There is a very obvious and deliberate theme to this week’s episode: what can and can’t we forgive in the world that exists on The Walking Dead? The answer: pretty much anything but those acts committed by the Governor and Gareth.
We also meet a comic book favorite who may prove to be the show’s first bad guy solely for inaction rather than action. And we receive hints about future episodes that promise plenty of fighting with Gareth and perhaps even a rescue mission or two.
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Meet Father Gabriel
The opening few moments of this week’s episode prepare you for the worst. It’s full of small, intimate character conversations that convey an actual sense of happiness amongst our survivors, as well as a desire to forgive and move on: Rick forgives Tara; Tyreese tells Carol, “I just need to forget it,” and won’t tell the group about what Lizzie did; and Rick asks Carol if they can join her. (That’s right, he basically makes her the new leader.)
But at night, a ominous figure lurking in the darkness leads the group to head out early the next morning. Along the way, they hear screaming and Carl wants to go investigate, but Rick is reluctant.
The group checks it out and finds comic favorite and newcomer to the show Father Gabriel atop a large boulder being attacked by zombies. The group kills them and then begins to interrogate the Father, who is alone and still in his priest uniform. They’re incredibly suspicious of him, especially since he admits he’s never killed a walker or a human. (“The Lord abhors violence.”) He also references the random fact that he would never confess his sins to strangers.
Father Gabriel leads the group to his church and even jokes about leading them into a trap — Rick and Daryl definitely don’t find it funny. With weapons drawn, the group inspects the church and discovers a lot of items that give them pause. For me as a viewer, it’s the fact that Father Gabriel had been re-writing Genesis over and over again and hung pictures of famous biblical moments on the walls.
The group decides to fix up Father Gabriel’s car and head out. Abraham wants to split up and head to DC, but other members convince him that splitting up isn’t the best idea. Gabriel tells everyone about how he only recently started scavenging for food, as he ran out of supplies from a canned food drive that took place before mankind fell. He tells them about one place he avoided because it was overrun with more than a dozen walkers, but Rick insists they check it out.
Before he heads out, Rick has a heart-to-heart with Carl and reminds him that he’ll never be safe and he never should let his guard down. Carl, however, says they’re strong enough to help other people and fight for themselves. Carl, who a few seasons ago became arguably one of the best characters on the show — after being one of the worst — has now become the conscience and the one that helps everyone maintain their humanity.
The group then does indeed split up, but mainly to run missions.
Rick, Bob, Sasha and Michonne follow Gabriel to the location where he believes there might be additional supplies from the canned food drive. Along the way, Rick tells Bob he hasn’t decided if they’ll go back to Terminus and finish off Gareth and the Termians. (Wait, I thought Rick kind of made Carol the leader? I guess I might be reading too much into that scene in the opening.)
Carol and Daryl, meanwhile, are getting water. Daryl continues to push Carol to talk about her exit from the group, but she refuses. They find a car and decide to leave the car in case things goes south at the church later.
And then Glenn, Maggie and Tara are raiding a gun store where Glenn has discovered silencers — a very useful item to have.
Rick’s team arrives at the location. There was a flood under the store where all the supplies are. Rick and the team push the bookshelves trapped under there so they can keep the walkers at bay while they stab them in the head. Father Gabriel panics when he recognizes someone and tries to run away, quite unsuccessfully.
Rick thinks about it and then decides to rescue Gabriel, probably because of what Carl said earlier. After it appears that everyone survives, Bob is almost killed by a walker that was completely submerged in the water. He and Sasha are able to kill it, and in the episode’s second grossest moment, we see the walker’s head basically slip off because of the amount of water damage it had sustained in the last few months.
Rick and his team then head back to the church, where Carl shows Rick a series of knife scratches he found around the window of the church. If you guessed Father Gabriel refused to let others in, you’d be correct as Carl also finds a message carved into the side of the house: “You’ll burn for this.”
That night, there’s a feast with all the food Rick and his team collected. Abraham gives a speech about how he sees how he’s surrounded by survivors and that everyone has earned that title. But then he keeps talking and transitions into the importance of getting Eugene to DC. He makes a very compelling speech for why everyone should go and Rick is the first to say yes.
Continuing the episode’s theme of forgiveness, Tara tells Maggie she was with the Governor at the prison and she didn’t know who he was. “I just didn’t want it to be hidden that I was there,” she tells Maggie, before she is forgiven and receives a hug.
Rick, meanwhile, confronts Gabriel about what he’s hiding. He says it’s Gabriel’s business, but “If what you’re hiding hurts them in any way, I’ll kill you.” Seriously … did Rick not figure it out?
Carol is out at the car she found with Daryl and kills a walker when Daryl shows up and asks where she’s going. She demurs, and all of a sudden, a car with the cross in the back windshield drives by fast. Daryl recognizes it instantly as the car that was there when Beth was kidnapped. He knocks out the headlights of his and Carol’s car and they get ready to give chase.
Back at the church, Bob is watching the building from outside. It’s then that you might start to realize, oh no, he was bitten in the flood water by the zombie, wasn’t he? Bob starts to cry, but then he’s knocked out by a hooded figure.
The Other Feast
Bob wakes up, tied to a pole. He was captured by Gareth. (Wow, that was quick! I figured he wouldn’t return for a few episodes and the show would drag it out.)
As Gareth taunts Bob about hurting the rest of the group, we see quick shots of everyone else happy and smiling. Gareth tells Bob that his group evolved and then devolved into the hunters they are now. The world made them this way.
And then the camera pulls out and we realize Gareth has chopped off Bob’s leg while he was passed out and a group of Termians are eating it.
As he bites on a big, cooked chunk of it, Gareth tells Bob, “You taste much better than we thought you would.”
Other Odds and Ends
— That might be my favorite cliffhanger of all time for this show. What did everyone else think?
— I seriously love how this show isn’t afraid to be funny in the last season and a half or so. Two laugh out loud moments: Daryl dropping one of the water jugs he was carrying after offering to help Carol carry one of hers, and Glenn creating a ruckus in the gun store and trying to push it off as him killing a walker.
— Did anyone else catch the teaser for repeats of the show airing on AMC? Wow, Daryl and Rick have changed so much since season 1…
— Was I the only one that noticed a lot of kisses between couples in this week’s episode? Maggie and Glenn, and then Bob and Sasha. Just seemed more than usual.
— So Bob wasn’t bitten in the flood water? Why was he outside crying? Overcome by happiness? Wishing for the booze?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.
(Image courtesy of AMC)