Teaching the Dead: Meaning of Titles and Nods to Dale

For the past five weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what the titles of the episodes from the second half of season 5 of the Walking Dead have meant. I was pretty certain they meant something, as show runner Scott Gimple always places meaning in just about everything. The last two seasons have been full of symbolism, motifs, running and developing themes, and parallels to previous events and characters. There was meaning in there somewhere….

The titles:

  • Remember
  • Forget
  • Spend
  • Try
  • Conquer

Just words. The only thing they have in common is that they are single words and they are all part of the “Alexandria Story Arc.” I’ve tried to match them to the plot or theme of the episode, but they don’t fit. I’ve tried to make them into a sentence, but can’t do it.

Now I get it….

I cannot take credit for figuring out the puzzle, as I first read it on a blog from Uproxx. It takes us all the way  back to season 1 in the episode Vatos. Dale explains why he keeps winding his watch while they are enjoying a “fish fry.” Moments later, Walkers attack and kill most of the camp.

His explanation is a quote from Faulkner:

I like what, uh, a father said to son when he give him a watch that had been handed down through generations. He said “I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire, which will fit your individual needs no better than it did mine or my father’s 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.”

There are the words in the last line of Dale’s speech, the titles of the episodes. (Source: http://uproxx.com/tv/2015/03/the-walking-dead-easter-egg/)


We’ve seen a few nods to Dale this season. The RV that takes them to the Safe Zone looks amazingly like Dale’s vehicle and Glenn’s ability to fix the RV harkens images of Dale. There seems to be a subtle and not-so-subtle attempt to remind the viewer of him.

But why?

The reasons may be linked to additional images from the season.

Throughout the series, the motif of watches/clocks/timepieces and the theme of time have been prevalent. From Rick’s watch given to Sam (who dies), to Carol’s watch given to Rick (from her husband, also dead), to the clock in the street that Tyreese sees (before he dies), there is a pattern. Not everyone who sees a clock dies, but the theme of time hangs over them as a reminder that time is fleeting.

Or as Dale said, that time cannot be chased and should be forgotten. You cannot conquer time, any more than you can conquer death.

Dale’s speech is the reminder of time hanging over their heads, and the time pieces we see are physical symbols of Dale’s message.

So where is this going?

A major timepiece in the series, and one that has a palce among the opening credits, is Hershall’s watch, which was passed on to Glenn, taken at Terminus, then returned. Hershall, the former owner of the watch, is (you guessed it) dead. Who owns the watch now?


Who had the greatest connection to Dale, the character whose speech is giving us the title of the last five episodes of the season?


Who is reminding us of Dale by repairing the RV?


This does not bode well for Glenn.

Add to those images many scenes with Glenn and a baseball bat, nearly getting hit with one in “No Sanctuary”  and then using one as a weapon at Shirewilt and I’m going to draw the conclusion that Glenn’s days are numbered. I believe that Negan will make his appearance far earlier than most analysts are predicting and that Glenn will get his iconic comic book death sooner rather than later.

We may even get a glimpse of Negan in the finale.

Could he be part of the “Wolves?”

Remember Noah’s mother’s corpse? Her head was bashed in by something with the shape of a baseball bat (this was also confirmed on The Talking Dead). Negan may have had a hand in the attack on Shirewilt.  Yes, it’s early for Negan’s arrival, but that may be the eliminate of surprise they are banking on.

I’m increasingly more convinced of Glenn’s impending death at Negan’s hands, and I think these nods to Dale and time are foreshadowing it. Add the baseball balls and Glenn’s increasing role and presence on-screen, and well, it doesn’t look good for our pizza delivery boy.

Not convinced yet? Here’s something else to chew one. Jeffrey DeMunn was seen in Atlanta eating lunch with another departed character Shane during the time the second half of the season was being filmed. Why would Shane and Dale be in Atlanta? To film a flashback sequence? Although their visit would not have matched up with the filming of the finale, it is possible they were filming out of order, especially if those two actors were between projects.

A flashback with Dale in it also doesn’t look good for the longevity of Glenn.

One more nugget to add:


A picture from Norman Reedus’ instagram account, showing off his new bike that  last week. Who’s in the right hand side of the picture?

Dale,  in costume.

I’m  certain the episode titles, the nods to Dale’s RV, and now this photo guarantees a Dale flashback in the finale, and I guess its up for the individual to judge if that has any bearing on Glenn’s ultimate fate.

SPOILER ALERT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Editor’s note – I just read the summary for the finale and apparently Glenn DOES survive. With that knowledge I now say he has one season left on the show, possible half a season. I also still hold to my belief that Negan will make his appearance sooner rather than later, and I wonder if they filmed a Dale flashback to keep on ice until Glenn’s death. There is a scene after the credits roll that has not been revealed to us, so it must be something big.


One thought on “Teaching the Dead: Meaning of Titles and Nods to Dale

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s