In “Strangers”, Rick has suspicions on Father Gabriel while a member of the group gets bitten in more than one way.
Everything after the break will contain complete spoilers and a discussion of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2.
The Walking Dead has a strong record of kicking off the season on full throttle. Where the quality has been a little inconsistent is in the transitional episodes after the big event or showdown. Coming off the action-packed premiere, “Strangers” did feel sluggish at times in comparison. However, in terms of what this episode set out to accomplish which was to address the gang coming back together, introduce a new character and set up the next story arc, “Strangers” is a solid effort.
With the gang reunited there were some issues that needed to be hashed out which made for a talk-centric start to the episode. Of course on The Walking Dead, characters don’t go into extended monologues rather they get to the point of the matter using as few words as possible. Some of it boils down to economic storytelling though the writers sure love coming up with T-shirt catch phrases like “Hold on to your squirrels” and “You only tell your sins to god”.
The best of these dialogue scenes where characters talk in short sentences is Rick asking Carol for permission to join her. It shows how much respect Rick has for Carol and it’s nice to see that the two parental figures of the group have buried their differences.
You’ll Burn For This
Though Tara is a relative stranger, her open and straightforward nature has helped her to be accepted into the group. A part of survival in the post-apocalypse is quickly accessing new people. After everything he’s been though, Rick’s bullsh*t detector is finely tuned, immediately catching on that Father Gabriel is hiding something.
The way Father Gabriel is introduced tells us as much about our gang as it does about him. Firstly, Rick’s initial reaction to a stranger yelling for help in the distance is caution. He doesn’t decide to help the man in distress until Carl urges him to do so. Secondly, everyone in Rick’s gang is alive because their trauma and experiences have forged them into the ultimate survivors.
So seeing Father Gabriel completely helpless is a real conundrum as to how he’s survived alone for so long. If there’s a part of Gabriel’s story that is the truth, it’s that he’s been holed up in the church eating canned goods since the outbreak. Adding a new character can be tricky business because there are already a number of under developed and under utilized characters. Hopefully, the writers have a clear game plan with Father Gabriel.
Later at the church, Abraham’s after dinner toast, okay so there are some mini speeches, is like a meta commentary on the series: they fight the undead, rinse & repeat. Which brings to mind the question how long can this survival series sustain itself before it’s just repeating the same stories or does there need to be a clear end game at some point. This makes the prospect of a cure in Washington D.C. all the more intriguing. But since there’s a new spin off series in the works, we shouldn’t be holding our breath for the cure any time soon.
What About Bob?
Last but not least let’s talk about Bob. Since everyone survived Terminus and a new character is introduced in an already sizeable cast, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone
is on the chopping block. Bob’s carefree smooches with Sasha pretty much sealed his fate since happiness on The Walking Dead is like the kiss of death.
At the food bank, killing those walkers behind the shelves was a sketchy plan to start with. Rick should have left Gabriel to die after he left their protection. The way Gabriel stood there with his arms outstretched is like he wanted to die and to be punished for his sins. But back to poor old Bob, it’s pretty safe to assume he got bit under the water. It’s really sad to see Bob the optimist, crying alone in the woods, knowing that he could have had a future with Sasha.
Yes the final scene showing The Hunters hungrily chowing down on Bob’s dismembered leg is … stomach churning. It’s also disturbing how cold and as matter of fact Gareth is. Eating Bob alive is not an act of revenge. “It’s not personal” as Gareth said, “it could have been anyone”. The Terminus may have been destroyed but the story line continues on in a horrific way.
“Strangers” is a good follow up to the season premiere setting the stage for a final confrontation between Rick’s gang and the Hunters.
What do you like or dislike about this episode? Are you excited about Daryl and Carol’s tracking down the car with the white cross?