This week’s “Crossed” (written by Seth Hoffman) brought the different stories of our small groups of survivors together, merging their separate timelines into one, and effectively set the stage for what will likely be an explosive mid-season finale.
The episode constantly flip-flopped between all our groups, which was necessary to move everyone into their proper places for next week, but still made for a somewhat jolting narrative. So in order to construct a cohesive review, I’ll take each group and discuss their stories separately.
Father Gabriel and the Church:
The episode opens with preparations being made to reinforce the safety of the church: Windows are getting boarded up, pipes are being taken from the organ, and pews are getting dismantled for wood. Father Gabriel disapprovingly watches the scene, sarcastically asking Daryl, “Are you going to take the cross too?” but Daryl, unbothered by the inquiry, only matter- of-factly states, “if we need it.” Thus far, Gabriel has been difficult to read: On one hand, he’s racked with guilt over his act of cowardice in locking his congregation out of his church when the walkers descended upon the town; On the other, he’s very judgmental regarding the actions of Rick’s group, even going so far as to obsessively scrub the Termites’ blood off of the church floor using only his hand and fingernails.
This judgmental attitude is seen again when Carl recommends Father Gabriel learn to defend himself and attempts to instruct him on the proper use of a machete. Gabriel is clearly disgusted by the massacre of the Termites, convinced that (even though they stuck Rick’s group in a train car like cattle, bashed people’s heads in with baseball bats then ate them, and amputated Bob’s leg and consumed it in front of him) they would have kept their word about leaving the church. Overwhelmed by all the violence, he has to rest his fragile little head for a while.
Michonne attempts to help, going to Gabriel’s office and trying to reassure him that the things they do are “worth fighting for,” but Gabriel isn’t hearing it. He’s so repulsed, in fact, that while pretending to lie down, he rips up some floor boards and escapes through a tiny basement window. This begs the question of whether he considered himself a prisoner of the group. Would they really have cared if he left? Then again, maybe he just thought it was the path of least resistance to avoid Carl and Michonne, who were watching the front door, and sneak away unnoticed. In any case, he obviously thought taking his chances outside would be better than staying with such brutal people (just like Abraham’s family). I will say it again, the reasoning that someone in this situation wouldn’t welcome being with others who could keep them safe, but instead would choose to go it alone, unarmed, into such a violent, unpredictable landscape is beyond ridiculous, but that’s exactly what Father Gabriel did. He also sustains an injury when a nail pierces his foot (evoking some religious imagery – only Gabriel is no Jesus figure), yet he is determined to go out on his own.
Very shortly afterward, Gabriel encounters a walker, and despite his lack of fighting experience, he manages to pick it up and impale it onto a tree branch sticking out of the ground. He can’t finish the job (by crushing its skull), however, when he sees the cross dangling from the thing’s neck. However deep his hang-ups run, it seems more than likely Gabriel will go rushing back to the group before long. He’d better, or he’s just a dead man walking.
After severely beating Eugene, Abraham sits on his knees in the middle of the road, almost motionless. He’s distraught over the loss of his mission, refusing water, and moving only for a moment to intimidate Rosita (who is trying to get through to him) into silence. This spurs Maggie to pull a gun on him and utter the very cool line “sit down or I’ll put you down.” With the many gallons of water from the fire truck gone (making one question Eugene’s method of disposing of them in “Self-Help”), Glenn, Tara, and Rosita go to find more, while Maggie watches Abraham and with a little ingenuity, fashions a tent to shield an unconscious Eugene from the scorching sun.
On the way to the river, Tara argues on Eugene’s behalf, telling the others they can’t blame the guy for using the only skill he has to stay alive – his intellect. Tara has slowly gone from the annoying, impulsive character we saw in season four to the compassionate, funny, optimistic one we see in “Crossed.” She eventually wins Glenn and Rosita to her way of thinking, and her pure delight in playing with the yo-yo she found only increased her likability factor.
We also get a bit of backstory on how Rosita came to find Abraham and Eugene, but the only thing we learn about her is that she has skills (which we knew anyway). It’s notable, however, that the few moments of levity the show allows each episode all belong to Abraham’s group this time: First with Tara, and then with Glenn’s invitation to Rosita (while the two are catching fish) to stay with their group regardless of where they all end up. These people should perhaps be the most devastated now that they know there is no saving the world, but they still manage to remain positive. Even Abraham finally comes around and gets off his knees (metaphorically) to confess he didn’t want Maggie to shoot him – he wants to live. And then, as if the show allowed us to sneak one more in before they noticed, Eugene wakes up with a groggy “hello” muttered out to the air.
