The Walking Dead: Four Walls and a Roof

Gabriel: "This is the Lord's House."
Maggie: "No. It's just four walls and a roof."

It was more a slow grind than a roller coaster this week and that slow grind can wear away what makes us human without some kind of intervention. All the old places of safety are gone, sometimes closed up by the very people who were supposed to be there to help us. The baser parts of human nature, violence and survival at all costs become more and more acceptable or at least easier to justify to ourselves. One of my favourite lines in this episode was when Rick said, "That could have been us." He didn't just mean that they might have been the ones killed that night, but also that given the same circumstances, they might have also totally lost their humanity.

That doesn't change the fact that they had to kill the Terminites, who would kill them and others at the first chance. The viciousness with which they killed them does illustrate how very close to being inhuman some of our group has come. Maggie, Glenn and Tyreese watched them massacre the Termites with not exactly horror but not comfort, either. What keeps them from tipping over the edge -- the children, their comrades who haven't slipped as far, some form of hope?

We got some answers this week. Yes, Bob was bitten and I did enjoy his reveal to the Termites and their disgust at having eaten "tainted" meat (although none at all when eating the leg of a man who was still alive and aware). I wasn't sure if the opening scenes were an attempt to show us just how far the Termites had gone as a way of justifying their later death, or just the requisite horror. Human monsters are always the scariest. We also found out what many had suspected, that Gabriel had condemned his congregation when he refused to unlock the doors of his church. I had some trouble deciding if the Termites were any worse than this horrible man who refused to act when those he cared for were dying.

There were many tense moments in this episode, although some of them were a bit clunky in terms of story line. There was enough leads to make us think that Rick and the others had gone to attack the Termite camp but I didn't ever really believe that they would be that stupid. The shot of the Termites melting out of the woods just long enough after Rick and the group left was quite well done. And there was a good long time before they returned to save the day. For a moment I thought the church was booby trapped or the preacher would take the offer, but that didn't last long. If Carol can single-handedly take out the entire compound, I don't think we really have to worry about a few stragglers outside a church. At one point I thought Carl and Rosita could probably take them. I'm sure there are bigger, badder things to come though.

Bob's death was, for me, the central piece of this episode. He met death with a kind of optimism that I found weirdly cheering. He had found some kind of peace and joy even in this terrible world. He had hope for the future even as any hope of one for him was gone. I found the conversation between him and Sasha and the good-byes poignant. Bob became one of the people who kept the group human.

Bits and Pieces

I was annoyed by the break up of the group. It felt to me like a tired trope that has been overused. But then Supernatural has successfully been using a similar thing for ten years so I shouldn't think too harshly of it.

Even Gareth didn’t believe the analogy to bears. I wonder if one of the reasons the Termites and particularly Gareth were sloppy in coming to take the church was that he wasn't sure he wanted to go on.

Eugene's reaction to leaving was telling. It seemed to support the idea that he really doesn't have the answer to the pandemic. He wouldn't feel that he could tell them that because he can't protect himself and he thinks they wouldn't protect him otherwise.

Did the Bible verses listed in the church relate to anything?

Gareth, like most villains, talks way too much.

Michonne finding her sword seemed to be symbolic of the 'before' times that they might be heading back into.

Things I could live without: the discussion about what kind of human meat they preferred and why, the unnecessarily gruesome killing of the Termites, the shots of people eating 'human' flesh.

Quotes

Gareth: "I'm being a human being here, I'm talking to you. Perspective, Bob."

Gabriel: "I buried their bones. I buried it all."

Glenn: "It's not your call."

Bob: "All things considered, I figured you could humour me a little bit."

Bob: "I knew when I told you it'd become all about the end, and I really like the middle."

Sign in the Church: "Stupidity is also a gift of God but one mustn't misuse it."

Gareth: "I don't know. Maybe we'll keep the kid. I'm starting to like this girl."

Bob: "Nightmares end. They shouldn't end who you are."

Abe: "Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The New World's gonna need Rick Grimes."

