It's always darkest before the dawn. Or so our group of good guys in the battle of good (them) vs. evil (walkers and other humans who don't choose to be good) hope is a proverb that will ring true. Tonight's episode, "Four Walls and a Roof," was quiet on the action (well, by Walking Dead
standards) but super charged with anticipation all throughout. Religious themes, imagery, metaphors and both subtle and blatant smack-you-in-the-face-at-home holy references continued to flood the plot. Whereas last week's main focus was forgiveness, tonight was all about finding the light — any light — ever again in a world that has become increasingly dark even on the sunniest of days.
We kick things off (Sorry, poor choice of words!) with poor, unlucky, partially eaten Bob who is still clinging to life. Gareth and his small group are done feasting on him for now and Gareth once again begins preaching about the origins of his group and how they weren't always cannibalistic savages. As he drones on and on about how everyone they've encountered has a choice — to join up or wind up as dinner — and how the Grimes group is really going to get theirs, it appears Bob is going off the deep end. His deep sobs become maniacal laughter and he gleefully interrupts Gareth's homily of sorts to inform him that the joke's on them. "You idiots. You stupid pricks. I'm tainted meat!" Bob informs them that he was bitten prior to being kidnapped.
Although Gareth maintains everything is still hunky dory because the tainted meat was cooked at the right temperature for ingestion (Ummmmm....?
) Bob is quickly quieted by a kick which appears to knock him out or even finally put him out of his misery.
Meanwhile back at the church, everyone has finally snapped out of church social mode and realized three of their people are now missing. (New drinking game alert for those who imbibe at home as they watch: take a gulp every time you hear the phrase "our people" and two gulps if the phrasing used is "Where are/What have you done with our people?!" )
Sasha is not accepting any nonsense and pulls a knife on hapless Father Gabriel — he of perfectly dry-cleaned suits and a demeanor that more than suggests sinner over saint. Sasha's done the math, you see, and reasons that it was the appearance of the suspicious religious man that precipitated the sudden missing people sitch and the knowing feeling that someone's been spying on them all.Rick demands to know with whom Gabriel is working, why he brought them there and what the hell he did to have the message suggesting he will burn carved onto the church's facade? Gabriel swears he is alone, had nothing to do with the missing trio but does break down and admit the hate note outside was left by the angry congregation — his very own flock — whom he locked out just as shit got real in the apocalypse. He is convinced he is damned and that God sent the Grimes gang to do his reckoning.
Gabriel's confession is interrupted by the discovery of Bob on the grass having been dropped off, alive and one legged. The symbol of the "A" that's been popping up more and more, like signs for Terminus did last season, is once again shown on screen. Bob tells the group he woke up in a school to Gareth and a handful of others eating his leg. I'm sure he was in shock and his fever was kicking in but he offered up this tidbit of info in a way that was a tad too calm for my liking. Rick asks Bob if Gareth has Daryl and Carol and Bob informs him that he heard Gareth say the two had gotten away in a car.
Finally, Bob reveals the gaping walker bite on his shoulder and admits it happened at the food bank. Father Gabriel offers the couch in his office to serve as his death bed. Glenn reminds everyone that "Jim lasted two days before they left." (Goodness, REMEMBER mechanic Jim? Feels like a decade ago. Why, we were all so innocent and naive back then!)
Without allowing even one minute for Bob's imminent ugly fate to sink into the minds of the others, big and cold Abraham reality checks everyone by basically saying no offense to the beloved dying guy missing a leg who just provided the group with vital reconnaissance intel but it's time to leave for DC since Eugene is in danger.
Rick vehemently disagrees about the timing, which is echoed by the majority as they would never leave without getting Daryl and Carol back. After Rick and Abraham almost come to blows, it's finally decided that Abraham, Rosita and Eugene will stick around half a day before they head north in the already fixed mini school bus and then they are leaving and would like to at least have Maggie and Glenn with them for added protection in addition to Tara who already volunteered to go along. Whew! That was fast! One minute everyone was chasing down canned peas with Communion wine and somehow Abraham had time to get the bus in working order in the pitch black night.
While Bob and Sasha enjoy some last sentimental moments before his fever inevitably kicks in, the rest of the groups stares pensively at the fire. They know all too well what needs to be done. They need to strike swiftly at Gareth and his cohorts before they have time to strike again. They realize the Terminus crew is counting on their "WTF-ness" mindset following Bob's one legged return and the sudden of absence of Carol and Daryl to cloud their vision. And so it's decided they will make their move in this, the darkest part of night, and head to the school, which, according to Gabriel, is a mere 10 minute walk. He also points out that the journey involves passing through a graveyard, a detail that seems almost comical in light of the fact that the entire world is now one giant cemetery.
