WARNING: Possible spoilers for The Walking Dead TV and comic series! Proceed carefully.
After many months and 16 episodes (including a hell of a 90-minute finale), Season 5 of [The Walking Dead](series:201193) has finished and left us all alone for the summer months before Season 6 starts up again in October. This season took fans on a huge journey, from the group leaving Terminus lucky to escape with their lives, to reaching Alexandria, a safe-zone and the first semblance of the old world the group has encountered since the outbreak began almost two years ago.
In my opinion, Season 5 has set a new benchmark for the show, and has really showed a turn around since Seasons 2 and 3 where the show slumped a little. Brilliant writing, directing and producing has meant that Season 5 shone, and is totally worthy of being called the best season yet.
Season 5 included a ton of clever and subtle references and mentions through the episodes, we've written about many of them throughout the season, but take a look at them all compiled for your own enjoyment (big thanks to What Culture for listing many of these!) and see how many you noticed:
1. A zombie self-help guide
Now this one actually hasn't appeared in the show, to my knowledge, but it is visible in the interactive tour of Alexandria available on the AMC website (over here for anyone interested). Inside the Monroe families house (Deanna's house) there are many books, in a pile in the kitchen there is one which is basically a zombie self-help book. The book is titled 'Zombies for Zombies. The Wurk and Play Book' and it's possibly a reference to the "Handbook for the Recently Deceased" from Beetlejuice.
It's interesting to me that AMC would put this book here, even if it was just a joke, because the show has always been very careful not to mention zombies throughout its run, though there was another zombie mention in Season 5, with a zombie figurine in Noah's brother's bedroom in Episode 9.
2. Dawn of the Dead shot-for-shot reference
It's quite well known now that The Walking Dead director/producer/special effects guru Greg Nicotero loves to include 'tribute zombies' in episodes of the show. In Episode 1 of Season 5, he included a nod to George Romero's film Creepshow, and Episode 9 included Grimsdyke from Tales From the Crypt. In the finale (also directed by Nicotero) there was a great little reference to Dawn of the Dead when Aaron killed a zombies in the same way as a character did in the film.
As a bonus fact (thanks to Reddit user zipzipzip), the actor in Dawn of the Dead who performs the kill is Tom Savini, who is also a makeup and special effects artist and mentor to Greg Nicotero! Nicotero's first job in the business was as a Savini's assistant on the film Day of the Dead.
3. Morgan was in Alexandria long before he actually arrived
Despite us not seeing Morgan from Episode 8 until the season finale, there was a Morgan appearance of sorts in Episode 13. Right at the end of the episode Rick walks past Jessie and Pete and through an intersection, and at the intersection one of the roads is named Morgan Street! It was a nice little reference to those who caught it, giving us hope that Morgan is still making tracks toward Rick and the group and wasn't dead.
4. Plenty of Kirkman comic references
Once the group reached Alexandria in Episode 12 we saw quite a few comic books cropping up! Comics have been seen all throughout the show (surely it's a requirement when the show is based on one, right?!), and Season 5 was no exception.
First up, Carl found a comic which has 'Wolf Fight' written on the back. While this was firstly a reference to the Wolves, the latest baddies on the show, it was also a nod to Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, who also created The Astounding Wolf-Man, a comic book series that ran for 25 issues.
The second reference came in the same episode when Enid was reading the comic Invincible which is a series also written by Robert Kirkman. Hey, when you've got a hit TV series based on one of your comic series - why not cross promote?!
5. Andrew Lincoln made a cameo
That's right, the man behind your favorite Sheriff made a cameo of sorts in Episode 9, when his voice was used! Lincoln used his natural British accent to play the radio presenter who Tyreese heard after he was bitten at Noah's house. He said:
At least 68 citizens of the republic have been killed in four deadly attacks along the main coastal district. The group has continued their campaign of random violence, moving across the countryside unfettered with the republic's military forces in disarray.
…then terrorizing the village by night, carrying out revenge attacks involving hacking innocents with machetes and, in some cases, setting them on fire.
There have been troubling reports of cannibalism having broken out in refugee camps along the republic's transportation corridor. And despite the string of victories by rebel forces, there are disturbing reports of increasing the brutality of their tactics including the wholesale destruction of villages, burning down local prisons, targeting of civilians, and even the widespread mutilation of children and young mothers. And this seems like only the beginning of their campaign that they label as an endless war against…
The broadcast was a great device used in the episode, as earlier Tyreese had been discussing with Noah how his father had always wanted him and Sasha to listen to the news, even when it was bad.
6. The Bible was everywhere
The Walking Dead got very biblical in Season 5! In the first half of the season we met Father Gabriel and took shelter in his church, and inside his church he had a number of interesting bible versus, including a quote right over the top of the altar which read:
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life
A total reference to the zombie apocalypse, right? There were also many verses to the sides of the alter which all sound very zombie related:
Romans 6:4 — We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father.
Ezekiel 37:7 — So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Matthew 27:52 — And the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
Revelation 9:6 — During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
Luke 24:5 — In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
Another biblical reference came in the second half of the season, though it was only using the interactive tour on AMC that you could really spot it. One of the books in a bookshelf is Upton Sinclair's 'Wide is the Gate,' a book about subterfuge and double agents in Nazi Germany, however it's the bible quote that the title refers to which is the real kicker:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
If that verse isn't fitting with the second half of Season 5, then I don't know what is!
7. The episode titles referenced Season 1
Way back in Season 1, fan favorite Dale paraphrased a Faulkner quote after being asked why he always kept his watch wound, despite there no longer being much use for time, the quote was:
I like what the father said to the son when he gave him a watch that had been handed down through generations. He said: ‘I give you a mausoleum of all hope and desire which will fit your individual needs, no better than it did mine and my father before me. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you may forget it. For a moment, now and then, and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it.
Season 5 revisited this quote, along with many, many other references to time, when it used five of the words to name the last five episodes of the season.
8. Rick's new uniform
After Rick and Michonne became Constables in Alexandria, they wear a new uniform for their patrols around the town. The show's costume designer, Eulyn Womble shared during [The Talking Dead](movie:570401) that one of the patches on the jacket of the uniform contained a cool little Easter egg.
The patch on the arm of the jacket has a Latin phrase which means "We will rise again." This is a cool reference to way back in Season 3, Episode 3, when The Governor used that very same phrase when talking to Andrea and Michonne at Woodbury - here's hoping Rick doesn't acquire any more Governor-like tendencies.
9. The fairy tale references
From Episode 9 we got our first hint that there were a group of big bad wolves on the way, and the writers of the show certainly took this fairytale theme and ran with it! Following the mentions of the Wolves, we also had our very own Little Red Riding Hood in the finale, who was sadly killed. However there is a second wolf-based fairy tale that I fully expect to come up in Season 6 of The Walking Dead when one of the Wolves may utter a line that Derek, the leader of the scavengers, uttered in the comic series: "Little pig, little pig...Let me in."
10. Negan was acknowledged
I don't recall there being too many more Negan references, but in Episode 9 they certainly teased the supervillain from the comic series! Firstly the group came across some razor wire, which cut Noah's face, then Glenn picked up a baseball bat, before Tyreese and Noah found Noah's mother with her head bashed in by something very circular looking. While Negan didn't make it into Season 5, it seems like the writers want us to know that he will be arriving in the show eventually, and when he does then all our favorite characters better watch out.