What I learned this week: Bears are capable of eating their young, Glenn found some leadership balls, and a church in the apocalypse is just four walls and a roof. Hey, that’s the name of this episode!!
From what I understand from the twitters and the reddits, this episode brought some fan favorites from the comic to life. However, it also continued to bring up the question of humanity for our survivors. Rick kills the Termites, not out of some larger purpose to keep the world safe, or even to keep his group safe, but primarily out of revenge. It looks like he’s almost starting to enjoy doing it.
More importantly, our group is once again fractured after a brief moment of reunion. Admittedly, things are more exciting when they’re separated, but this time it was by choice. Maggie and Glenn take up with Abe and Co on their journey to save the world, and both Carol and Beth are both still MIA at the end of the episode. And who the eff is with Daryl at the end?
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The episode opens where the last one left off. Gareth is basically acting like an idiotic Bond villain. He openly discloses all the Termites motivations as he continues to chomp away on his Bob drumstick.
Gareth rambles on, continuing to justify his actions by talking about bears. Apparently if bears are in a situation where they’re about to starve, they will eat their young first. Except, um, that’s not the situation here Gareth. Never mind. God this is the most boring monologue ever. Until Gareth mentions Carol, who he calls “that gray haired Queen Bitch”. Amazeballs nickname for Carol, Gareth.
Apparently Gareth is the foodie of human flesh. He breaks down his theories of why women and pretty people taste better. Ew. File that under ‘Cooking Tips I Will Never Use, Ever’. Bob inexplicably starts to cackle. All the Termites think he’s lost it, but in reality Bob has a secret. He says, “You idiots! I’ve been bitten you stupid pricks! I’m tainted meat! TAINTED MEEEATTTT!!!” The Termites start to panic, and Gareth tries to smooth things over by coolly saying, “we cooked him, we’re going to be fine.” Guess we can rule out Health Inspector or Professional Chef as possible past careers for Gareth.
In the meantime, Sasha, Rick and Tyreese have started searching for Bob in the woods. They note that Carol and Daryl are also missing. Inside the church, Sasha pulls a knife on Gabriel and confronts him about the situation. Rick pulls her away and morphs into full cop interrogation mode. (Side note - It’s odd, but I can’t help but notice here that these two men are the individuals who most identify with their professions from the life before.) Gabriel sobs and gives his lame confession. When the shit hit the fan, he locked his parishioners out of the church, and let them be eaten by walkers. Pretty bad under normal circumstances, but in the grand scope of things in the WD world it’s relatively innocent. He’s a weak man, and Rick looks at him the way someone might look at a puppy who’s piddled on the rug.
Glenn peers out a window, and sees a body lying on the grass outside. In a world with no streetlights, I don’t see how this is possible, but maybe Glenn has super sight. Sure, that’s probably it. Anyways, the body is a one-legged Bob. They go to retrieve him, and as they retreat back inside, the camera pulls back to reveal a large ‘A’ emblazoned in blood on the side of the church.
They bring Bob in, and he tells them the whole horrific story, including the part about Carol and Daryl driving off. The group wants to give Bob pain meds, but he refuses, saying, “save them” as he shows them his gnawed off shoulder. A Terminus nibble, it ain’t. Sasha winces as Bob passes out. Gabriel gallantly offers the sofa in his office, and Tyreese leans down to scoop Bob up.
Abe starts to lay down the law. He says, “Time for a reality check. We all need to leave for DC right now.” Rick opposes this thought, saying that they’re not leaving Carol and Daryl behind. As the situation escalates, it is clear that Rick and Abe are from two different schools of anger. Abe is more explosive and loud, whereas Rick is quiet and full of simmering rage.
As things escalate and threaten to get physical, Glenn interjects. Tara has a moment and says she has an idea. If the DC gang stay and help she’ll go with them after the situation is handled. Abe considers and then counter offers by saying he wants the Glaggie duo in the bargain. Rick says no.
