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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 5 Review – A Phenomenal Penultimate Episode

This review contains major episode spoilers.

Become,” the penultimate episode of “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” takes viewers back to a more nostalgic-style of storytelling in the TWDU. On the heels of their rocky escape from the Civic Republic Military, Michonne and Rick are honeymooning their way through Wyoming, enjoying the sights and sounds of a quiet, apocalyptic grassland. Moving from place to place, staying in all sorts of random structures left to rot – this traveling style of survival calls to mind the many episodes of Season 4 and 5 which featured our band of survivors endlessly roaming the countryside. Most memorably, Carl, Michonne, and Rick once had an eventful journey down the railroad tracks in rural Georgia. As the spin-offs in the universe start leaning heavily into more civilized, polished settings, it’s a breath of fresh (or rotten) air to return to the greenery and grass that once defined “The Walking Dead’s” visual aesthetic. 

After so much tension and turmoil, it’s wonderful to see Rick and Michonne in high-spirits again, slowly sinking back into the dynamic they once had. Later in the episode, the duo flirt and frolic their way into an abandoned national park gift shop. Rick secretly collects gifts for Michonne, breaking off the letters of a custom necklace so that it remains just a shiny “M” on a chain. Who says love is dead in the zombie apocalypse? 

In a classic display of Walking Dead-isms, Rick and Michonne stumble across a small group under attack from some particularly rocky walkers. The duo immediately jump into hero mode, quickly dispatching the shambling enemies. As another act of kindness, they gift the recovering survivors some bagged noodles (not so subtly labeled “Tasteful Noods”). Just as Rick and Michonne start to walk away, the survivors pull out pistols. In a situation that would have caused massive conflict in the main series’ earlier seasons, the duo makes quick work of the hostiles, disarming them almost immediately. 

The brief de-escalation comes across as almost comedic, but viewers shouldn’t expect any less extreme of a reaction from Rick and Michonne after what they’ve experienced over the years. Afterwards, the duo grab their noodles back, take one of the hostiles’ pistols (noticeably a red pistol, red machete anyone?), and give them one more chance to change their ways of survival. The scene at first seems to be nothing more than a fun wink to Michonne and Rick’s skills, but in The Walking Dead world nothing comes without a consequence. The spared survivors cleverly show up later, playing a key role in how the episode shakes out; but more on that later. 

One of the most notable elements from “Become” is the surprising return of Seth Gilliams’ Father Gabriel character, last seen in the flagship series’ finale. The character appears in several brief flashbacks scattered intermittently throughout the episode. At different periods throughout the main show’s timeline, it is revealed that Father Gabriel and Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) used to have yearly meet-ups in the woods near Alexandria. Jadis would frequently ponder about her sins and decisions, with Gabriel almost serving as a priest in a confession-style dialogue. Gabriel upsettingly recounts the loss of Rick Grimes on the bridge, with Jadis (knowing of his fate) having to keep her lips sealed regarding the livelihood of their seemingly-fallen leader. It’s an interesting dynamic to see on-screen again, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t forget that Father Gabriel and Jadis’ relationship briefly turned romantic earlier in Season 9.

It’s great to see a classic “The Walking Dead” character return to the screen and these sequences also grant Jadis a few more intimate and authentic moments before her imminent demise. The narrative placement of these moments in comparison to the broader The Walking Dead timeline is tough to mentally sort out on the spot, but with a quick Google you’ll find that fans have already broken out what events in the main show’s story were occurring during these sequences. The Walking Dead fans are very much still out and about. 

As I mentioned earlier, episode 5 sees the grand demise of none other than Jadis AKA Anne. First appearing in Season 7 of the series, Pollyanna McIntosh has felt like a key part of The Walking Dead’s story for many years. Despite slimming the amount of legacy cast leads within its spin-off shows, it’s great to see The Walking Dead still committing to their “no one is safe” mantra in regards to its main characters’ mortality. 

Kick-started by a dangerously hilarious surprise visit from Jadis while Rick and Michonne lay in bed together (similar to Jesus’ surprise appearance to Rick and Michonne in Alexandria), Jadis’ final stand is commendable and downright captivating. Tied together by hand-to-hand combat, a vicious car chase, and a suspenseful shoot-out, Jadis’ final battle with Rick and Michonne is well-earned and tense. The episode conveniently brings back the disgruntled survivors from earlier, allowing for a wounded Jadis to enlist their help in taking down Rick and Michonne

Rick, Michonne, and Jadis shout out at each other amongst the chaos, desperately trying to make an arrangement that results with none of them bleeding out. Jadis’ hostile survivors perish in the fight, bringing us back to a solely Jadis vs. Rick and Michonne matchup. Jadis still boasts the fact that she has stowed a secret document with all of Alexandria’s information at the CRM in the event of her demise. As the fight reaches its intensive end the now re-animated versions of the dead survivors pop up and take a chunk out of Jadis’ neck, perhaps revenge for using them as a punching bag just to get to Rick. As Jadis succumbs from her fatal wound, she reminisces about her journey in the apocalypse. It’s an elegantly written monologue, albeit a bit watered down by cuts to shots from the original The Walking Dead show that stand out due to the drastic difference in video quality. 

Jadis’ final message sums up her character’s experiences and arc pretty beautifully, showing us that in the end Anne prevailed and “Jadis” was never truly as cold-hearted as the Civic Republic Military wanted her to be. 

”I wish I died an artist. It was never about survival. And that life… it was just about truth. And this is mine. The end of my story. My peace,” Jadis proclaims.

This final dialogue is delivered with such vivid emotion from McIntosh, perfectly conveying the anguish and longing of one wishing for their life before the apocalypse. The entire sequence is intercut with Gabriel and Jadis’s last yearly visit, in which she holds him at gunpoint in order to eliminate any loose ends. As Jadis is defeated in the present day, the events in the flashback unfold only to reveal that Jadis’ opted not to kill Gabriel, choosing her heart over allegiance to the CRM. 

Major props to Pollyanna McIntosh for portraying such a dynamic and eccentric character throughout an ever-evolving series. Much like Dead City, these spin-off shows allow the TWDU to fully explore grand and drastic evolutions of characters from the main series.

Before dying, Jadis reveals the whereabouts of her secret briefing on Alexandria, laying the seeds for Michonne and Rick’s next journey. Lastly, Jadis reveals that she has a ring on hand, one that Father Gabriel gave to her after remembering Rick’s wishes to marry Michonne back in the main series. They take the ring, Michonne vows to take down the CRM, and soon after Rick executes Jadis before she turns. 

To cap-off yet another phenomenal episode, Rick finally proposes to Michonne using the ring from Father Gabriel in a romantic moment that has been a long-time coming for fans of these characters. Only in The Walking Dead would a character’s gruesome death somehow play a part in a marriage proposal. The soon-to-be newlyweds start their journey back to the CRM, setting up the finale of Season 1(?) of The Ones Who Live.

With much to cover in only one episode, it seems all but certain that this spin-off will have some sort of continuation within The Walking Dead Universe; even if not under the same name. 

4 out of 5 skulls

The post “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” Episode 5 Review – A Phenomenal Penultimate Episode appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



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