The final 10 minutes of The Walking Dead's season finale on Sunday were some of the most intense moments of the entire series so far. Besides the usual threat of death, there was also a new threat (Wolves) and another major takeover.

In a way, Alexandria was a representation of innocence this season. The people there had yet to be corrupted by the reality of having to kill for survival. They were barely equipped to fight each other, let alone external threats. They had all the physical resources needed to survive, but Rick's team has all the mental tools. From the moment he entered that space, we all knew he'd be taking it over sooner rather than later, and that it'd be for the best.

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At the moment, his residence is in jeopardy. After the Pete-Rick showdown, Deanna calls a meeting to decide if Rick should be exiled; his team spends this time defending him and applauding his leadership. Quote of the night goes to Michonne, who tells Deanna during the meeting, "Who he is, is who you're gonna be. If you're lucky."

Last week's episode dealt with the repercussions of Pete's domestic abuse. Instead of killing him, like Rick suggests, Deanna puts Pete a separate home. We see why this can't work. Pete is an untamable loose cannon with mental issues that can't be solved in this setting.

The meeting scene is apposed with shots of Rick fighting walkers that entered the community after Gabriel (who's been walking around with a death wish) left the gate open on purpose. Rick ends up literally squeezing the life out of a walker that's on top of him and you barely flinch because getting shit done while being a little maniacal in the process is what Rick does. The level of indifference he shows any time he kills someone or something is truly scary.

The Walking Dead is largely a show about average people turning into fighters. It's not that surprising that Daryl has become the muscle of the group because his toughness was always on display. Rick also had that gene. It's more satisfying to see people like Morgan and Carol, a deceptively chill menace, step up and flex.

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Morgan, who's been on his own life-changing journey after separating from Rick, is fighting like an unlocked Mortal Kombat character who's been listening to "All Day."

In this world, Carol has successfully flipped her victimization into empowerment in the bossest way possible. That toughness is epitomized in the face-off between her and Pete. She holds a knife to his neck and says, "Come at me [bruh is implied]." She also warns, "You're a small, weak nothing. And with the world how it is, you're even weaker. Play your cards right. Maybe you don't have to die."

Gotta imagine those were internalized words she heard often from her abusive husband that she's now using as a power move.

A lead character death would've been the obvious course for a finale. The writers smartly used this assumption to instead play off our paranoia. We feel this anxiety for Daryl during his field run with Aaron.

The opening scene let us know there's a new enemy out there: the Wolves. They're the ones who've been carving W's on the foreheads of walkers and rigging walker traps. DAARYL unfortunately runs into one of their traps and ends up stuck in a car with walkers pounding on the windows, putting their adorable budding brotherhood in peril.

Morgan, of course, arrives just in time to save them. Do I speak in Jamaican patois (even though I'm not Jamaican) anytime Carol, Michonne or Morgan do something badass? Maybe.

We also feel anxiety for Glenn when he's battling with Nicholas in the forests. Glenn has an opportunity to kill him but he doesn't and it's yet another moment where Glenn shows incredible mercy and shows why he's a necessary rational voice in this mix of people who've, like Sasha and Father Gabriel, gone hysterical.

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Rick interrupts Deanna's meeting and drops a walker's body on the ground to show that he's been doing real shit while they're over there talking. Pete already sealed his fate in the last episode, so when he arrives swinging a sword and slashes Reg's neck, it's over. A horrified Deanna finally gives Rick—who tried to tell y'all—the go-ahead to kill Pete.

Rick is now about to become the de facto leader of Alexandria. And the Wolves are the next group to take down. There's a great moment in the middle of Michonne's talk with Rick where she's trying to convince him they can make this place work without anarchy. She tells him, "I don't need my sword." She's wrong. Michonne gets her sword back in the end, after Pete's done with it, because there's a lot more fighting to do.

Images via AMC


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