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The Walking Dead Season 5: Meet The Real Monsters

Marshall Lemon | 30 Mar 2015 12:00
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Now to be fair, the whole "We have become the monsters" trope is nothing new - especially when it comes to zombie apocalypse stories. But The Walking Dead Season 5 takes it a step further by suggesting even after the world ends, people aren't black and white. Rick does horrific things over the course of the season, from executing unarmed prisoners to running over a rogue cop who threatens his plans - and for once he doesn't pretend to feel bad about it. But he's not a villain - he's just been pushed to the breaking point in a world that's done worse things to him and his family.

And Alexandria, for all its peaceful appearances, isn't without flaws. Its people - especially its leader Deanna - live under an assumption that mercy and a refusal to kill makes them civilized. Sure that's a perfectly noble intention - but it's become so extreme that a host of sins are allowed to fester. The town surgeon beats his wife whenever he drinks, without fear of punishment. A scavenging team lies about their qualifications, and everyone they left behind to die. Deanna's even uncomfortable with posting snipers to defend the community walls - the zombie apocalypse equivalent of locking your doors at night.

So what you have are two groups with opposing beliefs - both completely reasonable yet flawed in key areas - who are forced to work and live together. From a storytelling perspective that's conflict gold, and we get to watch it unfold through every character's unique perspective. Rick and Carol are effectively planning a coup from day one, telling themselves it's for Alexandria's own good. Michonne decides it's time to hang up her sword, leading to a tragic outcome she never expected. Glenn has to decide whether to resolve a threat to Alexandria's safety peacefully, or settle it the way his group would have outside. And without the threat of zombies looming over their heads, every character's destructive tendencies become much more apparent - something you can't just resolve with a city wall.

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It all comes to a head when Rick loses control and pulls a stolen gun on Alexandria's citizens, seemingly setting the stage for his exile or coup. Walking Dead finales usually present an explosive climax - be it a zombie horde, human gang, or that deathtrap CDC complex from Season 1. But that's not quite what happens here. Sure, the threat of the mysterious "W" gang is finally revealed and there's some fantastic zombie encounters - Aaron and Daryl's in particular was one of the most nail-bitingly tense in the show's history. But it's the emotional climax that the show is more interested in: Seeing if Rick's survivors truly can merge with Alexandria peacefully.

The answer is as complex as the question itself. Rick realizes he can't solve every problem with a gun, Deanna realizes Alexandria is more vulnerable than she thought, and it looks like Walking Dead will finally have a "Let's all get along" ending. But at the last moment, Rick and Carol realize something horrible will happen that can be prevented - and they do nothing just to prove their point. It's the perfect end to this storyline before we move to the potentially explosive events of Season 6. It confirms that Rick's survivors will get the changes they hoped for while highlighting how terrible they've become - even if becoming a monster in this world is necessary.

Bottom Line: The Walking Dead Season 5 is everything we'd hoped for AMC's zombie show and more.

Recommendation: You'd have to be a zombie to not watch this show right now.


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