If ever The Walking Dead decided to ditch the zombies and focus on the living, Episode 15 is proof that they could do so admirably. Highly intense and brilliantly acted, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) appears to be letting out his inner neck-biter and so comes an emotional and powerful performance that it alone could shake the walls of Alexandria. It’s a fantastic lead into the extended season finale and exactly the venom the show has needed for a while.
Since finding Alexandria, this safe haven has turned from a slice of paradise into Albert Square. We have families dealing with grief after the latest supply run disaster, while the violence isn’t contained to outside the walls, as Pete’s (Corey Brill) actions are exposed to the community. This forces Rick, as the appointed sheriff, to make the hard choices, even if Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) won’t allow them. There is no jail in Alexandria (something they should rectify): instead, troublemakers are exiled. To Rick’s group, though, exile isn’t enough of a threat; the real danger is allowing shunned persons the opportunity to attack Alexandria – alive or dead.
As conflict rages internal, we must not forget what lurks outside. More and more walkers are appearing, all with the letter “W” carved into their heads. Whoever is doing this is clearly dangerous, unafraid to get up close enough to a walker to mutilate their already disfigured faces. While on patrol, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) may have come across the culprits, spotting a light flickering in the distance, but that reveal is being saved for the finale.
To bring us more drama, Carl (Chandler Riggs) looks to be getting a romantic subplot, as he and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) bond outside the walls. For now, though, their teenage lust isn’t working – can love even exist in the zombie apocalypse?
Their scenes feel awkward; running joyfully through the woods is decidedly out of place, when there is danger lurking around every trunk. Enid’s choice dialogue is also particularly weak: “It’s their world, we’re just living in it.” It’s as ill-fitting as the episode’s opening, when Deanna’s family decide to grieve by listening to some Nine Inch Nails on Aiden’s “Run Mix” CD.
But the flaws are minor, as Try crescendos to a gripping finish. The monologue Rick gives is so powerful and, in many ways, just. He finds a way to put all the Alexandria residents in their place, towering over them, even as he speaks from his knees. Alexandria has suddenly become one of the more interesting locations the group have visited, made so by the ever growing divide between the two factions. While Deanna is right when she says they need Rick’s group, he is providing just enough crazy to have her doubt her decision, the slightest spark threatening another war.
The Walking Dead: Season 5 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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