This week we see just how far Rick and Co. have come in ‘Four Walls and a Roof.’ Answers and satisfaction abound in one of the most violent and unsettling episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ in recent memory. As always the following episode recap may contain spoilers and bad taste, reader discretion is advised.
We open to some nice shots of a bunch of ghouls feasting on human remains. Man I hate the Termites. Of course this bothers the Walkers, who used to have a monopoly on this sort of thing. They are outside looking in and drooling all over the window. Gareth just chews up the scenery as he waxes poetic about you know, eating people. He talks about the yumminess of women and the merits of consuming pretty people all while talking trash to Bob. He’s really trying to get under Bob’s skin. Bob, is not looking well. As Gareth continues to lord himself over his legless leg of lamb Bob’s sobs turn into laughter. You see, back at the Food Bank Bob got himself bitten. That’s right, they are eating tainted meat. While the horror of the moment cannot be lost, the way the cannibals are filmed juxtaposed with the Walkers, the brutality of what is being done to Bob; I just couldn’t help but laugh. The reveal, everyone spitting out the food, throwing up, reminded me of the reveal of the bad guy in ‘Ace Ventura.’ And that’s all the humor you are going to get out of this episode. Roll credits.
We find Sasha in the forest looking for Bob. They are being watched, someone took Bob, and she is not happy about it. Rick takes a moment to remind Sasha about another plot point; Daryl and Carol are missing too. Time for some answers. The gang confronts Father Gabriel. This all has to be connected. Who is out there? What’s the deal with the Church Lady? What are you gonna burn for? Father Gabriel, it turns out, always locks the doors of the church at night. It’s a habit. Well, he continued this habit well into the early days of the apocalypse. As happens, members of his congregation stopped by in the morning in need of a little Church time, maybe some food too. The doors were locked. They were banging on them trying to get in and damned if they weren’t making a lot of noise. That noise attracted some Walkers which made the parishioners make even more noise which attracted even more Walkers. You know how it is. They told two friends and they told two friends. It was a massacre. Just when things were getting tense inside, what with the preacher’s confession and all, there was a rustling outside. The crew runs out to find Bob on the lawn and a big red A on the side of the church. Message delivered.
Inside St. Sarah’s Bob recounts his experience over in the enemy camp. They are apparently using an elementary school as their base of operations. Remember when the worse thing someone would eat at school was paste? Bob let’s everyone know that Gareth is a monster. He lets them know that Carol and Daryl were not there, that they in fact drove off. Abraham takes this opportunity to drop some reality on Rick and Co. Eugene is now in an unacceptable situation and needs to be extracted. It’s time to go. Rick is not about to leave while those cannibal bastards still draw breath though he uses the fact that Carol and Daryl are still missing as an excuse. They could come back and somebody needs to be here when they do. Sparks fly and it’s intense. The tension between Rick and Abraham is electric and you have a feeling that their clash will be of epic proportions. Just before they do the group’s conscience steps in. Glenn gets between them. It’s let’s make a deal time. Tara says that if they stay to help Rick and Co. tonight that she’ll go with them in the morning. Not enough, Ford wants Glenn and Maggie too. Rick will have none of it. Team Washington starts to head out for the bus and Rick lowers his weapon and comes at Abraham. And Glenn gets in between them. Sure, if they stay and help Glenn and Maggie will go with them. Rick protests but Glenn reminds him he has no say in it. Fine. Bob and Sasha have a nice moment. Lawrence Gilliard Jr. is knocking it out of the park in this episode. If he’s not careful I might actually care about this character before the end.
At this point in the show a Victoria’s Secret commercial came on and I think I blacked out a little. When I came to I was looking at the moping visage of Tyreese. The gang is having a meeting. Rick realizes the Termites are trying to rattle them, what with the eating and the speeches and the abductions. What they don’t know is that this group has been through too much, they don’t rattle that easily. A plan is hatched. Rick wants to go say hi and Sasha wants a piece of them for what they did to Bob. Tyreese and Sasha have a moment. Tyreese thinks Sasha should be there for Bob. He talks about forgiveness. Sasha just wants blood. She gives Tyreese a knife and tells her to end Bob if he stops breathing. So much for turning the other cheek.
