“We evolved. We had to.” ~Gareth
The second episode of The Walking Dead’s fifth season kept a wonderful pace, balancing the trials of humanity against the frenetic action of the premiere episode last week. After a non-stop weekend at the Walker Stalker Convention, it felt wonderful to have made it home in time to watch this episode in the comfort of our own little Bubble.
Need to catch up on what happened? Click here for a Spoiler-filled recap of the episode before reading any further.
All set? Let’s jump right in!
“We’ve all done something.” ~Rick
This faith-laden episode kicked off with some wonderfully tender moments between key characters confessing, as it were, their sins and offering absolution and acceptance. Rick and Tara, Tyreese and Carol, Rick and Carol, Carol and Daryl. I thought it would have been better to let at least one or two of those story arcs play out a little longer, but at least they’ve all been tied up neatly with a bow now and we can move on. Or can we?
“I sent you away to this and now we’re joining you. Will you have us?” ~Rick to Carol
During their one on one moment, Carol hands Rick the wristwatch that he had given to Sam on the day he banished Carol. Rick smiles and attempts to return to Carol the watch she had given him to replace his own (the one that belonged to her husband, Ed). But, Carol declines the gesture. For the moment, it seems that she is content to put that part of her life behind her and let it all go. However, as the episode progresses, we see that Carol is clearly not okay. As she repeatedly tells Daryl, she does not want to talk about what happened–not about Karen and David, and possibly not about Lizzie and Mika, though Tyreese had already asked her to never discuss the girls with the group. Emotionally, she is torn. She has proven to herself that she can survive, but as Abraham pointed out, to what end? Rinse and repeat? The band is back together again. What if Carol is faced with another difficult situation forcing her to make the tough decisions like she did this past season? Could she do it again with a core member of the group? Could she live with herself? She wants to put it behind her, but inside she is still hurting.
Daryl, recognizing some of himself in Carol, tries repeatedly to get her to open up or at least accept the past as gone and start over with him and with the group. Quite a role reversal from Seasons 2 and 3 when Carol constantly tried to reach Daryl and assure him of his worth. The bond these two broken characters share is so wonderfully written. I would love to see a passionate kiss between them, but my luck the writers will either have Daryl be gay or kill one of them off before it happens. Oh well. A girl can dream.
Back to the wrist watches, though. There were a lot of little bits of symbolism thrown in regarding letting go. You had the watches, the absence of Michonne’s sword, the water flowing past Carol down stream. I thought that was a nice touch.
“There’s nothing left in this world that isn’t hidden.” ~Glenn
I’m going to skip around the timeline a bit here to discuss some more symbolism. I can’t speak for everyone, maybe just 3/4 of the people, but even those who aren’t religious are somehow moved when entering a quiet church. No matter what the religious affiliation, churches, cathedrals, temples, etc., all seem to move people. Especially the older structures. There’s the architecture, the stained glass windows, the calmness that exudes from every angle. No matter how simple or how ornate, these places make us take pause. They are grounded in their own little history. And we know that countless people have passed through the doors seeking salvation, forgiveness, sanctuary, comfort, fellowship and peace.
As our group is introduced to Father Gabriel, we realize that he is a man with secrets. But, they all have secrets. He is a man who, though committed to his faith, is full of fear. And in the darkest of times, he succumbed to his fear and made very poor, very regrettable choices (fans of the comics know what I’m talking about). We’ve seen full well what can happen when someone is pushed to the point of desperation. Gabriel is riddled with guilt. He has since spent his time in virtual isolation and seclusion, punishing himself for his sins. He passes the time transcribing the Bible word for word. He prays for a forgiveness that he isn’t sure is possible. Yet, our band of survivors freely offers forgiveness and absolution to one another practically under his nose.
When they are battling the walkers in the basement of the Food Bank, Gabriel recognizes his church organist. In a panic, he attempts to flee, causing chaos for his counterparts. In another moment of symbolism, it appears as though this is the only walker that sees and/or approaches Gabriel, as though she alone is coming for him. Just for him. Can he atone for his sins? Gabriel finally gives it all up to God. He stretched out his arms in what was clearly a nod to Jesus on the cross, ready to take what was coming to him so that he may find his home in heaven. But, then Rick came along and denied him his repented exit.
Gabriel is the first character that we have seen since Hershel, who is clinging to his faith. Though, unlike Hershel, Gabriel has allowed his faith to be shaken by his own insecure actions. The contrast against a group of individuals that have entirely lost theirs, save for Bob and his ever optimistic ways, is really interesting to see.
I was quite taken with the symbolism within the church for a few of our main characters. Glenn, who is fast becoming the voice of reason akin to Hershel and Dale, stumbles upon Galatians 6:9 which reads “And let us not grow weary of doing good deeds for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” This could also apply to Carl, who is a constant reminder that “Everybody can’t be bad.”
Michonne encounters drawings done by Sunday School children and at one point walks past a wall hanging that reads “Amazing Grace.” While Carol, already reeling with guilt, comes across a notebook conveniently opened to a page with a transcription of the 10 Commandments, particularly “Thou Shalt Not Kill” which clearly added to her moral dilemma.
Daryl uncovers a bas-relief of DaVinci’s The Last Supper. He studies it for a moment. This particular moment stuck with me. So much so, that I did a head count of the survivors to see if it matched up to the 13 in the artwork, knowing that the intent of the piece demonstrates Jesus’ words “Verily I say unto you: One of you will betray me.” Watch your back, Daryl.
As Rick approaches the pulpit to investigate the collection of empty food cans, he is momentarily flanked by signage that lists what verses will be sermonized. These were most likely part of the final church service Father Gabriel held there. I posted a separate article discussing the sermon. Click to read.
“This is a nightmare. And, nightmares end.” ~Bob
Poor Bob. Well, we all knew it was just a matter of time. It’s pretty obvious that the writers are giving this character Dale’s storyline and demise from the comic books. And, oh what a gloriously gory and satisfying story line it was. Finally confirming that Gareth and company (including the guy Tyreese lied to Carol about killing in the cabin last week) are indeed the Hunters, cannibals from the comic book. I think many people were confused by the way they were introduced and the Terminus story was played out on the show, but it is coming together nicely, in my opinion.
Side note: Was it a deliberate choice on the part of the show-runners to limit the visibility of Eugene this episode? Was his absence from the camera shots intended to also symbolize something? We know we have a liar in our midst, but could he be the Judas Daryl seems to have found warning of?
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.