“You’re eatin’ tainted meat!”–Bob Stookey
I guess we all know the answer to the question I posed at the end of last week’s episode, “Strangers“.
Bob (Lawrence Gilliard, Jr.) was indeed bitten in the cellar and laughs when he shows Gareth (Andrew J. West) and the other Terminus cannibals that they’ve eaten the flesh of an infected man.
Later, after roughing him up, the Terminus group deposits Bob outside the church. After Sasha and the rest bring him in, he informs them that he’s been bitten and they all know it’s only a matter of time before he turns. In the end, Bob gets a nice sendoff, sharing some heartwarming scenes with both Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green).
It’s really too bad Bob died because he was becoming a much more interesting character than when first introduced. His rapport with Sasha was an invigorating change for the series because it added a bit of lighthearted banter in the midst of abject horror.
We also find out Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam) secret. Turns out that when the world went to hell, so did he to a certain extent. He locked the church doors and turned away his congregation when they sought shelter from the walkers. The guilt eats away at him every day and he’s a tortured man as a result.
Though he still believes that his church is the house of the Lord, it becomes a slaughterhouse not long after. The Terminus group breaks into the church when Rick and the others go searching for them in the middle of the night. In a very tense scene, Gareth and the others stalk those who stayed behind, promising to kill all of them. That is, until Rick and the others return and Rick makes good on the promise he made to Gareth back in the season opener–he kills Gareth, slicing into his head with a blade while the others make quick work of the cannibals, effectively ending the threat.
While it’s necessary that the Terminus story came to an end, I enjoyed the work of West as Gareth and I’ll miss his presence on the show. He played a pitch perfect villain, calm and frightening all at once. However, that particular storyline didn’t really have much more steam remaining to keep it going any longer. There’s only so much you can do with it and having Rick and the others brutally murder them unveils a side of them that will spin their future interactions with other survivors in an interesting direction.
That said, I wish they would have explored the idea of consuming infected flesh a little more, but since it’s already been established that the virus resides within everyone, does it really matter? Still, that particular aspect was an interesting one that I’d like to see raised again somewhere down the line.
Oh, and I wanted to see a character turn. I was hoping Bob would have before Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) ended that threat, but my hopes were dashed. It would have made an interesting visual effect and I don’t believe we’ve seen that event in the series thus far.
Speaking of visual effects, that opening scene juxtaposing the walkers inside the schoolhouse with the Terminus group outside eating Bob’s flesh showed a lot of flair. Not that the direction was in any way poor before, but the stylistic choices this season have improved dramatically, complementing the narrative and providing a welcome artistic bent to the series.
The second half of the episode once again finds our group splintered, with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) heading off to DC with more than half of the others including Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun). In the climax, Michonne (Danai Gurira) comes across Darryl (Norman Reedus) in the woods–and he’s acting a little strange with an unseen person tagging along.
Overall, “Four Walls and a Roof” is another strong outing for the series which has been consistently enjoyable and balanced in its fifth season. For the first time, The Walking Dead doesn’t seem to be lagging in any aspect of the series and displays a sense of forward momentum that’s lacked thus far in early episodes of prior seasons.
The Walking Dead – “Four Walls and a Roof” grade: A-