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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x02: Strangers


You can read my fellow Gentleman of Leisure Austin's X-aminations to find out all about the “Claremont quiet issue.” "Strangers" certainly had that feel. This episode came after a big climatic episode and, instead of non-stop action (like the preceding episode), it dealt with the characters and their interactions with each other. But that's not to say there weren't some big moments.

I suppose the most notable moment is the introduction of a new character. Father Gabriel Stokes is a priest who seems more-or-less unphased by the zombie apocalypse. However, he's obviously a coward which makes you wonder how he survived in this world for so long. They've made it very clear that Father Stokes is hiding something. I'm fairly sure I know what that something is but I should keep my mouth shut since I've read some of the comics.

I suppose the other big revelation is that some of the citizens of Terminus are still out there (including Martin whom I thought was killed by Tyreese) and they're stalking the group. They got to Bob, who was walking by himself while being upset about something. And while it was disturbing seeing them eat Bob's leg in front him at least Rick can make good on his promise to kill Gareth with his machete.

Another moment was Sergeant Abraham making an impassioned plea for the group to head to Washington DC. Rick agrees to this seemingly without much debate. To me that makes sense. Perhaps Washington DC is the key to stopping the zombie apocalypse or perhaps Eugene is full of BS. To Rick, does it really matter? Heading towards Washington DC is as good of a plan as doing anything else.

Last week I ranted about Carol and how much The Walking Dead loves her. I noted that while I think it is Carol who should be on the road to redemption the show seems to feel it's Rick who needs to be redeemed for exiling Carol. This week confirmed what I thought as Rick formally asked Carol if he and the group could join her. I would complain but maybe I should just get over it and move on.

Actually, getting over it and moving on seemed to be a bit of a theme for this episode. Some dirty laundry was aired and the general reaction was, “eh, whatever.” Tyreese wanted to make sure everyone was OK (like he is) with what Carol did which may or may not have happened off camera. Also, both Rick and Maggie decided that they were OK with Tara despite her coming from the Governor's camp with very little fanfare.

I'm not sure all of character's reactions, especially Maggie's, were realistic. However, it did put everyone's past behind them and gave the group a clean slate. If the end result is that the group is harmonious (at least for a little bit) and agree to a common goal then I'm all for it.

Other Thoughts:
At the beginning, when Daryl hears and/or senses something, all I saw was darkness. Should I have seen something else?

I'm surprised the show made a point to say that Sam was one of the people slaughtered at the beginning of the last episode.

Michonne without a sword is like Daryl without a crossbow.

I understand being careful (and, overall, I have no problems with the precautions the group took with him) but the group could have acted a little less dickish to Father Gabriel.

It seems odd that Carl is suddenly the trusting, ethical voice of the group. Where did that come from?

When Rick and company were dealing with the zombies in the water I feel like they could've easily killed the zombies from behind the food shelf instead of toppling it over onto the zombies.

I'm not convinced that someone could be as good with a sword as Michonne by just grabbing one and swinging it a lot.

Where was Carol heading to? Where did the car she was near come from?

So why was Bob crying? Is his seemingly eternal optimism simply a facade or did that zombie in the water get a bite on him? If so, did the Terminus crew inadvertently save Bob's life by amputating it?

It seems a bit silly that the Terminus group are able to sneak up and hunt Rick's group. Nothing from what we know of Terminus' origin and what caused them to turn to cannibalism indicates they'd be good at tracking and killing "in the wild."

I know I'm more approving of pacifism on this show than most but I was all for Rick's idea of killing all of the Terminus citizens last episode. They're cannibals and don't deserve to live. In fact, leaving some alive was utterly selfish since it meant they were free to kill other innocents. And now it has come back to bite them in the ass. But I'm not sure if killing the Terminus cannibals is more on the Shane side or Dale side of the spectrum. (I certainly hope that the lesson to be learned here isn't "kill everyone without discrimination.")

5 comments:

  1. (including Martin whom I thought was killed by Tyreese

    I was very confused about that. He obviously appeared in a haze when Bob first woke up, but then wasn't seen amongst the group chowing down on Bob's drumstick. It was almost like he imagined him, but why would he?

    I'm guessing they're going to reveal that Tyrese showed Martin mercy, and use it as another example (like Rick not going back to finish off the Termites) of how mercy is for the weak in this show (except, as you later point, that's not quite true).

