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The Walking Dead – Four Walls and a Roof – Review and Discussion

This week we had confirmed what many had already suspected – Bob had been bitten by a walker when he was under water at the food pantry – which led to a tearful goodbye and a chance for Bob to pass on some final wisdom. This was an emotional episode. It was also one of closure for what feels like a three-episode mini-arc around secrets, sins, and forgiveness.

Lawrence Gilliard Jr., who plays Bob, was given the opportunity to deliver what I imagine will become an iconic line as he hysterically screams, “Tainted meat!” after informing Gareth and the other Termites who are slobbering down his leg meat, that he had been bitten by a walker. The character also had the opportunity to say goodbye to Sasha, Rick, and the others in more somber scenes, during which he tells Rick (another great line): “Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are. And that is just this dead man’s opinion.”

This episode was heavily focused on the topic of forgiveness. Visually, the camera kept finding the image of The Last Supper on the church wall, which was above the couch where Bob died. This symbolism fits as the story of the crucifixion of Jesus is one of forgiveness - Jesus died so that the sins of mankind can be forgiven. In the Biblical tale, and in the artwork, Judas who betrayed Jesus, is present for the last supper. Who would Judas be in this scenario? Father Gabriel for betraying his friends by not granting them sanctuary? Gareth and his group who betrayed their own kind?

The episode had a nice contrast in the framing of scenes from the two groups. In the church, we see broad stained glass windows and alter in the background as Sasha and Rick move in to confront Father Gabriel on their missing friends. With the Terminus group, we also see windows, but behind these are ravenous walkers pushing to get – mirroring the group in their hunger in as Gareth and the others eat Bob’s leg.

A Secret Revealed

In a heavily emotional scene, we learned Father Gabriel’s secret this week. He painfully recounted how after the bombing of Altanta, people from his congregation had come to the church seeking refuge, but he had left the church doors locked. They begged for help – and he had a choice – but he left them outside to be killed by walkers. Was one of those parishioners the walker who bit Bob? Possibly, although we’ll likely never know for certain. Tyreese later talks about choice as he’s telling Sasha she should stay with Bob rather than join the hunt for Gareth.

Seth Gilliam, who plays Father Gabriel, did a great job in making the clergyman’s memories of hearing families being torn apart as they were begging for his help come alive. His recounting of those moments was haunting.

Reflections on the Episode

I thought this was a very strong episode that had its emotional hits. Saying goodbye to Bob was hard. His ending left us with an open question asked by Sasha – “So what is it? The good that comes out of this bad?” The way the question was left unanswered seems to point to it being an individual discovery that Sasha will need to make on her own. My one small criticism is that parts felt a little predictable (the group circling around back on the Termites for example), but other moments were unexpected. I certainly didn’t predict the group would be separated again so soon. While I’m sure Glenn and Maggie will be reunited with the group again in the future, Washington seems so far away right now.

Tyreese had some very nice scenes. He talked about wishing he had final moments with Karen, and warning his sister that she will regret it if she spends Bob’s final moments seeking revenge rather than being with him. It was good to see Tyreese’s emotional strength return. The man who had been reluctant to kill walkers a few episodes ago was now was able to take the knife away from his sister after Bob had passed so that Sasha wouldn’t have to deliver the blow.

When Tyreese was with Rick digging the grave, he says the experience of getting to Terminus had killed him. Rick responds that it didn’t. I believe Rick is correct here. If shutting off your humanity is the equivalent of emotionally dying in this world, Tyreese is among those in the group who are the most alive. This comment from Tyreese felt like a call back to Carol’s comment to Mary in No Sanctuary that neither of them are still there, as we’ve seen that Carol is in a different place emotionally.

In Gareth’s final moments, he tells Rick that he can tell that Rick has never been really hungry. I wonder if this will be an important thread in the next segment of their journey.

Other Thoughts:

- My favorite moment of this episode might just be when Rick shot Gareth – not just because Gareth had it coming and has been the most annoying villain we’ve had so far – but because he was about to do that last minute blackmail posturing that’s such a cliché on so many TV series, saying he was going to shoot through the door to where Carl and the group were hiding if Rick and his group didn’t lower their guns. But Rick just cut him off by shooting off his hand before he could barely finish his thought. This is why this show can get so lost in so much angst but still emerge as one of the best action series on the air. We love a hero who’s also apparently had enough of the villain’s monologuing and proactively takes care of it for us.

- I loved the staging when Rick’s group, in leaving the church, walked away in the dark and Gareth’s group approached. It felt like it was meant to mirror a play: one group exits into the shadows while the other group enters into the spotlight in almost complete silence as they avoid the previous group.

- There was a nice visual parallel drawn between the ravenous walkers at the window and the group of Termites messily eating Bob’s leg. Gareth’s comment to Bob: “I’m being a human being here” had more than a hint of irony.

- We haven’t heard much from Eugene lately, but in a subtle nod to his character, the camera shows a plaque behind him that reads: “Stupidity is also a gift of God but one mustn’t misuse it.”

- Bob’s comment about dreaming about Sasha, and how Sasha was laughing, reminded me of Tyreese telling Carol about the dreams he’d have of Karen, and how in those dreams, the world was like it was before. Tyreese made a comment at that time that the whole world was haunted by the dead. This episode had a slightly haunted feeling to it as the group prepared to say goodbye to one more of their own.

- Gareth draws an “A” on the church as they stalk their prey. So apparently “A” functioned as more than the name of the location of Rick's group at Terminus. It was their brand – as in cattle branding – to the Termites.

- I found the choice to have Maggie deliver the line, saying that the church is “just four walls and a roof” interesting, given that she’s Hershel’s daughter. We see Maggie fingering a Bible early in the episode, probably thinking of Hershel. Apparently Maggie’s becoming somewhat cynical too.

- While the Bob storyline was touching, the piece that stayed with me at the end was the look on Daryl’s face. Something had happened, but his face didn’t have the look of tragedy either. It made me pretty curious to see what happens next – and learn what’s coming out of the bushes.

- Regardless of what happens next week, I feel better now that Michonne has her sword back.

What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments.

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