NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of The Walking Dead, including a major character death, are present in this review
Leave it to Rick’s crew to officially find a way to ruin paradise. At the very least, leave it to Gabriel, who finally decides to make a fuss about Rick’s people apparently being bad in a somewhat hammy fashion, but I’ll get to that later.
The bulk of “Spend” involves things rapidly spiraling when it comes to Rick’s crew becoming trouble for Alexandria. This unfolds between an ill-fated supply run by Glenn, Eugene, Tara, Nicholas, Noah, and Aiden, a construction site incident on Abraham’s end, and Carol learning a potentially damning secret about Sam, Pete and Jess. After the uplifting feeling of the past couple of episodes, it seems like The Walking Dead is going back to good old reliable misery now.
The biggest plot of the episode unfolds during the supply run, which Eugene is forced along for, despite his repeated admissions of being a coward that is useless in combat. It’s not Eugene that creates an issue however, when the group is looking for a way to restore the power grid in a nearby electronics warehouse. Instead, it’s Aiden that ends up creating an issue, stupidly shooting at an armoured riot gear Walker, and accidentally activating one of its grenades, which nearly blows up the place.
If I’m being honest, this is pretty contrived, even for a dick like Aiden. It feels like another transparent way that the show is trying to force a conflict where none needs to happen. Then again, I guess the episode needs a major incident to push forward to the sure-to-be-dire season finale in a couple of weeks.
After everyone becomes separated, and Tara is knocked out with severe head trauma, Eugene is left to guard Tara, as Glenn, Nicholas and Noah rush to try and save Aiden. It turns out to be for nothing, as Nicholas gives up and leaves Aiden to be eaten by Walkers, forcing Noah to drag Glenn away as it happens (bye, Aiden. You will not be missed), and prompting Eugene to flee, saying that he takes no responsibility for anything that’s happening.
Fortunately, the episode delivers a cool twist, with Eugene actually successfully carrying Tara to safety, and commandeering a truck that draws the horde of Walkers away when Glenn, Nicholas and Noah end up trapped in a revolving door, packed with Walkers on both sides of the glass, which somehow doesn’t break under their weight. Glenn hatches a plan when Eugene bails them out, allowing Nicholas to squeeze out, and then having Nicholas abandon the two men. Glenn manages to narrowly escape, but not in time to save Noah, who is gruesomely devoured by Walkers from the other side of the glass.
Yep, not only is this yet another red herring for a seemingly inescapable Glenn death,but it’s also the latest addition to what’s become a pretty high body count for Season Five. Noah’s the latest to die, making his taking the late Beth’s spot in the group a little bit pointless, but his death scene was pretty well-executed and grisly, in fairness.
This also leads into a great scene with Eugene actually fending off Nicholas, who threatens to kill him if Nicholas is not taken back to Alexandria, leaving Glenn to punch the bastard out, and throw him in the back with the unconscious Tara. It’s great to see that Eugene got to be the hero this week, and isn’t just a festering drama device like Gabriel is.
Speaking of Gabriel, the way that he tries to rat out Rick’s group to Deanna, claiming they’re bad people, and are Satan in disguise, was honestly a bit unintentionally hilarious, albeit also rather frustrating. Gabriel would have surely died without Rick’s group, and while it’s nice to see that Deanna didn’t just immediately believe Gabriel, she frankly should have just kicked his stupid ass out the door from the get-go. He sounded like a raving lunatic! Maggie conveniently eavesdropping on the conversation is also bound to further stoke the fires of conflict between the survivors and Alexandria, though it begs the question of why she didn’t interject, and tell Gabriel to get a grip, particularly since Gabriel was consoling her a few episodes back! Moreover, she should have also pointed out that Gabriel has no evidence of his claims whatsoever, something that I’m surprised Deanna didn’t point out as well.
As for Abraham, he saves a fellow worker, Francine, from a Walker attack as he joins the construction effort to extend the walls of Alexandria. Abraham’s heroism shames the foreman, who tells Deanna that he wishes to relinquish his leadership to Abraham, though this is seemingly moot in the very next scene, when Gabriel’s contrived heel-turn takes place. This simply amounted to adding more Walker action for this episode, since the show has gone a little while without a large-scale Walker attack.
Lastly, Carol begrudgingly helps Sam learn to bake cookies, and potentially learns that Pete is abusing both Sam and Jess. She relays the news to Rick, though as with Gabriel, she has no evidence, beyond a gut feeling. This also feels a bit contrived, though it’s more acceptable in this case, since there’s the subtle implication that Carol wants a fight, and may just be looking for a reason to start one, so she can help the group take over Alexandria. While it’s not as blunt, Rick could be pondering this too, and Carol suggesting that he kill Pete could be the motivation he needs to enact his plot for Jess.
“Spend” was a thrilling episode that upped the pace of the show, and that’s good, but it also went back to contrivances and crowbarring in reaching plot developments, and that’s not as good. For the many good things that happened this episode, namely the solid action, the dramatic death of Noah, and Eugene being a hero for once, there were also a good handful of frustrating story elements that felt too unbelievable and/or forced. It’s getting clear that AMC needs to downscale the show a little bit, since it’s becoming bloated at this point, which is why Gabriel suddenly deciding to screw over his group for example, felt like it came out of nowhere, as Gabriel’s been shoved into the background over the past several weeks.
I can see the season finale claiming a few more bodies amongst Rick’s survivors, and I really hope that Gabriel is one of them. He only seems to exist to cause trouble.
- Eugene's heroism saves the day
- More exciting pace
- Noah's grisly end
- Most conflicts were forced
- Gabriel's awful heel-turn