WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the most recent episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, as well as minor spoilers for the “Fear the Hunters” story arc from the graphic novel. Proceed at your own risk.
Just like that, it looks like we will be fearing the Hunters no more. This was a really great episode, and in fact, I’m borderline exhausted by the break-neck pace this season has taken so far. It feels like we’ve gotten more action in the past three episodes than in entire past seasons. That said, it looks like we’ll be winding down to a slower, very Beth-centric episode next week. But fear not! I think we’ve seen the last of Farmer Rick for quite some time.
This episode picked up right where we left off last week, with a newly amputee Bob tied to a flag pole while Gareth and his super creepy pals feasted upon our good pal’s leg. Last week we were given a pretty good inclination of where this episode was going, especially if you’re a reader of the comics.
All signs pointed to Bob being bitten at the food bank in episode two, and that was exactly what had happened. Bob reveals almost immediately to Gareth and the Hunters that he’s “Tainted meat!” The delivery of this line, and just the all around performance of Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob) was fantastic. They really couldn’t have found a better actor to portray this scene from the comic, despite the fact that it was a different character all together.
After the big reveal, the Hunters dump Bob back at the church after Father Gabriel opens up about his shady history to the group after being intimidated by Sasha and Rick. As it turns out, and was fairly obvious, Gabriel had turned away his parishioners after locking the doors to the church, which resulted in numerous deaths including women and children. Though the group is clearly not pleased with the revelation (Carl looks particularly horrified, possible because he trusted Gabriel the most), their attention is diverted to the recently returned Bob.
Bob tells the group what happened, including fact that the Hunters could not get to Carol and Daryl because they took off in a car together, and even reveals his bite. At this point, it’s nearly unanimous that the group must take out the Hunters before anyone else is put in jeopardy. This causes a rift between Rick and Abraham leading us to some of the best tension between lead characters since Shane was alive. Ultimately Abraham agrees to not only wait until noon the next day, but to help the group take care of their dirty deed. The stipulation in this deal is that Maggie, Tara, and Glenn must come with him if the others insist to wait for Daryl and Carol.
Before the group takes off, we get to see some really nice parallels between Sasha and Tyreese come into play. Tyreese urges Sasha to stay with Bob because he wished he had that sort of time with Karen, and encourages Sasha to forgive if only so that she can spend Bob’s final moments with him. Sasha insists on “being a part of this,” and our favorite survivors set off into the woods after agreeing that this is the smart thing to do. Rick insists that the Hunters won’t be expecting them to think clearly, and they must react.
Now, I thought this was a little funny, considering that Gareth is much more strategic than his comic counterpart, Chris, and the first time I watched the episode, I thought Rick was an idiot for leaving the church unprotected, as I’m sure many others would agree. However, on the second viewing I noticed that Rick pauses for a moment and the group leaves the church, and looks at the giant “A” painted on the side of the church in what appears to be blood. After seeing that, I’m fairly certain that Rick’s plan was to stage it as if he was leaving all along, waiting for the Hunters to trap themselves.
The following shot that transpired was incredibly cool, and reminded me of something you’d see in an early 90s, point-and-click adventure game. We saw Rick and co. make their way into the forest, and Gareth and the Hunters arrive from the wooded area across the road from the church just a few moments later. This was all in one shot, an it was really cool to watch.
When the Hunters arrive at the church, I also thought it was just a little too easy for them to break in given all the trouble Gabriel’s parishioners seemed to have, but I’m going to assume that was part of Rick’s plan, right? Right.
The scenes that played out after the Hunters entered the church were absolutely terrifying. The church was pitch dark, the ambient music was tense and pulsating like the music we heard with the Governor in seasons three and four. Gareth was also incredibly creepy, and the whole scene gave off this home invasion vibe. It really felt like someone was in your home, it just made my skin crawl.
Just as we think the remaining members of Rick’s group are in trouble, two of Gareth’s group members are dropped right in front of the door they are about to kick in. Rick and his group appear from the shadows in what might be the most awesome stealth move in cable TV history, and we get to see a much darker side to Rick than we’ve ever seen before. Gareth points at the door, threatening to shoot into the office, and gets his pointing fingers shot off, another scene almost shot for shot from the comic.
It wasn’t really clear who shot at Gareth, but I suppose we’re to assume it’s Rick. In the comic it was Andrea, who was both still alive and had a stake in the affairs similar to Sasha. It’s probably best not to get too tangled up on who did what, but I’d like to think Sasha put that night scope to good use. Assuming Rick fired the shot is giving his aim a lot of credit, especially in a dark church.
A brief stand-off ensues until all of the Hunters drop their weapons, and Gareth orders Martin (ugh) to stand down. You know, Martin, that smug P.O.S. that Tyreese beat the daylights out of? Yeah, him. Don’t worry though, he wasn’t long for this world.
