The opening segment of this week’s episode is most telling. Preparations are underway to fortify the church. Whether this is to protect against the walkers or against other humans is a moot point. As this journey has shown, the humans are by far more dangerous than the dead. At least the dead have the excuse of being driven purely by instinct.
Gabriel’s frantic attempts at wiping away the blood are symbolic of his refusal to take the world for what it is. Back in episode 3 of this season, Maggie made the statement that this place was no longer god’s house but rather “four walls and a roof”. Gabriel seems driven to wipe away the recent bloodshed, the encroachment of this world’s total brutality, but he doesn’t realize that it simply cannot be undone. In this world, you make peace when you can but when it comes time to go to war, there can be no hesitation.
It’s right that Rick should lead the group to rescue Carol and Beth. Of all the characters this season, Rick has shown the most understanding of his responsibility. He is not the dictator of season 3 but neither is he the phlegmatic farmer from the beginning of season 4. There’s no hesitation on his part. He sees his family in trouble, he rides into the rescue. And if he has to kill a few people to get back his family, he understands that it is fully necessary in the world he now inhabits. One could almost call characters like Rick, Michonne, Abraham, and Carol moral monsters. They have a moral compass but they are capable of unfettered violence when the need arises.
The discussion between Rick’s party is an interesting one solely because Daryl sides with Tyreese. I’ve come to expect Tyreese to try for the least violent option and it’s getting rather tiresome. My guess is the writers feel there should always be someone who is more humane than the rest. This may rest on the assumption that portions of the audience may become turned off by everyone agreeing on the most violent option in any given situation. Frankly, if that is the case, it’s stupid logic. Tyreese seems destined to hold the Idiot Ball going forward, pushing for solutions the writers and audience know damn well aren’t going to work. Daryl siding with him was the interesting option, if a little inconsistent. The character has never had problems with fighting or killing when necessary. Perhaps he feels it isn’t necessary in this situation. Or perhaps the writers wanted to try things a different way.
And then there’s Gabriel, the other carrier of the Idiot Ball. His squeamishness was alright for the first few episodes but he’s seen what this world is like now. Why does he insist on not taking a proactive step? I think, fundamentally, Gabriel is a coward. At least Eugene has the stones to stab a walker to save his own skin.
Speaking of Eugene: You just got knocked the hell out!
And he’s still unconscious. Tara seems to be the only one who accepts that Eugene played the one card he could to ensure his survival. To be fair, though, I’d have probably gone Abraham’s route and knocked him out for lying so convincingly for so long. Their segments in the episode felt like filler to me, just little moments to keep us abreast of what they were up to.
The sequence with the cops from the hospital gave the audience another tableau of horror. The FEMA station, with the rotting corpses of walkers clawing, came through to me as another vision of hell in an already hellish world. I thought the slaughterhouse at the beginning of this season was disturbing. The parking lot of corpses was equally mesmerizing and sickening. You know some of these people were just laid out and probably shot in the back of the head as the end neared. Others were probably damaged in whatever catastrophic fight happened here.
As improvised weapons go, I have to say this is a first for me. I’ve never seen someone use a zombie head as a weapon in any zombie film or story I’ve encountered. Daryl having to talk down Rick is something I expected but Rick was clearly considering the necessity of killing this cop. You could almost see him balancing the scales in his mind, wondering if keeping this one alive would be too much trouble in the end.
The ending was not entirely surprising. Someone who has known a fellow officer for 8 years isn’t going to turn on that person. Lamson played his part well. The final episode of this half of the season will no doubt be a blood-drenched affair, as we’ve come to expect from the past few sections of The Walking Dead. Who will get added to the butcher’s bill will be the main question. I don’t anticipate a clean ending to this half season.