Thursday, October 23, 2014

Walking Dead - Strangers Recap

The episode opens on a plume of black smoke.  Terminus still burns in the distance.

As our gang treks through the woods we check in with various pairs throughout the group.  Maggie and Glenn smooch.  Awwww.  Tara and Rick share a heart-warming moment as he welcomes her into the group, despite her involvement with the Governor.  They make it official when Tara reaches out her fist to Rick for a ‘pound’, and Rick returns it with a smile.  Awwww times two.

We catch up with Tyreese and Carol as they fill their water bottles at a stream.  Tyreese is adamant that the group accepts what Carol did to Karen and David back at the prison.  Carol isn’t too concerned about their acceptance.  Tyreese goes on to say that he doesn’t want to tell the rest of the group about Lizzie and Mika.  He says, “I need to forget it.”

The group approaches a walker.  Michonne says she’s got it, reflexively reaches for her sword and smiles when she realizes it isn’t there.  I’M NOT SMILING! TERMITES YOU HAVE COMMITTED A CRIME AGAINST WD HUMANITY!!! YOU HAVE STOLEN MICHONNE’S SWORD!  That sword was practically a character on the show, and now it’s gone.  Since Michonne is still badass Michonne, of course she’s able to handily dispatch the walker with the butt of some non-descript gun, but c’mon.  It’s not the same.  Dear WD writers – Please ‘find’ a katana for Michonne.  Soon.  With love and thanks, Rainey.

Here's one.  It looks sharp, and it will do the job.  Just give it to her already.
You're welcome.
It’s Carol and Rick’s turn to catch up.  They’re basically equals at this point, with Rick having committed some murder in the past few days away from the prison as well. In their time apart, Rick seems to have realized some things that Carol already knew.  Survival is paramount, and self-preservation is key.

Carol hands Rick his watch that she picked up for him at the Terminus Gift Shop.  Rick offers Carol her watch back, but she declines with a shake of her head.  That watch represented a life with her abusive husband Ed, and she is totally not that person anymore.  Rick seems incredibly remorseful and humble as he apologizes for sending Carol away.  He says, “I sent you away to this, and now we’re joining you.  Will you have us?”  Carol smiles and nods slightly.  Rick smiles back and says, “Thank you.”

That night, Carol and Daryl sit watch.  Daryl keeps stealing glances at Carol, like she’s some sort of exotic animal, when Carol finally says “I don’t want to talk about it...I just need to forget.”  Daryl asks why, but just then an inconvenient rustle in the woods interrupts their heart to heart.   Oh rustles in the woods, without you everything would be so straightforward in the WD world.

(Side note – What is it exactly that Carol needs to ‘forget’? Since most of our gang saw Carol last she killed Karen and David because they were sick in body, Lizzie because she was sick in the mind, and the Termites because they were just plain old sickos.  The group is grateful for her role as savior at Terminus, but can they forgive her actions at The Grove?  Tyreese is hell bent on giving himself a case of Lizzie amnesia, and Carol seems to be respecting his choice, so the rest of the gang may never find out. But they probably will.  Because, you know, drama.)

As the gang’s walkabout continues, Daryl reports back to Rick about someone watching them in the woods the previous night.  There were no tracks, but he felt a presence.  It could be ghosts Daryl, duh.  99% of the world’s population is dead.  Ghosts are totally in the realm of actual possibility.  Rick totally doesn’t think of my ghost theory, and immediately tells the rest of the group to tighten up their formation.  

We check in with Bob and Sasha as they engage in some adorable banter.  They’re playing a game where he turns every negative she can throw his way into a positive.  They smooch a few times, him saying “one more” after each peck.  Awwwww times three.

In the distance, the group hears a call for help.  Carl wants to go help, so they do.  A man who appears to be a priest is stuck at the top of a large rock outcropping, several walkers clawing at his legs.  Daryl, Carol and Michonne take out the offending walkers with expert precision.   The priest slinks down off the rock, wide eyed at the sight of our battle-ready gang in front of him.  He promptly vomits, composes himself, and then introduces himself as Gabriel. 

Rick starts in with the three questions.  Gabriel says he has killed no walkers and no people.  Why?  Because the Lord abhors violence.  Rick is dubious, and asks, “What have you done?”  Sensing the tense nature of the situation, and always the practical thinker, Michonne interrupts this line of questioning and says, “you said you had a church?”

The group follows Gabriel through the woods to his church.  Rick sends in a small team to case the joint, and each explorer encounters different religious iconography.  Daryl sees some sort of wooden tableau of the Last Supper, Carol lingers over a table full of Bibles, with one handwritten page open to THOU SHALL NOT KILL. 

