Spoilers: Review - the season finale of The Walking Dead
Over sixteen weeks viewers have seen Rick Grimes and his ever-expanding group of survivors fight their way out of captivity and search for a new home, but for much of this season finale fans would be forgiven for thinking they had never left Terminus.
As an extended episode that more than lives up to its title, ‘Conquer’ delivers a powerful conclusion to a season of big questions and continued grief.
After last week’s maniacal rampage, Rick Grimes awakes refreshed after the previous episode’s violent conclusion (it’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for you). With his fate in Deanna’s hands, Rick musters some support from his friends.
But it isn’t long before an unfortunate turn of events demonstrates just how much the world needs Rick Grimes. After weeks of wallowing in their own grief Sasha, Father Gabriel and Maggie come together in the most unexpected of ways. Meanwhile Daryl and Aaron’s trip into the wild comes to an end with consequences that will impact Alexandria in the season to come.
It might have been a long wait, but Lennie James’s return as Morgan does not disappoint. In one of the season’s best opening scenes, Morgan talks at length with a would-be attacker, a chilling encounter that sets the tone for the remainder of the episode. Rick’s campfire trial witnesses their dramatic reunion after two seasons, in a final sequence that delivers countless surprises.
After weeks of isolation and distress, it’s nice that three of the show’s central characters make a collective step towards redemption. Sasha, Maggie and Father Gabriel have had very different reactions to their traumas – from Sasha’s unsettling corpse obsession (‘Conquer’ sees her find a somewhat peculiar location to take a nap) to Gabriel’s pained encounter with the hangman zombie, it feels as though they are too far gone to do anything other than self destruct, until the final few minutes when a much-needed glimmer of hope is offered.
Aaron and Daryl’s road trip almost ends in tragedy when they stumble upon several booby-trapped delivery trucks, an inventive sequence that allows the characters to strengthen their bond as well as setting up some potential new enemies for the upcoming season. They instantly make a striking impression (not least for the ingenious zombie ‘nightclub’ they’ve installed in one of the trucks), indicating there will be much to look forward to when the series returns in the autumn.