Rick & Co are on the road again and beyond happy to be reunited. Well, except Beth. She’s still somewhere in parts unknown. The group meets up with a mysterious stranger and they couldn’t be more suspicious of the man, Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam). Their suspicion is understandable given their most recent experience with the Terminites trying to you know…eat them. Well, that and Father Gabriel’s strange sense of humor and even stranger behavior. Let’s break it down. This episode, “Strangers” isn’t as action packed as the premiere but it has quite a few stomach churning twists. Stop reading now if you haven’t watched the episode…and you’ve been warned.
Making New Friends & Keeping Secrets
The gang continues making their way far far away from Terminus and the mood is light and happy. Why wouldn’t it be? They all managed to get away from the cannibals whole, happy, and uneaten. What wasn’t there to be happy about, really? Bob and Sasha were basking in the annoyingly, adorableness of new love. Glenn and Maggie can barely keep their hands off each other. What’s with Tara looking away? Did she develop feelings for Glenn while they were on the road together? Is she worried that Maggie will figure out that she was with the Governor when he murdered Hershel?
Rick recognizes Tara from the Governor’s attack on the prison, but clearly she didn’t want to be there and since then she’d helped Glenn survive his time away from the group. Of course, she was forgiven. Speaking of forgiveness and stuff, Rick talks to Carol and lets her know that he still doesn’t agree with her actions in killing Karen and David last season, but he understands that she had her reasons. She knew something that he didn’t. Now all is forgiven and the group has joined her in exile away from their former sanctuary, the prison.
Carol talks to Tyreese, who informs her that he already spoke with Rick, Daryl, and Maggie. They accept what Carol did and he insists that the others will as well once he talks to them. Carol tells him not to bother. That’s fine with Tyreese and he counters by insisting that they keep the circumstances of Lizzie and Mika’s deaths between them. No one needs to know and Tyreese just wants to forget. He doesn’t want to think about any of it. Not the walkers. Not dead little girls. Not the guy whose head he supposedly bashed in (LIES). Tyreese wants a quiet life and to carry on with his duties as Judith’s manny.
It’s not long at all before the group hears screams for help coming from not too far in the distance. Carl immediately wants them all to run off and help. They find Father Gabriel surrounded by walkers and make quick work of rescuing the man. Everyone except Carl seems to be more than a little gunshy around the stranger. Rick asks him the infamous questions from last season: “How many walkers have you killed?” “How many people have you killed?”
None, Gabriel insists. Given all that the group has been through in the past two years, this sounds highly unlikely. Besides that the Father looks very clean and well-nourished though the greedily accepts the offered pecans from Carl. Gabriel tells them that he’s been holed up in his church and only recently ran out of food, thanks to a canned food drive just before everything went to hell and the dead came back. Rick doesn’t trust the man in the least. “What have you done?” He wants to know. Everyone has commit some wrong to survive this new world. Any wrongs he’s done are between he and his God. Gabriel will say nothing more than that. Rick lets it go, but later tells him that if whatever secret Gabriel’s holding endangers the people who Rick loves, Gabriel is one dead clergyman.
Abraham holds his peace at first, but the man is on a mission and needs Rick & Co to get on board with Operation: Reset Humanity. Michonne wants time to enjoy just being and besides that they need supplies. The group refuses to be separated ever again and insist that they roll wherever Rick decides. Abraham does not look pleased. He finds a short bus at the church and he and Rosita work on getting it running again, while the others go on a supply run. Rick warns Carl that he can never get too comfortable. There’s no such thing as safe anymore and strangers aren’t to be trusted. He’s counting on Tyreese and Carl to keep baby Judith safe. Carl understands all of this, but he reminds his dad that they are strong as a group. Trust shouldn’t just be thrown around, but that didn’t mean that they should be so wary of the world around them that they not help where they can. “We’re strong enough that we can still help people.” Thinking about it, Rick probably didn’t tell Carl about the cannibalism thing they had going in Terminus. What should he have said here? Son, Don’t talk to strangers or they may eat you? Probably so.
Breaking off from the others, Father Gabriel leads Michonne, Rick, Bob and Sasha to the county food bank. He’s been avoiding the place until now because it’s “overrun” with walkers. There are twelve and Rick insists that they can handle that many. What comes next are some of soggiest and just plain gross walkers we’ve seen. Grosser than the huge well walker from the farm. Walkers have gotten stuck in the basement with all the canned food and the group ends up battling waterlogged zombies. Gabriel proves to be absolutely no help and he’s worse to have in a fight than Tyreese because at least there’s the chance that Tyreese will go into his Hulk!Smash mode of zombie fighting. Gabriel lets himself be cornered by one of the walkers that he clearly recognizes. Rick comes in with the rescue before the clergyman becomes dinner.
