Season 5, episode 14, “Spend,” gives the initial impression that things are looking hopeful in The Walking Dead. Daryl has a new motorcycle, Alexandria is recruiting again, Noah is going to learn about architecture from Reg, Glenn and Aiden seem to have patched things up, Sam hasn’t blown it for Carol, and Rick hasn’t killed anyone lately. Despite the portrayal of this bright shiny future, however, cracks, which turn into gaping holes, begin to appear in the world of The Walking Dead.
[For the recap, continue reading—but if you want to go straight to the review analysis of this episode, click here.]
A Place for Everyone in Alexandria
“Spend” opens with Father Gabriel standing in a church, ripping up a Bible for reasons known only to him (and possibly the comic book readers). This might worry us more had we not learned how to ignore Father Gabriel and his bewildering antics. Perhaps everyone else has too.
Daryl leaves Alexandria on his newly-assembled motorcycle, followed by Aaron, in search of new recruits. Noah meets with Reg because he wants to learn about architecture from him. He wants to ensure the walls of Alexandria hold—and who can blame him after what he saw in his home neighborhood? He suggests the idea of creating new buildings, and Reg responds, “So you’re in it for the long haul.” Reg seems willing to take him on as an apprentice and gives him a notebook, telling him to record the beginning of this place and what he learns.
Glenn, Aiden, Tara, Eugene, and Noah are tasked to go out and get some electronic parts to get the power grid back online in Alexandria. They are to be accompanied by Nick and Aiden. In the last episode, “Forget,” we saw that Aiden’s inexperience and cowboy tactics put them all in danger. Perhaps Glenn is in charge this time, or they just feel that this run to get the power back on is critical. The person who is not comfortable, no matter who is in charge, is Eugene. He doesn’t want to go and tells everyone who will listen that he shouldn’t be going, but Aiden tells him they want to make sure they get the right parts. Tara jokingly asks Noah about a girl he was talking to the previous night. He is saved from her teasing when Internet Friends by Knife Party begins to play on the van’s speakers. They all smile, despite the song’s ominous warning, “And now you’re going to die.”
Rick is either patrolling Alexandria or spying on Jessie. Either way, he finds her in the garage amongst the remains of her destroyed owl art. Jessie tells Rick she doesn’t know who did it, and such acts of vandalism never happen in Alexandria. He is ready to put his police skills to work to determine whoever committed this heinous crime. Does he suspect himself? He was the one who accidentally destroyed the owl in the episode “Remember.”
Leading by Example
Glenn and company have arrived at their destination. Alexandrians Nick and Aiden still act like arrogant jerks, which seems dangerous. They split into groups. Eugene is continuing with his spiel about not being combat-ready. Tara tells Eugene he needs to pull his weight. They have an argument about who brought whom to D.C. We’ve missed Eugene’s dialogue. He has a fantastic way of expressing himself.
As they enter the warehouse, it seems like Aiden is following Glenn’s lead, which is a relief. Inside the warehouse, the walkers are trapped behind a fence.
Eugene manages to find the electronics part they are looking for. Hurray! Before we can get too excited, a walker in body armor appears and Aiden shoots at it. Glenn realizes it has a grenade on its belt and shouts at Aiden to stop shooting, but it’s too late and there is an explosion. After the explosion, Nick tells them Aiden is dead and Eugene stands over an injured Tara. Eugene is too scared to kill a walker as it lumbers toward him, and Noah and Glenn have to leap into action to save him. Noah appears to have finally become an effective fighter.
Back in Alexandria, Carol finds young Sam hiding in her house. This boy really likes Carol’s cookies. And more strangely, Sam seems to like Carol even though she tried to scare the crap out of him. She tells him if he wants more cookies he will have to steal two chocolate bars. These risks for chocolate cookies seem crazy. Is she setting him up or does she really love chocolate?
Back at the warehouse, they realize that Aiden is still alive and surrounded by walkers. Glenn points out that they will need Noah, Nick and himself if they are to go and get Aiden. Eugene says that they should do it because it’s what Tara would do. He says he will keep Tara safe. Look at you, Eugene, acting all brave!