Abe growls at a reluctant Rosita and Eugene to come join him. As they start to walk out the door, Rick goes into control freak mode saying, “you’re not taking the bus.” “Try and stop me,” counters Abe, and the two men advance on each other. Glenn gets in between the two of them again, and quickly proposes a deal. “You stay and help us, and we’ll go with you.” Rick says no, but Glenn quickly counters by saying it’s not his decision to make, standing up to Rick as an individual. Abe agrees to stay for a half day.
(Side note – Is Rick trying to instigate a fight with Abe? Why does he care about the bus? Abe has openly admitted that he likes to fight, but Rick is still trying to hold his ground as a rational man who only uses violence in extreme situations. Why is Rick poking him?)
As Sasha tends to Bob’s wounds, he’s still focusing on the positive. She wonders why he didn’t tell her about his bite sooner, and he makes a lot of sense as he says, “I knew when I told you it would become all about the end. And I really liked the middle.” His sentiments are so sweet, so simple, and so true. Bob, why are you making Sasha and us love you even more? This is hard enough as it is. How selfish can you be? **Weeps into sweater**
The remnants of our gang plot their revenge. Sasha says that she wants to go with the rest of the crew, and exact her vengeance on the Termites. After this declaration she goes to tend to Bob, and Tyreese follows her. He implores her to stay with Bob, and to take this opportunity instead of going on the murder spree. Tyreese goes on to encourage Sasha to forgive the Termites, and she’s incredulous. She says, “What the hell is wrong with you? You think we have a choice?” Tyreese says, “Not all of us. Just you.” It seems incredibly important to him that his sister retains her humanity, but she’s all like naaaah, I’m good.
Half the gang leaves the church in the dead of night. The camera pans over the church sign in the dark of night. Nothing happens. For awhile. Ummmm, is my DVR on pause? Did my cable freeze? Op! Wait! We’re back! Another group of people starts creeping down a well-lit path to the church. It’s the Termites. They silently enter the front door.
As Gareth slowly makes his way up the center aisle, he rattles off the names of all the people who are still there like any good horror villain should. He specifically mentions “Martin’s good friend Tyreese”, and I can’t help but smile a bit. Oh, Gareth, you might just be the most charming cannibal psychopath since Hannibal Lecter.
Gareth goes on to say that he knows Rick and Co walked out with the majority of the guns. The Termites wander around the front of the church and wiggle the knob to the office. Gareth tries to appeal to Gabriel by saying, “How ‘bout the priest? Father, if you help us out, we’ll let you walk away from this.” Unlikely that Gareth would follow through on that promise, but I’m surprised that ole Gabie didn’t jump at the chance to get away.
Just then, Judith starts crying. Damnit! Kid, you had ONE JOB!
The Termites hone in on the location and prepare to unhinge the door, when a sniper silently takes out two of their group. Gareth starts to protest, still thinking he has the upper hand when Rick cocks his pistol and…SPLAT! Gareth’s fingers explode in a firework of pain. Damn, Rick! This Gareth guy never shuts up, and this turn of events somehow makes him even chattier. He tells Rick he’s not going to beg….and then proceeds to beg.
Beautifully backlit and framed by stained glass windows, Rick looks at Gareth with dead, determined eyes. Gareth tries to save his people by saying, “we will never cross your path again. I promise you.” Rick tilts his head and says, “you’ll cross someone’s path” as he fingers a red handled machete. “Besides. I already made you a promise.”
And oh does he deliver on that promise. Rick violently hacks into Gareth’s skull with the machete, over and over again; evoking memories of the time he went all feral on the Goon Squad last season. Abe, Sasha and Michonne take out the rest of the Termites in an equally brutal manner – in particular Sasha goes all stabby stabby on Martin, finishing the job that her brother failed to do back at Terminus. Tyreese looks on with a horrified hang dog stare in his eyes.
