Television shows shouldn’t be this good in their fifth seasons. We, of course, all hope for it, but by this time in a series’ run, cracks are usually showing in the armor. Not so with ‘The Walking Dead’, which delivers yet another outstanding episode this week.
Episode 3 of Season 5 picks up pretty much where last week ended, with a one-legged Bob in front of a campfire surrounded by Gareth and his men. They’re right outside an elementary school packed with Walkers trying to break through the windows and get outside. Gareth continues to taunt Bob about how good he tastes, and talks about the others back at the church that he plans to eat… including Sasha. Bob then starts laughing uncontrollably and shows him the bite mark he got from a Walker. “I’m tainted meat!” Bob yells.
Back at the church, Sasha goes out into the woods searching for Bob. She gets attacked by a pair of Walkers, but quickly disposes of them and is joined by Rick and Tyrese. Rick believes that Bob might be with Daryl and Carol (which viewers know isn’t true, but our group doesn’t know this). He also believes that Gabriel might be behind these disappearances and goes back inside the church to confront him. Gabriel tells a sad tale of how he always locked the church at night, and one night many of his congregation members returned trying to get inside. But Gabriel left the church bolted up and those congregation members were killed and turned by Walkers. Crying and despondent, Gabriel claims “I always locked the doors!” Viewers now realize that Gabriel is far from a threat, but instead a very cowardly, and also tortured, man.
The group in the church hears some noise outside and rush out to find Bob lying there, along with a number of Walkers in the vicinity. While Rick shoots at the Walkers, the others pick up Bob and carry him inside. They don’t seem to notice that someone has painted a big “A” on the side of the church. This, of course, is Gareth’s way of telling them that the church is now just another train car filled with potential food for him and the gang from Terminus.
Bob reveals to the group that he’s been bitten, and he also tells Rick and the others about the location where Gareth has set up camp. They agree to move Bob to a sofa in one of the church’s back rooms to make him comfortable until he passes on. Abraham is worried about Eugene’s safety, believing he’s the only man who can end the Walker apocalypse. He wants to leave for D.C right away, but Rick says he’s not going anywhere without Daryl and Carol, reminding Abraham that it was Carol who saved them at Terminus. Rick and Abraham almost come to blows, but Glenn stops the potential fight by promising Abraham that he and Maggie will join him in the trek to D.C. if Abraham agrees to stay a while. Abraham says he’ll stick around for 12 hours.
Rick and the others agree on a plan, although what that plan is exactly is kept from the viewers. Tyrese tells Sasha that she needs to stay with Bob in his final moments, but Sasha insists on going with Rick’s group, leaving Tyrese behind to watch Bob. When Rick, Abraham, Sasha and a few of the others leave the church, Gareth and his gang are nearby waiting for them to exit so he can storm in.
Gareth thinks that Rick and the others have left those in the church unprotected, but Rick has just circled round back to the church, and announces his presence by quickly eliminating two of Gareth’s men. He also shoots Gareth in the hand and demands that everyone drop their weapons. Gareth tries to bargain with Rick, but Rick reminds him of the promise he made back at the trough in Terminus. He pulls out his machete and starts hacking away at Gareth.
Abraham and the others brutally eliminate the rest of Gareth’s gang, including Martin (the guy we thought Tyrese killed in the cabin back in the season premiere, but whom he actually let live). Incidentally, Tyrese looks horrified as he watches the others slaughter Gareth’s men. Is Tyrese a wuss or is he one of the few truly moral people remaining among our heroes? I assume this is something the show will examine in the weeks to come. Also of note: Michonne finally gets her katana back, when she finds it among the equipment that Gareth’s men brought with them.
Bob gets a few last words with Rick before Sasha is left alone with him. Bob passes away not long afterwards, after seeing her smile one last time. Sasha pulls out her knife to take care of him before he turns, but Tyrese comes in and takes the knife from her, saying he’ll do it. Sasha leaves the room and Tyrese inserts the blade – firmly but gently – into Bob’s head. They bury him outside on the church’s grounds.
The episode wraps up with most of the group boarding the church bus that Abraham has gotten to run and heading off towards D.C. Staying behind at the church are Rick, Michonne, Carl, Tyrese, Gabriel and baby Judith. Later that night, while Michonne and Gabriel are chatting outside the church, they hear a noise and Michonne goes to investigate. It’s Daryl, apparently alone. When Michonne asks about Carol, Daryl turns his head back to the woods behind him and says, “Come on out.” We’ll have to wait until next week to see who he’s talking to.
This is yet another really well-executed (if you’ll forgive the pun) episode that almost certainly wrapped up the Terminus storyline and – as has happened in almost every season of the series – split up our characters into at least two separate groups. Next week, we’ll find out what happened to Beth (dead or alive?) in what looks to be a flashback episode about what Daryl and Carol discovered after racing off to follow that car with the cross on the back window.
So, what did everyone think about Rick and the others butchering Gareth and his men? Was it justified, or are our heroes becoming just as barbaric as many of the people they’ve been fighting against over the past several seasons?