The opening scene of this episode is as gruesome as last week’s closing one. Gareth shares his hunt or be hunted philosophy while the group feasts on Bob. Clearly, Gareth has watched too many movies and he thinks he has to talk endlessly about his evil plans and play with his food. He’s not the hipster evil mastermind we all thought he was.
It’s okay though, because it’s nothing compared to Gareth’s disappointment and confusion when Bob’s tears turn to laughter. He reveals what many of us suspected at the end of the last episode. A zombie bit him on the shoulder when they were attacked at the food bank. Instantly, the cannibals fear they will turn because they’ve ingested infected flesh. That would be awesome karma if it was true.
Rick, Sasha and Tyreese search for Bob and the person who they believe is watching them. Once Sasha finds out that Daryl and Carol are missing, she confronts Father Gabriel believing that he is at fault for all of her missing companions. We know that Carol and Daryl left on their own, but I can’t blame the others for thinking Gabriel is involved.
After both Sasha and Rick scream at the priest to reveal his secrets, he breaks and confesses to them. It is what I predicted last week, he locked the doors and gave no refuge to the living when the dead came to rip them apart.
This grief would haunt anyone, but I imagine it’s especially haunting for a priest, who instead of shepherding people to salvation, shepherded them to death.
Before the group can respond to this revelation, they see that someone has left Bob out in the yard of the church. They rush to bring him inside, unaware that he only has a short time left to live. He tells them what happened with the Termites and reveals the bite on his shoulder.
All of this only strengthens Abraham’s resolve to take Eugene to D.C., but Rick will not leave without Carol and Daryl. It’s interesting here because you can see shades of season one and two Rick in Abraham. He has that unflinching commitment to his mission and is not interested in hearing dissenting opinions.
Glenn steps in as the peacemaker and brokers a deal with Abraham. If he stays to help fend off the remaining members of Terminus, then Glenn and Maggie will go with him to D.C. Rick is not happy about this, but he really has no choice. The amazing thing is that Rick doesn’t argue with Glenn. He initially says no, but once Glenn tells him “it’s not your call,” Rick lets it go. He doesn’t give a huge “Ricktatorship” speech. He accepts that he can’t control this.
Meanwhile, Sasha and Bob say their last goodbye. He says he didn’t tell her about the bite because “it would become all about the end, and I really like the middle.” There’s not a lot to enjoy in a world full of zombies. I understand why Bob wanted to hold onto the little bit of happiness that he had. It’s so sad to lose such a great character. I feel like we hardly knew Bob, but he had this optimistic wisdom that was so refreshing and truly needed on this show, especially in the absence of Hershel.
The group makes plans to attack the Termites at their camp near a school. Driven by revenge, Sasha wants to go with them. Tyreese encourages her to stay with Bob. These last few moments she has with him are precious. He wishes he had those moments with Karen. But all his sister wants is to murder the people who hurt the man she loves.
“When he opens his eyes, the only thing he’s gonna want to see is your face.” – Tyreese
These words only confirm her decision. She gives Tyreese her knife and tells him to kill Bob the moment he stops breathing. This is the real reason she wants to fight. She cannot face seeing her lover turn into a walker.
Gareth and his group arrive at the church where it appears that Rick and a few others have left, leaving the weaker members hiding in a locked room. As usual, Gareth, who doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety, talks his way through his search of the church.
He doesn’t have to search long because Judith begins to cry. Right as the Termites are ready to storm the room, Rick and others show up. Gareth makes an attempt at being clever, but Rick almost immediately wounds Gareth with a gunshot, giving the Termites no choice but to surrender.
Gareth makes one last attempt to save his life, similar to Mary’s plea to Carol in the first episode of the season. Rick is unmoved and brutally stabs Gareth with the same machete he promised to kill him with in the season premiere. Abraham and the others beat the remaining Termites to death. Afterward, everyone is a bit shell-shocked by what they did, but they all know it was necessary. They will carry no guilt.
Father Gabriel is the only one who is horrified. He walks out of the room where he was hiding and stares blankly at the slaughter before him, saying, “This is the lord’s house.” Maggie responds with “No, it’s just four walls and a roof.”
I love this line because it ties into the title of the first episode of the season, “No Sanctuary.” This is going to be the overarching theme of this half of the season. Our survivors aren’t looking for the illusion of safety anymore. They’ve been through too much. Their only salvation is in each other. Anything else is merely a temporary shelter. There’s a lot of freedom in this. They won’t have to face the inevitable disappointment of having to flee the place they thought was home. They can enjoy the safety while they have it and then move on without regret.
Before Bob dies, he imparts more of his wisdom to Rick. He tells Rick not to forget that he is a good person, despite the violence he commits out of necessity. Rick does know this, but it’s easy to forget. He needs to hear it from someone else.
There was a lot of conversation on The Talking Dead about whether or not the violence of the episode foreshadows the group’s evolution into the Governor or the Termites. I don’t think it does. It shows who they could become but not who they will become. Our survivors are too self-aware and they have so many checks and balances in place. They keep one another grounded. Bob does this with his parting words to Rick:
“Nightmares shouldn’t end who you are.”
These characters will evolve, but whatever may happen to them, the core of who they are won’t change.
The next day, as Abraham and his group set to leave with Maggie and Glenn, Abraham gives Rick a map with the details of their destination so that Rick can meet up with them after he finds Daryl and Carol.
When Rick unfolds the map, he sees that Abraham has written this:
Indeed it does, Abraham.
Father Gabriel and Michonne sit on the steps of the church confessing, not just his sins, but how he feels about them, how they haunt him. Never a woman of many words, Michonne simply tells him,
“That won’t stop, but it won’t be there all the time.”
Gabriel goes back inside just as Michonne hears something approaching from the woods. Much to hear relief, Daryl emerges. Her face falls as she realizes he is alone. She asks him where Carol is and he looks as if he’s about to say he lost her, but then he yells “come on out!” The screen fades to black before we see who he was talking to. It obviously wasn’t Carol. We’ll find out who it was next week.
We’ll also find out what happened to Beth and judging by the preview, whatever it was doesn’t look like it was good.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 on AMC.