TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 5, Episode 14: Spend [AMC]

Tyler James Williams Steven Yeun The Walking Dead Spend

AMC‘s The Walking Dead Spend TV Show ReviewThe Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 14: ‘Spend,’ all at once, took the polish off of the Alexandria experience, and took another chunk out of Generation Z. It also left me asking questions of the screen – well, one question, in particular. Are you kidding me?

Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam)… Gabe… really….

Given his history, a seemingly irrational reaction, to a house warming gesture, meant little, on its face. What came of it, however, was akin to the kind of panic moment that gets people needlessly killed, in life-and-death action/ horror settings. Panic would be the running theme of the episode – with a cold-in-the-spine, “don’t you dare” realization moment doing just that – but let’s focus on the Father, for now.

With all the relative space, that Alexandria has to offer, it seems that Gabe felt compelled to make it a replay of his church lock-out moment. He saw it as a haven that the rest of the group didn’t deserve. Y’know, the group that took the time & effort to bring him there. The only explanation I could think of, regarding Gabe’s religious themed rant, was that he feared losing the best prospect he had come across, and the rest of the group were the only real threat he could think of.

This left Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) in an odd position. Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) interview confirmed that he, and his, were far from saints; but Gabe put a new spin on it, well after the fact. So, wasn’t Gabe interviewed? Did he lie on his application? Since Gabe had not drawn a distinction, between Team Rick, and The Hunters, his fear has focused on Team Rick, as an internal threat. Wait for it, Gabe; there will be another opportunity to add to your grey scale, from the outside.

His tirade also left Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in an odd position. As the appointed politician, from Team Rick, Maggie will have to decide how & when to act on this turn, around Deanna. At that moment, however, she simple had to be asking the exact same question (but probably not in basic cable terms). Gabe… are you kidding me?

In Team Rick’s Alexandria, Ford (Michael Cudlitz) drives you….

Deanna had seen fit to regulate Ford to manual labor; but his inadvertent rise, to site boss, might have revealed some calculation to that decision. I regarded Abraham ignoring the first signs of a Walk-on (what I call Walkers just stumbling onto whatever you’re doing) as him wanting to be wrong. More than that, I think he just didn’t want to be happy, over the prospect of cutting loose. Tobin’s (Jason Douglas) panic moment, however, left little doubt regarding who was better suited to lead – and that may be Deanna’s real dilemma.

Tobin’s glowing recommendation left her with no choice, but to make Abraham’s promotion official. At that, she noted, to Maggie, that another Team Rick member had taken a position of power. This, before Gabe even showed up. Since no group member has actually asked for the authority they were given, I don’t think Deanna is concerned with Team Rick taking the town by force. More likely, she worries that a process of natural selection will ultimately prove them better suited to run things. The period between civilizations usually belongs to warlords.

Natural selection moments will keep coming, if Tobin’s handling of the Walk-on was any indication. Between going needlessly rock-and-roll, with his weapon – putting one of their own in harm’s way – then opting to abandon both her, and would-be rescuer, Abraham: Tobin, are you kidding me?

Uh, oh – Carol’s (Melissa McBride) gotten into kiddie conflict, again….

Well, it turned out that Sam (Major Dodson) was a cookie-fiend sell-out, after all; willing to keep Carol’s gun theft a secret, so long as she kept getting him the good stuff. Carol was not amused. I’d compare her rough treatment of Sam to combat veterans refusing the even learn the names of new arrivals. You learn not to get attached, after losing enough friends. At face value, Carol showing her true grit to Sam just meant that she didn’t regard him as a threat.

By the time Sam proved himself receptive to her bad influence, however, she picked up on something else. Something that may have come to viewer minds, upon being first made aware of Porch Dick, Pete (Corey Brill).

For his part, PDP was working hard to win Rick over, in some of the worst ways. For someone in Pete’s position, control was everything; and that meant keeping his wife & son under wraps, while feeling out potential outside challenges. I’m sure Rick has his own reasons, to be wary of PDP, but Carol may have brought him a legitimate reason to go pre-civilized.

I don’t think the storm-break, over Alexandria, will come from Rick going protectionist, over Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) & Sam; I think PDP may have an internal threat to worry about; and the whole town will have an external problem, that starts with a W – which will not spell Walker – to worry about. Carol’s “final solution” solution, however, to a domestic issue, would certainly rock the boat, prematurely. I mean, this is Carol, and all… but are you kidding me?

Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) & Glenn (Steven Yeun) still had issues….

