new spinoff that will delve (at least in the beginning) into the actual occurrence of the zombie apocalypse and the apparent viral outbreak that caused it. The new show is essentially going to be a prequel, at least as it begins, though the timeline between both shows could actually meet up eventually. Technically, even though we are just finishing up Season 5 of The Walking Dead, the actual timeline of the show only has us somewhere around two years into the zombie apocalypse, so there's definitely a bit they can play with things to catch the two programs up to one another, if they choose to do so. They're also moving the setting to the West Coast, which should be interesting to see how things went outside of the normal bounds of the show. Needless to say, I'll definitely be watching.

As for this episode, it was basically a 90-minute long character study. The suspense was palpable throughout, and some have professed an opinion of being disappointed at there being no real shocker moment as a payoff for that suspense, but I would argue that the suspense itself acted to keep viewers on the edge of their seats so that the message of the episode itself could be relayed. Then again, maybe that's just me. Personally, I consider The Walking Dead to be far more deep than your typical zombie horror Doomer Fiction, seeing it as more of a study on human nature in times of crisis. Some may share that opinion, while others don't. YMMV as they say.

The whole situation revolving around the Alexandria Safe Zone puts me, once again, in mind of a very medieval way of looking at the world. In this episode, dialogue leads us into a discussion about the virtues of settled society versus a nomadic existence. One character points out that the cavemen were all nomads who died out, but then people started settling into communities and that is how the species survived. Granted, I would consider that to be an overly simplistic way of looking at things, but it is nevertheless an important point to remember.

In those times, as is apparently the case again in the Alexandria settlement portrayed in the show, the greatest form of punishment for wrongdoing was/is not necessarily being put to death. Rather, it was/is the idea of being exiled. We learned through dialogue that Alexandria has put out people before, driving them out far away from the settlement and leaving them with only a few days worth of food and water (something we should probably remember, because I think that's going to come back to haunt them in the future). This was especially interesting to me, because of the similarity to the way things were done during medieval times and before: basically, anything that didn't lie within a settled community was wilderness, and the wilds contained many dangers, just like they do in the zombie apocalypse. Granted, in our real history it was usually bandits and other murderous people, along with wolves and other such dangers; but, then again, this program has never shied away from the idea that other survivors are often as dangerous (if not more so) than the Walkers, so the analogy still holds true.

As members of the Prepper / Survivalist subculture, the idea of banishment or exile as a form of punishment for unforgivable crimes against a settlement of survivors is something we should definitely keep in mind. We also bore witness as viewers to both a very strong message that being willing and able to make difficult choices is the only way to ensure survival as well as some rather courageous acts of forgiveness during this episode, at least one of which I have a sinking feeling will also return at a later date to haunt our group of survivors. Sadly, it seems that every time they try to show mercy, it ends up having a cost somewhere down the line, but that yet again only serves to make things more realistic. Decisions in a life or death world will tend to be that way, I would wager.

Oh, and another lesson from this episode that would be wise for us not to forget is that, if something seems too good to be true, there's a good chance it's because it is. Simply stumbling upon a veritable gold mine of nonperishable food in the middle of a zombie apocalypse (or any real-world disaster where sufficient time has gone on to make it unlikely such resources have survived unmolested by others), really should result in you proceeding only with the greatest caution. Beware booby-traps set by bad people. That's all I'm going to say.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

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