It took a little effort to watch The Walking Dead’s most recent episode, “Crossed” thanks to a conspiracy on the part of our local cable provider. At precisely 8:59pm eastern time, every channel above 124 either froze or went black for hours. I had to go in and manually set the DVR to record the show again for three more air times over night, with the third time producing a full episode! Most of our town was blacked out of television, with the cable company citing trouble from a “storm”, which may have been believable, had we actually had a storm. No thunder, no lightning, no strong winds. Just heavy rain. And, given that all of the local channels were still running fine, I am not buying their excuses. In fact, I find it fishy at best that the channels broadcasting football games worked just fine. Clearly, the NFL must have paid off smaller markets to blackout the juggernaut that is The Walking Dead in a feeble attempt to bump their viewership. Sports. Bah.
Moving right along… Need a refresher on the episode before we begin dissecting it? Click Here for a spoiler-filled recap. All caught up? Let’s do this!
“Macbeth had said that even the ocean couldn’t wash his hands clean of Duncan’s blood; Lady Macbeth, who scorned him then, now finds the blood dyed into her conscience. The king and queen persist in imagining that physical actions can root out psychological demons, but the play is an exposition of how wrong they are.” “Out, damn’d spot!” ~ enotes.com
Poor Gabriel, first scratching then scrubbing frantically at the church floor in an attempt to remove evidence of the blood that had been spilled there. He is still so caught up in his own guilt that he can no longer comprehend the world gone wrong around him. Carl does an exceptional job being patient, yet firm with the pastor. So much so, that Michonne seems taken aback as she listens. To hear how this young man has steeled himself to the horrors of the new world order would make any adult uneasy.
Gabriel’s story is the first that I’d like to discuss, because even though it was more of a side story in this episode, it was most relevant to the title. There was so much symbolism playing with his conscience and belief system in this episode. We know that Gabriel has been in a self-imposed asylum, punishing himself and awaiting final judgment for his perceived sins. His greatest “sin” being that he remained locked safely within the church listening as his parishoners perished outside at the hands and teeth of walkers. His current actions are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. In trying to escape what he cannot accept, he is endangering not only himself, but the lives of innocent children in Carl and Judith.
Before heading off to Atlanta to rescue the Dixon harem, our group of survivors dismantled the church in order to fortify it. Pews became lumber to board up windows and doors. The pipe organ became a palisade outside the main entrance. Gabriel snarkily asked Daryl if they were going to take the cross from the steeple, too. He still sees this building and its contents as sacred ground and its inhabitants as desecrators. Soon, he is locked securely within the church, left alone with Michonne and the kids. Gabriel accepts a machete from Carl and retreats to his personal quarters/office. Little do they know that this man, in yet another act of desperation stemming from cowardice, is using the machete to remove floorboards. Gabriel crawls out from under the church, though I’m not sure he even knows where to go from there (what are you running from? Where would you even go? Gabriel and Carol need to do lunch.)
Before Gabriel could even get up and go, he steps on a rusty nail. Here comes the religious symbolism! The incremental first nail, a sign of the Stigmata. Nearly two years before, he willingly sacrificed the lives of innocents while locked within the church. Now, whether he realizes it or not, he is willingly sacrificing the lives of innocents that are locked within the church. Repeat offender over here! Of course, this isn’t a true stigmata, but you understand the similarities. No one else is driving nails into Gabriel. No one else is attempting to crucify him. Gabriel is doing this to himself; a martyr derived from unspeakable guilt and shame who thinks that he is still doing the Lord’s work. He is so busy judging himself and making assumptions about and for those around him that Gabriel cannot see what has become of his true faith.
In the woods, when Gabriel is attacked by a walker, he just shoves her away again and again. Finally, he realizes that it is a life or death situation. He fears for his life. He picks up a large rock that might as well have been a stone tablet held high over his head, gleaming with the blue tones of freshly carved Commandments handed down to him from God. For as he is about to eliminate this walker, Gabriel notices that she has a cross around her neck. It was a four-point cross, known as a “cross of passion” or the “cross of suffering” ($5 says the cross on top of the church is also a “cross of suffering”). In that moment, Gabriel’s face said it all: Thou Shall Not Kill.
Give it up, man!
