The Walking Dead S5E2, “Strangers”

Season 5 Poster

So far, this week has found new and creative ways to keep me busy, so I apologize for the tardiness (sorry Abed).  Let’s get to it.

After last week’s action/zombie-filled bloodbath, I knew we were due for a bit of a letdown.  How do you follow up an episode like “No Sanctuary”?  It’s hard to keep up the intensity of an episode like that.
We kicked off this episode with a slow-motion hero shot of Rick, leading his troops up the road (finally breaking free of those train tracks).  I was waiting for Styx’s “Renegade” to start playing, but, alas, it did not.  My first disappointment of the episode.

Not the picture I was looking for, but it'll do.
Not the picture I was looking for, but it’ll do.

It started picking up when the gang came across Gabriel, the priest in the woods (also known as Sgt. Carver to fans of The Wire).  He was on a rock surrounded by zombies.  At Carl’s behest, the gang came to his rescue, and Abraham got to engage in a “God didn’t help you,” speech, which is always fun.  I’m really looking forward to Abraham standing over Gabriel and saying, “Where is your God now?!”  (I am not looking forward to this.)

"Save me Joseph!"
“Save me Joseph!”

They followed Gabriel back to the church (never once trusting him), then a small group went to find more canned goods in a flooded building.  That led us to some pretty gross, deteriorating zombies, and Gabriel crying and collapsing as Aunt Ethel zombie advanced on him (the reveal that he knew said zombie was one of the least surprising moments in this show’s history).

We found out that Tyreese didn’t kill the baby-killing Tigers fan, and that Gareth is leading a merry band of cannibals to an eventual attack on Rick and company.  The episode ends with Gareth standing over a weeping Bob saying, “You taste much better than we thought you would.”  I don’t know why this is true.  They must have eaten many people, right?  Does Bob look unappetizing for some reason?  I did not understand this statement.

Also, Daryl and Carol may have found the car that took Beth.  The last time we saw them, they were heading out into the night in a car with busted tail lights.  Is Gabriel somehow involved in Beth’s disappearance?  I guess we’ll find out eventually.  (My guess is that he used to be involved with those people, but has since distanced himself.)

Hates:

1. Moping Tara.  I like Tara.  I don’t like this whole, “Oh, I’m so alone and sad cry cry cry.”  Let’s hope this doesn’t last long.

2.  Bob and Sasha’s happiness.  That’s a pretty obvious tell that one of them was not going to survive much longer.  My money was on Bob.  And, while he’s still alive, he is currently without a leg (maybe they still have Hershel’s crutches?) and is probably not much longer for this world.  Let’s see you be optimistic now, Bob.
“Had a leg eaten.”
“Less money spent on shoes.”
Dammit, Bob.

3. Rick’s “You’re not safe,” speech to Carl.  Even though Carl was quick (too quick) to trust Gabriel, that speech was filled with things he already knows.  There was no new information, yet Rick felt the need to make every word as dramatic as possible.  That was the worst scene in the episode.

4. Carl’s “We’re strong enough that we don’t have to be afraid, and we don’t have to hide,” speech.  I’m sorry Carl, but that’s remarkably stupid.  It’s safe to assume that there is always a group bigger than you.  And, if you have a bunch of good people in your group, it’s also safe to assume that there will always be groups more ruthless than you.  You may not have to hide, but you do have to tread lightly.  Be aware of your surroundings, but don’t feel like you’re bigger and stronger than everyone out there, because you’re not.
On second thought, maybe Carl did need the “You’re not safe,” speech.

5. Michonne and Bob both getting overpowered by rotting water zombies.  This isn’t the Day of the Dead remake.  Zombies don’t get stronger by sitting in water for months.  These were some of the most deteriorated zombies we’ve seen, and yet they were raising up, grabbing people by the arms, and forcing them down into the water.  That’s not even a little believable.
Also not believable?  A zombie popping out of the water like he’s a Jack in the Box.  Zombies aren’t stealthy.  They don’t lie in wait for the perfect opportunity.  They shamble around and bite what they can.  Watching that zombie pop up and attack Bob was laughable.

Look at all the muscles!
Look at all the muscles!

6. Abraham puts too much trust in Eugene.  He’s too smart for that.  He’s too smart to blindly follow someone just because he spouts technical jargon and acts confident with said information.  I guess that’s the power of lost hope: you’ll believe in anything if you want it bad enough.  If you’ve given up all hope, you’ll take whatever alternative that shows up in front of you, no matter how preposterous it might be.  They all want to believe in a cure; in a world without zombies.  Because of this, they’ll follow a man who clearly seems to be lying.

Or maybe they’re just bored?  Maybe they’ll follow Eugene because they just say, “What else are we going to do?”  If they’ve resigned themselves to a life of traveling vagabonds, why not go to a place that offers at least a little hope?  Pretty much every zombie movie has a place that is a beacon of hope.  Quoting Tallahassee, “Out west we hear it’s back east, back east they hear it’s out west.  It’s all just nonsense.  You know, you’re like a penguin on the North Pole who hears the South Pole is really nice this time of year.”  When there’s no hope, people create their own.  False hope is better than no hope.

Loves:

1. Rick’s plea to Carol.  “I sent you away to this and now we’re joining you.  Will you have us?”  It’s a strong leader that is able to admit his mistakes and humble himself for the good of the group.  Rick has a history of poor decision-making: this was not one of those times.

2. The interactions between Gabriel and Rick, showing the world as is currently exists.  We – like Rick – have a distrust of everyone the group comes across, but Gabriel gave off a different vibe from the very beginning.  He seems like a genuinely good guy, who has maybe done some things in his past that he is not proud of.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I trust Gabriel.  And we know the group is filled with good people.  Yet we still have these moments where the group has to treat a priest like a criminal.  I don’t blame them; it’s the way the zombie-infested world is.  The living are worse than the (un)dead.  It breaks my heart a little to see these good people treat another (presumably) good person with such rancor.  Those scenes always feel ugly to me, but also extremely realistic to how that situation would happen.  In this new world of zombies, you are guilty until proven trustworthy.
Part of me also enjoys the fact that Rick is still sticking to his three questions.  A man’s gotta have a code.

3. “Rule #1 of scavenging: there’s nothing left in this world that isn’t hidden.”  Glenn gets it.

4.  Michonne’s sense of humor.  “Stomping around in slime for peas and carrots?  That’s livin’.”  I love that they’re slowly expanding her character.  Between her bonding with Carl last season and opening up to Rick in this episode, they’re making her more than “the woman with the sword” (or, rather, “the woman who used to have the sword”).  It has been a slow reveal, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

5. All the people sitting around eating pieces of Bob reminded me of the scene in Night of the Living Dead.  Between this and the Zombi moment last week, I’m really digging all the visual references this year.
Of course, this could all be in my head.

"Mmmmm. Bob."
“Mmmmm. Bob.”

Final thoughts:

I love the “band of cannibals” storyline in the comics, so I’m looking forward to the next few episodes.  I didn’t like this episode nearly as much as the first one, but it was still pretty good.  My expectations are slowly being raised for this season, which will make it that much more fun when those hopes are dashed against a wall like so many soft zombie skulls.

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