13 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I thought this was an excellent episode, mostly because of Bob. I liked Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Dee so much in The Wire, but I just couldn't seem to like him in The Walking Dead because I was never sure what he was really thinking or feeling. I assumed that the actor was projecting a lot of ambiguity, and I kept expecting Bob to turn out to be evil or something.

But I certainly like Bob now, because in this episode, we found out that he was a class act. He kept quiet about being bitten so that he could be happy with Sasha for just a little longer, making it "about the middle" instead of the end. And then he went out with humor and love for Sasha and for the group that had taken him in. All of them waiting in a line to say goodbye to him was so touching.

One thing that really stood out for me was Bob thanking Rick for taking him in and telling Rick to be sure to hang on to his humanity -- right after Rick did the most inhumane thing he'd done yet, hacking Gareth to death. Another was Tyreese, who is having such trouble with it all these days, taking that knife away from his sister so she wouldn't have to stab Bob's body. I really like that the group has accepted Tyreese's emotional state and that they respect it.

I also thought Seth Gilliam did a fine job with Gabriel's breakdown. He has to live with what he did, a terrible punishment for someone who is supposed to help others. He now also has to live with a very messy church. He'll be cleaning for weeks. :)

Jess Lynde said...

Yes, The Wire actors were all great this week! As always. :) Ms. Martin-Green was pretty fantastic, too.

Like Doc and Billie, this one was all about the quieter emotional moments for me. A lot of the audience responded to the twists and Team Grimes brutally and efficiently dispatching the Termites, but given how close much of this was to the source material, it didn’t hold any surprises for me. (Like you, I didn’t buy into the notion that they had left the church relatively unprotected to attack the school. The whole time Gareth was evil monologuing, I just knew that Rick and crew would be back any moment to finish them off --- red-handled machete and all.) So it really came down to the great beats with Bob, Sasha, and Tyreese for me.

I definitely agree that Bob’s slow death was quite poignant, and I even cried when Bob died before he could give Sasha the upside. That kind of thing always gets to me. RIP, Bob. I’ll miss your crazy optimism. I also found the various scenes between Tyreese and Sasha quite powerful, especially him trying to talk her out of murderous vengeance. I know it made him sound a bit unrealistic or foolish, but I think it was all part and parcel of Bob’s “it shouldn’t end who you are.” She didn’t have to go, and he didn’t want his sister to do something in the throes of anger and grief that she might regret later. That look on his face as he watched her brutally slaughter the very same man he couldn’t kill at the cabin was really quite something.

I’m with you that the group breaking up again so soon was annoying --- Really, Glenn? Really? --- and I agree about Michonne’s sword. Most of the audience had a “hell yeah” reaction to her getting it back, but I found it sobering. She gave that lovely speech last week about not missing who she was when she first had it. “I don’t miss what was before. I don’t miss that sword.” She seemed lighter, happier. More comfortable with herself and life. But finding it again, immediately after the slaughter, seemed to remind her that “what was before” is still very much with her. With all of them. And she’s still got to figure out how to carry it.

drnanamom said...

Thanks so much for the comments Billie and Jess. It is hard to figure out what to put into a review and what to take out and you always expand on what I say in such great ways. And I should also say that you were right last week Jess - it wasn't Gabriel's wife. I'm not sure if that means I would hold him less accountable. I know that people have had to do lots of horrible things to survive but I think that his act of cowardice was horrible and I didn't really want Michonne to give him any comfort. Of course, as Tyreese said, forgiveness seems to be the only way through.

teresa burnikell said...

As this is the only programme I watch at the same time as you lot I thought I'd add my two penny worth.
I love the way the group (especially Rick) actually look unkempt, greasy hair and all like they would in real life, not all hair and teeth like in Revolution or Falling Skies.
It's scary how the zombies are not to be feared as much as other humans.
I'm sure Judith is too big now to just lay in a moses basket.
And where is Lennie? Another brilliant Brit actor.
Loving your reviews but a bit disappointed that you aren't covering any of my favourites at the mo like The Leftovers and The Last Ship, both of which are excellent.

