Walking Dead Season 5 episode 16 finale: ‘Conquer’

Discover who’s left standing in our spoiler-filled review of the Season 5 finale

Turns out that Morgan (Lennie James) has mad ninja skills. Who knew?

The first glimpse we get of him is a welcome one – a tad belated, especially since his return has been teased for a while, but welcome nonetheless. Moreover, it’s also our first sight of the ‘Wolves’ – men who believe they are descended from wolves, and are presumably the ones who have been carving ‘W’s into each other’s heads. Unlike actual wolves, however, on this evidence their bark seems to be far worse than their bite, at least judging by their lack of actual ammunition and the way in which Morgan effortlessly takes them out. Coupled with his rescue of Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand), he’s truly the man of the hour.

Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) isn’t faring so well. “I screwed up. And here I am,” he readily admits. He starts the episode nursing his wounds after his ass-kicking in the previous episode by Michonne, and spends the rest of it musing on how he’s going to take power back. But for all his bravado, he’s no Shane, and ultimately it’s no surprise when he takes a more moderate approach – still extreme by normal standards, as evidenced by the reaction to his final act, but if there’s anything to take from this, it’s that he nails his colours firmly to the mast: he’s not a bad guy, he just does what needs to be done.

Structurally, The Walking Dead has been all over the place this year – indeed, this one seems far more like a mid-season finale than an actual one. Sure, some characters come somewhere approximating full circle – Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Greene) comes to terms with losing everyone she loves, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) make their peace (although not before beating the living snot out of each other) – but there’s no real definitive end point.

The host of sister show Talking Dead called it “maybe the best finale of The Walking Dead”. This is clearly not true, but there are some great moments: Carol (Melissa McBride) showing bullying Pete (Corey Brill) who’s boss, Daryl whipping off three walkers’ heads at once with a chain, Rick crushing a walker’s head with his bare hands, and just about everything that Morgan does. One good thing to come from this episode is that he’s back in the fold – hopefully for good this time. Let’s hope he sticks around.

All in all, it’s certainly an unconventional finish to the season, although it looks like things next year might just become that bit more straightforward. With the Wolves being set up as the first serious opposition since the Governor (we’re not counting the cannibals), and Rick helping Alexandria gear up to become the safe haven it needs to be, it looks like things could be getting good. Pity it’s taken until the end of the season to get there.