Episode 5.3 “Four Walls and a Roof” (written by Angela Kang) picks up at the moment last week’s “Strangers” ended. As the Terminus Hunters are finishing up their meal of Bob’s leg, his weeping (which was particularly excruciating to watch last week) turns to maniacal laughter. After calling them idiots, Bob gets the last laugh by showing the Termites the bite mark on his shoulder and screaming “Tainted meat!” repeatedly –his words haunting them even after Gareth Knocks him unconscious – and the Termites ironically have to vomit up what they just consumed.
The reveal of Bob’s bite wasn’t all that surprising, as it was pretty easy to surmise after his attack in the water that he would be bitten. I’ve since learned that comic fans knew this was coming because the storyline played out in the graphic novels the exact same way but with a different (long since deceased from the show) character. In any event, it was good to see Bob gain the upper hand over those cannibalistic animals, though we’ll never know if eating “tainted meat’ would have caused them to turn more readily.
Back at the church, as our group is looking for its three seemingly vanished members, Sasha confronts Father Gabriel and wants to know if what he’s hiding is connected to their disappearances. The reveal of what Gabriel did at the start of the apocalypse wasn’t unexpected either, but Seth Gilliam’s performance was a powerful one, and the fact that a brand new character could independently deliver such an affecting scene is a testament to the actor’s talent.
The others find Bob (who the Termites dropped off), along with the painted “A’ outside the church, lest our survivors forget the Termites see them only as cattle. When Bob comes to, he tells the others what happened (and that Carol and Daryl drove off), and the group learns he was bitten. While dread and heartbreak spread across Sasha’s face as she stares at Bob’s bite, the others could only stand there, already beginning to mourn for what would soon become of one of their own.
Abraham wants to leave – well, at that exact minute – given that very bad stuff is about to go down. His overall restlessness to get out of dodge and just get on with the trip to D.C. is understandable, but how leaving in the dark while being stalked is a better choice than just helping Rick and his gang for the night is beyond unclear. When Rick (who wants to wait for Daryl and Carol) and Abraham have a showdown of sorts, its good ole’ Glenn – ever the peace-maker – who is the voice of reason and ends up bargaining 12 hours of assistance from Abraham in exchange for Glenn and Maggie’s departure with Abraham and Eugene the next day. Abraham agrees, but wasn’t Glenn just saying in the last episode that they shouldn’t split up? After what happened to all of them when they did separate, haven’t they learned anything?
Sasha is at Bob’s side, but she is about to go after the Termites. Tyreese reminds her that she can choose to forgive so she can treasure her remaining moments with Bob, but Sasha not only wants vengeance, she wants to be one of the people dealing it out. We see Sasha’s transition to becoming more detached emotionally beginning, as the one who taught her that it’s ok to have hope and showed her the good out of the bad lies near death, and will no longer be her guiding force.
The Termites later storm the church, believing Rick took off with half his group, and Gareth delivers a monologue to those behind locked doors, even trying to make a deal with Gabriel to let him and baby Judith go if he gives up the others’ location. When Judith cries and reveals the remaining group members’ position, the Termite hunters think they’ve won. But oh how wrong they are. We knew all along that Rick would see to it that the hunters become the hunted.
When Gabriel hypocritically comes into the church and says that it’s the Lord’s house, Maggie corrects him saying, “No, it’s four walls and a roof.” Maggie never struck me as someone that cynical, especially after she was reunited with Glenn and the group escaped Terminus with their lives, but maybe after hearing how Gabriel let his entire congregation get attacked by walkers and seeing what just happened to Bob, the church seems anything but a scared space.
The juxtaposition to all that brutality, however, is laid out in the death scene with Bob, as he’s surrounded by his family, who is saying goodbye to him. He asks for a moment alone with Rick, and a chance to see Judith.
Even after everything -including his ultimate fate – Bob still sees the positive. He still believes good people exist, and has hope for the future of the world – seen through the eyes of baby Judith. He’s grateful that Rick and his people took him in, and he tells Rick that “Nightmares end, they shouldn’t end who you are.” The scene was touching, even more so than Bob and Sasha’s last moments together, maybe due to the fact that their being a couple wasn’t really showcased until one episode ago. It’s easier to buy Rick’s deeper connection with all of these people.
When Tyreese comes in to take care of Bob before he turns, it’s done so in a very gentle fashion – reminiscent of Hershel, who was left to the same task as the plague swept through the prison. The shot of Tyreese standing alongside the wooden carving of the Last Supper seemed to suggest that Bob’s sense of peace – and his transformation from alcoholic to thriving family member even through the apocalypse – had a spiritual component. Perhaps holding onto one’s humanity, or even the desire to hold onto it in such a devastatingly brutal landscape, is where real holiness lies.
In the light of day, Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Tara, Glenn, and Maggie head out in the bus, and the group is separated once more. Even though it was great to see the whole gang together, it’s understandable the story can be explored from different angles when the group breaks off (though hopefully not for as long as last season, which was a bit too long). As they drive off, Rick opens a map from Abraham beckoning him to D.C., because the “new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes.”
At night, Rick and Tyreese are digging a grave, and when prompted by Rick’s inquiries, Tyreese says getting to Terminus killed him. Perhaps influenced by Bob’s hopeful spirit, (much like he was with Hershel’s) Rick reminds Tyreese that “no it didn’t” – he’s still here- and though not expressly stated, Rick was also acknowledging that they all are still there.
Michonne, reunited with her katana, is outside keeping watch, and ironically it’s the reverend who comes to seek council, confessing that he can still hear the screams of the people he locked out of the church. Michonne tells Gabriel, and us – in so many words – that we’ll always be haunted by the things we do. Yet that also suggests that as long as we are, we retain our humanity. And it’s this humanity that Bob held onto, the same humanity that separates our survivors from the Termites and the Governors of the world, and ultimately makes the struggle to survive worth it.
After hearing rustling in the trees, Michonne goes to investigate, (while Gabriel slinks back inside). We see Daryl emerge from the woods, telling whoever is shadowed behind him to come out. We know from scenes for next week we’ll find out more about Beth’s story, though we’re not sure if she was the one with Daryl. In regard to Beth, it’s a bit odd that we never had a scene where Maggie pressed Daryl for more information about Beth, or even a scene where Maggie mentioned her sister, but maybe that will come as we find out more about what really happened when Beth was taken.
This episode had a good mixture of action and drama, and succeeded in tying up one storyline and opening up a few others. In the last three episodes, there has been a lot of forward movement, which the show has not always been good at giving us. We’re getting answers to questions, and the metamorphosis the characters are undergoing seems more organic this year than in the past. This show has also proven time and time again, it doesn’t need constant walker action to tell its story (though the walker sequences are always top notch). In fact, between the group headed to D.C., Beth, Morgan, and Rick’s group, it has plenty of human action to explore. And if the first three episodes are any indication, this story will continue to move steadily in many more interesting directions.