Gareth begs Rick to let him go, and promises they’ll never cross paths again after Rick let’s Gareth know that he’s in the mood to conserve some ammo. This scene was great. The irony was amazing, as this scene was a near parallel to the scene back at Terminus where Gareth was ranting about shell counts and Rick’s group was kneeling before him. Just like back then, forgiveness was not on the menu (Get it? Food reference. I’m funny.) and Rick fulfilled his promise to Gareth that he would kill him with the red handled machete that Rick and co. buried outside Terminus.
As the gore-fest ensues, we see a range of emotions throughout the group. Rick and Sasha appear to find satisfaction in the brutality, where Abraham goes about it as business as usual, and the rest, specifically Maggie, Tara, Glenn, and Tyreese seem mortified. Tyreese watches on as Sasha dispatched Martin, something he could not do, and Maggie, Glenn, and Tara lower their weapons in absolute horror.
After all of the Hunters are dead, Michonne finds her Katana on one of them (!!!), and the rest of the group emerges from the office as we get a great shot of Rick and Sasha standing back-to-back, upset at what they had to do, but seemingly resigned to the fact that this is how it has to be. It was neat to see how they’ve kind of become one in the same, and it highlighted a lot of the similarities between them.
Father Gabriel looks upon all of the gore in the aisle of his church, and says “But this is the house of the Lord.” to which Maggie, who had set aside a bible earlier in the episode, responds “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.” This made me wonder if Maggie isn’t slowly giving up her faith after losing her father, and seemingly her sister, as well as seeing the kind of people who are left in the world.
The next morning we see the group saying their goodbyes to an ever fading Bob, the scene reminiscent of a gathering you’d see at a funeral home. As the group is leaving Sasha and Bob alone to say their goodbyes, Bob asks that he have one last private moment with Rick. The conversation that followed was one that I was unexpectedly touched by. Bob essentially makes it clear to Rick that he’s the good guy, and that he (Bob) would not have died happy if Rick hadn’t taken him in. Bob also tells Rick that he has the ability to change the world for Judith, and Rick shakes Bob’s hand one last time.
As he’s drifting off, Sasha spends the last moments with Bob, who is still his ever-positive self. He makes Sasha smile one last time before passing, as Sasha asks “So what is it, the good that comes out of this bad?” She doesn’t receive an answer though. Bob is gone, and Sasha is left to figure that out on her own.
As Sasha is preparing to prevent Bob from turning, Tyreese enters and takes her knife from her so that she doesn’t have to. Tyreese does the deed, finally do what he absolutely has to. Bob is buried in a marked grave outside of the church, and the group gathers to send off Maggie, Tara, and Glenn along with Abraham’s group.
The goodbye scene between the two factions was touching, reminding me of someone sending their kids off to their first day of school, or seeing them off to college. Rick is visibly uncomfortable with sending Maggie and Glenn off, though it seems that this splinter has been growing since early season four when Glenn suggested to Maggie that they leave after having a pregnancy scare.
Before leaving Abraham hands Rick a map detailing their route to Washington, with a crude note scrawled on the bottom:
Rick then joins Tyreese in digging graves for the Hunters, and asks how his journey from the prison to Terminus was. Tyreese tells Rick “It killed me,” to which Rick responds to after taking a beat “No it didn’t.”
You would think that would be a great place to end the episode, but we were treated to more.as Michonne is seen sitting on the church steps later that night. Father Gabriel joins her, opening about the fact that he still hears the screams of the people he left outside, and Michonne lets him know that it’ll never go away, but it doesn’t happen all the time. It appears that the two are sort of kindred spirits. Some bushes rustle, and Michonne approaches, drawing her sword. The rustling intensifies as the approaches, and A GIANT TIGER JUMPS OUT! Just kidding, it’s Daryl. Michonne laughs, and asks where Carol is. Daryl, appearing to be dressed differently than when he left, pauses for a moment, looking concerned, then turns to the woods behind him and says “You can come on out,” and the episode ends.
9.5 out of 10 = Spectacular
This episode instantly became one of my favorites. We saw a big-bad dispatched, Rick crossed the brutal side of the line, a rift was seemingly created within the group, tensions mounted between not only Rick and Abraham, but also Sasha at Tyreese at some points, and we had an emotional send-off to someone who turned out to be a really good character. Michonne even got her katana back, whether she wanted it or not.
At the end we were left with some questions, ones that I don’t believe we’ll get resolved quickly, but we’ve been spoiled so far this season. I have a pretty good idea of who is with Daryl, and it isn’t Carol, Beth or Morgan. I’ll be positing that with other predictions tomorrow.
+ So, so much happened within the hour.
+ Tensions within the group rise.
+ Many shots ripped straight from the comic again.
+ No more cannibals.
+ Sweet sendoff
+Daryl is alright… for now.
– There was more symbolism in this episode, like a portrait of the Last Supper above where Bob was laid, but at this point it seems pandering. We get it already.
– Can Rosita speak? How about Eugene? I don’t even think Carl had a line in this episode. The bigger the group gets, the more characters we see getting the T-Dog treatment and I don’t like that.