The Walking Dead, S5 Ep3 — Four Walls and a Roof

I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming. The Walking Dead has been throwing about shock moments all season, but it’s also reinforced the idea that some characters are safe and, no matter what, they won’t die, because ratings or whatever. Which, honestly, detracts from the show, because I don’t want to feel secure that Rick or Daryl or Carol will always be OK.

When Bob appeared doomed at the end of episode 2, it wasn’t a giant shock. Bob has been predicted to be the next to die since the day he set foot on the show. He was never a “safe” character, even as he became integral to the group and developed a romantic relationship with Sasha.

Goodbye to Bob

Goodbye to Bob

We could guess that Bob had been bit last week, and it was confirmed when, after more of Gareth’s bad guy speechifying, he laughed out loud and revealed the gnarly bite on his shoulder. They had been eating “tainted meat.” The four other Terminians were sick and outraged, mostly at Gareth for not checking for bites. Gareth didn’t seem too worried. They’d cooked him, after all. They don’t know what Rick’s group learned from the CDC — they’re all infected anyway. Whether eating Bob would turn them, we’ll never know. And that’s what I didn’t see coming.

I knew Gareth, who seemed to have been set up as this season’s “big bad,” was going to die eventually, possibly in a blaze of glory — but not today. It’s actually rare that a character that really deserves what’s coming to him actually gets it so swiftly. No, they didn’t go big and kill Daryl, inciting internet riots. But it really looked like Gareth was going to live to cannibalize another day.

To set the scene, Rick, Michonne, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, and Tara went looking for the Terminians in the direction of the elementary school where Bob had been partially eaten. The rest holed up in the church office with Gabriel. As soon as they left, Gareth and his people showed up and broke their way into the church. The objective was to kill them all — possibly letting Gabriel leave with Judith, but we all know Gabriel wouldn’t have lasted long out there. Just as they’re about to break down the door and start killing, the two door-busting Terminians are shot in the head and killed. Rick and co. are back.

Good riddance to Gareth

Good riddance to Gareth

Rick doesn’t kill Gareth or Martin (aka cabin guy) right away, and it feels like an irresponsible missed opportunity. Gareth tries to reason with them, and he’s good. It looks like Rick is going to come to some sort of agreement with him, even though that would be so wrong. Wrong, but typical of big bad scenarios.

Only this time, they don’t go for it. Rick and Michonne slaughter Gareth, Martin, and the last surviving Terminian as Glenn and Tara look on in shock (it all happened so fast I’m not even sure if Maggie was killing or watching).

So that was it. Gareth, the cannibal heartthrob, who survived the battle at Terminus to presumably terrorize another day, literally only had one more day (or maybe two — you get the point). No long drawn out Gareth storyline, no more flashbacks. I shouldn’t be so surprised. This is how zombie stories should work; we should never feel confident that a character will get out of a situation because fans like him. I still don’t feel like most of the leads are unsafe, but at least it stirred things up a bit.

After Gareth was out of the way, the group got back to the issue at hand: Bob’s impending death. A bite is still deadly, even if it isn’t the thing that causes zombiism. For a character that the fandom couldn’t care less about, he was given one of the best deaths of the series so far. Definitely the most dignified. He died, after saying his goodbyes to everyone, with Sasha by his side. Tyreese relieved her of the duty to puncture his brain after his last breath.

Meanwhile, Abraham is chomping at the bit to get on the road to Washington, DC. Rick won’t leave until Daryl and Carol get back. The group winds up splitting up again, with Tara, Glenn, and Maggie leaving on the church bus with Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene.

Later, Michonne (who hasn’t had enough screen time so far this season), has a heart-to-heart with Gabriel before following the sound of footsteps in the woods. She is relieved to find that it’s Daryl, only to realize that it appeared that he was alone. He’s not — he calls his companion(s) over just as the screen goes black.

Has Beth been found? Maybe. According to the previews for next week, the story will take a Beth-centric shift, yet the setting is not the woods where the group is living, but what appears to be a hospital. I won’t judge the episode by its preview — at least they’re not drawing out the Gareth storyline.