Billie Doux said...

teresa, we noticed your other posts about coverage and what can I say? Too many shows, not enough writers? :) That would probably be true no matter how many shows we were covering because there's just so much out there these days.

Jess Lynde said...

Interesting, Doc. I was feeling that Gabriel’s actions, while certainly cowardly and awful, seemed a bit less egregious than I originally thought. I had been thinking he’d been more active in what went down. That he’d chosen to lock the doors on his parishioners, when the reality is that the doors were already locked because that was just the overnight routine. “I always locked the doors! I always locked the doors!” He’s still accountable, of course, but it comes across to me as a more passive sin to not unlock the doors, and somehow slightly less terrible than choosing to lock them.

Then again, he is a priest. His whole calling is about providing comfort, care, shelter, etc. to his flock, especially in times of great distress. His choice played an even bigger part in turning the “Lord's House” into just “four walls and a roof.” If that’s all it became to him when the moment of decision came, than how can he expect better from strangers? Can there be forgiveness for what he did?

Apparently, I'm still having trouble deciding how I feel about him, too. :) I think that's a good thing!

teresa burnikell said...

I do understand Billie, don't mean to moan :-)
I haven't got sky or cable so I rely on my poor old mum to download stuff for me.
I remind her when new stuff starts but she's apt to forget, bless her!
We do have Freeview in little old England which has a limited selection of old Sky stuff but I always seem to be a few years behind your comments!
At the mo, we've got season 1 of revolution, Unforgettable which has been moved to 3am and little else, so please excuse my gripes. X

Billie Doux said...

I completely understand, Teresa -- and it's very nice of you to ask. We love to hear from our readers and if people don't mention what they want to read here, how will we know, right?

drnanamom said...

@Jess, I understand what you are saying but he sat inside listening to children die - He couldn't have opened a window? He was immobilized by terror I'm sure and I'm not saying I would do any better but I think what he did was one of the worst things humans can do when people get hurt and that is just be a bystander.

Heather said...

Doc:
I like your layered take on Rick's matter-of-fact line, "It could have been us." Thanks for another great review.
I'm really going to miss Bob, you guys. And I was also touched by the way they handled his passing.
Curious to see where all current storylines are going...

Anonymous said...

Something else I'd like to add is the quality of the posters on your site.
I've visited other sites for The Leftovers and Ressurection reviews and am shocked at the nasty commenters and trolls. You have to plough through them to find any meaningful insights and analysis.
I didn't realise that people spend their time watching a programme they don't like, just so they can go and ruin the experience for everyone else.

Teresa B x

Billie Doux said...

That's lovely, Teresa. Thanks. I like to think of Doux Reviews as a little community for people who love to talk about their favorite shows. If you don't enjoy it, why go to the effort of watching it and finding a site online to talk about it?

Elfie said...

This was mostly a good episode. I could have totally lived without Gareth evil monologing in the open scene and the disgusting human flesh bits, maybe I could even live without the skull bashing? I don't know about that one. I swear to god I found it freaking repelling that they needed to give us cannibal villains in a freaking zombie show. How on earth are the cannibals any different to the zombies? I'm ashamed to admit that I was cheering when Rick and the gang bashed those idiots to death -- at this point, they weren't even people. Of course I'm worried they'll lose their humanity, but I truly felt like Gareth and his gang of Termites weren't human at all. They were just dirty shells who cared about nothing other than survival. There was no depth to them.

I never thought I would like Bob when he was first introduced and stupidly knocked over that shelf with all the alcohol, but I actually shed a tear or two when he was dying. It's not often our little group gets to say goodbye to their loved ones, and I love how he held on to his annoying optimism till the very end, all things considered, it wasn't the worst way to go out -- surrounded by people he loves and killed by Sasha's brother. I love what he said to Rick about nightmares and how they all end but they shouldn't end who he is. I think Rick needed to hear that. I also love when he said, "Look at her and tell me the world isn't going to change?" or something like that. Very poignant. I'm gonna miss his presence. It seems like all the level-headed, most humane people die on this show. Ugh. Oh well.

Great review as usual!