‘The Walking Dead’ Finale Deserves Praise

One of my friends has taken to calling Rick Grimes “the Constable,” a play on titles like fan favorite “the Governor,” but the moniker has become increasingly appropriate, culminating in a dramatic power play in the epic season finale of “Walking Dead.”

Fresh from a bloody fistfight ended with a KO by Michonne, Rick is balancing precariously in the community that he hopes to save, but that may not actually want to be saved. Along the way, Glenn is dealing with his own rival in the community and Carol is playing Lady MacBeth, pushing Rick to take over the entire town.

The whole episode is very well acted, with plenty of tense moments fans will love. Daryl Dixon’s storyline seems destined to end in a bonding session between himself and the series newcomer Aaron, but an awesome action scene eliminates all doubts about his arc. Finally, the return of a character that we haven’t seen since the very beginning will make fans literally shout with joy. Although fans can easily guess the character, it would still be an unforgiveable spoiler to reveal the way this character returns.

Although fans are seemingly meant to feel torn between Rick and the residents of the town, most of whom wish Rick and most of his group would just go away, there was never any real conflict in my mind. We’ve been through the apocalypse with Rick, so there’s little reason for fans to turn away from him now.

Father Gabriel also gets a large amount of time on screen in this episode, but unlike Eugen’s redemptive episode several weeks ago, Gabriel remains mostly unlikeable and largely unsympathetic. When he gets in a fight with another character and begs to be killed, there are few compelling, pragmatic reasons for fans to root for him to stick around.

Carol is becoming downright Machiavellian, but it’s actually refreshing to see a character who isn’t as affected by moral scruples as the soft-hearted protagonists of this show. Although we’ve seen glimpses of this woman in past seasons, Carol has really come in to her own as a unique character in this show. When she stares down a violent man twice her size, you know that she’s the more dangerous character.

Maggie gets to reaffirm her loyalty to Rick in a scene that mostly establishes the group’s feelings toward Rick, which is to say, they mostly remain totally loyal. Rick is conflicted about whether to take over, but he has remained consistent throughout this season in regard to his views on survival (at any cost) and whether his new community has what it takes (it doesn’t).

Ultimately, Rick decides that he has to step up and seize power in the community, based on the fact that the community can’t handle one abusive husband as it is. The jury’s still out on whether Rick is just trying to get with the abused wife or if the writers have expertly shown how incapable this community is of long-term survival in the apocalypse.

Ultimately, the final scene, and this finale, is awesome regardless of Rick’s real reasons for taking power. Sudden death and a violent execution perfectly ends this excellent season. If the Constable can be as good as the Governor, “The Walking Dead” may be headed for previously unseen acclaim and popularity.

Rating: 9.5/10

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