Glenn searches an office, walls papered with children’s drawings of the ‘burning bush’.  The basic story of the Burning Bush can be found here and it’s deliberate inclusion in this episode cannot be ignored.  The long and short of the story is that the Lord spoke to Moses through the Burning Bush, asking him to shepherd the Israelites away from danger.  More on this later.

Once the recon team returns to the rest of the group outside, Abe approaches Rick, saying he wants to fix up a small bus out back so the group can head north in the next day or so.  Michonne and Rick say no - they want to rest and gather supplies.  Abe stands, slightly defeated at the entrance to the church, as the rest of the crew pass by him.  Starting with Glenn, the rest of the survivors pull a ‘Rudy’, throwing their proverbial jerseys in with Rick.  Each of them tells Abe in no uncertain terms that they go where Rick goes. 

And then this song plays in my head….Thank you Sister Act.

As they make camp in the church, the group asks Gabriel how he survived.  He explains that everything went down just at the end of the churches annual can drive.  Since he ran out he’s scavenged every place in the area except one because there are about a dozen walkers there.  Rick gets together a team, and Tyreese happily offers to stay back and watch the baby, making his role as Judith’s babysitter official. 

Before Rick leaves, he has his obligatory once-per-season discussion with Carl about the state of affairs.  Rick makes it very clear to Carl that they are not safe, ending his speech with, “Never let your guard down.”  As wise as those words may seem, Carl gently suggests to his father that their group is strong, and that they have the ability to help others.  It’s odd because Carl seemed to be going cold hearted after Lori died, but now after the fall of the prison and Terminus he is becoming one of the positive thinkers in the camp, playing the role of Rick’s remaining humanity and conscience.  And as annoyed as I generally am by Carl, this moment is truly touching and uplifting.

On the water run, Carol and Daryl chat.  He says, ok, maybe Carol doesn’t want to talk.  But is she ok?  She says, “gotta be.”  Daryl is clearly in awe of what Carol did, staring at her in that weird way again as he says, “you saved us, all by yourself.”  They approach a sedan, and Carol checks it.  A little too conveniently, the keys are still in the ignition and there’s a fully operational charger in the trunk.  Carol says they should leave it there in case “things go south at the church.” (Side note – Ok Carol, how do you propose to fit 14 people and one baby in that sedan, hmmmm?  WD clown car?)  Daryl says that Carol can start over, and she says she wants to.

On the ammo run, Tara and Maggie wait outside a gun store for Glenn.  There’s a commotion inside, and the two women raise their weapons and ask Glenn if it was a walker as he steps back outside.  Glenn says yes, but then sheepishly admits that he tripped over a mop.  Teehee.  However, he found three silencers tucked inside a mini fridge.  Glenn declares, “Rule Number One of Scavenging:  There’s nothing left in this world that isn’t hidden.” Upon hearing this, Tara gets a screwed up look on her face, probably remembering her own ‘hidden’ secret.  Both Glenn and Rick know, but they haven’t told Maggie….yet.

On the food run, the group enters the Food Pantry.  There’s a gaping hole in the floor, the hardwood rotted out due to a gaping hole in the ceiling.  The walkers wade around in a waist deep basement swimming pool.  Bob says that it smells like if “a sewer could puke”.  Ugh.  Grossest swimming pool ever.   Sasha quickly comes up with a solution to contain the walkers, by utilizing the metal shelves as a shield.  Rick agrees.  Yay Teamwork!

The group splashes down, and starts to take care of the walkers.  Even though Gabriel is in a sweet spot, protected by the Grimes gang, he panics and tries to flee when he spots a walking skeleton outfitted with glasses and a floral dress.  Gabriel becomes cornered against a concrete wall, golden sunlight streaming down on his face and torso, his arms spread in a ‘t’.  This continues the spate of blatant religious iconography in this episode, but Gabriel is certainly no martyr.  Rick comes to his rescue just in time, smashing the walker’s skull in. 

Once the coast appears to be clear, Bob wades over to a floating box.  Just then a genderless sponge of a walker roars out of the water.  Bob tussles with the form, bobbing underwater for a moment before he’s able to impale it on a pole.  Wide eyed, Sasha asks, “Bob, are you ok?!” He averts his gaze and responds, “I’m fine now.”  But Bob doesn’t look okay…

As they wheel their bounty away from the pantry, Michonne and Rick talk.  They chat about her sword. She says she, “found it in the beginning…it was just me and them out here all day every day.  I don’t know what that was, but it wasn’t life.”  She goes on to say that she misses Andrea, she misses Hershel, but not “what was before.  I don’t miss that sword.”  MICHONNE, I MISS YOUR SWORD!  PLEASE FIND ANOTHER ONE!!!

