The Walking Dead, S5 Ep2 — Strangers

The Walking Dead started with a shock last week. This week, it ended with one. The newly-reunited group has become a roving band of survivors, wandering the woods somewhat aimlessly — except for Abraham, who is still focused on finding a vehicle that can take them to Washington, DC, and the end of the apocalypse.

At night, Carol and Daryl are hanging out not talking (but not doing anything else), when they hear something in the woods nearby. On investigation, it’s clear that it isn’t a walker — could it have been something more cunning, with the ability to hide when spotted?

Carol and Daryl, reuinited

Carol and Daryl, reuinited

They make it through the night, but based on the screams in the near distance, someone else hasn’t fared so well. Carol insists they go and help whoever it is. It turns out to be an Episcopalian priest named Gabriel.

Rick gives him the basic questioning: How many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed? Gabriel’s answer to both is none. The group finds that hard to believe, but Gabriel insists that his church was a safe place. He leads the group to it, and it does appear that the priest has been holing up there. Still, Rick is suspicious, priest or no priest.

Gabriel says that he survived for a long time on canned food from a food drive the church had held just before the apocalypse. After running out, he had cleaned out the nearby shops. All that was left was the food bank, which was overrun with walkers.

Rick decides to lead up a team to retrieve the supplies from the food bank. Sasha and Bob (now apparently a couple) volunteer, as does Michonne. Carol and Daryl device to go searching for vehicles or other supplies. Tyreese is chosen to stay behind with Judith (a good idea — Ty may be non-stereotypically adopting the child-rearing role, but protecting Judith is when when he is at his most ruthless). Abraham & co hang around on the sidelines trying to come up with a way to convince Rick and the group to start focusing on Washington.

Gabriel, to his dismay, is chosen to go with Rick’s group. The food bank didn’t seem to bad, until you see the big hole in the floor and that about a dozen walkers are trapped in the flooded basement. With the food. I admit I don’t know what true hunger is, because I’m thinking no way would I consider going down into that rancid mess, let alone eat the food that’s down there. But they do. They let themselves down into the rotting water and use a shelf to hold off the bloated walkers.

waterlogged walker

waterlogged walker

Gabriel spots a spectacled, clearly female walker and freaks out. Bad. Then things really start to fall apart, as Bob is pulled under the water by a submerged walker. He manages to get away, but he and Sasha are shaken. It’s a tense scene, but I’m not sure it really conveyed the rankness of the basement. I know they’ve acclimated to the smell of rotting flesh by now, but this wasn’t just dirty water. And it reminds us that they are all already infected, because if they weren’t, they sure would be after that little adventure.

They manage to retrieve a lot of food and supplies. On the walk home, Michonne (who hasn’t yet been central this season) has a moment, as Rick questions if she misses her sword. She doesn’t. She doesn’t miss anything about her time as a lone survivor. She’s happy now, by comparison, being part of a family again.

That night, they dine in the chapel. The mood is light, but not everyone is relaxed. Tara is still wracked with guilt over the Governor’s attack on the prison, especially since she’s now living with Maggie. She confesses her role in it, and Maggie accepts it. What else is there to do? Ty and Sasha were on his side one, too. They were all misled. Gabriel looks at a photo of himself with a young spectacled woman, surely the walker at the basement.Carol can’t sit still. She leaves, Daryl trailing behind, to sneak off in a car they’d found. As Daryl confronts her, the car he’d seen take Beth conveniently passes by, and Daryl and Carol jump into hot pursuit.

The always-positive Bob excuses himself from the group after asking Sasha for one more kiss. As he walks outside, it seemed, to me, anyway, that he was leaving for good. Despite the fact that they’re all infected, a walker bite is still deadly, and the odds that he had been bit at the food bank are high. I was sure he was going to kill himself.

Meanwhile, Abraham makes a toast-slash plea for Washington. They’re all feeling good enough that the hope for a return to a world bringing to the living hits the right nerve. Rick speaks for all of them when he finally agrees.

Outside, Bob’s mask finally falls off and he breaks down. Whether he was planning to take his own life, we don’t know. He’s captured by Gareth — surely the presence that had been looking around the group the whole episode.

Back at Gareth’s camp, Bob is forced to face the reality of the hunters. As he listens to Gareth’s words, you realize they (including the cabin guy Ty supposedly killed in the last episode) are literally eating Bob alive, as his leg and foot have been cooked over the fire.

Will Bob survive this ordeal? Will Daryl and Carol find Beth? And what’s Morgan up to?  Say what you will about season 5, it doesn’t leave you sitting back in your seat.