Spoilers if you haven't seen tonight's season finale of The Walking Dead! For those who have seen it, we need to talk about that ending!
The Walking Dead closed out Season 5 with an extra-long episode that used its final half-hour to build up an incredible amount of tension, which was then released. And for a brief moment, I actually believed the season was going to end on a sigh of relief and a note of hope. And then Pete showed up and slashed Reg's throat, which instantly took Deanna to the next level of her leadership evolution. During the time it took for her husband to bleed to death, Deanna went from being the kind of leader who calls a meeting to talk it out, to the kind who tells the man with the gun to "do it."
Something tells me she's going to spend a lot of time thinking about how fast it was to make that decision, and how simple it was to carry it out.
But let's take a step back for a moment. Because the execution of tonight's conclusion played out so intensely that it seems only fair to recognize everything that was happening leading up to Pete's speedy, well, execution.
We had Glenn and Nicholas fighting in the woods. Sasha and Gabriel fighting like two tornadoes of misery that happened to come into contact with one another at the worst time possible, and Rick tussling with the walkers that managed to get into Alexandria, courtesy of Gabriel barely trying to keep the gate closed.
Everything was coming to a head just as Deanna's town meeting was happening. And we were left to wonder if and when someone would die. Would Sasha kill Gabriel? Would he kill her? Who would survive the Glenn/Nicholas battle in the woods? Would Rick survive the walkers attacking him? Ok, that last question barely needs to be asked. Still, the suspense mounted and then promptly diffused...
Maggie showed up just in time to break up Sasha and Gabriel's scuffle. She didn't argue with Gabriel when he admitted out loud that he was responsible for the deaths of all the people at the church. But she helped him up and the three of them left the church.
Glenn had the opportunity to kill Nicholas, who left him to be eaten by walkers during their fight. But in the end, after Nicholas admitted he didn't belong outside the walls -- the very thing Glenn told him previously -- Glenn backed off and the two men returned to Alexandria together.
Rick killed the walkers and dragged on back to the town meeting to show them just how easily their community can be infiltrated. And why they need people like him around.
Forgiveness reigned. People were being given second (third?) chances. This whole situation at Alexandria could actually work. They can all live together. They can face their differences and their mistakes and find a way to coexist.
Oh, but we forgot about Pete. Never mind that he was half the reason for the meeting, or that Carol just happened to get him all fired up earlier. He was primed for the outburst, and I can't help but wonder if the intention of Carol's brief confrontation with Pete earlier was to get him to attack her then, so that she'd have a reason to fight him, or if she might've also been trying to get under his skin a bit in the hopes that he'd let his true colors show if and when the time came. Maybe it was both, or maybe this is just how it all played out. We know the Pete situation is personal for Carol. She never really got to stand up to Ed before he died. And understandably, she has no tolerance for men like him. Either way, she didn't seem surprised or unprepared for his arrival at the meeting.
Pete was fuming when he showed up at the meeting, and when things got physical, Reg unfortunately took the brunt of that rage when Pete's sword caught him in the throat. It seemed like an accident, but that didn't matter to Deanna, who was quick to demand justice, and she had Rick do the deed. He didn't hesitate.
Following that shocking moment, we see that Morgan, Daryl and Aaron have returned, just in time for the show. Morgan! He's finally reunited with Rick and at what seems to be the absolute worst moment. Morgan demonstrated two things tonight, the first of which is excellence with a bo staff. The second, that all life is precious. Morgan fought his way through a pile of walkers in that horrible food trap to save Daryl and Aaron, just because they were alive. And he didn't kill the two Wolf guys even though both of them had every intention of killing him. So, while we might celebrate Morgan's arrival at Alexandria, it's probably a safe bet that he wasn't happy to see Rick put a bullet in someone's head the moment he arrived.
Tara's awake! She opened her eyes near the end of the episode. Hopefully this means she's ok.
Eugene apologized to Abraham. Maybe those two will patch things up. Or at the very least, maybe Abraham will be able to speak to Eugene or be in the same room with him.
After resetting their walker trap, one of the W(olf) guys was seen looking at photos of Rick, Carl and Alexandria. Seems safe to assume the W/Wolf arc was really just an introduction for more to come in the future.
Maggie, Sasha and Gabriel were last seen praying together. Maybe that's a sign that they're going to lean on one another to deal with their grief (and in Gabriel's case, his guilt).
Michonne's got her sword back on. It takes a bit of the hope out of her to take the sword off the wall, but it's probably for the best. They may have the safety of Alexandria's walls (for now), but it's not over. Best to keep the weapons handy and away from anyone who might use them recklessly.
The finale also showed us the first promo for the Walking Dead companion series, Fear The Walking Dead. If you missed it, or want to watch it again, check that out here!