Upon returning to the church, Rick finds Carl.  While everyone was away, he did some exploring, as Carl is wont to do.  He found scratches at the windows of the church, and a carving on the back of the church that says, ‘YOULL BURN FOR THIS’.   Carl succinctly sums up the situation by saying, “It doesn’t mean Gabriel’s a bad guy for sure, but it means something.”

That evening, they all feast on canned goods and Communion wine.  Abe gives the speech he’s been itching to give for days.  “I see survivors.  Each and every one of you has earned that title.  Is that all you want to be?”  He lays out his pitch.  Help Eugene get to D.C., restart their lives.  Abe appeals to Rick’s sense of fatherhood, and the group’s sense of wanting a happy, normal future, saying they can rebuild for the little one.  Judith coos, and Rick says she’s in.  “She’s in.  And if she’s in, I’m in.  We’re in.  Lets do it.”

The mood turns a bit more celebratory.  Our gang now has a sense of direction and purpose.  In a way, Abe, with his fiery red hair is like the proverbial ‘Burning Bush’, appealing directly to ‘Moses’ Rick, encouraging him to get his disciples to safety.  Am I reaching?  Maybe, but the inclusion of the Burning Bush on the walls of the church in this episode is definitely saying something to this effect. 

Amidst the celebration, Sasha kisses Bob and gets up to hold Judith.  Bob says, “wait, one more”, and she leans back down to give him another smooch.  A morose Bob then wanders out the back of the church.

Tara goes to reveal her secret to Maggie.  She admits to Maggie that she was at the prison, and that she was with the Governor.  Throughout this exchange, Maggie’s eyes are thoughtful and teary.  She looks at Tara and says, “You’re with us now” and hugs her tightly.

Gabriel’s in the back, and Rick thanks him for his hospitality.  The mood quickly turns however when Rick gives him a stern warning.  “You’re hiding something…these people are my family.  And if what you’re hiding somehow hurts them in any way, I’ll kill you.”  Gabriel looks at him, eyes wide.  Did Rick just threaten to murder a priest?  The answer is  - Yup.  Sure did.

Looks like Bob isn’t the only one who’s snuck away, as Carol jumpstarts the sedan she and Daryl found earlier in the day. Daryl approaches, and asks what she’s doing.  Clearly trying to leave the group, but why, Carol?  Why??!?!  However, in the grand WD tradition of external sources interrupting character expository, a car whizzes by.  And lo and behold, it HAS A WHITE CROSS ON THE BACK!  Daryl uses five words to explain to Carol, “They got Beth!  Come on!”  This can only mean one thing.  Road trip! 

Back at the church, Bob stands in the woods and stares through a window at the merriment unfolding inside.  He begins to wander away into the thick of the woods and starts sobbing against a tree.  All of a sudden someone rudely interrupts his private moment by bashing him over the head. 

As Bob comes to, we see the world from his blurry POV.  He catches foggy glimpses of Rando (I knew that SOB was still alive!), a fire pit, and then Gareth’s smug and shiny face.  Bob is leaning against some sort of stake, and he is forced to listen as Gareth attempts to justify his actions.  His speech is juxtaposed over cuts of our gang happily feasting away on canned food and drinking holy wine. 

Gareth finally gets to the meat of his confession, literally and figuratively.  He says, “It didn’t start that way.  Eating people.  It evolved.  It had to.  Now we’ve devolved.  Into hunters.” He gives Bob the worst ‘I told you so’ in history, as he says that it’s cosmic justice that it’s Bob they got. The camera pans back to expose Bob's full body.  Well….not his entire body.  He's only got one leg.  The other….is on the BBQ.  As Bob starts to whimper, Gareth takes a juicy bite out of a hunk o’ Bob.  Ew.  Gross. 

And people everywhere who were still naïvely left wondering what exactly the Termites were doing with all that slaughterhouse equipment after the most recent episode all get their due.  The rest of us go….oh, yeah…..but can you really show that on television?!?!

Some thoughts before I go:

- It sort of makes sense that after the ungodly experience our survivors had at Terminus that this episode would center on reaffirming their faith in humanity, as well as add a dash of hope back into the equation.

- Bob totes magotes wasn’t going into the woods for a casual stroll.  He was sneaking away, possibly because of a bite from the swimming pool walker earlier in the episode.  But why wouldn’t he tell his new love Sasha?  And will eating the flesh of a person who has been bit turn the Termites into walkers?  Wow, that’s a sentence I thought I’d never write….

- Where is Morgan?  Damn you teaser trailer people, you set us up for a big ole disappointment last week.  

- Looks like Daryl and Carol are on a mission to find Beth, but in a world with no cell phones, will they be able to reconnect with the group once they find her?  P.S. - A world with no cell phones is totally horrifying to me. 

- What’s up with Gabriel?  Will he come clean about his secrets?  Will Rick have to kill him?

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