On the road again. That’s when The Walking Dead seems to be at its best, with the characters out in the thick of it, trying to survive with the peace of mind of being safe gone.
In Strangers we see Rick’s ragtag group in its new entirety altogether for the first time for a full episode as they explore the roads less traveled for food and shelter. Only a day or so into their travels they come across cries for help and they do what they think is right by answering those calls. This is when we meet Gabriel Stokes, who was once a reverend of a local church. Gabriel is in many ways like Herschel when first encountered holding tightly onto his religious beliefs, this is more evident with Gabriel as he is still wearing his clerical clothing and still talking heavily in biblical rhetoric.
Even with Gabriel appearing weak and harmless Rick still takes the necessary precautions and gives him the line of questioning we are so used to them doing from last season. For one Rick must be 100% certain Gabriel is telling the truth as Daryl warned Rick they were being watched the night before. To leave no doubt they have Gabriel take them back to his church to make sure his story checks out.
This episode was clearly about building trust and the strengthening of relationships in the group. For the most part the group seems tighter than ever, smiling, laughing, as for almost a minute forgetting the world they live in completely sucks. However even with this feeling throughout the group Rick makes sure to tell Carl, that no matter how safe you feel, regardless of the company present, you are not safe. These words could not be spoken any truer.
One thing that I tend to get hung up on The Walking Dead are the dumb decisions the writers of the show make the characters do. As some of you might be aware I am a reader of the graphic novel’s and even though I try not to compare the two as they are both two different incarnations of the same story it still happens. In the books I cannot recall any time where the members of Rick’s group put themselves in a bad spot when it is clear as day it would be a bad decision. This is in reference to the scene in Strangers, when Rick, Michonne, Bob, Sasha and Gabriel go on a supply run. When they arrive at their destination all the supplies have fallen through the main floor where waist-high water is with about 12 visible zombies. Rick and his group make the conscious decision to go down into the high water before killing the zombies from above, while not even thinking that a zombie could be under the water. This clearly is a misstep on their part which definitely got one of the characters bit even though they did not mention it to the group but it was clearly obvious later on in the episode. Sure this scene was done this way to create suspense but there are other ways doing that over making these usually careful characters have a major lapse in judgement.
For those readers who do read the books you may have recognized early on in this episode that the current story is weaving back in through the books, albeit slightly different. I did recognize this early on and quickly picked which character will be getting the Dale treatment (from the books) and my guess was right. If you do not read the books I would advise you not to look this up as you will spoil things for yourself in upcoming episodes. This is nice to see them mixing in the comic stories with the television ones as I look at it as a nice nod to those fans and a good way to mix in some of the good stuff from the source material.