Review by Gene
A cannibal, an Episcopalian pastor and a one-legged man walk into a church… what sounds like the start of a bad joke is actually pretty close to where we were left at the end of “Strangers” last week. Gareth and the Terminus survivors (including Martin, c’mon Tyreese!) become hunters, Gabriel draws suspicion regarding his past and current motives, and Bob is not long for this world. (spoilers ahead)
I’d love to go off on how disappointed I am with Tyreese. Not just that he didn’t kill Martin in the season premiere, but that he thought he did. But there’s just too much to cover from “Four Walls and a Roof”. We pickup basically where we left off, with Gareth monologue-ing to Bob. We spend about five minutes listening to Gareth explain himself to Bob. Nobody asked him why he decided to eat people. Certainly not Bob. But we get a good degree of rationalizing it anyway. This confirms for us, as if there were any doubt remaining, that this isn’t a man you can reason with to sway his mind on this matter. He thinks he has good reason to eat people. “Join us, or feed us”, he tells Bob. And it really isn’t anymore complicated than that for him. Bob however gets the last laugh, at least when it comes to this little picnic, when he reveals he’s been bitten and they’re eating tainted meat! This worries the others, but Gareth seems rather level-headed, explaining that since they cooked him it’s okay. Unfortunately this aspect doesn’t get the chance to be explored any further, but I would be very interested to learn if that was the case. Does eating Bob result in their death and turning? We’ll never know.
Back at the church, the group begins pointing fingers at Gabriel when Bob, Daryl and Carol come up missing. Rick pushes Gabriel for the truth, and we finally learn some of his past. Considering the markings outside the church, it isn’t too surprising to learn he turned people away. What surprised me was it was members of his own congregation! Not that it’s any worse morally speaking, but for Gabriel those were people he could put a face to, yet he still would not unlock the doors. A simple thing, really.
What use it is, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing, and in need of daily food, and one of you says to him, “Go in peace, be warm and be filled”, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead by itself. – James 2:14-17
I can just picture Gabriel inside that building, praying for them to leave, while he listens to their screams for help. I’m not going to make excuses for him. Self preservation became more important for him than helping his brethren. He’s convicted to his core with the guilt he feels, and rightly so. Contrast that decision with Glenn’s insistence to help people in other boxcars escape as they fled Terminus, running for their lives. Glenn displays more of a Christian attitude in his works than even this pastor did.
Gabriel’s confessions are cut short when Gareth & Co. bring Bob back to the church, leaving him outside their door. A discussion with Bob causes Abraham to want to leave immediately while Rick insists on staying. Finally, our two alpha-males are gonna duke it out! But Glenn spoils that fight, and Tara (of all people!) comes up with a plan.
When Rick left the church in the middle of the night headed to where he thought Gareth was, I was ready for a face-slap. Even to the point of Gareth giving the order to shoot the hinges off the door of the room the rest were hiding in. Surely Rick didn’t just up and leave, right?!? He isn’t that stupid!?! Of course not. Rick gets the jump on Gareth and his small group. Gareth pleads for his life while also continuing to explain the reason he resorted to eating people. Even though nobody asked and nobody cares. Rick already promised Gareth that he would kill him. Now that he had the chance to make good on that promise, he was going to. In a brutal and disturbing way. A way that draws looks of disgust and uncertainty from Tyreese, Glenn and Maggie among others. Gabriel’s shock at the scene is both scripturally baseless and hypocritical. Seeing the dead bodies and the blood strewn around he says, “This is The Lord’s house”. Paul, while preaching at Athens, explains that “God, who made the world and all things in it… does not dwell in temples made with hands.” (Acts 17:24) It seems Maggie would agree with Paul, as she replies, “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.” This statement from her could be a window into where her faith is, as she is seen discarding a Bible earlier in the episode. But I’ll leave that be for now. Also, if this were “The Lord’s house” as Gabriel believes, what place does he have in denying people entry?
Our group splits up less than 24 hours after rejoicing in their own company and accomplishments, and we’re left with a very good cliffhanger courtesy of Daryl tromping through the woods. Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention to the time at all so it caught me off guard. The show is very good at ‘slow-burn’ style endings that still leave you intrigued, but this mid-scene style ending worked great because it’s playing on our unanimous curiosity about Beth. The ‘Talking Dead’ previews for next week’s episode promise to reveal what’s going on with her. My guess is we’ll have at least one Beth-centric episode with a possible tie-in of Daryl and Carol’s escapade in chasing after that car.
Episode Rating: A-
Anyone worried that Gareth would turn into the Governor version 2.0 and we’d have a season’s worth of rehashing similar storylines can rest easy. This seems like a fitting, though abrupt end for Gareth and an opportunity for the group to move forward without looking back. Although I think the writers left a lot of possible material on the table between Gareth and Rick. The cliffhanger ending bumped this episode into ‘A’ range for me. I am pretty bummed that Morgan played no role in the showdown with Rick. Imagine the possibilities had he walked into the church while Gareth was pleading for his life?!? Who knows how far behind these events he actually is. The moments between Bob and Sasha were better this time around. Certainly more believable than the playful flirting from the second episode. We’ve learned a lot about things we didn’t know we cared about, but a key question from season four is still hanging out there: where’s Beth?
From last week:
- Gareth confirmed my guess that the Terminus survivors were leaving the marks on the trees (+1). Bob reveals that he was indeed bitten (not a tough prediction, but +1 still). I predicted the vehicle Daryl and Carol chased, the one that took Beth, was not associated with Gabriel’s church (undetermined, see below). I predicted Gareth would somehow accompany Rick to DC (Waaay off, -1). Current running total: +1
Predictions moving forward:
- Daryl calls for someone to “C’mon out” at the very end of this episode. He says that in response to Michonne asking, “Where’s Carol?”, but I believe that is Beth. I think he’s making sure it’s clear, then beckoning her. If it were Carol, she would be next to him rather than behind and protected by him.
- Bold prediction here. I think Carol dies in whatever confrontation results from chasing down the car with the cross. It’s clear in episode two that she doesn’t fit in this group anymore. Her dynamics have changed. She appears to be trying to leave when Daryl finds her by the car. It’s possible she decided to simply be on her own again, but I’ll go bold and say that she gets killed.
- The group overall: There’s a clear fracture with some in the group after how Rick, Michonne, Abraham and Sasha brutally killed Gareth and the other Terminites. I think this season will move toward Rick making more brutal decisions like that and becoming more isolated from everyone. We’ll see him creep closer and closer to the line that Gareth leaped across. I won’t say he ends this season alone, but I think somewhere before season 5 is over there is a major split in the group not out of necessity after an attack, but out of choice.
- Something is strange with the timing. Unless I’m missing a day, it seems there is about 16-20 hours between the time Daryl and Carol drive off to when Daryl arrives back at the church on foot. They couldn’t have gone too far. I won’t make this an “official” prediction because it will contradict my first two above, but based on the timing alone it might be that they scope out the place the car leads them to, confirm Beth is there, then return to the group for reinforcements to go back and free her. I’ll still gloat if this is right, but no points for it 🙂