    To me that makes sense. Perhaps Washington DC is the key to stopping the zombie apocalypse or perhaps Eugene is full of BS. To Rick, does it really matter?

    Exactly. I have zero confidence they'll reach Washington and/or Eugene is capable of curing anything, because his whole deal seems shifty as hell and because, duh, it's a zombie show and as much as I would be fascinated watching a show that's about the zombie apocalypse AFTER the zombies have been dealt with, I'm sure this show has no interest being that show. But that doesn't mean there can't be narrative value in the journey, and seriously, on the road, camped in one place, they're all dangerous. At least this gives the group some goal, and there's at least some small chance DC is better than their current situation. That's more hope than they usually have.

    I would complain but maybe I should just get over it and move on.

    >sigh< Yeah. All hail Queen Carol, whose pragmatic amorality clearly makes her TV's greatest character!

    I'm not sure all of character's reactions, especially Maggie's, were realistic.

    I think Maggie was all smiles and hugs a bit too fast, but for the most part, I can buy that she'd be okay with it. It'd be different if Tara was the one swinging Michonne's sword into her dad's neck, but at this point, they've spent a lot of time (mostly offscreen) together and she helped keep Glenn alive. That, at the fact that she came forward herself (rather than being found out) was probably enough for Maggie to feel comfortable believing that she just got caught up and carried along in the Governor's zeal (which is pretty much what happened).

    Or, to put it another, Tara has arguably done less wrong (standing by while something awful happened) than Carol (actively doing something awful), but everyone's all hunky-dory with Carol now, so why the heck not Tara too? At least within the show's weird moral logic, it fits.

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  2. Should I have seen something else?

    I didn't. Presumably it was either Morgan or a Termite spying on them from the shadows.

    I understand being careful (and, overall, I have no problems with the precautions the group took with him) but the group could have acted a little less dickish to Father Gabriel.

    Given that he was the first person they encountered after escaping Cannibal Bell, I can probably forgive them a little bit of extra dickishness. I did like the resurrection of Rick's three questions from when they'd vet people for acceptance into the prison camp last season.

    It seems odd that Carl is suddenly the trusting, ethical voice of the group. Where did that come from?

    We got a little of that last season - I forget what episode, exactly, but I remember a moment where someone was calling for help and Carl insisted on answering even though Rick and Michonne were like "nuts to that" and he gave a little Dale/Hershel/Glenn-esque spiel about how they still have to help people even if it's risky.

    Not that it didn't still come a little out of left field, cuz it's not like it's something the show emphasizes much. Frankly, Carl might be my favorite character on the show right now. He still has some semblance of morality but also isn't dumb about it. I love that after his dad's (understanable) "TRUST NO ONE! YOU'RE NEVER SAFE" speech, he was still like "yeah dad, but it's okay. We'll handle it". And then he scouted out the location, found the scratches and the creepy epitaph, so it's not like he was just stupidly sitting there thinking everything will turn out okay.

    All of which just means we're probably getting set up for Carl to trust the wrong person and get killed just so we can see Uber Crazy Rick and reinforce the notion that anyone who isn't a monster is dumb.

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  3. I'm not convinced that someone could be as good with a sword as Michonne by just grabbing one and swinging it a lot.

    Practice makes perfect! ;)

    Where was Carol heading to? Where did the car she was near come from?

    That was the car she and Daryl found earlier in the episode (when they were carrying the jugs of water). Presumably, it was just abandoned by somebody at some point, like so many others. There was a battery or something like that in the trunk, so they decided to leave it there in case they needed a fast escape from the church. I'm assuming Carol was preparing to head out on her own again, something about not feeling welcome/comfortable in the group or whatever (which her earlier conversations with Daryl seemed to be hinting at).

    If so, did the Terminus crew inadvertently save Bob's life by amputating it?

    Ha! That would be awesome. I have no idea why he was crying - Mrs. Teebore and I assumed that he secretly got bit or something during the fight in the flooded food bank and that's why he was crying.

    I know getting your leg eaten is pretty awful, and he'll probably end up dead by the end of this, but man, we thought the show was telepgraphing a Bob death pretty loud throughout the whole episode. So the leg thing was almost anticlimatic, in that he didn't die like we kept anticipating.

    Nothing from what we know of Terminus' origin and what caused them to turn to cannibalism indicates they'd be good at tracking and killing "in the wild."