While I understand his irrational fears and his reasoning for his actions–I really do–at some point, I feel that if you truly believe, if you truly have faith, then you have to let it go. Give it up to whatever god it is that you believe in and have faith that there is still a grand plan and that you are somehow still a part of it. Everything happens for a reason. If Gabriel believes that to be true, then he needs to also believe that there is a reason he is still alive. God has kept him alive; not to punish him, but to use him for a purpose. Gabriel’s arrogance in feeling anything otherwise is dangerous. I have good money riding on this, that when Gabriel chickens out and heads back to the church for sanctuary, he will be followed by walkers, essentially filling the church with them, leaving Michonne and the kids unable to escape. Gabriel will then take up that machete properly and protect Judith. At least, that’s the redemption story I’m betting he will get. I could be wrong. Perhaps he’ll keep mucking things up and work his way to the final nail in his coffin…er…crucifix.
From there, let’s jump to our new favorite party crew, GREATM. Could Tara be any more adorable? Giving their little band an acronym? That’s precious. At first, I thought we’d had another time jump, but then I realized that we are actually all caught up. Everyone is at the same point on the time line. Finally! Glenn, Rosita and Tara head off in search of water. Maggie stays behind to babysit Abraham and Eugene, who is still unconscious. Maggie uses the ladder and a blanket to provide some shade for Eugene. And, that’s where my problem with this group begins.
When we first see them, Glenn is monitoring the massive herd on the not-so-distant horizon. He says that they haven’t been noticed yet. And so the complacency sets in. That is flat farm land. Not all of the walkers are dumb; we’ve discussed this numerous times. You have parked a large red vehicle in the middle of the road. You were downwind when you arrived (hence the smell), but how long before the wind shifts? Within moments of Maggie hanging that blanket, the wind started whipping it around. If I were a walker, that would look like a flag blowing in the distance. Perhaps a flag that said EAT HERE. Dumbass. Also, Maggie covered Eugene’s face, obscuring him from the camera. When he wakes, we hear awful gurgling. Is he choking on his own blood? On broken teeth and bones? Is his trachea damaged? He sure as hell sounded like a walker to me. Hopefully not. But, with those possibilities, wouldn’t you want to at least be able to see what’s under there?
And, speaking of Eugene: Bible lesson number two! “Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” As Rosita is telling her tale to Glenn and Tara by the creek, she casually displays some pretty badass survival skills. She mentions that Abraham noticed her fighting skills, thus inviting her to be a part of their mission. However, it’s the things that Eugene taught her that, for the moment, are keeping them alive. Tara makes a good point about not being able to stay mad at a man for using whatever skills he had (even if it meant lying) in order to survive. Remember, she followed “Brian” blindly for the sake of survival, and the group has managed to forgive her for that. Glenn dismisses her comments, coldly. But, I think he is wrong to do so. Eugene may not have been able to save the world, but he can save their world. He is a useful individual who comes in quite handy in the comics. However, I’m not certain that they will stick any closer to that story origin. Eugene is a coin toss at this point.
Glenn’s arrogance (it’s a theme!) didn’t stop there. No, when they arrived back at their rig, Tara started to glance towards the herd. Glenn, without looking up, told her not to bother. They kept on walking. At this point, I was ready to slap both Maggie and Glenn. These two should know better! The preview for next week showed the two of them trapped by walkers in what looked like the cab of the vehicle. How’s that complacency fell now, Gleggie?
“You got to say goodbye…hold on to that.” ~Tyreese
You know who else deserved slaps for this episode? Tyreese and Sasha. I get that Tyreese feels bad for his behavior after Karen died. He’s all zen now after his time with Carol, and that’s cool. But he can’t expect his sister to shelve her grief after only a day. It took him weeks to stop being so angry all the time. And Sasha, level-headed as she may be, is just as stubborn and angry and apt to “Hulk-out” as her brother is. These two made some pretty amateur mistakes.
Now, I did get a good laugh at some of the looks Mr. Rick Grimes gave to his I’m-not-your-yes-man-anymore brother, Daryl. Rick keeps slipping into this robotic, cold, killing machine mode. It seems that Daryl is the only one who can snap him out of it. But, when Daryl sided with Tyreese’s antiquated, pacifistic bargaining plan, I cracked up. As Daryl explained his reasons for concurring, Rick slowly rose to his feet and did that head dip thing he does when he means business. His entire expression said, “Excuse me?” Love! Love! Love!
