The Walking Dead continues with its forward momentum as it manages to tie up quite a few plot threads despite being only three episodes into the season. How did this week’s episode fare?
Let’s bitch it out.
I have to hand it to the team over at The Walking Dead this season- the show seems to be killing it terms of nailing the pacing and keeping up viewer intrigue. If the season keeps it up, I dare say S5 will undoubtedly be the series’ best to date.
And we don’t get much in terms of surprises when it comes to this episode either. As I predicted, we bid adieu to Bob (Lawrence Gillard Jr.) who succumbed to a combination of his newly amputated (and eaten) leg, and a freshly bitten zombie bite from the food bank mission. It definitely wasn’t a shock when Bob revealed he was ‘tainted meat’ (as was indicated last week by an astute reader in our comments section) because why else would he ask Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) longingly for one last kiss before running out, in the DARK, to cry alone? But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly satisfying when he revealed to the hipster Termites that they were dining on less than grade A meat when they were so smugly taunting him by the fireside (bonus points for sticking it to Andrew J. West’s Gareth about his ‘women are tastier because they’ve got all that additional fat’ comment). I don’t feel as though Bob was given enough substance in terms of character development if we look at his entire arc, but I definitely think he was given a proper send off in this episode what with sticking it to the Termites over the BobBQ and his genuinely touching last moments shared with both Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Sasha before expiring. Bob was indeed starting to get more interesting, but his death didn’t feel tacked on, but purposeful.
We also find out that Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam) terrible horrible thing he did in the past wasn’t that terrible or horrible. He just refused to help people when they were clawing at the church doors when the apocalypse first went down. If we look at Gabriel’s demeanor last episode, it was a clearly an indication of cowardice vs. malice. So although it’s not surprising, it does present a nice counterpoint especially when we consider all the deplorable actions we’ve seen previously when it comes to what people do when faced with adversity. Looking out for yourself as Gabriel did and refusing to help everyone and anyone is a much more probable course of action vs. gleefully killing, raping and/or eating people in order to survive.
Speaking of eating people, what did come as a (welcomed) surprise, was how the Termites were finally exterminated (pun intended) after such as short amount of time. Remember, we’re only three episode into the season and already we don’t have to worry about the sadistic cannibals posing additional and yawn-worthy threats to our group. Furthermore, they way the Termites are killed continued to satisfy. It seemed like an incredibly stupid plan for the big wigs of the Grimes group to abandon the church entirely once Bob was returned (the intentional returning of Bob was a huge clue to that anyway) so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise when the Termites were sabotaged at their own game. It didn’t feel like a bait and switch, but there was a genuine moment of ‘what’s gonna happen next?!’ when Gareth was pleading fruitlessly for his life.
Although Rick & Co. ultimately did the wise thing in killing the Termites right then and there, those who looked on in horror as they did so (Lauren Cohan’s Maggie, Chad L. Coleman’s Tyreese and arguably Steven Yeun’s Glen) gave further depth in introducing some moral ambiguity. Did the Termite deserve to die? Absolutely. We’re past the ethical dilemmas and questioning- there have been too many dire consequences shown to us to think otherwise. So I’m glad Rick was swift and steadfast in his decision – it means we don’t have to lose another beloved protagonist to make sure he gets the idea. I’m sure they’ll be some analysis out there suggesting that Rick has perhaps gone to the dark side in potentially enjoying killing Gareth in such as visceral and savage way, but the little vignette with Bob at episode’s end, and Abraham’s final note on the map all but quashes that notion. It’s practically crammed down our throats that Rick is still a ‘good guy’ at heart, he’s just adapting to do what needs to be done in order to ensure the survival of those he loves.
So with all the nicely checked boxes we get this episode, S5 seems to be moving at a very good pace, more than adequately keeping up with the momentum a solid season premiere. We even get a glimpse into the new evil of the season once Daryl (Norman Reedus) reappears and not knowing if Carol (Melissa McBride) has survived whatever mini-journey they’ve been on. The cliffhanger is well executed – we want to see what happens next and are still basking in the satisfaction of the closed plot points that came before. S5 is single-handedly renewing my faith in the 2014 television season, so let’s hope The Walking Dead can keep it up.
- Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) might, on the surface level, appear to be hot-headed with his “let’s leave right now in the middle of the night’ plea, but at the very least he’s consistent. He has the singular mission of keeping Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and what I’m assuming are his antibodies, safe, so packing up and leaving right away seems perfectly sensible and respectful. It’s a shame to see him go albeit for a temporary period of time.
- Did anyone else find it suspect that when Glenn and Maggie left on that bus it wasn’t really a big deal/ceremonious goodbye? It could very easily be the end of our group being together, so why wasn’t there more of an emotion moment? I guess a reunion is pretty much guaranteed despite what obstacles they face on the road (or would that be another way The Walking Dead plans to subvert expectation?)
- Although Tyreese’s insistence to hold on to the morals of his past is frustrating and dangerous to the group, part of me is glad he’s acting as the show’s moral compass at the moment. Plus he’s very much aware that he exists in a kind of purgatory between who he was and who he needs to be, as evidenced in the lovely little scene he shares with Rick while digging graves.
What did you think viewers? Were you surprised by anything in this episode? Were you ultimately satisfied as I was despite seeing things unfold as you predicted? Was anyone sad to see Gareth & Co. go? Any guesses as to what the hell happened to Beth (Emily Kinney)? Do you think Carol made it out alive? Are you glad that Michonne (Danai Gurira) was reunited with her katana? Do you think Sasha has lost a piece of herself or grown as a survivor with Bob’s loss? 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.