Abraham is out with Tobin and a construction crew, starting the process of expanding the wall. Abraham seems anxious, like he could lose it at any minute. But before that happens, a group of walkers appears and he springs into action. As the walkers start to overrun the site, a woman, Francine, gets trapped. Despite this, Tobin calls for retreat. Abraham ignores Tobin’s instruction and rescues Francine, killing a whole bunch of walkers along the way.
Secrets, Lies, and Surprises
Pete comes over to “talk” to Rick. He seems a little drunk. He tells Rick, “You know, I’m sure it looks like we haven’t lost much, but we have. We’ve lost things. Other things we’re just fighting like hell to hold onto. Everything you people have been through, I don’t know if you see that.” Dr. Pete walks closer to Rick and tells him to bring his kids in for a check up. As he looms over Rick, he tells him they should be friends, with a touch of underlying hostility.
Eugene tells the unconscious Tara that he warned them all and he takes no responsibility for this. He stands up and looks towards the door, making us wonder for moment if he is going to make a run for it and leave Tara. Instead, he picks her up and carries her outside, shooting the walkers in his path.
Glenn and Nick find Aiden impaled. Nick starts freaking out. Glenn tries to calm him, telling him they can do this, but he needs his help. Meanwhile, Noah tries to keep the walkers at bay. Nick panicked when he hears the gunshots. Nick then leans forward and whispers to Aiden:
“You left them. We both did. That’s who we are. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”
Then Nick runs away, leaving Glenn and Noah to deal with Aiden. Glenn desperately tries to move the impaled Aiden by himself. Aiden reveals to Glenn:
“It was us. The others before, they didn’t panic, we did. It was us.”
Despite the admission that it was his fault the previous runners died, Glenn still tries to save Aiden. Aiden says, “No,” and Noah drags Glenn away as the walkers attack Aiden. Nick. Noah and Glenn find themselves at an entrance, where they’re quickly surrounded by walkers. They find themselves temporarily protected from the walkers, with Glenn and Noah on one side of the revolving door and Nick on the other. But, as usual, protection is only temporary.
At the construction site, Abraham takes charge after saving Francine. Rather than abandoning their work, he doubles the watch and continues the work. He’s in much better spirits. Tobin comes back to Alexandria to talk to Deanna. Tobin tells Deanna that Abraham is leading them better than he ever could. Deanna reluctantly concedes and he tells her, “Thank you Deanna. And the thing is, I know you won’t regret it.” Reg and Tobin leave and Maggie tries to reassure Deanna that Abraham can oversee the construction site:
Maggie: “He’s right, you know. Abraham is more than qualified.”
Deanna: “I put another one of your people in a position of power. You vouch for them. It’s becoming a pattern.”
Maggie: “We know what we’re doing. That’s why you wanted us here. That’s why Aaron and Daryl are out there looking for more people. You wanted a future. You need us for that.”
Deanna: “That’s right.”
Deanna is worried about the future, and as part of that, she is also worried about the power dynamics of Alexandria.
Sam comes back to Carol’s house with two chocolate bars, smiling at the lady who threatened him. Carol takes a stern approach with Sam, trying to be cold and unfriendly, but Sam seems unaffected. He asks, “Were you always a good cook?” Exasperated, she says, “Sam, we’re not talking.” Despite her tough act, she seems unable to resist the desire to be protective with Sam. When he asks why she needed the guns, Carol tells him, “Cuz sometimes you need to protect yourself.” He asks if he can have a gun, telling her it’s not for him. When she asks him who the gun is for, he runs away. Sam’s not afraid of Carol, even after her threats, but he is scared to tell her who it is in need of protection.
Things look grim for Glenn, Noah, and Rick, trapped in the revolving door. Then, Eugene drives past the front entrance, playing loud music, to draw the walkers away. Despite Glenn’s instructions to work together to get out, Nick panics and decides to abandon them once more and make his own escape. This causes the door to revolve and Noah to get dragged out of the revolving door by the walkers still inside the building. Glenn helplessly watches on the other side of the glass door as the walkers eat Noah alive. It is probably one of the most disturbing scenes to date on The Walking Dead. Nick runs to the van and tries to force Eugene to leave. But Eugene remains strong, even risking his life to try to stop Nick. Glenn arrives and pulls Nick out the van and starts punching him, yet has the restraint to resist killing him.
