The following review contains spoilers for the Walking Dead season 5 Episode “Spend”
The Bite Is Back
We here at Deadicated Fans have been on the highest of highs with the Walking Dead the last few weeks but who could blame us? The show got its mojo back, it brought everything full circle, gave real meaning and weight to the group’s adventures from the prison on, and finally set a clear path forward. There’s so much tension and conflict brewing in Alexandria that it’s impossible to not be enthralled with the thought of seeing it all reach a boiling point. There was one thing still lacking, however, and it seemed like the show was trying to fix that wrong throughout season 5B but, unfortunately, they couldn’t get it right. “Spend” got it right. The problem? Walkers weren’t scary anymore.
The thought of the dead returning to life with a hunger for living flesh is a terrifying thought but we have been desensitized to it by now. The survivors in the post apocalyptic world proved how much more frightening they can be. Walkers were relegated to background noise, most of the time when they showed up they were never truly a threat. The latest episode gave the walkers their bite back and big time and what a joy it was to behold.
Not only did the walkers become scary again, they may have become more terrifying than they ever were before. Director Jennifer Lynch deserves a lot of the credit here, the death scenes were absolutely brutal, gut-wrenching, and (most importantly) moving. “What Happened and What’s Going On” was a solid episode but Tyreese being careless didn’t make the walkers scary and his death felt a bit unworthy, like he deserved something better (that’s a twisted way to think but it’s true). We first watched Aiden trap himself by not paying close enough attention, then admitting the others had died because of him and Nicholas being cowards before being ripped apart. They wanted us to see every bit of this, they made us watch his agony. It was disturbing and only part of the story.
I almost felt at ease through the first half of this episode. It seemed like another standard supply run affair, the group would find themselves in danger but everything would be ok. Even after Aiden triggered the explosive, it was going to be ok. The group would get him and Tara out of there and return to Alexandria. Aiden’s death was a surprise but it also felt like the big moment. The rest of the episode would surely go smoothly.
Then it happened. The most horrifying and vicious death in the whole show and it couldn’t have been executed any better. Again, they made us watch every second of it. Every second of Noah being torn to pieces and devoured by a group of walkers while Glenn watched with us, terrified and sick. This scene disgusted me, it made me feel terrible, but I couldn’t look away. I still can’t get it out of my head. I also can’t stop thinking about how great of a setup this was for the final two episodes. Things are about to go down in Alexandria and what happened in “Spend” will be a big influence on what unfolds. When the show has this kind of lingering impact on you, you know it did its job and it did it well.
Spend Final Takeaways
- The acting in this episode was some of the finest work by everyone involved. Steven Yeun had the highlight of the night as he watched Noah’s demise and then knocked Nicholas out in a (rightful) fit of rage. Gabriel’s plea to Deanna was well written and well delivered by Seth Gilliam. It was the perfect cap to the episode, we know the two deaths will lead to something big next week but now there’s a whole new layer added to the mix.
- The other layer added in the final moments shows just where Carol and Rick are mentally. Carol tells Rick that Peter is abusive, not just to Jessie but maybe to Sam as well. There’s no time to talk it out or get to the bottom of it though, no, not even close. Carol defiantly tells Rick he has to kill Peter. There is no playing around anymore and, again, the conflicts continue to build and build.
- A lot of times, the Walking Dead will have some minor sub plots in episodes that don’t do much. You just sort of sit around waiting to see the main event. This was one of the times they nailed the subplot with Abraham finding his place. It was pure entertainment to see Abraham stick his neck out to save Francine while also delivering possibly the greatest one liner in the show “mother dick” in the process. It was badass and awesome to watch Abraham fight the walkers and have the construction crew rally around him.
- While difficult to find a flaw in this one, I find myself sometimes agitated by the placement of commercials. They have to get people to not change the channel during the ads but it really kills the high you get from a crazy moment. The sequence with Aiden triggering the explosive and what happens afterwards could have been a lot more meaningful if uninterrupted, for instance.
“Spend” was one of the busiest episodes yet and it seems the show is doing exactly what people have been clamoring for. It’s ramping everything up, it’s moving all the characters along, it’s providing genuine scares, and the tension and conflicts are leaving us starving for more. While Noah wasn’t necessarily a main character, his death was the most impactful and moving since Herschel. There’s also no doubt that his death will have a huge impact on the plot moving forward and that is the best sign that everything was executed well and it was all worthwhile. Noah’s departure may have made us sick and given us nightmares but remember, humor is always the best medicine. Too soon?
What did you think of “Spend”? Still recovering like us? Let us know what you thought in the comments below and be sure to rate the episode!