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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 14, ‘Spend’: Cookie Crooks

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 5, Episode 14, 'Spend': Cookie Crooks

PREVIOUSLY: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 13, ‘Forget’: Mrs. Neidermeyer’s Pasta Maker

Whose Episode Is It?

Tonight’s episode primarily focuses on the “Also Starring”
players. Eugene, Noah and Abraham all get plots this week, and Tara gets the
most screen time she’s had since the team arrived in Alexandria. Father Gabriel
has a key moment, as well. As for folks in the opening credits, Carol and Rick
do some detective work and come to some depressing conclusions. (Are there any
other kind on this show?)

Man Is the True
Monster

The biggest story this week is the disastrous supply run. At
first things seem fine: Aiden listens to Glenn’s advice and is more cautious
than he otherwise would have been, but things get pear-shaped when Aiden
accidentally shoots a grenade pinned to a SWAT walker’s chest. The explosion
gets Aiden impaled and gives Tara a grievous head injury; Glenn and Aiden’s
buddy Nicholas try to free Aiden, but Nicholas gives up basically immediately
and Glenn can’t do it alone. Right before being swarmed by walkers, Aiden
confesses to Glenn that his last raiding party wasn’t killed because they
panicked, but because Aiden and Nicholas did. Turns out those guys were even
worse than we thought they were! And then Nicholas turns out to be even
worse
.

As Glenn, Noah, and Nicholas try to escape the walkers, they
wind up wedged in separate compartments of a revolving door, a genuinely
terrifying situation even without the horde of walkers pressed to the glass.
Nicholas, apparently gunning for World Douchebag Champion, wedges himself free
but leaves a gap in Glenn and Noah’s compartment, leaving Noah to be dragged
out and torn apart right before Glenn’s eyes. And just that morning Noah had
expressed interest in becoming an architect! It’s sort of the inverse of the
old “two days away from retirement” trope. The worst yet most
dramatically interesting part of it all is that Nicholas is still alive at the
end of the episode, presumably to be put on trial back in Alexandria.

Speaking of which, Carol finds Sam hiding in her closet,
looking for more cookies. That kid is obsessed with cookies. Carol instructs
him to commit some petty theft to get the chocolate they need for another
batch, and while they’re baking Carol figures out that Sam’s father Pete is
probably abusing either Jessie, Sam or both. So, being Carol, she tells Rick
that Rick’s going to have to kill Pete. Since Pete is Alexandria’s doctor, that
should go over big with the rest of the town.

Achievement in
Grossness

I thought nothing would top Aiden getting his guts torn open
by walkers, like that scene in “Shaun of the Dead,” but then Noah
gets his frigging face graphically torn open in what is probably the most
upsetting shot the show has ever done. This is a grim show by design, but the
lingering, extended moment of Noah’s demise felt exploitative, rather than just
horrifying. It’s a fine line to walk with a show like this, and I’m certain
there is a segment of the audience that tunes in specifically for the graphic
violence, but if the show keeps tipping towards sensationalistic kills, it’s
going to have all the dramatic weight of the “Friday the 13th”
series. Hopefully it’s just an aberration for this episode.

A Shred of Humanity

As a counterpoint to Nicholas’s awfulness this week, we have
Eugene, the Ricketeers’ resident coward. Eugene’s “on the spectrum”
personality makes him forthright about his cowardice and reluctance to commit
violence, but he’s truly tested when he and Tara are separated from the others.
Thankfully, he pulls himself together, gets Tara to safety, and distracts
enough walkers from the revolving door so that Glenn and Nicholas can escape.
For a moment the episode flirts with the idea that Eugene might abandon Tara,
which really would have moved this episode from dark to pitch-black. A major
character on this show dying is one thing. That’s an inevitability. But a
character letting everyone down? That would be truly heart-breaking.

Another ray of sunshine this week? Abraham seems to find his
place by becoming a construction foreman who’s willing to do whatever it takes
to save his crew. In a nice change of pace, the original foreman gladly steps
aside when he sees that Abraham is more fit for the job. Sense at last.

It shows why the Ricketeers have been able to make it out in
the wilderness so long: they’re all fundamentally decent people, even if, like
Eugene, it takes extreme circumstances to reveal it. Sure, Father Gabriel
betrays the group by tattling on them to Deanna, but it’s Gabriel. He’s brand new,
he’s had almost no development, and who cares.

There have been other bad apples in the bunch over the years
(Shane, Carol’s husband), but they’ve been winnowed out. I had hoped the people
of Alexandria would be more nuanced, but of those we’ve met so far, Aiden and
Nicholas are garbage, Pete’s probably an abusive husband and father, and while
Deanna’s heart is in the right place, she’s complacent and naive. Jessie and
Sam are okay, but they’re Pete’s alleged victims. Based on what happens in this
episode, Rick seems right in wanting to take over Alexandria. Hopefully it’s a
little more complicated than that.

Grade: B+

READ MORE: ‘The Walking Dead’ Creator Robert Kirkman: Hold On To Your Rights!

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