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The Walking Dead quite literally ended last night’s finale for Season 5, “Conquer” with an appropriate bang. While it provided compelling drama in which our survivors may have finally resolved their individual dilemmas when it came to adjusting within the “safe” walls of Alexandria, it teases larger battles ahead for Season 6. Reinforcing this idea, showrunner, Scott M. Gimple gives some intriguing hints as to where the show is heading when it resumes this fall.
WARNING: The material ahead is full of SPOILER details. Go no further if you wish not to be sullied with knowledge.
Season 6 for a good while now, humans have been the bigger threat. At the start of our next season, that will change. I said the show reinvents itself every 8 eps, and we’re doing it again, friendos. Now that these characters know they have what it takes to survive, what are they going to do with that power? How will they choose to live? Beyond answering those questions, we’re currently putting into motion some of our most ambitious stuff yet, and things are going to get very big, loud and scary.
In the interview with EW, Gimple's hints regarding changes do seem to fall into the cyclical pattern of the show. It was clear after the way things ended in “Conquer” for Pete that we have already witnessed a critical shift. Yes, with the two fateful words from Alexandria’s leader, Deanna--“do it”--the community’s seemingly wayward constable Rick suddenly became the sheriff. One fateful act of on-the-fly dispensation of uncivil-but-necessary justice by Rick against Pete for the crimes of family abuse, murder by stolen katana and general offenses in “porch-dick-ism” has essentially brought Alexandria out of its old world delusions and into the zombie apocalypse.
It does seem that Alexandria was a test for Rick and the rest of our survivors to see how they would react to the temptation of falling into a comfortable pre-zombie mindset, becoming soft and sedentary behind the community’s walls, while indulging in a mindset for justice and cooperation that’s equally rooted in old-world mentality. Yet, while their maladjustment with a world that seemed a little too perfect was temporarily turning into a hindrance, it proved to be a necessary asset; even, ultimately, to Alexandria’s old world-preserving stalwart, Deanna, after Pete murdered her husband, Reg. Plus, with Rick's old friend Morgan arriving with news of a firmly established new threat in the head-carving, walker-hoarding wackos, The Wolves, the time for the town’s illusion of affluence has truly come to its end.
With Gimple’s hints of a direction that will be “big, loud and scary,” we could be looking at some on-screen skirmishes that make The Governor’s last attack on The Prison look like back alley street fight. Clearly, the stakes are only going to go up tremendously at this point, as the presence of The Wolves will most likely just be the tip of the iceberg. Both Rick’s group of survivors AND the denizens of Alexandria should accept that they are not alone in this wrecked world of walkers and primal, pusillanimous survivors.
It will be some time before we find out just what Gimple’s hints truly mean, but the new prequel spinoff show, Fear The Walking Dead should be coming around sometime this summer to help ease your urge.