Monday, October 20, 2014

The Walking Dead "Strangers" Review

Fear the Hunters has begun.
For those unfamiliar with the comic storyline, tonight’s episode touches on the arc called “Fear the Hunters”. It introduces a new player to the mix in the form of Father Gabriel, a priest driven by guilt. A new lead on Beth’s fate is introduced, which is wholly created for the show. And we see the group cohesion at its brightest. For long time viewers of this show, we know what that means: All hell is about to break loose.

This episode is much more of a somber meditation than last week’s explosive (pardon the pun) premiere. Focusing more on the character interactions, “Strangers” brings us closer to who these people are and who they will be going forward. With such a large cast, there are going to be characters that don’t get much to do. Tyreese is a particular odd man out, considering the role he takes in the comics. I keep hoping the show will give Chad Coleman more to work with. For anyone who has watched the 3rd and 4th seasons of The Wire, Coleman has the chops to be one of the better actors on the show.
This episode was filled with quiet moments, a calm that will soon be cast aside. Daryl and Carol have the closest non-sexual relationship I’ve seen between a male and female character on television ever. Credit goes to Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus for being able to speak volumes with silent glances and knowing looks. I find myself enjoying the quiet intimacy they have together. Tara and Maggie’s soft confrontation felt the most impactful for me. Tara’s halted cadence revealed the underlying guilt she carries as being part of the Governor’s crew that destroyed the prison and resulted in Herschel’s death. For a moment or two, I was half-expecting Maggie to fly into a storm of rage but she didn’t, which felt true to who this character has been established to be. Maggie’s willing forgiveness of Tara’s part in the siege shows that for her, Tara’s part in the group is cemented. Forgiveness in this kind of world is not something easily obtained.
Father Gabriel lives in a state of constant guilt. The reason for it is well-known to those who have read the comics. I won’t spoil it but I will say it will shape how the viewers will see this fear-driven priest. The reveal at the end of the episode of why he ran from the zombie in the food store is something new for the show. It adds another level of regret to a character that already carries a tremendous weight.
Poor Bob. The scene of Gareth and the remaining cannibals (including the one I thought Tyreese had beaten to death in the premiere) feasting on Bob’s leg is straight out of the comics but with a different character. One has to wonder why Bob was away from the safety of the church. I have a feeling I know the answer and it will be revealed in the next episode. Gareth’s clinical monologue revealed how deeply twisted this individual has become. For him and the people under him, survival has become all they care about. If there’s anything remotely human in them, it is weighed down with seemingly unbreakable chains. The sad thing is: given the wrong circumstances, anyone can become like Gareth and his people. There’s a line from The Killing Joke where the Joker outright states that the only thing separating everyone else from him was one bad day. The bad day came for the people of Terminus and they have slipped over the edge of sanity with eyes wide open.

Abraham’s speech to the assembled group is most touching and in line with other great speeches. Each of his words were like a bullets aimed at the heart of everyone present. The decision to head for D.C. is not an easy one to make. Think about travelling hundreds of miles through a countryside teeming with undead. This is not a trip to be made lightly or without due consideration. Underneath Abraham’s calm words is desperation, though. Without saying the words, this is a man who has lost much on this mission. He wants to see it through to the end to justify the losses incurred. Sadly, there are very few ends that can justify the means. In a world like the one depicted in The Walking Dead, there probably aren’t any left. 

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