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The Walking Dead - Spend - Review and Discussion

This episode was a tough one to review. We haven’t known Noah for very long, but he was quickly becoming a promising character. He represented the next generation, one that doesn’t seem as damaged as Rick and his peers, and his interest in taking an active role in building the future of Alexandria was heartbreaking and ironic. And let’s not forget that Beth died not that long wanting to help Noah. Like most things on this show, the good moments are soon twisted around like a knife, to eventually get you in the gut. No happy endings here.

Noah is the latest in a series of characters who have maintained some level of humanity to get killed off – preceded by Tyreese, Beth, Bob, and Hershel. Early in the episode we see him approach Deanna’s architect husband Reg because he wants to learn how to build things, like the wall or buildings, because he’s in it for the long haul, as Reg states. Reg’s message about writing things down and recording the history of the beginnings of the community reminded me of Milton and Woodbury, and we know how that turned out.

This episode was named Spend (I’d love to hear some theories around that because I’ve got nothing), but it probably could have been named “Cowards,” because that seemed to be a major theme running through it. Eugene, who insists throughout the episode that he is a coward, turns out to be a hero in one of the more uplifting episode arcs, in which he saves Tara and leads the walkers away from a trapped Glenn, Noah, and Nicholas.

Abraham also emerges as a hero and leader, as the Alexandrian construction crew leader is shown to be a coward. In a great scene, Abraham exhibits his bravado in single-handedly taking on a herd of walkers to rescue a co-worker.

Aiden and Nicholas, on a run with Glenn, Tara and Eugene to find a replacement part for the generator, are revealed to be cowards and responsible for the lives lost from their scouting group, that were mentioned in a previous episode. Nicholas, by the way MUST, MUST, MUST die in the next episode or two after pretty much killing Noah. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that.

Pete is the coward in the Carol/Sam story, as Carol figures out he’s been abusing his family.

And the biggest coward of the story turns out to be Father Gabriel, as he projects his own doubts about himself toward the group who adopted him, and warns Deanna that Rick and his group cannot be trusted and are dangerous. Cloaking himself in religious scripture, he tells Deanna that Satan disguises himself as the angel of the light and that there is “false light” in their paradise. When we first met Gabriel, there was a focus on imagery around The Last Supper in the church artwork, where Jesus is seen eating with his disciples and Judas, who betrays him. It appears now that that was apt foreshadowing.

The theme of cowards, and the strong vs. the weak, has played throughout the season, with people like Beth and Eugene, who think of themselves as weak, being shown to be strong, and people like Dawn and Gabriel – leaders in some way – being shown to be weak.

I’m often more of a fan of episodes that deal with fewer stories and cover them with more intensity, but I thought this episode, which had multiple threads, worked well. There was humor in the Carol/Sam interactions, and that could have diffused the tension from the warehouse scene, except that personally I was grateful for the break in tone.  The horror and dread at the warehouse has become a little too familiar, and the scene between Carol and Sam was fantastic.

I also loved the way the show jumped around to short clips from multiple storylines (Rick and Carol, Abraham, a cry for help) near the end of the episode as Gabriel warns Deanna that the group will destroy everything. It tied everything together and succeeded in building tension for the dramatic climax in the final two episodes of the season.

Other Thoughts:

- I cannot understate how much I loved the interactions between Carol and Sam, and how great of a character Carol has become. You may love her, you may hate her, but you can’t disagree that she’s become fascinating to watch. She also gets the award of the best quote of the night with, “None of these are problems, Sam.”

- I also loved the playfulness in the exchange between Tara and Noah when Tara was trying to get the scoop on a crush. The light moments need to be savored because they’re so short lived.

- I have a few nitpicks from the episode. The first is the comment from Tara, that they know what they’re doing because “we were out there a long time.” Uhm, Glenn was, you weren’t. Tara was sheltered until Brian (the Governor) came into their lives, so Tara’s really just been out there since the prison fell.  That may count as a little while, but the line would have worked better if it had been delivered by a different character.

- The second nitpick is that Glenn didn’t kill Aiden when he realized they couldn’t save him. Instead they abandoned him to be eaten alive by walkers, for a reason that seemed to be more about the gore making a more interesting visual than about realistic character reactions.

- My third nitpick is that it didn’t occur to anyone, when they saw the walkers penned in behind the fence, to get out their knives and thin the herd a little. Walkers sometimes break through barriers, and they’ve been burned by this before. The group knew penned up walkers were still a danger back in season 2 when they had lengthy debates on what to do with Hershel’s barn walkers.

- The passage in the Bible that Gabriel had opened up and started ripping out pages out of appeared to be Leviticus 1 & 2, which deals with Moses and making sacrifices.

- When Carol told Rick that he will need to kill Pete, it brought back memories of Carol telling Andrea that she needed to kill the Governor. Another Woodbury association.

- I think this might be the goriest episode we’ve gotten – as for watching one of our group die – since the episode when Shane sacrificed Otis. Actually, this one may be top it in gore.

- The message on a sign that Abraham finds while working on the wall, announces a coming mall, has the phrase, “Big things are coming.” An ironic reference to the message from Reg to Noah about Alexandria being the beginning of something, or foreshadowing to what lay ahead in the season finale?

About the Author - Chris684
Chris is a New Englander with a background in print and digital media, who currently earns a living by making web and technology products easier to use. She has a weakness for TV characters who are 'dark and twisty' (to quote Meredith Grey) and reviews The Walking Dead, Legends, Halt and Catch Fire, and Dig for SpoilerTV.
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