This review contains spoilers.
5.3 Four Walls And A Roof
One of the things that The Walking Dead has seemingly worked on in this short fifth season is its memory. There are a lot of moments that, in seasons past, might have been ignored. However, so far this season we’ve had mentions of Andrea, Hershel, and now Jim. If you don’t remember Jim, he’s the guy in the first season that went through a slow and painful death by infected zombie bite. It was one of the more interesting plots in the first season—though with the CDC reveal it was rendered basically meaningless—and it was one of the few times we’ve seen a character mauled by a zombie and not immediately die.
This has immediate and important parallels to the story of Bob, who last week was seen limping suspiciously around in the dark before being kidnapped and having his leg turned into a pork roast by Gareth and the surviving Termites. As many folks in the comment section correctly surmised, and as I thought to myself but didn’t type out for fear of being a fool, this led quite nicely into a very big reveal that I won’t spell out so close to the opening of the review. Still, it’s a nice reminder, and it’s something that Glenn mentions pretty early on in Four Walls And A Roof as a parallel situation while they try to figure out just what to do with what’s left of Bob, who is unceremoniously dumped on the grass outside of St. Sarah’s Episcopalian Church for Rick and company to deal with.
Let’s give it up for the brilliant work this episode of two of our major players, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. and Andrew J. West. Gilliard hasn’t had a lot to do with Bob, and what he has been given hasn’t been spectacular, but over the first three episodes of the fifth season, he’s really started to shine. Bob’s smile and optimism were a breath of fresh air, rather than annoying as it could have easily been. When Bob has his cry-laughing breakdown and delivers the awesome reveal that he’s been bitten and is now, in the words of the comic, tainted meat, it’s awesome. The final shriek of “TAINTED MEAT!” really seals the deal, and it’s a great capper on Bob’s last ambulatory scene.
Andrew J. West, given only a few moments as Gareth, has just really encapsulated the character’s slimy middle-manager evil perfectly. The way he blusters, and the way West delivers the blustery dialogue, is just pitch-perfect for that character. If the Governor was chaotic evil by the end, then Gareth is pure neutral evil, twisted as he is by what happened to the group at Terminus after their goody-goody ways got them in a real hurt storm. There’s a rationality to Gareth’s evil that makes it all the more disturbing. As Rick reminds him, he’d kill and eat anyone, or make deals with anyone who’d keep his meat out of the fire. He makes for an ideal adversary to the black-and-white Rick.
Or made, I guess I should say. Rick wanted to go back and deal with the remainders of Terminus, and when given a second chance to do that, he makes the most of it. The rope-a-dope move was particularly clever given Rick’s previous tendency to avoid direct confrontation, and director Jeffrey January lets the scene linger just long enough to make audiences uneasy about whether or not Rick had actually gone stomping off into the woods or if Rick was tricking the Termites into making their move. (Great use of Judith, the baby who never cries, by making her actually cry and force everyone’s hand that much quicker.)
Both Bob and Gareth’s scenes carry impact because of the great script by Angela Kang and Corey Reed. Gareth deserves every slash to the face with that machete, and the rest of the Termites deserve their death-causing beatings and stabbings and bullets to the head, if only because their leader is such an amoral scumbag and they so completely terrorized the survivors in the church. Ditto Bob’s death, made more impactful by some of the absolutely beautiful words coming out of his mouth towards his end.
So far, we’re three for three of good-to-amazing episodes of The Walking Dead this season. After the incredible opening episode and a very good second episode, the third had a high hurdle to jump, but it cleared expectations with ease. Again, it was stuff we’ve seen from the show before, but executed very, very well by all involved. The splitting up of the teams and the teased return of Daryl and Carol only heightens anticipation for some awesome episodes in the future. Scott Gimple’s reign as showrunner looks like it’s going to pay off for fans after all.
Read Ron’s review of the previous episode, Strangers, here.
US Correspondent Ron Hogan thinks that there must be some limit on actors from The Wire that can be on The Walking Dead. It’s just a shame that we’ve seen the last of BobBQ and the Termites. Find more by Ron daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.
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