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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 2, ‘Strangers’: The Case Of The Cowardly Carver

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 5, Episode 2, 'Strangers': The Case Of The Cowardly Carver

First, an important programming note: I’m going with
Ricketeers to describe Rick’s group, and Termites to describe the folks from
Terminus. That way they’re both puns, which should please my wife. Also, yes, I
mistakenly called Gareth “Gavin” in my last review, as was politely
pointed out by multiple commenters. My apologies.

READ MORE: Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 1, ‘No Sanctuary,’ Is A Welcome Shift To Wall-To-Wall Action

The good news for the Ricketeers this episode is that they
find a temporary sanctuary and are able to kick back and enjoy some communion
wine. The bad news is that the Termineers track them down basically immediately
and do terrible things to Bob’s leg (by which I mean they eat it, because
eating people is the Termites’ whole thing).

Bob is pretty chipper at the outset of the episode, what
with his budding relationship with Sasha and his faith that the zombie
apocalypse can be undone so that life can go back to normal. Of course all this
means he is absolutely dead meat. But kudos to episode scribe Robert Kirkman
for taking a few unexpected turns with Bob’s fate. First, he has a scare with a
waterlogged zombie, then later takes a walk outside the church and bursts into tears,
suggesting that he may have been scratched or bitten and has quietly decided to
end it all. But no, he’s ambushed by a still-alive Martin (dang it, Tyreese),
and brought back to Gareth.

The reveal of Bob’s amputated leg is effective, although I’d
be lying if I said I hadn’t seen more or less the exact same scene in an
issue of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s classic comic book
“Preacher.”
 Still, as final images go, it’s a chilling one,
especially since Bob had arisen as one of the more sympathetic characters.
Shame on me for getting attached to anyone on this show, I suppose. Then again,
if Bob really was wounded by the zombie, it should be interesting to see what
effect that has on the Termites. 

The major character introduction of the episode is Gabriel,
played by Seth Gilliam, aka Sgt. Ellis Carver from “The Wire.”
Gabriel’s a particularly squeamish preacher who seems to have managed to survive
on sheer luck alone: his church completed a canned food drive right before the
zombie plague started. Gabriel’s clearly hiding something, which concerns Rick.
Carl’s pretty zen about it, though, noting that the Ricketeers are a pretty
well-oiled murder machine at this point, and should be able to handle whatever
the squirrelly Gabriel can dish out. Gabriel is an interesting addition, since
the Ricketeers have a number of members, but no outright cowards. He should add
an interesting dynamic going forward.

Gabriel leads Rick and a small raiding party to the one
place in the area he hasn’t yet picked clean, and they face a small group of
water-logged zombies. It’s an effective enough centerpiece of the action, as
the Ricketeers get to show off their finely-honed zombie killing skills
(despite Bob’s possible infection). Not to mention that the sodden zombies
allow the makeup team to go all out, resulting in some of the grossest undead
the show has yet produced. Their advanced decomposition also means that they
get dispatched in a particularly squishy manner. Also, Gabriel gets spooked by
a zombie who is someone he used to know in the church, so it’s possible that
his dark secret is that he barred himself in his church when the zombies
arrived and left anyone outside to die.

The remainder of the episode was given over to quieter
character moments for a few key pairs. Rick kindly asks Carol if they can join
her group, reaffirming their bond, although Carol seems ready to bolt at any
moment, since she’s still stinging from what she had to do to Lizzie back in
Season 4. Michonne has a nice little monologue about how she doesn’t miss her
sword (can the fan base say the same?). Tara comes clean with Maggie about her
connection to The Governor, and Maggie forgives her. And most importantly, Rick
and the others agree to assist Abraham in escorting Eugene to Washington, D.C.
Everyone’s very friendly and accepting, which is nice to see, although as a
wise man once said
, that’s just the kind of wooly-headed liberal
thinking that leads to being eaten.

Grade: B

READ MORE: Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Maintains The High Bar Of Season 4

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