It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning though zombie films that we’d never seen before and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born. For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, and 2014. Sunday, Bloody Sunday The Walking Dead 5.16 “Conquer” Director: Greg Nicotero Writers: Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman When asked why she lied to the Alexandrians, Carol (Melissa McBride) says, “Because these people are children, and children like stories.” As usual, Carol gets all the best lines; and in the finale of Season Five, she gets more than a few. In between moments of Carol-Cool we also get a few stray story threads wrapped up, some life and death struggles, some philosophy, some politics, and a dramatic change in circumstances that came out of left field (unless you’ve been reading the comics). So let’s get down to it, boppers! That is how you both end a season and kick off an Easter Zombie Movie Marathon! I wonder if the show’s suits consciously schedule it so that the season finales are either on Palm or Easter Sundays? If they do, I commend them. Who doesn’t love a little harmless blasphemy, eh? Anyway, MORGAN’S BACK! It’s about time they brought Morgan (Lennie James) into the fold. If only because he’s an intriguing and mysterious character who has gone through some sort of off-screen transformation that has turned him into a Zen Bo Staff Warrior who believes that all life is precious — even the lives of those who try to kill him. That’s some next-level shit right there, and it’s the sort of spiritualism that The Walking Dead needs to supplant the emptied out Christian mysticism that has failed pretty much every single character. Will that lead to even more misguided attempts to value pre-apocalypse morality at the expense of innocent lives? Probably. But at least it’s a different road with different obstacles, and since I’m getting extremely tired of watching Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) struggle with his guilt, despite how well Gilliam plays it (and he’s in full-blown suicidal/homicidal panic this episode), a change-up would be nice. We also got our first glimpse at the Wolves this episode and I have to say I’m not really impressed yet. We still haven’t gotten enough insight into just what their agenda is to figure out if they’re a valid threat. The trap they set was clever; although I have trouble believing Daryl (Norman Reedus) would have tripped it. I like that it allowed for a satisfying way to introduce Morgan to the group, but overall the scene was a bit forced. While all that is cool, the real meat of the episode focused on what would happen to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) after last week’s blood-covered, gun-waving rant. Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) has called a town meeting to discuss the event, hear opinions, and then decide whether or not to exile him. On the plus side, even her husband (Steve Coulter) is against exile. On the down side, Reg is a voice of reason and compassion — and we all know what happens to those voices. Also, someone needs to inform Rick of the proper dress etiquette for addressing the citizenry of Alexandria. While being covered in blood and gore is an effective way of getting people’s attention, sometimes a nice opening joke or an attractive tie can achieve the same results in a more positive manner. But seriously, Greg Nicotero’s direction again is amazingly intense, particularly as he amps up the tension of the conclusion by cross-cutting between Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) vs. Father Gabriel, Glenn (Steven Yeun) vs. Nicholas (Michael Traynor), and Rick vs. a trio of zombies — which included another grotesque visual effect as Rick physically shoves his gun up into the head of the walker that has him pinned, before firing and exploding the head from the inside out. Yuck. While all of this is going on, his friends and family are arguing Rick’s case to Deanna, but don’t seem to be making any headway. Until Rick shows up covered in gore, tossing a zombie corpse at her feet, that is. Rather than apologizing, he reiterates the exact same points he made the previous day — albeit in a calmer, more rational voice — this time upping the ante by admitting he had wondered how many of them he was going to have to kill to make the rest safe. Before Deanna can go ahead and pass judgment, Pete (Corey Brill) staggers in drunk, raving, and waving Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) kitana around. When peacemaker/voice of reason Reg steps in to calm the situation down, he ends up with his throat slit, dying in Deanna’s arms. And when Deanna gives the order to execute the pinned-to-the-ground-and-disarmed Pete, Rick shoots him in the head without any hesitation. The question now becomes, was it really the right thing to do or is this the beginning of the end for Alexandria? Clearly Gimple and Company are setting up a few different examples of how this situation could have possibly gone down, with Glenn choosing to spare Nicholas’s life and Sasha sitting down to pray with Father Gabriel. One is a form of mercy that will require further action (or incarceration), while the other buys into the idea that people can redeem themselves (not that Gabriel had really done anything criminal — although leaving the gate open could be argued as an executable offense). So in a matter of minutes we have examples of forgiveness, capture, and execution in response to three varying social transgressions, all of which we’ll have to wait until next season to see play out. But into this equation they’ve now inserted Morgan and his Zen “All Life is Precious” philosophy. This is a little bit different from the alternatives to the pragmatic acceptance of violence that we’ve gotten in The Walking Dead before now. Instead of a straight up civilization vs chaos argument, Morgan brings a more subtle argument; one that doesn’t deny the realities of the new world, and doesn’t even reject violence per se, but draws the line at killing. Morgan has essentially been reimagined as Kane from Kung Fu, with the zombie apocalypse taking the place of the Old West. But where Kung Fu was centered on presenting that pacifist-who-can-kick-your-ass approach, The Walking Dead has very little patience with characters who refuse to respond with deadly force. So does this mean that Morgan is already on the chopping block? That his attempt to value all life is going to prove just as futile as Dale’s/Hershel’s/Tyreese’s desires to maintain some sort of moral innocence? There’s a very real chance that Gimple and Company are attempting to find some sort of middle ground between the two viewpoints (Rick vs. Morgan), but if the past is any indication, showing mercy to the wrong people can only end in blood — especially in a world with no law. Pretending that there are rules when dealing with people with no interest in the existence of rules never ends well; and hopefully we won’t have to sacrifice Morgan to make this clear one more time. The Walking Dead 5.16 "Conquer"Paul's Rating4.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related George Great episode. Adding Morgan’s “middle way” to the mix should stir it up again, definitely. When the next (inevitable) confrontation with The Others kicks off, it might save it from being a re-run of previous “us and themz”. It would be interesting if our gang one day ended up working on the idea of managing a threat, because they couldn’t annihilate it or there was some reason why they shouldn’t because it served some other purpose (even some higher moral purpose?).