The Walking Dead 5×14 Review: Spend

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I have to say that this episode of The Walking Dead was one of the more disturbing episodes of this show ever – if not the MOST disturbing. And on top of that, it was disturbing on several levels, to the point where I almost don’t know how to begin.

In a way, I think that with “Spend” it’s best to start by combining Gabriel’s scenes from the beginning and the end. While it seems that other members of the group are fitting in (Maggie), trying to do so (Eugene), or at least faking it (Carol), Gabriel has clearly gone off the deep end. He starts by ripping pages out of the Bible and ends by “ratting out” the group to Deanna. Did he completely forget the terrible decisions he made, the people who died because of his cowardice?twd 5x14 1

It didn’t seem that Deanna outright believed him, and of course Maggie overheard him, so at least she’ll be able to warn the others. And speaking of Maggie, interesting that she’s *already* sitting and weighing in on important meetings – and has possibly (maybe even apparently?) had some influence on some of Deanna’s decisions regarding placing certain members of the group in positions of ‘power’.

twd 5x14 4Of course the most recent example of that happened in this very episode, as Tobin insisted on passing his job as construction crew leader to Abraham. Now, Abraham had a couple of interesting moments in “Spend”, moments when I wondered if perhaps he was going the way of Sasha, unable to handle this “Safe-Zone Nonsense”. But the moment danger threatened, he seriously stepped up. Not only did he save Francine from certain death, but he inspired another crew member (Bruce) to go to their aid. And then Abraham convinced the workers to stay on site and continue collecting supplies for the wall! It was one of the few almost (almost) positive story lines in this episode.

twd 514 3Now, while I still have serious concerns about Carol, she also seemed to take a step back from the edge in “Spend” when she realized that Pete was beating Jessie and possibly Sam as well. Her reaction – and her attempt to call Rick to action – don’t exactly outweigh the fact that she was so recently threatening this kid, but perhaps this will be the first step toward her turning around…or at least continuing to move away from that edge.

But even with everything happening back in Alexandria, the most insane part of this episode centered around Eugene, Tara, Glenn, Noah…and those two jerks from Alexandria. What are their names again? Oh wait, I just realized, I don’t care.

(For the record, their names are Aiden and Nicholas, but for the purposes of this review I’m going to refer to them as Asshat Aiden and Asshat Nicholas.)

It was obvious that this supply run was a bad idea from the start. The worst part about it is that they didn’t really give enough background as to why it was such an important run, or go into exactly what they were looking for and why. I know a bit of background from the comics, but that doesn’t excuse the show from giving a better explanation of what they were up to – especially when it had such consequences.

Again, though, the whole thing screamed bad idea. They insisted that Eugene goes, despite his protests that he was worthless and would be more a hindrance than anything. They entered a building that only had one decent exit. Oh, and they brought Noah, who has a bum leg. Seriously, I’ve been wondering why they put Noah on the supply run team, and “Spend” pretty much just made me think that they did it because it was an easy way to kill him off whenever they felt like it. I could be wrong, but after they got rid of Beth in “Coda” I lost a lot of faith in how well they plan out character deaths on Walking Dead.

Not to mention that in addition to Eugene, Tara, Glenn, and Noah were weighed down by Asshats Aiden and Nicholas. And in the end, Asshat Aiden’s stupidity doomed them even more, while Asshat Nicholas’ cowardice surpassed even Eugene’s. (Who in the end turned out to not be so cowardly as he claimed, after all.) While Asshat Aiden’s death was disgusting (almost overly so), it was expected considering how obnoxious he was.

On the other hand, I definitely misread the signs for Noah’s death – or hey, maybe they weren’t there at all, and this was just another time when the writers just wanted to see how badly they could shock viewers. His manner of death was as disgusting as Asshat Aiden’s, but far more disturbing, considering why it happened (Asshat Nicholas), considering that Glenn witnessed it and is obviously messed up about it…and also considering that Noah was a good kid, and not, you know, an Asshat of the First Degree.

That said, Tyler James Williams mentioned on Talking Dead that he knew he was doomed when Rick covered Carl and then Noah with blankets one night when they’d just arrived in Alexandria, and immediately after, Chris Hardwick said that he should have seen it coming because Noah expressed interest in and hope for the future at the beginning of “Spend”. I still think it was an untimely death for this specific character, but between what Asshat Nicholas pulled and the fact that Francine would have died had Abraham obeyed Tobin, it certainly seems that the Alexandria people are at least half worthless. Glenn may have said that they were out there too long – but for the most part, they can at least be trusted to help others. Even people they barely know (Abraham saving Francine) or outright don’t like (Glenn trying, until the very last moment, to save Aiden).

Chris Hardwick also mentioned that this could have been a season finale, because “so many messed up things happened”…and he definitely has a point. I think we should all take his advice about preparing ourselves for the season finale, because even when they make what I think are questionable decisions, the Walking Dead writers sure know how to wrench out viewers’ hearts.

And we’re already seeing that (so far, at least) this show isn’t allowing things to slow down just because they’ve arrived in this so-called “Safe Zone”. Bravo on that!

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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6 thoughts on “The Walking Dead 5×14 Review: Spend

  1. This episode was very disturbing on many levels. Mostly because we’re starting to see everything fall apart. I can’t imagine how things are going to turn out in the next two episodes.

    I also questioned Noah’s untimely death. Ultimately, it’s the writers decisions, but it made no sense to have Noah and Beth exchange lives just to be killed five episodes later. However, Noah’s death was truly gut-wrenching, and that because(and I think they mentioned this on The Talking Dead) he was a character most fans grew to like. It’s too bad he wasn’t able to survive a season.

    No matter, I think the gang has a worse fate. I keep saying I think Rick, Sasha, Carol and Abraham have really lost it. I mean, everyone is traumatized, including the safe zone Alexandrian people. However, Rick and Carol, in particular, have been accustomed to living out in the wild, normality is going to be their downfall.

    It really is interesting. As much as it gives me anxiety watching the next two episodes, I look forward to the development of all these characters.

    Also good point. Why bring Eugene and Noah along for a supply run? Another testimony to Walking Dead characters making poor decisions, ha ha.

  2. Asshat Aiden and Nicholas…. I’m going to use that.

    I’m so upset by Noah’s death. Most gruesome so far. I don’t know how they keep topping themselves. STAHP

  3. um, i thought it was pretty clear why the supply run was necessary, and why Eugene had to go. six minutes into the episode, Eugene’s explaining that some piece of electronic equipment (for surveillance/security) looks “consistent in appearance across manufacturers.” the others don’t wanna bring accidentally bring back the wrong shit, so they insist on Eugene coming along, since he’s the expert on that technical shit.

    1. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough – the show gave us the general gist of why they needed to make the run and why Eugene needed to go, but my question was, how did they get to the point where that was necessary? The episode just kind of began with “oh we’re having power problems and have already planned this run”. It just felt like a very half-assed explanation.

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