Episode 2 - Strangers
26 October 2014
Synopsis: The group come across a Priest who identifies himself as Gabriel. They set up camp in his church, find some food and agree to head to Washington. Carol and Darryl come across a car and use it to pursue Beth's kidnappers. Bob wanders off on his own to cry and gets captured by the Terminus survivors.
The Good: This definitely feels like a different show now than the one which resumed in Season 2 or 3. Every single character has a subplot of their own, multiple groups are now interacting with our survivors and mysteries are threaded throughout. These are all positive developments.
As time has gone on Andrew Lincoln has really repaid the casting director's odd choice. He had a real swagger and self assurance about him here. Rick seems almost at peace with living life constantly alert and mistrustful. He's also found a better way to lead. He has rules that govern his dealings with strangers and although he demands some down time in the church he also recognises the concensus forming around a trip to Washington. I thought his awkward conversation with Carol was very well put together. He can hardly climb down from the decision he made then. But he recognises that her ruthlessness is now part of him (e.g. his desire to kill all the Terminus people) and tries to explain that.
Carol's discomfort is an interesting story. She doesn't feel she deserves to be back in the group. Like Rick she has developed an inner steel to get her through each day. But up to this point it was caring for the group's children which gave her her purpose. Now that that role has gone she winds up out at night trying to be useful rather than part of the "family."
As for Bob, it seems like there is a missing piece of the puzzle. I thought he was weeping because he had been bitten or scratched when the Walker dragged him under the water at the foodbank. But Gareth's words imply that it was somehow Bob who caused our survivors to be locked up in a train car rather than enjoying some human barbecue. Last season farmer-Rick, crazy-Lizzie and the Governor were all only slowly explained as the season unfolded. It seems like Scott Gimple has recognised that it's better to deliver action upfront and deal with parts of the plot as ongoing mysteries. It's a formula that has worked well so far. Although the shock of Bob's amputation didn't do much for me. In part because I was still under the impression that he had been bitten and so thought the amputation was an act of mercy (initially). But also because of the silliness of Bob not realising what had happened for a good minute of conversation.
The Bad: That wasn't bad though it was just a slight miscommunication. What was bad was the staging of the food bank Walker scene. Why couldn't the Walkers be killed from above? It seemed like they were within stabbing distance. Indeed, why not just shoot them? Yes it would eventually draw more in but climbing into water with Walkers was always going to be very dangerous. It made the characters look foolish.
The Unknown: It seems like Father Gabriel may have had an affair with a girl and been ostracised just as the apocalypse broke out. But it's probably more tragic and complicated than that.
It looked to me like Martin, the guy Tyreese "took care of" is alive and with Gareth. That seems tailor made to lead to someone's death (Sasha?) and leave Tyreese in a deep rage.
Bob's happy-go-lucky attitude was somewhat refreshing last season. In this episode it just seemed to slap a "dead man walking" tag on his forehead. That is a problem with the show, no character can really be happy without it feeling like disaster is about to strike. The fact that Bob-Sasha are going through a trauma so soon after Darryl-Beth two barely established couples is vaguely worrying too. I don't want the show to become formulaic in how it deels with romance.
Darry and Carol chasing the mysterious car makes sense to some extent. How else will they track down Beth if they don't follow them? But you can already sense that they are going to be seperated from the other survivors and again you don't want the show to establish a lazy formula for splitting and reuniting the group. I'm running ahead to meet trouble here but I just want to express these reservations now.
Best Moment: Probably Rick and Carol. It was as believable as I could imagine that conversation being.
Conclusion: A solid episode setting up multiple plot threads to carry us forward.
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