Sasha wants to join the vengeance party, but Tyreese convinces her to stay by Bob's side. This exchange between siblings which touched upon forgiveness and included the expected "stab Bob as soon as he dies because that's what he'd want" notion was kinda boring in a show that rarely is- especially during quiet scenes where humanity or the desire to maintain even a semblance of humanity is the focus.
Cut to another classic tool the show often uses to move along the plot without viewers really being able to (physically) see how the plot is moving. There's the pitch black Georgia backwoods. At this point, that darkness of country night has become a character on the show as it is so often utilized to purposely confuse viewers — after all, whatever eventually happens will be a double-triple-quadruple surprise if we can't see precisely what led up to it!
We see Gareth and his small band of fellow cannibals approaching the church. We can't tell then but they have observed (or so they think they have) Rick and the strongest team members leaving to presumably go to the school. They easily break into the church (a little too easily which is what made it clear a set-up was about to take place) and enter. The inside of the church is possibly the darkest any interior has ever appeared on this show.
Gareth, whose signature character trait is loving the sound of his own voice, is all, "we're here, we're armed and want to kill you and feast on you so let's make this easy and you show yourselves or better yet, priest give up the people hiding and you can flee safely. Heck, we'll throw in the baby (Judith) for free!" Gareth even does roll call as though one of the remaining members of the Grimes group might say, "present."
Judith, the world's quietest baby, finally tips them off with a gurgle as babies are wont to do and Gareth's attention immediately settles on two doors. This even prompts him to say he would now like to take Judith with him: "I'm starting to like this girl!" Done being patient, he has two of his people shoot at the hinges.
Out of the darkness come shots that take down a couple of Gareth's men. It's Rick and everyone else whom Gareth mistakenly thought left the property to go search for them.
After disarming them, Rick makes Gareth and "Tyreese's friend" Martin kneel. Gareth says he knows there's no point in begging and then starts in again on what good people he and the Terminus crew used to be. He spews forth more empty promises about staying out of Rick's path if only Rick lets them go. Rick will naturally have none of it and is quick to remind Gareth that even if that were true, Gareth would still kill and eat anyone else who happened to cross his path.
And that's when Rick finally gets to live up to his promise from the premiere- he takes a hold of the red-handled machete and ultra-violently slaughters Gareth just as Gareth did to so many others. Martin is also a goner- for real this time.
Father Gabriel can't believe such bloodshed took place inside his church. (Oh, the irony - what with him letting his own parishioners be devoured right outside the church's door and windows
.) It's then that Maggie reminds him the church is "just four walls and a roof."
Daylight comes and with it comes the final moments of Bob's life. After Maggie reassures Bob that he will always be a part of the group, there's a touching scene in which Bob thanks Rick for taking him in at the prison and reminding him that there are still good people in the world. "Nightmares end. They shouldn't end who you are."
After waking from a dream smiling and telling Sasha that smile was on his face because in his dream Sasha was smiling at him (which prompts her to smile- meta!) Bob finally passes away. Tyreese spares his sister and plunges a knife into Bob's skull, out of her sight.
It's time for Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Tara, Maggie and Glenn to go. The rest of group is still waiting for Carol and Daryl but they pledge to meet up. The bus pulls away and as Rick looks at the map Abraham left him, there in the Atlantic Ocean is scrawled a bro love note, "Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The new world's gonna need Rick Grimes"
Later that night as Michonne restlessly stares at the full moon- the only visible light in the deep darkness of the Georgia backwoods- Father Gabriel joins her. He tells her he isn't so much bothered by the slaughtering that took place in his church, but it's more what he said out loud for the first time earlier that evening about locking everyone out. And by doing so, he can once again see his endangered congregation and hear their anguished and angry cries. Michonne, who is all too familiar with this strain of P.T.S.D., is quick to matter-of-factly reassure him, "Yeah, that won't stop but it won't be all the time."
With that, Michonne hears the unmistakable sound of movement in the dark woods. Daryl emerges and fear turns to relief. Michonne asks where Carol is and Daryl barks, "Come on out." But the show's over before we see exactly who he is introducing though it's super likely we are about to witness the return of Beth. Not to mention, the preview of next week's episode appears to focus on Beth so likely, the prodigal daughter has indeed returned.
Things that make us go hmmmmmm:
*What does that A symbol stand for?
*Is Father Gabriel going to be permitted to take the road trip to DC??? Or should/will Rick banish him Carol-style since besides being super shady, his ability to defend against walkers and other intrusions is clearly non-existent?