So there is good news, bad news, and other news. The good news is this season’s movement. Rick and the gang took care of some business this week, rather than stretching out one plotline for weeks. The bad news is that Rick and the gang have now split into two, basically due to impatience. The other news is that our episode leaves us on an odd cliffhanger, which the next episode will be happy to go into. With all of this in mind, though, “Four Walls and a Roof” has a rather tense middle section, a bloody payoff, and some quality time spent with some of the players that matter in the show’s current form.
With last week’s shocking reveal, it was nice to pick up exactly where we left off. Sure, seeing a feast upon a human leg was pretty macabre stuff to open on, but at least we were not left hanging. What I like about this is Gareth. While this is the last episode for Andrew J. West, his work as the lead cannibal has been pretty tremendous. Rather than force upon us episodes that try to have us relate to who this guy is like the Governor, The Walking Dead has done a fine job of crafting a character with just enough info and allowing this person to be villainous in a way that very easily works. Sure, Gareth being a cannibal automatically puts him in with the baddies, but his smug monologuing amplifies how much we want to see this person get his just desserts.
Keeping that in mind, if this show’s take on the comic’s “Hunters” storyline had to end in this episode, it was done very effectively. Rick may have used the old fake-out technique that he tried once before, back in the prison days, but before that reveal, it was the Gareth show. With some confusion as to how things were going to play out, having nothing but Gareth slowly explain the situation in the church as he and his people moved through the aisles while making their way to the offices containing the armed, but seemingly helpless group members, provided plenty of tension. It played off the human drama that this show has been able to work with quite effectively now and again (much more so recently), while still incorporating thrills. Given that this was an episode that did not need zombies to supply the real threat, I was quite pleased by how all of this played out.
That said, Gareth and his people were most certainly not pleased, as Rick and the rest of the gang had the upperhand all along and made sure to take out Gareth and his hunters in brutal fashion. Adding a level of complexity to the proceedings, while Rick, Abraham, Sasha, and Michonne were quite active in the disposal of these vile people, we were given long looks at Maggie, Tara, and Tyreese specifically, who looked upon this carnage in horror, but would not appear to be disapproving of this outcome. For a show that would have once dragged out this storyline, even after having captured the threat in question, it is nice to see this current version of the series make the tough decisions right away and let the characters observe them and move on.
This show had a little more trouble moving on from Bob. While it was good to allow Lawrence Gillard, Jr. a chance to really sell us on the idea that he knew he was dying, we really did spend a lot of time with a character that has only had so much impact on the show, when some of that time could have been better spent strengthening the need for Abraham and half the group to take off. Regardless, getting to hear Bob yell, “Tainted meat!” was enough to make me happy, and while comic fans may never get the Tyreese they want (but here’s hoping he goes back to his hammer days), his silent dispatching of Bob was quite well done.
It is nice to be able to praise the acting on this show and the quality of the scenes the performers are involved in. Given how I have been calling The Walking Dead out on how it tries to handle scenes of people talking by way of bludgeoning the themes of each episode and of the series in general over our head, while also adding some very wooden moments for good measure, it has been refreshing to see more nuances in these recent episodes (including the back half of last season). While Tyreese may once again call back to Karen, he is at least getting moments to build who he is, while allowing us to see more into who Sasha is. Michonne has been understandably sidelined so far this season, but we once again get to hear some of her thoughts in all of this, which are well-suited for the circumstances she now finds herself in. Even Rick gets to show some layers in between his alpha male/grisly killer moments in this episode.
While it was nice to see Rick and Tyreese bond for a moment, following his chance to hear Bob say some sweet things about him (all he could do after learning of the butchering of the men that took his leg), I should jump back to his confrontation with Abraham, which leads to the bad news of the week. This is the part of the episode where Abraham speaks up about the scenario, only to have Glenn stand up and nearly shout, “You’re making too much sense!” which leads to Rick and Abe nearly duking it out. Given the threat that was presented and knowing that Daryl and Carol presumably just left, it made sense for Abraham to want to leave at that time, given his goals. Less sense seemed to be made when it came to him still wanting to leave, following the dispatching of the threat at hand. Now we once again have the group split up, which may create a new dynamic, but has me somewhat worried for how the show plans to proceed with such a quick change. At least it breaks up Rick and Abraham, who would be great friends if they were not ones to get angry so quickly.
So lastly, we get the other news, which surrounds our mysterious Daryl-based cliffhanger. After taking off with Carol to attempt to find/rescue Beth (the sister Maggie has basically been given up on completely, apparently), this episode ends with Michonne discovering Daryl coming out of the woods and calling to some unknown person behind him. What happens next? We will find out next week, given that the episode looks to be focusing on the escapades that took place in the time parallel to this episode. With that in mind, one can only hope it leads to some Beth sing-a-long time. Right?
“Four Walls and a Roof” packs a nice punch in its disposing of a major storyline for this season within a quick period of time. The episode starts off with an appreciation for the gravity of the situation, gives our characters some appropriate measures to take, builds up a great level of tension, and releases it in rather bloody fashion. With all of those plot points hit, there is even time for an epilogue, further strengthening the characters, despite my misgivings about splitting up the team so soon. The mood of this show continues to be one of its great strengths, even if that means keeping things pretty bleak on a constant basis. Having the cannibals out of the way may lead to minor attempts at loosening up, but for the time being, this show is working well at what it is quite capable of providing in the way of apocalyptic human drama.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Not many super memorable ones this week, given the human factor, but Sasha got her licks in early on.
- Michonne got her sword back! She doesn’t seem crazy about it, but hey, let’s be happy anyway.
- Glenn fought off a mop to get those silencers last week. They sure came in handy.
- Father Gabriel is a coward. We can move on now, as we surely don’t need to worry about him sticking around on this show.
- “We didn’t want to waste the bullets” and “I already made you a promise” are Rick’s audition lines for an action movie.
- RIP Bob, you sobered up and tasted great.
- I hope next week’s episode has a special Daryl & Carol Classic TV intro!
- Thanks for reading and feel free to hear what I and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on the The Walking Dead TV Podcast.