Walking Dead Recap: S5, E3 Four Walls and a Roof & S5, E4 Slabtown

Catching up on our own recaps, James and Steve review the previous two episodes of The Walking Dead, season 5

Steve:

I must say – pretty darned good episode.  With one quite funny moment of revenge a midst all of the carnage.

First let me tell you what was obvious about this episode before it aired;  or rather, my suppositions about what would be happening (that largely run contrary to the premiere internet blather about TWD).

1.  Bob had been bitten.  Totally obvious at the time it happened in episode 2;  reinforced by Bob’s little moment alone next to the tree outside the church later in the episode.  Some of the internet speculation was suggesting that there was a question about his status, which means that for some reason, most folks went to take a pee or get a snack BEFORE the commercials aired, because it was painfully, brutally obvious that he had been bit.

have a piece of bob
Here, have a piece of Bob

What I suspected was going to happen with this in episode 3?  It would be revealed that Bob had been bitten in the leg – the same one that Gareth and crew chopped off and ate…and then Bob would be rescued (maybe after losing an arm or his oysters first.  Quick aside?  if you really want to terrorize and drive a guy insane, there are other body parts you can eat that will cause less physical trauma and definitely convey the concept that “you’re dog meat” far more pointedly.)  and would become another Hershel, hobbling around and offering sage advice for at least a half season.

James

I don’t think I could have handled this outcome. There was always something really tough for me about watching Lawrence Gilliard jr. on TWD. Somehow I just couldn’t think of him as anyone but D’Angelo Barksdale (The Wire). I love to see actors take on different roles and try new personas, but I’ve always wondered what it would have been like if Bob were more like D’Angelo.

I was totally surprised. If we’re comparing GOT to TWD, I’d say seeing Sofia walking out of the barn was almost as surprising and horrifying as Ned Stark getting beheaded. Got me right in the feels.

I won’t lie, Gareth’s actions surprised me here. I can see the tactical benefit of attacking half of Rick’s crew while the other half is attacking your base, but the whole time I was thinking: “You’re walking into a trap!” Which, as we saw, is exactly what happened. Make no mistake, I wasn’t rooting for Gareth or anything (besides he’s too hipster, even for the apocalypse), but I was probably one of the many who thought Gareth and Rick would have a larger portion of the series to square off.

I made you a promise.  My machete's name is 'Promise'
I made you a promise. My machete’s name is ‘Promise’

I was also very impressed with the massacre scene (although I won’t commit to it being bloodier or more scarring than The red Wedding). I think the part I enjoyed the most were the first two shots. Clean, through the head, and silent. I think Rick took the shots (maybe?) but in my mind I imagine Abraham right behind him, smoking a cigar and whispering: ‘merica.

carnage begins
Note that the Leviticus bible passage on the board is the one that’s been marred and stained. It’s the passage about eating (see notes).

I guess I just didn’t hate Gareth enough to see him machete’d in the face. Might have been more resonant with me to kill him quick and coldly. Give him the same treatment he is supposedly giving the people he eats. Nothing personal, but as Steve said earlier, can’t have cannibals around. They gots to go.

Steve

bob laughs
Bob laughs

What really happened?  One of the funniest moments yet in the history of the show:  Bob Breaks down and then finds some comfort and strength in reality, informing Gareth that he’s been bit, that they’ve just eaten tainted meat – and all the cannibals puke up bits of Bob’s leg.  Understand. You all may not have found this scene as funny as I did. Puking always makes me laugh (so does gagging, heaving, upchucking, cookie-tossing and the word vomitorium, not to mention the phrase “As a dog returns

Bob laughs a LOT
Bob laughs a LOT

to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly”, which, if you think about it, is kind of the theme of the show) and cannibals being grossed out by anything is very amusing.  This was a nice bit of commentary on the fact that the zompocalypse has caused most people to turn into something evil, but a shred of humanity still remains. True, it might be a shred of facial skin hanging off the cheek of your former best friend, but you take what you can get…

2. Internet peeps have been suggesting for quite a while that Gareth, leader of the cannibals, was going to become a major foil to Rick & company;  that his cunning and intelligence made him a foe potentially more dangerous than the Governor had been.

What I suspected was going to happen?  Gareth and crew would be dispatched with all the alacrity and brutality the show writers could bring to bear.  Why?

Two reasons:  Cannibals.  Red Wedding.

Cannibals can not be suffered to live.  They’re just too great a threat.  Now that they’ve taken to eating people, no one knows where they stand, who they can trust (when you are a cannibal – how the hell do you sleep at night?  How do you have a conversation with a fellow cannibal without it turning into scary, threatening innuendo with every third word?

James

(Can we make this as a short on YouTube?)

