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.
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."