Then, a wonderful thing happens. Michonne surveys the damage. She catches a glimpse of her sword in a Termites backpack. Slowly, she unsheathes it and….she is back. Framed from below, she holds the katana aloft like a badass superhero ninja. YESSSSSSSS!!!! It’s not just any katana. It’s HER katana. Back in it’s rightful place. That thing is damn near magical. Dear WD writers, Thanks for listening. Love, Rainey.
As I do my ‘the katana is back’ happy dance on my couch (best sung to the tune of ‘Backstreet’s Back’), Gabriel peers out and surveys the damage to his church. He gets his first glimpse of how much humanity has changed since everything started. He says, “This is the Lords House.” And Maggie, the preacher’s daughter, coldly responds, “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.”
The gang has a little ‘Bob Voyage’ party, and they all say their goodbyes. Bob asks that Rick and Judith stay behind. He thanks Rick in a rambling but beautiful way. He emphasizes his hope for humanity, saying, “What I said yesterday, I ain’t revising it. Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are.” To his credit, Rick does appear to be genuinely listening, and taking this in. He still wants to believe he’s a good guy, and that he can come back. On the other hand, he’s starting to become very comfortable in the role of vigilante cop. If this nightmare of a world did somehow end, would Rick be able or willing to give up that power?
Bob fades in and out of consciousness. When he wakes in the morning, he is smiling, and Sasha asks, “So what is it, the good that comes out of this bad?” Bob doesn’t get a chance to answer as he passes out. He has presumably died because Sasha sobs for a moment, and then draws her knife. Intuitively Tyreese comes in and tenderly takes the knife from his sister. Sasha leaves the room, and Tyreese slides the knife into Bob’s temple, doing what Sasha could not.
(Side note - There’s an interesting parallel here between the two siblings. Tyreese could not kill Martin, but Sasha is able to do so with brute force. However, when it comes down to a more delicate, humane task, Tyreese steps up. He is the new ‘voice of morality’ on the show, and given the WD track record with moral voices, it is likely only a matter of time before he starts to adapt or dies.)
A bit later, Sasha constructs a cross of twine and sticks. She is wearing Bob’s jacket. Abe hands Rick a map as they leave with Glenn and Maggie in tow. For such a heavy moment on the show, there is very little fanfare. The couple looks sadly at the group and Abe and Rick nod slightly at one another.
As the bus rolls away, Rick unfolds the map. A loooooong red line indicates the path Abe and Co intend to take. A note from Abe on the bottom: “Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The new worlds gonna need Rick Grimes.”
That night, Michonne stands watch. Gabriel comes out to join her because he can’t sleep. Honestly, who can blame him? They chat for a minute about the horrors they’ve experienced, and Michonne gives him a bit of friendly advice. There’s a rustle in the bushes, and Michonne instinctively draws her sword (YAY!) as scaredy-cat Gabriel shifts himself behind her, and immediately pops back inside.
As Michonne approaches the tree line, Daryl reveals himself. Michonne gets a huge grin on her face, which quickly fades when she asks, “Where’s Carol?” Daryl grimaces for a moment and then calls back to an unidentified person in the woods. “C’mon out!”
What? Huh? Who is it? WHERE IS CAROL???!? Scenes from next week promise to reveal where Beth is, but who are we kidding? We care WAY more about Carol than we do about Beth at this point in time. What would we do without our gray-haired Queen Bitch?
Some thoughts before I go:
- Favorite needlepoint in the church: ‘Stupidity is also a gift from God, but one mustn’t misuse it.’ Not sure who this is referencing in the episode, or if it’s just a bit of visual comic relief, but I enjoyed it.
- The cinematography in this episode is gorgeous. I don’t read the comic, but a few of the shots looked like they were lifted right from the cells of a graphic novel. I was struck by how effective the shot of Rick was, as he was framed by the stained glass in the moments before killing Gabriel. Also, the shot of Abe, Rick and Glenn standing in a row in the church aisle earlier in the episode was beautifully composed.
- We never do get to find out what consumption of ‘tainted meat’ does to the Termites. But I guess we don’t have to worry about that, as our gang won’t be eating any people in the near future. At least I hope not.