Steve

Creepy Rick
Creepy Rick

It would be like Treasure of the Sierra Madre on steroids, every waking minute (with the sleeping minutes worse!) (TofSM is a great Bogart film about greed, the breakdown of trust, the human condition, etc).  Cannibals are far too arrogant to tolerate;  imagine, them being so much better than me they think they have the right to kill and eat me.  Talk about hubris.

Besides, it ought to be obvious that cannibals are a far worse, far more evil threat than a horde of zombies.  Zombies are circumstantial horrors.  Cannibals are evil incarnate.  (Get it?) Zombies can be ignored (as was pointedly shown by all the zombies behind the school windows) – cannibals can’t be.  Zombies eat people because they have to.  Cannibals eat people because they’ve chosen to.  Clearly, they must go.

A cannibal future (the inevitable result of Gareth winning an all-out war with Rick) is as appealing as an ISIS one – and would work along much the same principal:  join us or go into the pot (convert or be beheaded) and there’s no real story there (just a series of individual betrayals as the cannibal nation consumes itself), so on that score alone we had to say buh-bye to Gareth.  (The name had to go too.  Gareth?  Come on.  Almost as bad as Aloysius.)  And on another plane, the elimination of (this) the cannibal threat is also, perhaps, a commitment by the show’s creators to its future tenor:  they’re going to retain human qualities, regardless of how stressed out they get.

Red Wedding?  What’s all that about?  Well. it strikes me that of all the genre properties available on cable, the two most successful ones are TWD and Game of Thrones.  It also strikes me that we’re a tight and inter-knit community that enjoys playing with each other’s toys.  I can see there being a kind of friendly one-upsmanship going on between the two.  GoT gave us a brutal, bloody mass execution scene, complete with multiple instances of spurting neck blood, pregnant women stabbed in the womb and even the slaughter of a dog.  It was hailed as one of the bloodiest moments in television history.  It was bad, and it was bloody but –

now TWD steps up to take its shot and, I think, manages to go at least one better.  True, there were not as many killings, but I think we’re talking quality over quantity here.  I don’t think that even a dozen spurty throat-slittings equals Rick whaling on Gareth with a machete – IN A CHURCH.  Plus we got begging beforehand by Gareth, which I’m sure allowed many watchers a very deep degree of satisfaction, watching his head get split open.  Not to mention genuine horror on the faces of Glenn, Maggie and others (no one in GoT was horrified by what they were seeing).

What I would have liked to have seen?  Gareth and crew held in some fashion, allowed to get bitten, allowed to suffer through the infection while having Rick and company constantly lecturing them on the folly of their ways, having to watch Rick’s crew chow down on real food, and then dispatched;  or maybe even getting them bit, pulling out all of their teeth and letting them wander the landscape as completely feckless zombies.  (There’s no real harm in harboring revenge fantasies against cannibals, is there?)

Tactics.  I mentioned in prior recaps that at times, Rick’s group had displayed no small degree of tactical prowess, but that it seemed to be selective – more in service of the desired direction of the plot than in service to what the characters knew and actually would do.  This time around they did the smart thing, luring Gareth and cannibal crew to the church with an apparent separation of forces.

It was obvious (to me) though that this was the direction things were going to take. Just like Sophia walking out of the barn on Hershel’s farm as a zombie was no surprise, the fact that Rick and others circled back on the church after heading off to the school to hunt the cannibals was obviously going to happen from the minute the episode opened.  Rick and Daryl have been whispering about being followed for a while (we’re been privileged to hear sticks crackling in the woods);  Rick seems to suspect the preacher of being in collusion with them (or someone doing something evil) and Gareth made the idiotic mistake of returning partially eaten Bob to the church, signalling that they were around, were planning on continuing to feast on the group etc., if Rick and company weren’t planning something, they deserve to be eaten. (Seeing as how the preacher so readily told Rick where the cannibal’s were, I’m sure we’ll be revisiting his possible collusion next episode.)

My only real question about the scene was whether it was going to be a deliberate ambush or circumstantial.  Now we know, and good on Rick.

James

I was totally surprised when we saw Sofia walk out of the zombie barn, way back when. If we’re comparing GOT to TWD, I’d say seeing Sofia walking out of the barn was almost as surprising and horrifying as Ned Stark getting beheaded. Got me right in the feels.

Also, I won’t lie, Gareth’s actions surprised me this episode. I can see the tactical benefit of attacking half of Rick’s crew while the other half is attacking your base, but the whole time I was thinking: “You’re walking into a trap!” Which, as we saw, is exactly what happened. Make no mistake, I wasn’t rooting for Gareth or anything (besides he’s too hipster, even for the apocalypse), but I was probably one of the many who thought Gareth and Rick would have a larger portion of the series to square off.

I was also very impressed with the massacre scene (although I won’t commit to it being bloodier or more scarring than The red Wedding). I think the part I enjoyed the most were the first two shots. Clean, through the head, and silent. I think Rick took the shots (maybe?) but in my mind I imagine Abraham right behind him, smoking a cigar and whispering: ‘merica.

