Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainmemt Monthly Staff Writers
There is no way to discuss this shocker of a second season episode without including spoilers. Readers have been warned!
“Strangers” picks up right after the beautiful reunion of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) with little baby Judith. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) also have their extremely long awaited hug session. The group continues their travel away from Terminus, the explosion set by Carol still raging behind them. As they move through the forest, flashes of an unknown presence crop up around them. Not knowing if it’s Terminus members or just walkers, the group decides to hoof it to some sort of shelter. Carl hears the screams of an unknown human and reminds his dad that they still are the kind of people that need to help those in need. They find Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) cowering on a boulder from a group of walkers and the group saves him, but they are wary to trust him due to his strange reaction to the walkers attacking him. It has been about two years since the zombie outbreak, so for someone to still be shocked by a walker is very odd. Gabriel has sanctuary in a church, but the remains of knife gashes and crudely written messages like “You’ll burn for this” on the outside walls raises fears for Rick and the gang.
The greatest strength of The Walking Dead is also arguably its biggest flaw. The premiere episode of season 5 was action packed from start to finish. Throats slit, walker target practice galore, explosions set by Carol-Rambo, and lots of sweating. These episodes seem to be what draws viewers in due to their fast paced and exciting nature. Like a proper zombie flick, the best moments of a zombie apocalypse are seen in glorious bloody fashion.
However, there are also several episodes each season that rely heavily on raising subtle tension through character development and setting the stage for future events. The writers have a great strength in the way they don’t force violence into every episode and instead make sure to create characters that are actually worth watching. Viewers are divided over this concept and its what sets apart “Strangers”. This episode was a beautiful melding of both forms of tension. Carol and Rick have a good heart to heart where the leadership roles are questioned. Tara (Alanna Masterson) continues to look for forgiveness and acceptance in the group that she blindly fought against. Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) show the development of their relationship in the midst of all of the chaos they just endured. But on the action side, the group has to fight an onslaught of water logged walkers, one of which almost gets Bob. And then there was the final minutes of the episode…
The group decides to head to Washington D.C. to get the cure started. As they are celebrating, Carol and Daryl head out to check on a car they saw earlier only to see the cross embossed car that took Beth go speeding by them. As they take off, the scene cuts back to Bob outside taking a breather. He begins to openly weep for reasons unknown. It’s almost as if his overwhelming need for alcohol has possibly passed, or he is just happy to have a love in his life. Suddenly he is clubbed by an unknown figure. When he comes to, the camera focuses on Terminus leader Gareth (Andrew J. West) looming over him. Gareth begins his monologue by explaining that Bob will not die just yet. They have plans for him and for the rest of the group. As he continues to speak, the reasons for close ups become very apparent. Gareth pulls up a piece of meat to his lips and takes a hunk out of it. Yes, it is meat, but more notably, it’s Bob’s cooked leg. The camera pulls back and Bobs leg is cut cleanly from his thigh.
Audiences knew that the Terminus group were cannibals, but this was a shocking reminder of just how far gone they all are into their human snack ways. This raises a plethora of questions: What will be Bobs ultimate fate? How many more of the group will fall onto Terminus’s dinner plate? Will Carol and Daryl find Beth? How long does a cooked leg last until it has to be thrown out?
The Walking Dead airs Sunday’s at 9/8c on AMC.
Overall Episode Grade: A