Also nearly on the menu, Bob. Yes. Signs all episode long were pointing to “Strangers” being Bob’s swan song. He was far too happy and optimistic at the beginning of the episode. Also, The Walking Dead, has this longstanding tradition of killing off its black male characters once a new one shows up (see: T-Dog and Oscar). It’s not a thing, but it’s a thing. Given Tyreese’s weak moments, I thought or voted that he “look at the flowers” sooner than Bob. Still, it was the suddenly very talkative and happy-go-lucky Bob who had everyone holding their collective breaths. Waiting to see if he’d gotten bitten or cut. His strange behavior after that scene and up till the end, left the audience certain that Bob’s hours were numbered. Obviously, he’d gotten bitten or maybe he’d fallen off the wagon again and was tipping into the Communion wine with Father Gabriel. That kiss with Sasha was sad because it felt as if he were saying goodbye. We never see a bite…not that kind of bite at least. More on that in a few.
Off scavenging on their own, Carol and Daryl find an old, abandoned Thunderbird. If things don’t work out with Abraham’s short bus, they have transportation of their own at least. Daryl takes the time to ask Carol more about her time on the road, but she can’t talk about it. Daryl tells her that if she can’t talk about it, then just forget it and start over. Carol’s not sure how exactly to do that.
CSI: Walking Dead Edition
Clearly, Carl was going to follow in his father’s footsteps even before the zombieapocalypse. While his father and the others are away, he finds scratch marks where someone tried to force their way into the church at some point. Whoever did it, never made it inside. They did leave a message scratched in the wood. “You’ll burn for this.” My thoughts? Blondie with the glasses who we see Father Gabriel in a picture with came to the church with others seeking sanctuary. The clergyman survived two years on his own with all that canned food by not sharing or letting anyone in. Not exactly Christian of him, no? Who do you think left the message and the marks? Carl shows his father what he found, leaving Rick as suspicious as ever of Gabriel.
Survival of the Fittest
Rick & Co feast on their loot from the food bank. They relax and enjoy the moment of just being alive. Abraham’s good with that. They’re survivors, but seriously is that all they want from this life anymore. They have strength and skill. Will they live out their lives fighting from one day to the next, scrounging for what they can to keep doing or do they want more? Do they want that existence or would they help him get Eugene to DC and reclaim the world. He prompts Eugene to tell them what’s waiting in Washington. Infrastructure. Food. Fuel. Refuge and a change to restart. Rick leaves the decision up to Judith and no surprise that kid wants to hit the road at first light. Well, she doesn’t say that but the gurgle implies it.
Carol slips outside. For fresh air? Is she ready to head off on her own again, unsure how to be apart of the group again after what she did? So many questions. No matter, though, Daryl catches up with her just as she reaches the Thunderbird they found earlier. Their heart-to-heart is cut short when a speeding vehicle approaches and Daryl sees the car with the white cross painted in the rear window. “They got Beth!” Daryl tells her before smashing the Thunderbird’s taillights and jumping in the car. No way he’s losing that car this time. YES!!! Carol and Daryl leave their group behind, but hopefully not for long and when they return a certain blonde better be with them.
Oh, Bob. Dead man walking. We all knew it, but the how came to be a little different from we were all thinking. Who knows if he was bitten by one of those zombies earlier. It matters not. Bob leaves the party and is off sobbing in the woods when some mysterious figure knocks him out. Who could it be? Morgan? Gareth?
Bob wakes up and he’s surrounded by Terminites. There’s Gareth with those criminally long lashes and he’s saying something, but I’m staring at those lashes. Focus, woman. Wait. Is he? Um, they’re eating rack of Bob. His leg is gone. They’re cannibals. The Terminites are the Hunters. Oh, Bob! And Tyreese better look at those flowers because who is alive and kicking and not that bruised looking at all, but…baby strangling Terminite, Martin. Tyreese should’ve let Carol finish the job. Gareth tells a stunned (drugged?) Bob that “to survive like everybody else, we have to hunt.” It was nothing personal, but “a man’s gotta eat.”
They’re eating Bob, people? It’s one thing to know they’re cannibals, but….they’re eating him! I can never look at that long lashed, hipster Gareth the same. Well, the minute I get transfixed again, I’ll think about him gnawing on Bob-b-que. Thoughts on the episode? Will Daryl and Carol save Beth? Hershel survived with one leg for a while, can Bob do the same? When will Rick shave that gristle off his face? Michonne says that she doesn’t miss her kitana, but aren’t you guys kind of hoping that one of the Terminites brought it along with them? Hit the comments second with your thoughts on “Strangers”.
Lover of words & moving pictures. Author of ltd edition publication Population Crazytown. I received my MFA in Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore and my BA in English from Goucher College. I watch entirely too much television and am quite happy sitting in an empty movie theater on a rainy day.