The episode needed to get away from the safety of Alexandria (while it remains as such); and to that end, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) was unwillingly tapped to be the prize pig, on a techno truffle hunt. Team Aiden 2.0 included Noah (Tyler James Williams), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and Glenn (Steven Yeun), and Deanna’s parting remark of gratitude, towards Glenn, served to keep alive his initial clash with Aiden.

What was set-up to be a rematch turned out to be a resolution; but only under the worst circumstances. Those circumstances afforded Eugene an opportunity to step up; but nothing drastic was done to his character. Eugene was to earn points for courage, not ability (although, having hopeless crush subject, Tara’s life in his hands likely helped, a lot). Competence, however, continued to plague the local team; and while Aiden began to acquit himself, by swallowing his pride, and acknowledging Glenn’s experience points, that townie incompetence became Team Glenn’s problem.

Hey, Aiden, once SWAT Walker went down, shooting anything but the head was kinda pointless. Add a chest full of grenades to the mix, and c’mon… are you kidding me?

Nicholas (Michael Traynor), you piece of… shoe, you….

So, it happens more often than I’d like, but the smarter the material, the more necessary the mortal panic moment becomes. Aiden’s second, Nicholas, had two of them. More, if you count his shared confession, with Aiden. The revolving door scene was a stroke of genius. There was no way out, that involve sacrifice/ throwing someone to the Walkers. It was also that dire circumstance that demanded a last minute cavalry charge; but let’s be real; Eugene wasn’t about to be the kind of rescuer they needed.

What Eugene did do, was provide Nicholas with an opportunity to be Nicholas, then allowed Glenn the opportunity to hold him accountable for it. To Glenn’s credit, his keeping Nicholas alive should come in handy, when Deanna finds out about Aiden; but whether Glenn did this because he was mindful of fallout, or because his sense of justice was greater than his rage/ grief, I don’t know. Oddly enough, it wasn’t Nicholas that drew the foul, this round – we already knew what he was about. No, Nicholas punking out was overshadowed by its direct consequence.

Less than a full season in, and this….

The mortal panic moment is usually employed to lay the best laid plans to waste, at a moment when some hope comes to an otherwise hopeless situation. Rationalizing certain unspoken rules & convention, on the viewers’ part, doesn’t help. Let’s face it, waxing about the future, hopes & dreams, and long term goals, is still very much clichéd. I’m prepared to allow for the possibility that TWD’s showrunners were conscious of this, and played to our expectations of them knowing better, than to follow through on an obvious set-up. That, and maybe some admitted complacency, regarding a certain cast member’s shelf life. Add to that, some complacency over last minute rescues, and it’s shame on us. They’re not kidding around.

Thanks for the lesson (you bastards), and allow me to pay it forward. The next time you viewers take characters for granted, consider having this image burned into the insides of your eye-lids, like Glenn did.

Tyler James Williams The Walking Dead Spend

– Only, the bit I felt too squeamish to actually post, here. No iconic carry out, like Beth got, I’m afraid. So much for her legacy….

What the showrunners seem to have against Gen Z, I dunno. Maybe AMC has reservations about TWD getting all CW on them, and insists on keeping the cast at a certain maturity level (looking at fields of fire, not flowers). Yes, there’s still Sam, and the other Teen Townies; but I want my Gen Z kids being a part of the “on the road” experience – not sitting it out. This is about Team Rick, and I’m starting to worry that Carl has taken something of a token default position, in the group.

Shock value didn’t completely distract from a few gripes, however – beyond Deanna allowing herself to be blindsided by Gabe. I was amazed that Deanna would allow her son to ride around blasting the van stereo. Sure, the “now you’re going to die” lyric was hilarious, and the noise came in handy, later; but it was still a really bad idea. I thought Aiden could have been handled more… humanely. Considering that chocolate has been strictly rationed, Carol’s initiation of Sam could result in more scrutiny, and a total inventory check – including the gun locker. The grenade seemed to pack more of a punch than warranted, given the size of the space they were in; if Aiden was able to survive the blast, then the material/ collateral damage, extending to the Walker cage, and going as far back as Tara, should have been much less.

That aside, the stage has been set for something of an upset, after all that gorging on amenities. ‘Spend’ may have been most effective at preparing us for a bad end that may come neither from where we expect, nor from whom. The episode could be looked back upon as a triumph, in that event; a tragedy, if not. If the shadow of the W threat turns out to be related in any way, to some guy named Negan, then the events of this episode may very well add up to a tempest in a tea pot, for Alexandria.

I kid you not.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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