I guess I just didn’t hate Gareth enough to see him machete’d in the face. Might have been more resonant with me to kill him quick and coldly. Give him the same treatment he is supposedly giving the people he eats. Nothing personal, but as Steve said earlier, can’t have cannibals around. They gots to go.

Steve

Now for the stupid.  Abraham takes the cake this time.  How many more times are we going to suffer through an inter-group argument over splitting up or staying together?  With the ambush of the cannibals in the church, Rick amply demonstrates the value of sticking together, yet Abraham, abetted by Glenn and Maggie for some currently unknown reason, choose to leave for DC (maybe because Glenn is overly horrified by what Rick is becoming?).  His options are: split the group up and leave for DC NOW, or, wait a few hours and then leave for DC with, presumably, the whole group.

discussing the splitWhy is this even a discussion?  Everyone has seen through at least two whole seasons that splitting up is BAD.  Splitting up gets people killed, kidnapped, eaten by cannibals…I want to slap them all upside the head while screaming “DUH!”.

You want tension within the group?  Fine.  Lets argue over how many people ought to go look for Carol and Daryl (anyone else notice the rhyming nature of those too names…?), or whether they should stay in the church and consolidate things for a bit.  Stupid.  Gotta keep everyone running for no discernible reason.

Next episode, we are given to understand that Beth will be returning…or found…or start an arc away from the group.  Some are also speculating that Daryl has found Morgan…or an orphaned boy…that Carol has been captured by the same people holding Beth…

and the group splits up
Oy, splitting up once again. Makes me want to make them a ‘promise’!

Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Eugene and Rosita being shuffled off in a Church bus makes sense – if we want to make things more difficult for the group when they try to recover Beth…and or Carol…and or deal with Morgan and or the speculative orphaned boy.  Might have been easier to keep Rick’s group from growing too big from the get-go, instead of continually having to lobotomize the characters to keep things moving.

SPECIAL NOTES:  In looking at screen captures from this episode, I managed to find one that gave a good view of the scripture board inside the church.  The board shows passages from the Bible that are the subject of an up-coming sermon, or suggestions for parishioners, etc.;  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what the passages actually were.  They are, in order:

Romans 6:4, Ezekial 37:7, Matthew 27:52, Revelation 9:6 and Leviticus 24:5, and they read as follows (King James edition) –

Romans – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Ezekial –  So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.

Matthew – And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

Revelation –  And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

Leviticus – And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.

This is probably a reflection of what is on the mind of our priest – the walkers, his girl friend who became a walker, his remorse and guilt over locking up the church, and his hunger.  (The Leviticus passage details how the priests are to be given food offerings…he’s probably wishing that things still worked that way.)

Slab Town:  Season 5, episode 4

James

doctor and dawnWell, here we are, another week, another episode and holy crap what the hell is going on in this place? This week we’re POV Beth and we’re getting our land legs back after what appears to be an extended stay in the last functioning hospital in Atlanta. But in this post apocalyptic medical-drama (insert daytime television mash up pun here: UnLife to Live? Nah I can do better. Rotter’s Anatomy? Agh it’s no use. Wait! Nip/Bite), McDreamy is a rapist, Dr. Cuddy is a slave owner, and Turk . . . well there isn’t anything funny about Noah so I can’t compare him to Turk at all. Needless to say, this hospital (episode) is messed up.

Bonafide CREEP
Bonafide CREEP

Perhaps what is most disturbing about the episode is Beth’s interaction with Officer Gorman. He’s a bonefied creep and doesn’t try to hide it at all. He wants Beth and in none of the ways that are upstanding as a HUMAN BEING let alone an officer of the law or gentleman. However, he gets his, and we couldn’t have been happier to see it.

Steve

Gorman isn’t the only creepy cop in this episode:  they’re ALL creepy.  Right at the beginning, when the Doctor and Officer Lerner go into Beth’s (locked) hospital room, we learn one of the major things that are going on in the hospital:  Wage Slavery – as in – you owe us and can work off your debt…except everything here has a charge – your bed, your meals, your water, your protection, bandages, medicine.  If you haven’t figured it out already, let me clue you in:  the system is rigged.  No matter what you do, you’ll never get out of debt.

What troubles and intrigues me though is the thought of a small local police force going through the infestation and coming up with this particular brand of crazy society.  The first thing I figured out (which turns out to be true at least in one instance) is that all the head honchos are going to be taking advantage of the ‘slaves’ in more ways than one.  “Sleep with me and I’ll lower your debt” is the unspoken pact.  (This is confirmed, at least for me, later on when it becomes pretty obvious that far more women are being “rescued” than men.)

