Review: ‘‘The Walking Dead’ Recap: ‘Four Walls and a Roof’’

The Walking Dead

Spoiler Warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “The Walking Dead” season five, episode three, titled “Four Walls and a Roof.”

If you’re still reeling from last week’s gruesome denouement — which gave the Internet a welcome opportunity to coin the phrase “Bob-B-Que” — this week’s “Walking Dead” doesn’t offer much reprieve, picking up right where the last installment left off: with Gareth gloating over the apparent tastiness of Bob’s leg.

To further emphasize the nonexistent line between Gareth’s group and the walkers in the opening minutes, director Jeffrey F. January intercuts shots of the undead, mouths agape in insatiable hunger, with equally animalistic images of the hunters tearing into Bob’s flesh, before pointedly focusing on Gareth’s face, reflected in the glass behind which dozens of walkers are trapped, hungry for his flesh. “The Walking Dead” isn’t being particularly subtle with its imagery this season, but it’s a potent picture nevertheless.

“I’m being a human being here — I’m talking to you,” Gareth snaps at Bob with no trace of irony as Bob descends into hysteria, seemingly failing to grasp that it’s not the zombies’ lack of communication skills that makes them monsters. But Bob isn’t worrying about the walkers anymore, laughing hysterically as he watches the hunters enjoy the taste of him before confirming what many of us suspected last week — he was bitten at the food bank and his days are already numbered — gleefully telling the cannibals, “You idiots, I’m tainted meat.”

It’s a deliciously satisfying moment as Gareth’s posse begins spitting Bob out and panicking about the implications of eating contaminated flesh, though you can’t help but wish he’d given them ample time to digest. Surprisingly, Gareth doesn’t retaliate by killing Bob outright — instead, he delivers him back to the church, where the rest of the gang have noticed his absence, along with the disappearance of Daryl and Carol.

In the meantime, troubled Father Gabriel has finally revealed the sin that resulted in the ominous carvings on the side of the church to the rest of Rick’s group: he locked the doors after the dead rose, and as the congregation tried to get in, making enough noise to draw the walkers to them, they were devoured. “The dead came for them — women, children, entire families calling my name as they were torn apart, begging me for mercy. Damning me to hell,” Gabriel whispers, falling on his knees in front of an unmoved Rick, haunted by his own cowardice.

Since Rick isn’t much for pep talks these days, it’s just as well that they’re soon distracted by the return of Bob (accompanied by a scarlet letter A painted on the side of the church) — whose condition devastates Sasha. She’s determined to go out and seek revenge, despite Tyreese’s wise counsel that she should make the most of what little time she has left with Bob, since he wishes he could’ve spent more time with Karen before the end. He advises her to exercise forgiveness to help her heal.

“I should forgive them? For hurting him? For trying to kill us? What the hell is wrong with you?” Sasha asks incredulously, too close to her grief to fully comprehend his meaning. I don’t believe Tyreese is advocating forgiving the cannibals in the literal sense after their act of sheer barbarism — something wildly different from Carol’s act of mercy in killing Karen — but to forgive herself for failing to protect Bob, and to let go of her anger for her own sake, not for the sake of the hunters, before the rage destroys her as it almost destroyed Tyreese. Tyreese’s wisdom falls on deaf ears, and Sasha gives him a knife and tasks him with killing Bob if he stops breathing.

Abraham wisely wants to get the hell out of dodge with Eugene now that they know the group’s being targeted, but Rick refuses to leave while Daryl and Carol are still missing. Since these two alpha males are used to getting their own way, Rick and Abraham almost come to blows, and it takes Glenn’s calming influence and a promise that he and Maggie will accompany Abraham, Eugene and Rosita to Washington tomorrow if they agree to stay tonight and fight.

Battle lines drawn, they hatch a plan to take the fight to the cannibals, luring them into the church and sneaking up on them from behind. Rick shoots off Gareth’s trigger finger (fancy sharpshootin’, sheriff) and once our gang has the upper hand, Gareth falls upon his knees in front of Rick, with our hero limned in the light from the stained glass window like an avenging angel. There’s no point begging for mercy, Gareth knows, but ever the salesman, he makes his pitch anyway: “We used to help people — we saved people. Things changed, they came in and… I know you’ve been out there, but I can see it; you don’t know what it is to be hungry.”