    You know, I didn't really consider that until you made the domestic/"in the wild" analogy, and now I'm totally on board with your line of thinking. I mean, they presumably out-tracked Daryl, and that seems hard to buy considering their entire operation was about luring people to *them*.

    But I'm not sure if killing the Terminus cannibals is more on the Shane side or Dale side of the spectrum. (I certainly hope that the lesson to be learned here isn't "kill everyone without discrimination.")

    Yeah. I mean, sure, TV isn't always the greatest at subtlety and nuance, but this show seems to be suggesting the only alternatives when it comes to the living is "kill or be killed", but there are gradients. The Termites are monsters, and Rick is totally in the right to want to hunt them down and finish them off for what they did (and to prevent them doing it to others). But that doesn't also mean that "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" should be the attitude they apply in all situations, all the time.

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  4. // Claremont quiet issue //

    I do love me some classic early New X-Men, as evident in my comments on those posts of Teebore's, but for me the equivalent breaks in Wolfman/Pérez Titans stood out even more. Star Trek: The Next Generation was particularly good at doing this sort of thing in the TV world, perhaps in part because continuing storylines — whether in name over a pair of episodes or more generally over part of a season — tended to be more easily demarcated in that genre or back in that era or both. It's something that I don't notice happening much on television these days and something I would like to see, particularly in comics-based series, done more often.

    // Father Gabriel Stokes is a priest who seems more-or-less unphased by the zombie apocalypse. //

    Since I might've done Teebore a disservice in letting him slide on "lightening" until someone else pointed it out, I feel compelled to mention that "unphased" is what you'd (kind-of awkwardly) call a plan that doesn't progress from stage to stage properly or what Kitty Pryde is when her power stops working and that you mean "unfazed" here. If you hear negative constructions like "unfazed" or "wasn't fazed by" it's almost always "fazed" instead of "phased"; if you hear "being phased in/out" and the like, it's probably going to be "phased" rather than "fazed".

    // Rick formally asked Carol if he and the group could join her. //

    I liked that. I can see why you both don't, bringing in the baggage of Carol's whole arc stemming from her burning the bodies last season, but to me it read more specifically as Rick acknowledging that Carol saved their bacon (…!) at Terminus.

    // I understand being careful (and, overall, I have no problems with the precautions the group took with him) but the group could have acted a little less dickish to Father Gabriel. //

    While I agree with you, I also think he could've not taunted them with his odd, eerily calm suggestions that, hey, maybe he was playing them and luring them back to his lair. Unless you're Benjamin Linus and you just can't help yourself, I don't see why you'd react spitefully or sarcastically even to people who might've treated you with suspicion, especially in this zompocalicious world.

    // Where was Carol heading to? Where did the car she was near come from? //

    I concur with what Teebore said.

    // So why was Bob crying? //

    I don't know if the show maybe telegraphed his possible walker bite, and thus the reaction that it might cause in the folks eating him, than it realized or if it's playing us by sending our suspicions down that road. Another possibility that a friend mentioned, besides him losing his shit because he did get bit (and/or just because he's a sensitive soul more overwhelmed than he wants to show in front of the group, by either the lingering trauma of almost losing his life or the relief of coming out the other end with Sasha and this ragtag group he's part of and this apparent respite at the church from the hell they've endured), is that as a recovering alcoholic he couldn't stand to be there while they drank the sacramental wine.

    // And now it has come back to bite them in the ass. //

    Cannibal humor!

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  5. Blam: Since I might've done Teebore a disservice in letting him slide on "lightening" until someone else pointed it out, I feel compelled to mention that "unphased" is what you'd (kind-of awkwardly) call a plan that doesn't progress from stage to stage properly or what Kitty Pryde is when her power stops working and that you mean "unfazed" here.

    If we get to vote on the matter... 'pasma' is an old Finnish word meaning a portion of cord twine that has certain amount of rounds in it, and when someone gets fazed there is a much-used saying for it that he has his 'pasmas' all mixed up. Me and my comics-reading friend would constantly have people having their plasmas all mixed up instead, and to cherish that memory I'm totally willing, insisting even, to go with 'unphased' here.

    A thought of Kitty's power suddenly stopping working is horrid, though. Didn't the demonic "Cat" version kill someone (depraved Nightcrawler?) by leaving him partially inside the floor and thus pretty damn unphased in the Magik miniseries or am I confused somehow? All those times in Morlock tunnels with Leech roaming around nearby were pretty close call for a tragedy happening, in afterthought.

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