‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 2 Review: “Strangers”

By October 20, 2014
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Another week down, and another episode of “The Walking Dead” has come and gone. And while it was not nearly as thrilling as the season opener, there was still enough throughout worth sinking one’s teeth into. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the foreshadowing of the really effed up thing that happened in last night’s episode has been building for a while. In an attempt to not post any spoilers in the opening paragraph of this review, I implore you to turn back now if you have not seen the newest episode of “AMC’s The Walking Dead.” It’s your last chance to avoid spoilers! Get out while you can!

This season’s second episode was called “Strangers,” and it offered our gang a much-needed break from the insanity wrought upon them in last week’s season opener. Rick and company are once again on the road and as we see the establishing shot of them walking, we are given a glimpse into each character’s life. Tyreese is reluctant to take the credit from Carol regarding everything they have been through. He makes her promise not to mention the girls’ fate to the rest of the crew as he just wants to forget it all ever happened. I’m sure that’s going to bubble up at some point this season.

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Also, through this upbeat moment everyone seems to be sharing on the road, Bob and Sasha have a nice little back and forth. Bob, being the eternal (and annoying) optimist he is, shows Sasha how to see the good in everything. It’s actually pretty cute and, for me anyway, felt like it had no place in the zombie apocalypse. Then again, I also find the whole baby Judith storyline ridiculous. Go ahead, send in your hate mail now!

Five minutes in and there’s a cry for help that distracts from all the fun. What’s interesting is Rick’s reaction. We see how all the events leading up to this point – Terminus included – have changed him. His moral compass is broken. It seems even his sense of compassion is extremely damaged. It’s Carl who motivates everyone to pursue the screaming and help the person in trouble. This is where we meet the priest named Gabriel Stokes. While I didn’t get that far into the comic book series, I do know this character is featured in some issues. What further excites me here is the addition of another alumni from “The Wire,” actor Seth Gilliam.

It’s been a while since anyone has been in the presence of a holy person, so the fact that this man is indeed a priest seems to catch some of our crew off guard. But given Rick’s emotional transformation, he immediately does not trust Father Gabriel. The thought crossed my mind that this level of mistrust may stem more from his apprehension of coming across strangers in this apocalyptic hellscape. It’s quite possible that he may very well resent the man for sticking to his faith in God after everything that’s happened.

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Gabriel leads the group to his church where he has held sanctuary for months, surviving off of canned goods supplied by the conveniently timed food drive which transpired right before everything went to sh*t. Rick decides the next necessary course of action that needs to happen is a trip to find weapons, supplies, and food. For good measure, he brings Gabriel along for the ride. One of the grosser zombie types rarely found on “The Walking Dead” are the waterlogged ones. This episode showcases a handful as Rick discovers a dozen or so walkers (swimmers?) stuck in a half flooded basement through broken floor boards. There’s food and supplies down there as well, so without much hesitation, they dive down into the cesspool and use the storage shelves for defense. Gabriel miserably follows and very quickly comes across a familiar face in one of the undead. If the picture on his desk is any sign, this woman was close to him. If it weren’t for Rick, this would have been Gabriel’s death scene. Needless to say, the encounter shook him to his core and Rick is now certain Father Gabriel is hiding something.

Safely back at the church, the group has hit ultimate relaxation mode. There’s food, wine, and a roof over their heads. The mood turns upbeat and it’s almost as if Bob’s outlook on life seems to be contagious. Earlier, he told Rick that he firmly believes Abraham will lead them all to Washington to bring Eugene’s cure to the world. Abraham renews this mission with the group through a toast and it looks like the tide has turned as Rick agrees to take this trip.

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While everyone is enjoying a little break, we find Carol in the woods working on the car she and Daryl found earlier while scavenging water. It looks as if she is not yet ready to accept Rick’s forgiveness or be included back into the group. However, before she can get moving, Daryl happens upon her. She has yet to fully open up to him regarding what happened with Mika and Lizzie and that guilt seems to be weighing on her. But before a confrontation can happen, the two witness a car speeding down the highway with a crucifix sticker decorating the back window. Daryl quickly smashes the brake lights on Carol’s car and they head out to the road; Daryl believes that is the vehicle that drove off with Beth last season.

Back at the church, Bob recalls their kissing game and asks for one more before disappearing outside. It’s in this moment that we’re led to believe he was indeed bit back in that flooded basement. However, foreshadowing can sometimes be a fickle bitch. Bob begins to cry and while we all are waiting for the reveal, a hooded figure comes out of nowhere and knocks him out. It’s when he comes to that we realize Gareth was not murdered back at Terminus. He brought a few of his friends with him and as Bob slowly comes to his senses, he notices he’s tied up near what looks like a campfire. And through Gareth’s monologue, Bob’s fear quickly evolves to pure terror as he realizes the meat everyone is enjoying is that of his missing left leg. The final sentence of Gareth’s monologue put a nice little f*cked up cap on the whole scene.

“If it makes you feel any better, you taste much better than we thought you would.”

I told you all this positivity was leading somewhere bad!

While not packed with action, last night’s episode maintained a darker more brutal tone than what we have seen in previous seasons. Carl is less annoying (so far) and Rick’s take no bullsh*t attitude is rather refreshing. That being said, how did you all feel about the unfortunate turn of events for Bob? Should Rick trust Father Gabriel? What were those scratch marks on the wall outside of the church all about? Tell me all your thoughts in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.