The Walking Dead: Strangers (5×02)

Synopsis: The group meets someone new and suspicious, as well as a new threat that is more dangerous than any walker they might come across.

Rating: ★★★★☆

After the big reunion and action from the season premiere, we’re treated to a slower episode and the gang’s all here! They’re slowly regrouping in the woods and Rick accepts Tara into the group with one of her patented fist bumps. Tyreese doesn’t want Carol to tell the rest of them about the girls – remember crazy Lizzie and Mika? Yeah, no one else seems to remember them either. Rick also has a little heart to heart with Carol, asking if it’s okay for them to come back to her group after he banished her before. She gives him back his watch and she refuses to take hers back, but things seem settled enough between them.

Later that night, while Carol and Daryl are keeping watch – and Carol tells him she just needs to forget the ‘things’ that happened – they get the feeling of being watched, though Daryl ultimately decides it was nothing. We get a cut of someone clearly watching them from the woods, but who is it?

The next morning, the group hears someone screaming for help. And really, how do you get this far into the apocalypse (we’re talking at least a year, probably closer to a year and a half) without being to handle a walker killing? It’s a man trapped on a rock, dressed as a priest and acting as a priest and throwing up his lunch near an unimpressed Rick’s shoes after they successfully rescue him. Father Gabriel gets a pat down and the standard three questions. He’s a bit shifty, a bit weak-seeming, and definitely not sharing the whole story with them.

I'm all about Father Gabriel. He is a gentle soul, you stop being a dick, Rick. [AMC]
I’m all about Father Gabriel. He is a gentle soul, you stop being a dick, Rick. [AMC]
Father Gabriel ends up leading them towards his church and insists he wasn’t the one watching them earlier. He shows a sarcastic side, which the group doesn’t appreciate as fully as I did, but ultimately delivers them safely to his church. Part of the group goes into the church to clear it, and after it is deemed safe, everyone else is let in – with them all letting Abraham know that his trip to Washington DC will only resume on Rick’s say so.

In an effort to seem less shady (or even more shady), Father Gabriel explains how he survived on luck. The church had just finished a food drive when the apocalypse hit and he had a nice stash of canned food that he ate for long as possible before he had to start scavenging. Rick insists on taking Gabriel into town with them to hit up the food bank that he seems familiar with. He has a side-bar heart to heart with Carl about trusting Gabriel and reminds him that he’s not safe anywhere. Lighten up, Rick, the kid’s doing alright for himself right now. Carl even has to remind Rick that they’re strong enough to still help people and not be afraid.

Glenn, Maggie, and Tara are scavenging as a group – Glenn finds three silencers in the mini-fridge of a gun store. Hooray? Gabriel leads his small group, consisting of him, Rick, Sasha, Bob, and Michonne, to the food bank. They check the building, only to find a hole through to the basement where zombies and canned food alike sit in some nasty water. Bob appropriately describes it as ‘if a sewer could puke, this is what it would smell like.’

In a stroke of genius, they get down in the water and barricade themselves in from the walkers with shelves. Gabriel seems to freak out upon seeing one of the walkers lumbering towards him. He gives up, giving us some Jesus imagery where he spreads his arms and surrenders to the inevitable before Rick goes to save him. Bob is also attacked, pulled under by a walker before Sasha saves his life and he looks a little green around the gills from the encounter. As they’re returning to the church, Rick correctly guesses that Gabriel froze up because he knew the woman before she became a walker.

While they were away, Carl found some scratches on the church where it looks like people were trying to get in and a message carved into the wood, ‘You’ll burn for this.’ It lends itself to the theory that Father Gabriel isn’t being wholly truthful with them. But that doesn’t matter because they’ve got food and it’s a church, so you know what else they have? Wine!

When they’re all good and drunk on communion wine later that night, Abraham makes a toast to survivors. He goes on to push them to continue his mission to get Eugene to Washington DC to deliver a cure for what’s happening. Rick is finally convinced, saying if Judith is in, he’s in. Everyone celebrates momentarily and Bob asks for ‘one more’ kiss again from Sasha, who gives in before going to hold Judith herself.

He had a lot of lines and a lot of camera time this week, you knew things were gonna go down. [AMC]
He had a lot of lines and a lot of camera time this week, you knew things were gonna go down. [AMC]
Tara slides up to Maggie and lets the liquid courage flow through her as she reveals to Maggie about her involvement with The Governor. She didn’t want to hide it and Maggie accepts it because she’s here with them now. Gabriel is drinking and sulking when slides up and makes him feel better. Just kidding! Rick threatens to kill him if whatever he’s hiding hurts the people he’s with.

Carol is fiddling with the back-up plan-slash-escape vehicle that she and Daryl had prepped earlier when Daryl finds her and asks what she was doing. She’s not exactly sure and he means to bring her back to the group when they see the same car he spotted after losing Beth. He breaks out both of the taillights on the car and takes off after it with Carol.

Bob, who had limped outside to be alone earlier, is suddenly crying against a tree when someone attacks him from behind. He comes to and we get a glimpse of the man that Tyreese did not kill last week – thanks Tyreese! – and then suddenly, Gareth. He insists that they didn’t want to do these things, but they had to do them. They lost their home, so now they’re hunting to survive. They’d evolved into cannibals and now they’re devolving into hunters. Gareth just wants him to understand it’s not personal, but you know, they took his leg and ate it in front of him! The scariest part is he admits, they would’ve done this to anybody.

Straight out of the comics... mostly... The sentiment is there. [AMC]
Straight out of the comics… mostly… The sentiment is there. [AMC]
So what did I think of this episode? HUNTERS HUNTERS HUNTERS HUNTERS HUNTERS!!!!! For those of you who’ve read the comics, it seems that they’ve subbed in Bob for Dale’s role in this story arc and I’m pretty excited to see how twisted this gets. A solid episode with that little bit of hope that told you everything was just on the edge of turning to shit and the ending just clinched that. What did you think of the episode? And did you make a dark meat joke as the credits rolled? Be honest…

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