While that was worth the laugh, I do think that this was one time that Daryl got it wrong. Surely, deep down he was trying to avoid any further injury or retaliation towards Carol and Beth. But, this was one time where Rick’s plan would have been best. As a result, Sasha, allowing the name “Bob” to illicit some sort of girlie it’s-a-sign reaction that got her duped by one of the cops (who will now race back to the hospital and spoil their plans), ruined everything.
Which brings me to the hospital.
“”Saved.” You don’t say “saved”. Nobody says “saved”. You say “safe”.” ~Doctor Who
Beth has not seen Carol since before the Governor destroyed the prison. The last and only member of their group that she knows (or knew) for certain to be alive was Daryl. Unless he was feeling rather gossipy over their moonshine bonfire, I see no reason for Daryl to have told Beth that Rick had banished Carol. So, Beth seeing Carol means nothing really. She has no reason whatsoever to believe that Carol has anyone with her, or anyone looking for either of them. The only thing that Beth has going for her–something that everyone else, save for Carl, has lost–is FAITH. Beth has never lost faith. In seeing Carol, she has faith that they will break free and everything will be okay. She hears the guards talking about gunshots. She doesn’t know that it’s her family of friends. She hasn’t seen them in weeks. She smiles, believing that Noah is still out there, free, because of her bravery.
She has faith.
That faith gave her strength to stand up to Dawn and to their so-called doctor. Beth hangs a new bag of IV fluids for Carol and administers the recommended medication. Then, Beth did something that made me take pause. She said these words:
“I just wanted you to know that I was here.”
Hence my Doctor Who quote. The difference between the two words, safe and saved, are what caused the Doctor to solve the mystery of the Library and be the hero of the day. I’ve been in enough hospitals to know what words are spoken at a bedside. When there is hope that life will continue, you say “I am here” not “I was here” as you squeeze their hand. “Just” and “Was”. Two words that denote a finality. If Beth intended on staying close by, periodically checking in on Carol, keeping watch, she would have said, “I am here” to reassure Carol that she is not alone. No. Beth said, “I was here.” She has faith. Beth is feeling it. Beth is feeling that everything truly does happen for a reason and if she and Carol found their way back together again, then things will turn out right. Excusing the circumstances, their reunion defies all odds. But, it renews Beth’s faith and gives her strength. Mark my words; this girl is going to do something. She is not going to sit around in the wings, watching to see if Carol lives. No. Beth let Carol know that she “was” there, just in case she doesn’t make it back. Because Beth is going to take action, start a revolution in that place in an attempt to gain full medical access and guarantee Carol’s recovery. Beth Was Here.
That moment was a major episode highlight for me. I dislike Beth, so for her character to surprise me like that by making me root for her…well…that was pretty cool. Other highlights included Carl explaining how not all skulls are squishy, and of course, Daryl using a walker’s head like a bowling ball to save himself. Epic.
I’m excited for the mid-season finale, though disappointed that it arrived so soon. I’ll watch with trepidation, given that the Reedus claims he cried for an hour filming the episode. If you recall, Andrew Lincoln commented about the mid-season 4 finale, saying that it was the hardest thing he’d endured since filming Lori’s death. Of course, he was referring to the death of Hershel. For Reedus to cry for an hour, I’m pretty sure either Carol or Beth are in for a rough episode. The two groups have not reunited yet, so I can’t see him crying for someone like Glenn. Though, after this season thus far, I’d be happy if either have of Gleggie bit the dust. At least it would make for good writing. As of now, my death watch list is as follows:
One of those five is going to leave us next weekend. And, I’m fascinated to see what Biblical references will shroud their swan song. (Side note: With regards to all of the water bottles and use of water in this episode; There are at least 722 references to water in the Bible, each as a metaphor for life, clarity, purification, birth, rebirth, eternal life, cleansing of sins, etc. Glenn’s water was cloudy until Rosita filtered it; Abraham received a clear bottle of water after talking with Maggie…think on that for a bit)
See you next week…with tissues.