Beth at Grady Memorial:
At the hospital, one of Dawn’s officers doesn’t want to waste valuable resources on Carol. Dawn tells him to turn off the machines – but other than monitors and IVs Carol doesn’t appear to be “on” any machines. There’s a ventilator in the room, but she’s not even hooked up to it (though it’s not a medical drama, so close enough). Dawn needs to save face in front of the officer, but then inexplicably gives Beth the key to the drug cabinet and tells her to “save that woman’s life.” Dawn never showed compassion to anyone else, so her sudden display of empathy is suspect, which Dr. Edwards basically tells Beth when she goes and asks him what medicines might help Carol. Beth gives Carol the needed epinephrine, and in a sweet moment, holds her hand (just as Carol did with Daryl in the last episode), gently letting Carol know she’s there with her.
Meanwhile, Rick is devising a plan to bust out Carol and Beth. Of course, his plan involves killing those in his way, including having Daryl slit the guard’s throat. Rick wants to make things quiet and fast. However, Tyreese, put off by all the potential bloodshed, suggests a prisoner exchange instead. Rick insists “that might work, but this will work” and you can’t really argue that killing all those who could threaten to stop you would make your mission work, but Daryl (with his humanity showing again) sides with Tyreese. However in these circumstances, a prisoner exchange seems like a questionable choice given what Noah should have told them about Dawn’s ruthless way of running things. Also, given the group’s history with the Governor and the Termites, is it any wonder that Rick wants to solve the problem by taking everyone out?
Rick and company carry out the plan to obtain two hostages (using Noah as bait), and one of the cops named Lampson can see right away in Rick’s authority that he used to be a cop. When another officer drives by with guns blazing, Rick and the gang get into a shootout, and as they run to the other side of the hospital, they see a horde of walkers literally melted to the asphalt. As I wrote last week, this show continues to find creative ways to display walkers (burning ones, water logged ones, walkers raining down from the sky – just to name a few), and this shot of them was no exception.
While Daryl is surveying the scene, he gets jumped by the officer and thrown near a pile of melted walkers, giving us a sequence that was truly nerve racking because for a moment, it looked like the show might actually go there and let Daryl get bit. But instead, he grabs a gooey walker by the eye sockets, ripping its head from its spine in order to use it as a weapon, (which turned the moment from tension-filled to absurd). When Rick ends the fight by holding the officer at gunpoint, intent on shooting him, Daryl shows his soft side again and persuades Rick to let the officer live. However, his reasoning could have only been strategic, as he tells Rick “three (hostages) are better than two.”
When Lampson’s partner says the plan won’t work because Dawn won’t care what happens to her officers so won’t exchange them for Carol and Beth (which seemed like a good possibility from the start – why didn’t anyone bring this up?), Lampson says he knows Dawn and can devise a plan that will work. He gives Rick some vague information about her, and then says his name is Bob, making Sasha take notice. The only thing that could explain Sasha’s astounding lack of judgment that followed is perhaps her vulnerable mental state since Bob died. In believing Lampson’s sad story about his buddy Tyler and the guilt Lampson feels when he sees the walker Tyler stuck to the ground every day (as a result of a mission gone bad after the two switched jobs), she lets her guard down, untying Lampson from the post and letting him stand behind her while she locates the walker to shoot him in the head. If she stopped to think for a moment, she would have realized this was something Lampson could have asked anyone to do (if we’re assuming that like Sasha with Bob, Lampson couldn’t do it) at any time since it all happened. But in her quest to be helpful (like Tyreese was with her), she makes the mistake that results in her being knocked unconscious and the group’s bargaining chip on the run.
A lot had to happen with all the characters to move them from point A to point B to set up the mid-season finale, and though not particularly remarkable, this episode successfully accomplished that while still throwing in some good character beats and even a few heartfelt moments between the survivors. The mysteries regarding the Termites’ intent, Beth’s disappearance, and Eugene’s ability to save the world have all been solved (only the whereabouts of Morgan remains). With these questions answered and with everyone in their places, next week is sure to bring about exciting action, new cliffhangers, and – needless to say – a heartbreaking ending to the first half of this season.