Gabriel wants to speak with Deanna privately, though neither Deanna nor Gabriel realize that Maggie is listening from the stairs. He tells her that Satan disguises himself as the angel of light. He says she made a mistake letting in the others. He tells Deanna, “Rick, his group, they’re not good people. They’ve done things. They’ve done unspeakable things.” He tells her they can’t be trusted and they’re dangerous:
“The day will come when they’ll put their own lives before yours and everyone else’s and they will destroy everything you have here. Everything you’re working so hard to build.”
Carol walks down the street to talk to Sam, but finds a drunken Pete at the door. He refuses to let her talk to Sam or Jessie. Carol recognizes the signs of abuse from her own experience and goes to talk to Rick. She tells him, “Rick, I know how this is gonna go with Pete. There’s only one way it can go. You’re gonna have to kill him.”
There were many surprises in “Spend.” Some were small reveals, such as Deanna’s growing concern, while others were big shocks, such as Noah’s gruesome death. This was a very dramatic episode leaving many questions in the air.
Will Tara survive? We think it’s pretty likely Tara (Alanna Masterson) will live, as the death of Noah (Tyler James Williams) will probably be enough to keep the blood lust of the writers at bay for a while. It was certainly shocking for the viewers, in terms of being both unexpected and gruesome. But then again, we didn’t think they would kill off Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) right after Beth’s (Emily Kinney) death. The death count for Season 5 of The Walking Dead continues to rise. We loved seeing Eugene (Josh McDermitt) take action, despite his fear, in order to save Tara. It would be very disappointing if she didn’t survive after everything Eugene did. And the The Walking Dead strives to shock, not disappoint.
How will Deanna react to her son’s death? Before they left on the run, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) made the point to say to Glenn (Steven Yeun), “I know I said it before, but thank you,” thanking him again for exposing the risks Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) has been taking. We assume that means she believes Glenn and the others can keep Aiden safe. But in “Spend” it becomes clear that Aiden cannot be protected from his and Nick’s (Michael Traynor) panicked responses and lack of teamwork.
Could she have had the insight to understand these things about her son? Is Glenn going to expose Nick and Aiden? It’s not clear that telling Deanna that her son was a coward will help anybody. The part Nick played in Aiden’s death adds additional complications. We also don’t know what story Nick is going to tell about what happened, which could mediate her response. It’s possible that Glenn and Nick will come to an agreement before they arrive back in Alexandria as to what story they will tell. Will Deanna believe that Glenn and Noah risked their lives to try to save Aiden, or will it only confirm Gabriel’s warning?
Will Deanna heed Gabriel’s warning? If Deanna is anything like most viewers, she will just ignore Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and his unfathomable choices, though it seems more likely that Gabriel’s caution will reinforce Deanna’s growing realization that most members of this group are much more powerful than her initial assessment led her to believe. The writers juxtaposed Gabriel’s admonition with stories of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn risking their own lives to save the people of Alexandria. It becomes clear that Alexandria is not the paradise that Gabriel extolls, but a place where people react in fear, thinking only of their own safety, when they face danger. Whereas Rick and his group have stayed alive by taking risks for each other and working with military-like precision as a team, the people of Alexandria have relied on walls to keep them safe and to keep their secrets.
Will Rick kill Pete? The narrative of Jessie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) abuse emerged in an interesting way, with Sam (Major Dodson) insisting on spending time with Carol (Melissa McBride). Perhaps Sam recognizes, consciously or not, that a badass like Carol might be able to protect him and his mom. Carol, as a survivor of domestic abuse, is quick to recognize the signs. While the scene between Carol and Sam in “Forget” was terrifying, the scenes between them in “Spend” are almost comical. As it becomes evident that Sam may have another agenda besides more cookies, Carol can’t help but become involved, despite her earlier, seemingly ineffective, efforts to scare off Sam.
At the end of Episode 13, we already got a sense that Rick harbored potentially violent intentions towards Pete (Corey Brill). Now Rick may have a reason to act on his instincts.
The last few episodes of The Walking Dead have been suspenseful and interesting, but not scary, as the group found its way to Alexandria and settled in. Episode 14, “Spend,” throws us some curveballs back in Alexandria, while providing non-stop drama at the warehouse. Season 5 has two more episodes left. After this week’s exciting episode, who knows what the season finale of The Walking Dead will bring? Luckily, the wait will only be temporary.
For more pictures, see our image gallery for Spend.