James

Perhaps the next most interesting character we meet is Officer Dawn Lerner. I think when the apocalypse came and took apart the world, she was put back together with more than a few pieces missing (must have used directions from IKEA). She’s waiting to be saved. And in the mean time, everyone needs to do their part to help the group survive, even if some people’s part is more than others. Oh and everything better be clean. Real clean. What is interesting to me about Dawn is that in some respects, she’s almost a sympathetic character. It’s obvious that she’s had to make some tough decisions but for better or worse, she’s kept her group alive and kept them in a state that is considerably more ordered than the rest of the apocalypse. No entropy here except that slow creeping entropy that is liable to make you crack and murder people. When she sits Beth down, to explain how things work at the hospital, we see that she is fanatical about this idea that somewhere else in the world, life is normal and everything is like it was. She’s really quite zealous in this belief. We also know, that Dawn is walking on the edge of a knife. She has control of her group but barely, and the only way she maintains her leadership is by appeasing her followers. Who’s really in charge? With control of her group slipping from her grasp, she clings harder to the idea that help is on the way.

Steve

trapped
I need to take a shower….

I honestly thought she was going to proposition Beth:  “You know, Beth.  We all have needs.  You need to eat, I need…”  Officer Dawn does seem to be the captain of a ship near mutiny, and has apparently (Gorman) chosen to appease as James has noted.

James

Finally, there is Dr. Edwards. For most of the episode, he’s Beth’s hope. Even though she is indentured to him, he is kind to her and attempts to make her stay at the hospital a little more comfortable. However, he understands the way things run and is playing the game as much as anyone. I’d like to think that he was trying to keep Beth out of it as much as possible, but I’m not sure that is true. When Edwards tricks Beth (not sure trick is the right word) into killing the other doctor so that he may stay valuable to the group (a wise move if not an ethical one), we see that he is no different than the others.

Steve

noah
Noah

The doctor would seem to be capable of disabusing Dawn of her chosen methods – but he’s creepy too.  Somebody has something on him, otherwise his threat (to Gorman:  “everyone gets sick…”) would apply equally across the board.  Why isn’t he in the power position?  Notably, the Doctor is also well off his Hippocratic Oath, having substituted some kind of bizarre economically based method of triage.  Maybe that’s what unhinged him – having to save these cops instead of others….)

James

After Beth fails to escape with Noah, I was quite certain that she was about to go postal murder the entire group (although I’m not sure how she would have pulled off such a feat). However, at the last minute, Carol is wheeled in. Game changer. Now she needs Dr. Edwards to keep Carol alive (what happened to Carol? Ahh!)

the painting
The Caravaggio – The Denial of St. Peter. Seems EVERYONE is in denial here

I think it’s also important to mention Dr. Edward’s office. The two things that stood out to me the most were the painting, and his record player. The painting is captivating in and of itself, and as we get a little background of the event it depicts, and then a little piece of dialogue from Edwards, we get some interesting things to consider. Can we still appreciate art when we are fighting for our lives? I keep coming back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to the hierarchy, the answer is basically no. We need food and shelter and security before we can appreciate art (that Edwards has the painting at all seems to prove that he is not wanting for his base needs). However, I’m sure there are plenty of starving artists out there who would argue that in order to create true art, you need to get rid of your safety and security.

Finally, I mention the record player because it was playing the blues. Mostly, I just like blues and was happy to discover some new music to listen to (I was not previously aware of Kimbrough). However, I haven’t come to figure out the significance of its placement in the episode.

Steve

the record
The record. Vinyl? VINYL!?! It be a lot easier to be listening to MP3s…

Yes, Carol puts in an appearance.  Which reminds me of Beth’s bizarre case of amnesia.  She wakes up and after questioning by Dawn and the Doctor, we find out that “she was surrounded by walkers and in pretty bad shape” when “rescued.  But we know what really happened.  She was kidnapped by these folks.  Maybe, just maybe, when she and Daryl fled the road house (Daryl told her to go out the back door, he’d catch up) there were walkers outside the back door and the hearse/ambulance/station wagon with the white cross on it just happened by at that fortuitous moment.  Maybe.

escapre
White crosses on the backs of cars – yep, these are the same creeps who kidnapped Beth last season

Except:  She’s informed that she has a broken wrist and a superficial head wound.  She remembers Daryl, but not being “rescued”.  My guess is, she tried to fight off the kidnappers, her wrist was broken in the process and then they clocked her over the head.  It’s entirely possible to lose a few minutes of memory as the result of a concussion – but this is still logically weird:  her kidnappers would have to KNOW the extent of her memory loss in order to be able to offer a substitute story that makes sense.  (Lying by the side of the road with walkers all over?  How come Beth doesn’t question that logic?)  Something is fishy here, but I’m sure we’ll eventually find out what…

James

Well that’s about it for this week. Hope to see you again next week too!

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