He promises that they’ll never cross paths again, but Rick wisely points out that the hunters will clearly cross paths with other people. “You’d do this to anyone, right?” Without hesitation, Rick, Sasha and the others kill the cannibals just as brutally as they’d kill any walker, smashing heads and stabbing them again and again, because at this point, there’s no discernible difference. Rick Grimes always keeps his promises.

Maggie, Tyreese and Glenn look particularly shaken by the savagery, but it’s Father Gabriel who is truly horrified, gasping, “This is the Lord’s house.”

“No,” Maggie says, “it’s just four walls and a roof.” God has left the building, and His four walls are painted with bloodstains. But were the brutal acts that Rick and the survivors committed to defend themselves any worse than what Gabriel did in turning away the congregants who needed his help? It seems as if the good Father has a lot of soul-searching to do before he rushes to judge Rick’s violence. It’s said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, an adage that’s embodied in Gabriel’s inaction.

I’m a little surprised that the show dispatched the cannibals so soon after introducing them, especially after the build-up of the first episode, which took the time to establish the motivation for their heinous acts. Still, this season has displayed a marked sense of momentum and confidence so far, and it’s refreshing that the producers aren’t drawing out the mysteries for too long just to fill time, as it sometimes felt at certain points last season. Would eating Bob’s “tainted meat” have killed them when everyone is technically already infected and capable of reanimating at the moment of their death? We’ll never know.

Another benefit of the showdown with the cannibals? One of them brought Michonne’s katana back, and she retrieves it with all the gravity of King Arthur pulling his sword from the stone.

The group bids a tearful farewell to Bob, who takes the opportunity to reassure Rick that he’s a good man and that he’s on the right path. In a truly gut-wrenching scene, Bob and Sasha share a final moment, but he dies before he can tell her the good that will come out of the bad in this situation. Ever the protective brother, Tyreese comes in to ensure Bob won’t rise as a walker so that Sasha doesn’t have to.

True to their word, Maggie and Glenn pack up to leave with Abraham and his crew, while the rest of the gang resolves to wait for Daryl and Carol to return. Abraham leaves Rick with a map and an unexpectedly poignant note: Sorry, I was an asshole. Come to Washington, the new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes. Shucks, they’ll be BFFs before we know it.

While digging graves later (one of the gang’s recurring hobbies), Rick and Tyreese share a moment to discuss Tyreese’s tumultuous journey to Terminus. Tyreese tells Rick, “It killed me.” Rick disagrees, and so do I. While it’s true that Tyreese has lost a lot of the confidence he had before, his ordeal on the road has arguably also made him more human, and far less like the walkers and the cannibals he’s encountered of late, which can only be a good thing for both him and the group. Rick certainly needs those voices of reason around him, especially with Glenn heading off with Abraham. Still, Tyreese let Martin live back at the cabin after telling Carol that he killed him, so he may have been partially responsible for allowing the hunters to track the group down and snatch Bob (not that killing Martin would’ve altered Bob’s ultimate fate, but it certainly might have avoided more bloodshed).

Elsewhere, Michonne and Father Gabriel reflect on the nature of guilt — Gabriel admits that telling the truth about what happened to his congregation has brought all the memories back, and he can still hear their screams. “That won’t stop,” Michonne tells him. “But it won’t be all the time.” They all have plenty of sins that they’ve learned to live with over time, and Michonne’s past continues to haunt her more than most, so it’s fitting that she’s the one to offer the priest some words of comfort. She hears a noise in the woods and comes across Daryl — he’s not alone, but before we learn who made it back with him, we cut to the credits. Curses!

To tide us over, AMC has released a preview from the opening scene of next week’s episode, which you can watch below. It’ll be a long week…

“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Will you miss Bob? Did you think that Gareth’s storyline was dealt with too quickly? Who do you think returned with Daryl? Share your reactions and speculation below.