Now is when things get dark. Rick and his most able fighters leave the church, ostensibly to go kick some fine young cannibal ass. There is a shot of Carl in the church flicking his holster in time to the rising tide of a piercing drum beat. The tension in this scene is ratcheted up to eleven. As the good guys disappear into the darkness Gareth and his murderous crew come out and move on the church, having watched Rick and Co. leave. Gareth did a head count. They can take the church easily as it’s now defended by a kid and a baby.
The group opens the doors pretty easily. This should have been their first red flag. Gareth and the cannibals emerge from the shadows in the back of the church and Gareth sure does like to hear himself talk. There are two doors in the small building. He knows they are hold up behind one of them and tries to taunt and goad them into revealing their position, though he states they have plenty of firepower to breach both. He even appeals to Father Gabriel. Come on out, you can even take the baby and go. Well Judith wants no part of that and cries her discontent. Now Gareth knows where they are. He gives them one last chance…
Pop! Pop! Two goons go down in a spray of blood. Rick and Co. are here. They emerge from the shadows with those sweet silencers from last episode. That’s a callback folks. Gareth makes a threat, saying he’ll fire into the room, pointing for emphasis. Well, trying to point anyway. Rick blows off his fingers when he does so. Gareth then goes into pleading mode as he cradles his bloody stumps. They used to be so good. They helped people. Rick tells them all to get on their knees. Gareth, realizing this is the end, defiantly tells Rick, “You don’t know what it’s like to be hungry.” It’s about here that I spied a machete with a red handle on Rick’s belt. Oh snap. That too is a call back. Gareth promises if they let them go they will never cross paths again. Rick reminds him, “I already made you a promise,” and the slaughter begins. Rick and Co. brutally kill them. And when I say brutally, I mean brutally. There are no clean cuts here. This is hacking and smashing and anger and rage. This isn’t Man vs Walker, it’s Man vs Man and that adds a whole lot to the scene. It’s hard to watch. The fact that it is occurring in a church makes it all the more so. All of this violence in a place of worship. There’s a metaphor here someplace, just too much blood for me to see it. Father Gabriel, taking in the aftermath, exclaims, “This is the Lord’s House.” To which a blood drenched and formerly devout Maggie replies matter of factly, “No, It’s just four walls and a roof.” I’m not a particularly religious man these days but damn, I almost found a tear or two rolling down my cheek. The Walking Dead is nothing if not powerful. Mercifully we cut to a commercial break.
When we come back we are all about the goodbyes. Rick and Bob have a moment. Again, that sonofabitch grabs at my heartstrings with another nice deathbed chat. “Nightmares end, they shouldn’t end who you are.” Bob and Sasha have some alone time. Bob is sweet to the end. Sasha draws her knife but Tyreese comes in, takes the knife, and spares her the pain of doing the deed herself. Bob is mercifully at peace. Meanwhile, Abraham and Rick say their goodbyes. The groups are splitting up, after Glenn specifically said they would never split up again and episode or two ago. Glenn, Maggie, and the third wheel join Team Washington as Rick and Co. stay to wait for Daryl and Carol. Abraham gives Rick a map, with their intended route marked. As the bus drives off for Washington, Rick looks at the map and sees a little message from Abraham. “Sorry I was an asshole. The new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes.” True enough, but I don’t think the old one’s quite done with him yet.
Finally we see Rick join Tyreese, who is digging graves and burying the dead. Rick asks about his road to Terminus and Tyreese says, “It killed me.” Rick will have none of that. We see Michonne on the porch, reunited with her sword. I am so glad the cannibals decided to bring it with them. Father Gabriel joins her looking for some relief from the gruesome remembrances of the church. They hear a noise and Michonne heads to the tree line to see what’s up. It’s Daryl and he looks like shit. Michonne asks where Carol is. Daryl doesn’t answer but after a beat motions to the trees and says, “Come on out.” Fade to black. Oh those cliffhanging mother-effers! We’ll have to wait until next week.