Editor’s note: this review will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.
After last week’s crazy season premier, I figured the second episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead would take things down a notch, and boy was I right. It makes narrative sense, of course. These characters are recently reunited, and have just survived a huge, huge trial. They’re not really going to jump right into another mess.
It also makes a lot of sense from the perspective of this season’s story as well. We need to figure our what, if anything, we’re going to do about Eugene and Washington, DC. That’s a big decision; not one to be taken lightly. And then there’s the question of survivors from Terminus, and how they’re going to interact with this season’s plot.
This episode addressed all these points fairly well, but only after a completely pointless and frustrating action scene. But I’m getting ahead of myself again. Let’s start with Gabriel, the priest our crew rescues from a handful of zombies at the beginning of the episode. Gabriel is a mysterious character. You can tell immediately that he has something to hide, but he seems completely unwilling to divulge anything.
Rick gives him the three questions: How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? Why? Gabrial responds with “none”, “none”, and “because God”, which is pretty much what I expected. It really feels like The Walking Dead is trying to make these three questions into some sort of important litmus test for survivors, but it’s really not working for me. They just seem contrived; like the dialog from a cartoon show. I can’t stand them.
Even though Gabriel is deflective and cagey, we fall in with him anyway when he says he has a church. I half expected this to be some sort of metaphor, but he really did have a pretty comfortable looking church, which gave our characters a bit of a respite, and even had a repairable bus out back. Not a bad score.
Of course, the church didn’t have any food in it; Gabriel is near starving after eating through all his supplies and scavenging from every building nearby. That necessitates and trip into town to scavenge from the one building that hadn’t been cleared out yet: the thrift shop and neighborhood food pantry.
And this is where things when off the rails for me. The floor of the building had rotted away, turning the basement into a chest-deep pool filled rotting, water-logged zombies. It was super gross and featured some incredible makeup work. Unfortunately, all the food was stored in the basement too, which means our heroes had to venture down there for supplies.
Unfortunately, our heroes had all taken their stupid pills that morning, and settled on probably the stupidest plan to secure the food: splash down into the basement and fight the zombies with knives.
I think any rational person would have come up with a much safer, simpler plan. They have the benefit of being above all the zombies, and out of their reach. From this point of advantage, they could simply shoot all the zombies n the basement without taking a single risk. Of course, ammunition is a finite resource, so they could very well want to avoid using it and making noise. In that case, all they’d need to do is find a few big rocks or bricks, and simply hit the zombies in the head. They’re so rotten from being in the water that they all but explode and the slightest of touches.
Instead, we get a completely pointless action sequence, and my opinion of the group’s collective intelligence drops once again. Naturally, Bob almost gets killed by a submerged zombie. He may have been bitten in the exchange, but says he’s cool. Gabriel also freaks out when he sees a certain zombie with glasses, furthering the mystery of what his ugly secret is. Eventually, they manage to get the food and get out.
Arriving back at the church, Carl shows what he learned in Rick’s absence: some knife marks outside a window, and a carved message: “You’ll burn for this”. It seems that Gabriel wasn’t being terribly neighborly when the zombie showed up and started eating all his parishioners. We also get a brief scene of him acting upset while looking at a picture of him with the glasses zombie girl (before she was a zombie).
Flush with their success from Operation Almost Get Eaten in a Basement, Rick decrees that they will head to Washington to save the world, and everyone is pretty happy about this. And this is where the episode gets weird. Carol heads outside to work on her secret escape car, and is joined by Daryl. Suddenly, a car speeds by, and Daryl identifies it as the one involved in Beth’s kidnapping. He smashes out the break lights and takes off in hot pursuit.
At the same time, Bob also wanders outside to cry quietly to himself, but his tears are interrupted by a sudden blow to the head. When he wakes up, he’s got one less leg, and that leftover bad guys from Terminus are chowing down and telling Bob all about their lifestyle choices. It’s a hell of a way to end an episode.
There’s a lot of good stuff in “Strangers”, but it’s a pretty messy episode. There’s just a little bit too much going on, and the stupid scene with the basement zombies completely took me out of the story. I love the stuff their setting up for the season, but I wish the rest of the episode had been a little more consistent.
