We are creeping toward the end of The Walking Dead Season Five and the tensions are beginning to ramp up, characters are finding their callings, and others are dying in brutally gruesome ways. Storywise, this episode follows three main narrative threads and touches briefly on a couple more – all of which serve to drive home the fact that our heroes are naturally attuned to leading the poor saps of Alexandria. But as we should have come to expect by now, once these characters find something to live for, something to give them hope for the future, bad things are on the way. The two examples of this are Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Noah (Tyler James Williams). Abraham struggles early in the episode to find some sort of peace, and while out on the work crew (gathering metal to help reinforce and expand the wall) reawakens his sense of responsibility and steps into a role of leadership after the foreman nearly abandons another worker to encroaching walkers. The look of exhilaration on Abraham’s face as he confronts death and beats the living hell out of it is both disturbing and inspiring. It’s hard to tell if he’s determined to win or just doesn’t care if he loses. Regardless, he saves lives and inspires enough confidence in others to motivate the work crew to destroy the walkers and continue with their work instead of running in fear and calling it a day. He’s so inspirational, in fact, that the foreman immediately runs back to town and lets Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) know he’s turning over his position to Abraham. Which, I would guess, means Abe isn’t much longer for this world. Anyway, it’s a strange moment that characterizes the odd passivity of the Alexandrians and makes me wonder just what’s going on here. I can’t really imagine a way that these people could have survived this long, unless it’s just due to the luck of the cowardly. Running away to fight (or not) another day seems to be ingrained into the DNA of these people – and may be why they need to keep recruiting new people. Or maybe they’ve got a secret we’re yet to be privy to. After having already installed Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) as law officers, Daryl (Norman Reedus) as recruiter, Glenn (Steven Yeun) as supply run leader, and now Abraham as wall foreman, Deanna can’t help but be concerned about both how it looks to the citizenry and how it undermines her own power. And with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) shadowing her every move, learning the day to day of how Alexandria functions, she has to feel like the community is slipping away. Noah’s desire to learn from her husband how to become an architect is maybe the least intrusive attempt by the group to insert themselves into the everyday functioning of the community. The desire to learn and help Alexandria grow is a noble one, and he may have been the only member of the group to engage Alexandria from a place of honest hope for the future. And we all know what that means. Poor Noah. Losing him not only means that we’ve lost another innocent soul, but also that we’ve lost another black man in a show that has a history of not treating its minorities well. If there’s a bright spot to focus on it’s that for the last couple of seasons the races of characters is arguably not what is putting them on the chopping block (as it did during the first three seasons). Instead of being virtually nameless (or walking clichés), relegated to the backgrounds with little dialogue and even less character development, and then killed quickly and with little fanfare, the writers and actors are doing a great job making the people we lose three-dimensional characters that we feel for and mourn. If there is a complaint to be made about Noah’s death, it’s that his death was mainly decided on (behind the scenes) because of how it would affect Glenn. As Steven Yeun said himself on The Talking Dead following this episode, this was the first time anybody’s been lost on Glenn’s watch. Being trapped in the revolving door and forced to watch as the walkers literally ripped Noah’s face from his skull – in what may be the goriest death we’ve seen in five seasons – is going to have to have an emotional and psychological impact. That it comes so quickly on the heels of the equally gory death of Deanna’s son Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), and the revelation that he and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) were responsible for the deaths of their previous crew after panicking and leaving them behind (there’s that cowards DNA again), should only drive home the fact that the sooner our gang takes over Alexandria the better. Given Glenn’s recent shift into a more aggressive stance, I don’t think there will be any hesitation on his part. Now we just have to see how Deanna handles news of her son’s death; especially in light of the warning she gets from Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) at the end of the episode. Gilliam delivered that speech with just the right amount of insanity to make his anxieties seem real, but to also undermine his authority. The third storyline in “Spend” follows Rick’s first big case – the Case of the Broken Owl Statue – and runs parallel with Carol’s (Melissa McBride) Cooking Lessons with Sam (Major Dodson). Rick’s half of this thread is pretty simple and centers mainly on some macho posturing which serves to more clearly establish that Jessie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) husband, Pete (Corey Brill) is a problem. Meanwhile Carol and Sam bond a little over petty crime and cookie baking, which leads to an understanding about the stolen guns. Carol’s right. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to defend yourself, and in the immortal words of Eazy-E, “with a gat it don’t matter if he’s smaller or bigger.” Sam makes it as plain as possible without actually stating it, that his dad is beating his mom and maybe him too. Which means that Carol’s endgame is clear. Pete needs to die. And she tells Rick as much. Which raises an interesting question about just what law is Rick there to enforce? I almost just typed that surely the powers that be in Alexandria wouldn’t be so naïve to assume that the only thing they would ever need a law officer for would be for breaking up fights and minor trespasses – but this is Alexandria we’re talking about so… We don’t really know for sure, but we can pretty much assume that Alexandra doesn’t have a jail or any sort of legal system. So does that leave Rick open to interpret his responsibilities as the maintaining of order in the community rather than enforcing any sort of pre-Apocalypse law? And if so, where does that authority end? Without a set of laws to buttress his position and actions, what Deanna has essentially done is set lose a gun-wielding authority figure on the community with the hope that his moral integrity will remain dominant over his own sense of authority and desire for power. Rick’s emphasis on protecting his family, and his definition of family as everyone in his group (in his introductory video interview), made this a safe gamble on Deanna’s part, but when that possibly means killing a wife/child-abuser as an example for what will and won’t be tolerated, some feathers are going to get ruffled. But maybe that’s Deanna’s endgame after all. Maybe she sees that cowardly DNA in Alexandria and realizes that something drastic needs to be done to purge it and allow the community to stand against whatever threats may lie outside the walls. I’m curious to find out if she knows about specific threats or if this is just the beginning of the next stage in Alexandria’s evolution. The Walking Dead 5.14 “Spend”Paul's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response The Dead Will Walk the Earth: Rick & Maddie - Psycho Drive-In October 11, 2015 […] with the sometimes complex lives and problems of a diverse high school population. In this aspect, Rick came into the apocalypse with a unique set of skills that help him to ultimately survive, such as familiarity with firearms […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.