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  2. povipovi says:

    I agree with JD on the Bob character, he always seemed to me to be simply ‘cannon fodder’ that never got killed off. Beth however is developing into a deeper character now and I like her. Getting an insight into her character as she wandered with Daryl was inspiring as is watching Carl develop into this unknown mentally (im)balanced teenager with more issues than I can count. My biggest fear is that Daryl has returned with (perhaps) Morgan but not with Carol. Seems to me that after Rick sent her from the group she has established her Ripley (Alien) side of her own bad self and enjoys being on her own rather than have the responsibility of the group. Having always been the abused victim and the childless mother, she has become more solitary and has discovered, maybe for the first time in her life, that she can survive on her own. If this is the case I will miss her because I like the repartee she has with our hero Daryl “Pookie” , “I saw you first”. The other thing I really liked was Michonne. She came back from the supply run telling Rick, “I miss Hershel, I also miss … etc… I dont miss that sword and I dont miss what was before.” Remember that? Well, I was afraid she was going to go all ….. human … on us but then, after she joined the slaughter of the cannibals in the church and getting a taste of that animalism again, she found her sword in the bag. As she picked it up, the samurai warrior literally flooded back into her like a waterfall. It was awesome to watch !

  3. JD says:

    It was both a good and bad episode. Good in the sense that they killed off Bob who was a useless character. Now if they could just kill of his useless girlfriend I be happy. After the tension free episode 2 that followed the great episode 1, thankfully there was tension back. Was glad they got rid of the cannibals quickly because frankly the leader wasnt a patch on the Governor. After taking ages to get the group back together again, they are now split up. Surely the thing that works best about this series is when everyone is together. I really wish they would stop splitting the group up. The ending was good but I really really hope that Beth has not returned because she was and hopefully still was a very annoying character.

  4. Ady Ortiz says:

    Maybe I am confused because my english is not that good but I think when the cannibals were trying to open the doors in the church, Gareth said that the priest… help them “wrapt this up”??? Am I right?? I mean was Gabriel helped them??? Help please!!!

    • Jeremy989939 says:

      Gareth was asking the priest for his help in ending the current situation. He wanted the priest to reveal their location, to agree to surrender.

  5. B.C. says:

    The sword in the stone was Excalibur…pulled out by a young King Arthur

  6. Hasib Rashedi says:

    The car that Daryl and Carol were chasing probably had something to do with turning the people of Terminus into cannibals. With that kind of ending to this episode I can only assume the worst for Daryl. Sorry folks, but one of our favorite characters is soon to be the newest villain; with Gareth dead, Daryl is the new hunter.

  7. D.H. says:

    The sword in the stone was not Excalibur.

  8. “Four Walls and a Roof” wasted precious little time confirming that theory, though it didn’t do much with the tainted meat aspect (outside of briefly wiping that smug look off Gareth’s face right before the opening credits), since everyone who partook of the Bob-b-q was dead at the hands of Rick and company within a few hours http://po.st/ld6J7f

  9. Misty says:

    I don’t understand why Maggie is leaving Beth so easily.

  10. jango says:

    Gory, intense, edgy, and incredibly risk-taking, this is some of the strongest television you’ll see this Fall and I have every reason to believe that this will be the best season of The Walking Dead to date

  11. tvmuse says:

    This series is also capable of moments so terrifying and emotionally charged, they’ll make you gasp for breath.

  12. watch32hd says:

    Picking up with the same energy where it left off in the Season 2 finale, The Walking Dead has hit its stride.

  13. pocacinema says:

    Dead is always at its most unsettling – and poignant – when its characters have a moment to breathe and to address their dark, nightmarish world.

  14. popoca says:

    The Walking Dead, the flat-out scariest, best, most unusual show to ever hit the small screen, is back, and I’m loving every sickening minute of it.

  15. zumvo says:

    The action scenes are as entertaining as ever, and, when the bodies stop twitching, the writers leave us with plenty of daunting questions about what it means to be human and what it means to be a monster.

  16. Sunday’s premiere doesn’t advance the story much — shades of early season two — but there’s enough zombie carnage that fans of mayhem may not care.

  17. ikester8 says:

    Excellent summary. One suggestion, I think the “A” was painted to give the church the same mark as their freight car in Terminus. Also, some have speculated that Bob used to be at Terminus and left. Gareth’s statement at the end of last week’s episode would make sense in that light.

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