I can see some of your points for sure but man I loved the ending of the episode soooooo much!
Friend just sent me your comic so i’m starting from the beginning, good stuff!
The ending was cool, but it just felt like a table setting episode to me.
Glad to have another reader! I hope you keep enjoying!
Mmm…you make some good points. Although I think that the episode should deserve a 4/5, or a 3,5/5, but everybody’s got their opinion.
It’s true that their plan of going down there and killing the zombies, especially throwing the shelves that contain their precious canned food on top of them, was stupid as all hell. They could’ve been easily cornered and Bob almost died. I think that he was bitten, because in the comics *SPOILERS* Dale is the one who’s captured by the cannibals, and he turns out to be bitten too. However, the TV Show might change this, and hopefully Bob will be able to live as an amputee. *END OF SPOILERS*.
Regarding the way Gabriel panicked, there are two reasons: first, he’s been isolated from the world for quite a while, so obviously he isn’t used to dealing with walkers everyday. Second, the zombie that lungs at him is a girl with glasses. And in the end of the episode, Gabriel is holding a photo of him and the same girl; meaning that they probably were once close.
And I’ll also add, I hope that they’ll do something cool with Tara and the other characters this Season. I love how everybody’s really united nowadays. The Prison group, Gabriel, Abraham’s group and even a member from the Governor’s posse all drinking wine together! Now that’s a heart-warming picture! And as I was saying, I really like to see that Tara is being accepted by the group. Feels went all over me when Maggie and Tara hugged.
Well, here’s my opinion after watching the awesome episode. Obviously, I’m sure that this Season will have some episodes that are worst, but I don’t think we should be worried. And I wonder what’s all about that place Beth’s been taken too…
I think there were a lot of good vignettes here, like you point out. But for me that’s ultimately unsatisfying as an episode. I think this is going to be a divisive one, and I’m betting that I’ll be in the minority.
Was a solid episode which set up the rest of the season without dragging it on for multiple episodes like it would in the past.
Totally agree with comments on how they handled the swimming zombies, stand up top and stab them in head with a long stick etc are all much better ideas than getting into low visibility, crowded, dangerous scenario. They missed the plot with that one.
I’m keen to see how they deal with the cannibals scenario, and with the Beth rescue.
Also, is it me or is Tara getting her love eyes on for Maggie? If I remember correctly Tara was romantically involved with a lady in Woodbury, so perhaps this is going to become an issue somehow?
I had more than a few issues with this episode besides continuity. I mean do we really need to hold the audiences hand through the catch up phase of our heroes? If so, how come Maggie hasn’t said 1 thing about her sister!?
I get the whole Tyreese Carol conversation but who even knew if those kids survived anyways. What about the other kids? I guess who cares, right?
Gabriel, as we all know now, is dead weight not helping with the killing I hope he’s better at the morale thing but doubt it.
OK. On the Talking Dead they had a couple quick info bubbles on the Gabriel’s Church one of which says the writing says something about taking the flesh? Now that could be just an inside joke or religious reference, take it as you will. Let’s not forget the convenience of the tree markings around the church that look like they have been there a while but maybe I’m nitpicking.
The Bob stuff I believe is the writers way of infusing the Comic book more this season.
And I liked the Army of Darkness water battle….not the way I or anyone I know would of handled it but who am I? Bob went from happy-go-lucky to grim with one dip in the pond. Not to mention why not take the last three out when the shelf was in the way? That’s why I get myself in trouble at work..Thinking to much.
Also the ?love tringle? is off to the races. So smart of Daryl to bust out those taillights. Nice to see some common sense still in the scripts after the basement pool.
I hope to see a lot of deaths out of the current group this season.
It’s going to be interesting to see how close to the comics they go with the whole ‘Bob scenario’….looking forward to that.
Got to agree with Brick Throne with regards to Maggie…….has she completely forgotten her sister! As for the whole basement scene…..the less said about that stupidity the better.
Still enjoying the series though and looking forward to where it’s going (a week is a hell of a long time 🙂 )