Calm down. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Relax. Is everybody’s adrenaline and emotions back under control after the season premiere? Okay, good. Now it’s time to settle in, take stock, and figure out where we’re going from here. And guess what? It’s someplace dark. Darker than blowing the holy hell out of a city of cannibals? Yes. But first, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang stumble across Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam, another vet from The Wire!), a preacher with a secret. Maybe more than one. What we do know about him is that he’s a coward who probably had an affair with a parishioner, and he may have holed up in his little isolated church and not let anyone else in when the zombie apocalypse kicked off. Unless that “You’ll burn in hell for this” that’s carved into the outer back wall of the church is about something else. Not cool, Gabe. In other news, most of the rest of the episode is spent jumping from terse, almost mono-syllabic snatches of conversation to conversation in what is an amazing stylistic leap from series creator Robert Kirkman’s first couple of seasons. I’ve talked before (repeatedly) about how the approach to dialogue shifted with the arrival of Scott M. Gimple as showrunner, and this is a perfect example. There’s no more belaboring of points, or excessive exposition. The dialogue is clean and quick, allowing the performances of the actors to really shine. It’s a shorthand that makes plain with nearly every conversation that these are characters who know each other intimately; they really have become a family of sorts, able to finish each other’s sentences and communicate with body language, brief looks, and loaded silences. I honestly don’t think there’s another show running currently with this approach to scripting and it’s one of the reasons I love Gimple’s run on The Walking Dead. One of the strongest examples of how effective this approach is happened this week, as Rick quietly acknowledges his guilt in exiling Carol (Melissa McBride) — as she returns his watch — and asks if she will let them come along. Her quiet nod says volumes about her growth, her own feelings of guilt, and her uncomfortableness with Rick and the others. With that simple gesture, groundwork is also laid for plot movements later in the episode, as she attempts to sneak away in the darkness. And then, without extra melodrama, Daryl (Norman Reedus) appears to question her decision. For a brief moment you don’t know if this is going to lead to a confrontation, an alliance, a declaration of feelings, or what, before a car roars by on a side road interrupting them. A car Daryl has seen before; a car with a cross painted on the rear windshield. And with a quick “They’ve got Beth!” both he and Carol leap into the car that moments before was her means of retreat, and they roar into action without a moment’s hesitation, following the mysterious car into the night. That’s just perfection right there. In other news, on a food run to the flooded, zombie-infested basement of a local food bank, we see just how cowardly Father Gabriel is and just how fool-hardy Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) is. We should have expected that Rick’s short speech to Carl (Chandler Riggs) about never letting your guard down — that you’re never truly safe — would signal something was coming, but it was a nice switch-up to not have Carl be the one who finds himself in danger. Instead, Bob drops his guard and is dragged underwater by a bloated walker, but is saved before he is bitten. Or is he? He claims to be okay, but with things going so good with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), I’m not sure why else he would sneak away from the group to cry alone in the woods. But if he’s infected, it’s going to put a nice spin on his final fate as lunch for the survivors of Terminus who capture him as the episode closes. Actually the capture itself isn’t how the episode closes, but… The Walking Dead 5.02 “Strangers”4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.