Review by Gene
If you would’ve told me that the entire group would escape from Terminus, all in the first episode of the season, with no casualties, I would not have believed you. But that’s where we stood heading into the season’s second episode, “Strangers”. Our group is reunited and on the run again, Carol is a hero, Morgan is following someone’s tree markings and we still don’t know what’s going on with Beth.
As is typical for this show, an intense episode is followed by one with much calmer pacing. Most of this episode is spent either shrouded in mystery or rehashing old events that people still need to come to grips with. Rick talked to Carol. Tyreese talked to Carol. Daryl talked to Carol. All needing some closure with her decision to kill two people at the prison. The episode feels a bit choppy and somewhat forced until they run into a father Gabriel stranded on a rock. Gabriel is surrounded by a few walkers and calling for help. Interestingly, after they save him, Rick asks him the same three questions they asked people before they took them to the prison. His answers are not typical, prompting suspicions in Rick. Gabriel takes them to his church and they split into groups for food and supply runs.
Gabriel is an interesting character to introduce to this world. He is the first outright Christian believer and right from the introduction we have some awkward silences when met with bible verses about God saving us. To be sure, Herschel was a believer as well but the most we got from him was a very rare quoting of scripture and a handful of scenes with him holding or reading his Bible. With Gabriel, he was the pastor of a congregation and is surviving on food donations left over at the church building. But something isn’t quite right. Rick senses that Gabriel isn’t telling the whole story. That is also confirmed by a couple of items that Carl finds outside the building, adding to the mysterious vibe that the entire episode leaves us with.
On a wall inside the church hung an embroidered scripture. Galatians 6:9 (pictured). Glenn came across that picture, and his facial expression revealed a bit of a mixed bag. At first I think he drew strength from it. I think he saw it as a reminder for the reward of good deeds. But then his expression turned and he seemed to think of the hopelessness surrounding them every day. It’s ironic it was him that came across it. He was the one who encouraged Rick at Terminus to look for others as they were escaping. “That’s still who we are” he said. Glenn is doing everything he can to continue to do good and not lose hope.
Coupled with the mystery in this episode are elements of forgiveness. Forgiving Carol seems to be a forgone conclusion at this point, but Daryl and others have not had that chance yet, so that is revisited. What we finally got a chance to see is Tara revealing to Maggie that she was with the Governor’s group that invaded the prison. Tara is remorseful, and while Hershel’s death is never mentioned, you can see Maggie reliving that moment in her mind. Picturing her father being beheaded all over again. In Matthew 18, Peter asks Jesus how many times we should forgive our brothers. Jesus says it’s basically innumerable. “Up to seventy times seven”, He says in verse 22. But what if the offense is especially heart-wrenching? What if the simple reminder of it brings tears every time? Luke 17:3 tell us that if our brother repents, forgive him. Tara did just that. She was part of the group now and Maggie welcomed her in with forgiveness in her heart.
While the joy expressed in the reunions of the prior episode is exceedingly rare on this show, we saw some more happiness in “Strangers”. Abraham toasts the survival skills of everyone and follows that with a terrific pitch to go to DC to do more than just survive. Rick is convinced, after consulting with Judith, and says that they are in! Everyone seems very enthusiastic by this decision so you can be sure things are about to take a turn for the worse very quickly. This episode had been focusing on Bob quite a bit. He and Sasha are now an item. He kinda-sorta puts his foot down and tells Rick they should all go to DC. So when you see him sitting outside the church alone, shedding some tears, you know that he’s probably a goner. The show ends with Bob getting knocked out, then waking up to Gareth monologue-ing with 3 to 5 members of Terminus gathered around eating some food. Bob, feeling a little light on the scales, notices his left leg has been removed. Yep. The Terminites were having a little Bob-b-cue. (Sorry, ‘Talking Dead’ term)
Episode Rating: B
That’s down from last week but it was still a good episode. Just when the group thinks they’re moving forward with a plan, they are soon to find they’re pulled back into chaos. The elements of mystery and suspicion largely carried that grade for me, particularly with Gabriel’s past and his current intentions, and the sighting of the car that kidnapped Beth. Audiences are anxious to discover what happened with her and it appears Daryl and Carol are about to find out. Throw in Gareth catching up to the group and we’ve got some suspense ready to unleash next week.
- I had said last week, not in my review but in comments on other reviews, that I believe Morgan is following markings made by Gareth and the surviving members of Terminus. I’m guessing they left the markings to find their way back once they exact revenge on Rick & Co. That possibility still seems to be in play as Gareth reaches our group and Morgan was absent from this episode. It doesn’t seem likely that Morgan saves the day or anything like what Carol did, but if he’s nearby when Gareth and Rick meet again, that dynamic could be very interesting.
- Bob was bitten while on the food run by the walker that pulled him under water. No doubt about it. He acts suspicious afterword, and just kind of walks outside all by his lonesome for no apparent reason. Not sure if he was going to kill himself right there, but it would seem that Gareth is just quickening the inevitable.
- The easiest conclusion to draw on the car that Daryl saw would be that they are headed to Gabriel’s church. I don’t think that is the case. For one, the group checked all around the church and they would have seen signs of another car coming and going. Second, they were headed in a different direction than Darryl and Carol came from to get to the broken down vehicle where they saw that car, so it would seem they were neither going to or coming from the church. And third, that’s just to obvious of a connection.
- My final prediction is a little bit of cheating. In one of the trailers before the season began we see Gareth speaking to Rick and mentioning something about DC. I think Bob is a goner, maybe one or two others from the group in a skirmish with Gareth, but eventually they find a way to all head to DC together. I’m sure Rick and Gareth will go hand in hand, best buds for life!