The Walking Dead, S5 E3: “Four Walls and a Roof”

If you were a fan of Gareth and the cannibals, well, too bad for you. “Four Walls and a Roof” wasted no time in getting straight to the action. The ep was grim and quick, and didn’t stick the landing quite as well as it should have. But at least it wasn’t terrible or meh. Rather than dwell on the bad, let’s take the late, great Bob’s advice and look for the good.

So what was the point of letting the cannibals eat Bob if the writers weren’t even bothering to do anything with it? What a waste of a plot. We got two good cliffhangers and that was it. They killed off a great new Big Bad and an intriguing insight into how the plague manifests in the space of 30 minutes. I never thought I’d be annoyed that TWD killed off a villain before he went stale, but I really could’ve used a dash more Gareth. If for no other reason than to see L.P. turn into a raging zombie.

I have to hand it to director Jeffrey F. January; the shot of Rick and co. heading into the woods, the camera lingering on the church sign, and the cannibals trickling out of the treeline was absolutely chilling. To put on screen ten seconds of still silence is daring, and to have it pay off as well as it did, well, good on you, January. Not only that, but the sequence as Gareth crept through the church, hunting the supposedly weaker members of Rick’s group…I get the shivers just thinking about it.

The Walking Dead season five episode 3: Four Walls and a RoofBreaking Rick’s group up opens a lot of doors, story-wise. No matter how fervently Abraham believes in Eugene’s cure, I don’t buy it for a second. It’s a load of horse pucky, but it’ll make for some spectacular fireworks when it all explodes. It’s only a matter of time. But splitting the group the way they did is appealing. Now both parties are divided evenly between a couple of warriors, a couple of weak links, and a bunch of middling survivors. Neither have the edge, and I doubt either group is getting too far up the highway before having to stop. Rick is canny enough to plan a trap for the Terminus cannibals—a twist shocking only to those silly enough to fall for it—but lacks commitment to his goal. He will always choose immediate relief over eventual safety, and with two children in tow it’s hard to hate on him for that. Abraham is determined enough to stick to the long game, yet fanatic enough to try to make a run for it in the middle of the night through zombie and cannibal-infested woods. Rick and Abraham may be at each other’s throats, but they’re also a perfect match. If they could learn to get along, they would be an unstoppable team.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I find it fascinating how Tyreese has become the show’s sin eater. He does the terrible things other people are too frightened to do. He tries so hard to stay out of it, to step aside, to be a good man, but his hands are just as bloody as Rick’s. The difference is that where Rick acts out of vengeance and anger, even at his worst Tyreese still kills out of kindness. Mercy is always harder than murder, which is why Tyreese will always be the one to take on that burden.

Tyreese makes for a fine contrast to Father Gabriel. Both tried to hide from the end of days, and both failed miserably. However, where Gabriel’s good nature curdled into cowardice, Tyreese’s hardened into resilience. If Gabriel was forced to prevent Bob from zombie-ing out, dollars to donuts he’d run rather than do what was necessary. Tyreese, on the other hand, took a deep breath and drove a knife into Bob’s brain. Gabriel let all the death, pain, and chaos drown him, whereas Tyreese understands that he lives as long as he keeps treading water, that wanting to live is greater than trying to survive.

The Walking Dead season five episode 3: Four Walls and a RoofI haven’t talked much about Martin, but it’s worth mentioning him in relation to Tyreese. If Gabriel is Tyreese overwhelmed by emotions and guilt, Martin is Tyreese gone cold. His conversation with Rick as they dug the graves is pivotal here. When Rick asks him about his time after the prison, Tyreese says it killed him. Rick pauses for a moment then responds, “No, it didn’t.” If it had, Tyreese would have become Martin, a man who stopped caring. For Martin, kindness and violence were meaningless concepts. It’s hard to make a case for goodness when there’s so much evil eagerly waiting to torture you, and what’s the point of going out of your way to hurt someone when they are going to die eventually anyway? Everything is a choice for Martin, but those choices don’t mean anything more than what direction you’re headed. Martin wasn’t evil; the things that happened to him before he was “saved” by Terminus killed him.

I don’t think the ep was quite as effective as the two previous outings, but it was swift, brutal, and on point. More importantly, the dialogue stayed this side of over the top and the logic was consistent and believable. All in all, it worked well. The show seems to have settled into a nice groove of solid B+ work. I can’t say that I look forward to TWD in the same way I do Parks and Recreation or How to Get Away with Murder, but at least I no longer tune in reluctantly.

Final Thoughts

  • “I’m being a human being here. I’m talking to you. Perspective, Bob.”
  • “I’m tainted meat!” – I want Bob’s cackle as my ringtone. Someone get on that.
  • “Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are. And that is just this dead man’s opinion.”
  • Was anyone else annoyed when Glenn sided with Abraham, telling Rick it was his decision to make…except it wasn’t just Glenn’s choice but Glenn AND Maggie and he made a huge decision without consulting her?
  • Now that Gareth’s gone, does that make the cult the season’s Big Bad? TWD is the kind of show that needs an antagonist, either human or zombie, or it falls apart from lack of motion/progress.
  • So long, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. You brought a gravitas and charm to what could have easily been a one-note character.
  • Man, this show makes really miss Treme and The Wire.

Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

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