A Bloody Mouthful: The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2 | "Strangers"

Hey friends, sorry for the delay on this! Last week was a doozy in my personal life. But on to the recap!

 

The episode opens with the group back together. Tara is still feeling some heavy guilt over the Governor/Hershel business and it clearly weighs on her when she sees Maggie. Rick acknowledges Tara’s inclusion into the group and she appreciatively and adorably presents Rick with a fist bump.

We find Carol and Tyreese filling up water bottles at a stream. Tyreese promises to ask the group to forgive Carol for killing Karen and David (in Season 4’s “Isolation” episode) but decides not to tell them about Lizzie and Mika. Carol is her usual stoic “do what you gotta do” self here, understanding Tyreese’s need to heal and not keep secrets.

Back with the group, they come across a lone walker in the woods. Michonne stakes claim and immediately reaches for her katana. Which is not there. With a smile, she kills the walker with the butt of her rifle. She has been relying on that sword for her survival for so long that it has become a natural extension of her body, power, and strength. The fact that she effortlessly, with a smile, adapts to the loss of her sword reminds us that she’s still that badass we love.

Once they set up camp, Rick takes Carol aside and thanks her again for saving them from the Termites at Terminus. He acknowledges the irony of sending her away only to have her save them and asks her permission for the group to join her. It’s a humble move on Rick’s part, realizing that the group needs Carol more than she needs them, and she accepts.  

The Daryl & Carol show resumes – they sit, removed from the group. Daryl turns to stare at her, she turns away. Neither says a thing, reminding us again of their deep emotional connection. “I don’t want to talk about it. I can’t,” Carol finally admits and that is enough for Daryl, unsurprisingly given how little we know of his past (so far!). He gets it.

Suddenly they hear something move in the woods. Tentatively deciding that it was nothing, they leave it at that. The next morning however, as Daryl goes on his regularly scheduled squirrel hunt, we learn that he was also searching for tracks. He is convinced that someone is following them in the woods. It’s pretty fucking cool to see Daryl relying on his intuition so strongly and to see Rick trust in it so completely. Yes, it’s probably a fine-tuned skill necessary for survival and yes, it totally moves the plot along while building tension and suspicion of the big bad guy in the woods, but it’s still powerful to see that trust between the two men.

While in the woods, they hear someone screaming for help. Rick is tentative to go investigate, obviously worried about the safety of the group and perhaps still completely traumatized from their Terminus experience. It’s Carl that steps up and begs him to check it out, for humanity’s sake. Once again, the writers are hinting at that break from humanity in Rick, something they have been playing with all of last season and this one.

The group finds Gabriel, a priest, being attacked by walkers. Rick gives his usual interview questions and gets a bunch of religious rhetoric in response. While making their way to Gabriel’s church, Rick & Co. do not quite trust him but they don’t see him as a major threat either. They search the church, its interior full of darkness and light, religious iconography, and empty cans of food.

Abraham prompts the group to not get too comfortable and is met with a ton of opposition and loyalty to Rick. A supply run is made a priority after talking to Gabriel about depleting his canned food drive stores. Rick demands that Gabriel accompanies them on the supply run, out of distrust while knowing he will probably be of little use to them.

Rick has a heart to heart with Carl, asking him to stay alert to protect Judith. He reminds Carl, “You are not safe. No matter how many people are around. No matter how clear the area looks. You are not safe.” Sensing that his dad is entirely motivated by fear, Carl reminds him that the group is strong and can handle what comes their way. Carl again tries to reconnect Rick with the “greater good” side of humanity.

Daryl checks in with Carol once more while out on a water run. He asks if she is ok, intuitively picking up on the horror and intensity of what she had been through while separated. He thanks her for saving them and she brushes it off. They stumble onto an abandoned car as he reminds her that they aren’t dead and that they can start over.

Some of the group ends up at a food bank with Gabriel. Naturally all of the food is in the basement which is not only flooded but also teaming with delightfully disgusting zombie prunes – bloated, oozing, and wonderfully slimy. What starts out as a controlled walker-killing turns into total chaos when Gabriel sees one of his parishioners-turned-walker. Once some semblance of control is regained, Bob gets attacked by a seriously foul-looking walker (floater? swimmer?). Sasha beats it with a Rubbermaid tub and they all live to see another day.

On the way back to the church, Michonne admits that she doesn’t miss her sword. She misses Andrea. She misses Hershel. But not what came before – her sword is a part of her past, pre-Rick & Co. She is finally completely invested and included in the group. She is mourning their collective losses, not her own.

Back at the church, Carl shows papa Rick scratches and a happy “You will burn for this” greeting etched into the siding of the church. Their skepticism about Gabriel grows.

Safe and sheltered, the group indulges in a last-supper type meal. Abraham takes this time to play preacher and gives a sermon to motivate their trek to DC. Eugene uses the word FUBAR, which is probably the best part of the whole sermon. The group holds their breath, waiting to hear what Rick decides to do. For not wanting him to be a leader, they repeatedly fall on him to make choices. It’s all good though – Rick has his trusted side-woman, Judith, who is now making major decisions for the group. “If she’s in, I’m in.” Ok, Rick!

Tara finally comes clean to Maggie about her role in her father’s death. Maggie forgives her immediately, and thus cementing her inclusion into the group.

Gabriel is sad and drunk in the corner amidst the rest of the cheer. Rick reminds him again that if he threatens the group, he will pay. It is fairly obvious that the only threat Gabriel will potentially make is locking them out of the church but you know, Rick has to exercise that paranoia.

During all of this, Carol sneaks off to the abandoned car she found in the woods earlier that day. Daryl sneaks off to find Carol. He finds her about to take off, leave the group and resume her solitude, when they hear another car in the distance. It turns out to be the same car that Daryl saw right after Beth was abducted. The two take off to investigate.

Throughout the entire episode, we have seen moments of love and endearing between Bob and Sasha and moments of camaraderie with Bob and Rick. His role in a larger scheme is obvious but we don’t quite know what it is. Until the end of the episode. Bob also sneaks out of the dinner celebration. We see him, crying in the woods, clearly upset about something. Suddenly, he is abducted by our favorite hoodie-wearing Termite Martin and in that horrifying moment, we realize they have been stalking the group all along.

And we end the episode with a welcoming invitation to the BobBQ. As a vegetarian, I may be biased, but seeing Gareth and the rest of the remaining Termites pass around pieces of Bob’s cooked leg is absolutely stomach-turning.

 Until next time, friends.