More cringe-worthy moments as The Walking Dead builds off the momentum of its stellar season premiere. With the introduction of a new character and a return of some old ones, how did the second episode fare?
Let’s bitch it out.
I hope you weren’t eating dinner by the time that last scene popped up – aka the BobBQ. *Shudder*. It comes as no surprise that angry hipster Gareth (Andrew J. West) is back with what’s left of the Terminus crew to terrorize the Grimes gang for destroying their home last week. Looks like that bullet barely grazed him as he appears completely unscathed, calmly placating Bob (Lawrence Gillard Jr.) whilst munching on a nicely cooked piece of Bob’s leg (barf). I must say I’m surprised that the Terminus crew has turned up so quickly after the Grimes gang’s departure, but the avoidance of dragging out inevitable plot points is a welcomed change this season. The hasty reappearance of the Termites hopefully speaks to S5 continuing with a good pace and a forward momentum.
‘Strangers’ does tend to drag a bit in that we know when we get really happy moments, like the celebration in the church, something ominous is literally right around the corner. Bob essentially paints a target on his back when he waxes optimistically to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) about how this constant state of post-apocalyptic survival is just a temporary nightmare. Things will ‘reset’ and return to how they were soon enough. I thought for sure Bob would eat it by the end of the episode with such a naive proposition. Although he seems pretty lucid at episode’s end, sans one leg, I doubt Bob will stick around as long our other favourite one-legger, Hershel (Scott Wilson), did. As I mentioned last week, our group of survivors is way too large to maintain throughout the entire season. I’m calling it – Bob will likely be gone by the end of next week.
If Bob’s optimism wasn’t enough, let’s not forget the blissful happiness he’s managed to find with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). Relationships don’t tend to last on The Walking Dead, and the way-too-fast-way-too-obvious-ness of their relationship further marks at least Bob, if not Sasha as well, for exiting the series soon. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking “Oh yeah, they’re a couple” when the two were smooching in the forest. Bob has had a bit of character development, but not nearly enough. I still feel as though I have no idea who he is and what warrants his seemingly sudden change to cheerful optimism. Is that all due to Sasha? What about the groups he was apart of prior where he remained the only survivor? That’s likely to leave more permanent psychological scarring don’t you think? I also find it suspect that his alcoholism has been all but dropped from character’s narrative. True, such serious storylines don’t really have a place in the zombie-genre, but the show ‘went there’ and should feel some obligation to deal with the issue in a more definitive and holistic way. I would hate to think it was just dropped in (and out) merely as a convenience, but I fear this is the case.
But back to this week’s episode – aside from the return of the Termites and setting up the expectation that they’ll be the primary antagonists, the episode does well to quickly set up what the rest of the season will explore. Namely, that the entire gang (or what’s left of them) will be setting off for Washington to hopefully find ‘infrastructure’ that will push them beyond surviving day-to-day, and resetting and establishing a normalcy of life once more. Obviously these prospects seem completely unlikely, but it does give the gang (and us) a goal to work toward. There needs to be a promise of something beyond the repetitive hamster wheel of cyclical survival, small glimmer of hope followed by terrible and unimaginable loss. Even if this does end up being the case, what will keep the group (and the audience) invested is the hope that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. But after the BobBQ, it’s unlikely that we’ll get to Washington this season, as we’ve still got some cannibals to take care of. I’m betting Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) won’t be too happy to see the return of Martin (Chris Coy), as we learn he didn’t give a good enough beating to end him in that cabin. I guess some people have to learn the hard way…
Furthermore, we’ve still got to find out what the hell happened to Beth (Emily Kinney) as Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) follow that car that initially snatched Beth way back last season. Let’s hope the reunion won’t cause a lovers’ triangle, although I personally think that might add some levity to what will no doubt be a horrific revelation (we’ve already seen a completely sadistic psychopath, and a band of cannibals – something tells me The Walking Dead will want to outdo itself with its next enemy). And who can forget last week’s reveal with the return of Morgan (Lennie James)? The Walking Dead appears to have a lot of balls in the air, but what differs this season is that it’s also giving us the pacing and energy to deliver on these narrative threads. Let’s hope the rest of the season satisfies on the breadcrumbs it’s given us thus far.
- This episode marks the appearance of Father Gabriel (another The Wire alumnus, Seth Gilliam) who is so obviously hiding something ominous. Although I doubt he brings intentional harm to the group, at least Rick isn’t wasting any time trying to trust the guy first, but holds on fervently to his suspicion and mistrust. It’s more likely the Gabriel did something incredibly stupid versus sadistic, but I’ll admit, I’m slightly intrigued as he seems more fearful than mischievous.
- The appearance of Gabriel (and arguably Morgan) also doesn’t bode well for Bob and/or Sasha. I’ll say what I’m not suppose to say, but what most people are likely thinking: there are too many black characters on the show at once, and we know from the past (and what mainstream media dictates) that isn’t sustainable. We also haven’t had a major character death since Hershel, so all of this screams ‘clearing house’ and Bob and/or Sasha are the easy targets. Let’s hope I’m wrong, shall we?
- Although the show continues to leave me apprehensive on the diversity side, it seems to be doing well in developing strong female characters. The treatment of Carol continues to have me cheering with delight. The moment in which Rick asks Carol if the group can join HER is definitely a win. It was a touching moment that was extremely well acted and speaks to the respect that Carol has earned, not only as a survivor, but also as a complex and layered character that goes far beyond her initial depiction. I also appreciated her desire to leave the group as she seemingly continues to struggle with her past. It’s refreshing to see that Carol isn’t being dealt with in a one-dimensional way.
What did you think viewers? Are you excited to see what awaits us with an inevitable round two with the Termites? Do you think Bob will last more than a couple episodes? What do you think has happened to Beth? Will Morgan catch up to the group, and who or what is leaving him ominous x-marks? Sound off in the comments below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone. Please keep any plot points from the graphic novel that may potential spoil the direction of the show to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.