The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 2, “Strangers”

Prologue

It wasn’t until late Monday morning, the morning after the initial airing of  The Walking Dead’s Season 5, Episode 2, “Strangers,” that I realized how hard I was avoiding sitting down to write my post on the episode.  

I tried, I really did.  But every time I went to sit down, focus, and write, I just couldn’t do it. It was like my mind, my body, my spirit were all saying, “Nah….nope.”

So, I did other stuff, productive things. I took my dog on a super long walk.. then, I puttered around outside in my yard, watering my garden, trimming back overgrowth, making a new batch of bio-safe plant spray (2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 1/2 tablespoons mild dishwashing liquid, 1 gallon water…put in spray bottle, and spray on plants, especially on underside of leaves, avoiding spraying in sun or in temperatures 90 degrees or above…spray every 5-7 days…controls aphids, lacebugs, mealy bugs, scale, spider mites, whitefly)  

All good stuff, I know.  Very productive. As I sprayed away the aphids, I kept telling myself, “After I vanquish these aphids, it will be time to sit, focus, and get some key writing done before going to work.” But every time I tried to sit, to write, it was the same thing…I tried, but I still wasn’t really feeling it. “Nope…not ready. Not yet.”

Now, this is all very irregular for me.  While this blog is an act of love, written in the stolen moments between being a busy working grown-up/wife/mom of two, I do hold myself to a rather stringent writing schedule, working long hours into the night, writing, watching, rewatching, picture-taking, picture-loading, reading, rereading, rewriting, until my face feels like it’s about to fall off, and my brain feels like it’s bleeding out my mucous membranes.

When I finally get to click on that magic word, “Publish,” well, that moment is a triumph for me, every time, and I know more than ever now what it takes to get there…so when i have the time, like on Monday mornings, I try to make the most of it.

“Come on,” I told myself. “You can do this.

And I tried. I really did. When all else fails, I go to music. The music always gets me going. So, I put on the playlist I compiled for “Strangers” (which is super epic, if I do say so myself) and had a one-woman dance party in the living room.  But, this time, music did not lead to writing. It just led to more dance party.

Can’t force it,”  I told myself.  So, I did other things. I posted a couple of pics on my Facebook page, tweeted a picture montage of Mary and the Karma Walkers (which I’m sure my four Twitter followers really enjoyed) and checked, and rechecked, all my social media. Then, instead of sitting in front of the laptop and getting to work, I went full-on hooky, curled up in my favorite outdoor easy chair with another cup of coffee, and watched the birds outside while soaking in some morning sunshine and good outdoor vibes. .

Sounds lovely, I know. It was. But somewhere inside, amdist all the loveliness, I was asking myself, “What the hell am I doing?”  I knew what I was doing.  I was procrastinating with life-affirming, self-soothing rituals because I was feeling pretty sick deep inside my gut about the end of “Strangers,” and what is happening to Bob at the hands of Gareth and the Terminans.  

The ending shot of “Strangers” was, to me, the point where the fans of The Walking Dead  television series officially cross the threshold into the “Dark Room” that Andrew Lincoln was talking about, in interviews, when he spoke about where the Season 5 story line would lead us.

I get it. I really do. I know that Kirkman, Gimple & Nicotero, Inc. have been going pretty easy on us Prime-Time Pollyannas thus far.

The Comic Series Set, who are like the elder siblings of us television-series-only crybabies, are probably saying at this point, “Man, Dad (aka Kirkman), NewDad (aka Gimple),and Crazy Uncle Greg (aka Nicotero, of course) never cut us the slack they cut you guys…you guys have had it so easy!

Kirkman’s message is clear:  Time’s up, people. It’s time to sac up, or pack up.

Remember The Law of Kirkman:

The Law of Kirkman states:  Kirkman will do as Kirkman wants, and Kirkman and Co. can, and will, play with our emotions. 

(For more on the Law of Kirkman, Daryl Partners/Daryl Plans, and other coping mechanisms, refer to my Season 4 mid-season prepost, “What Happens ‘After?’“)

Dad, NewDad, and Crazy Uncle Greg have been candy-assing us for long enough. They.Are.Done.With.That.  Now is the time for tough love, and the time for tough love is now.

Dad, New Dad, and Crazy Uncle Greg are proceeding to Go Comic Series on our asses (and p.s., they’re going to get jiggy with it).

They have been gleefully waiting for this moment.

<Mentally insert, here, image of Kirkman, Gimple, and Nicotero, laughing maniacally in peals of evil laughter>

The end of “Strangers” was a rough one for me, people.  I cannot lie.  And I’ve been a real dick to Bob in the past.  I feel sad, deflated…guilty. I know it’s not real, but as I’ve said before, I still obsess. I’m having some Post-Dick Guilt Syndrome (PDGS).

Bob Stookey. Sigh. ❤  Bob was being so sweet, and so hopeful.  Bob was letting himself believe, and Bob was falling in love with Sasha.  And Sasha was falling in love back. Bob is actually a really good boyfriend.  He listens, he communicates, he’s affectionate. I was rooting for Bob.

I am a big sap, I know.  I told you all this,right from the first, in my “Introduction” post. I have an overactive imagination, and I can’t always shake the things this show puts up on the crazy table.  I have been feeling some big-time Bob Melancholia. I did do my best to make it up to Bob by compiling an epic playlist in his honor.

But, while the music came, the words still didn’t.

I just…couldn’t.  In the words of Shitty Martin, “I don’t want to do this today.” 

So, I did other things, those good, soul-nourishing things, and then, I went to work. And when I got home from work, I didn’t settle in to write, like I usually do on the Monday nights after the episode, until the wee hours…until I collapse in bed for a few meager hours of sleep before the alarm goes off, and I have to be a mom and make it all happen, all over again… and so on, and so on, until I hit, “Publish.”

On this Monday night, instead, I settled in under the covers with my little dog, and we snuggled and shared night snacks and watched Divergent, and I took comfort in the warmth of the covers, and my little dog, and the uplifting tale of two hot young divergents finding love and kicking ass in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world. And the next day, after work, after homework, after bedtime, I was finally ready to write.

And so I settled in.

And so, it begins.

_________________________________________________________________

“Strangers” 

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, unless otherwise specified.)

(Note: I have been experiencing technical difficulties, and must kick this post old-school, rewatching “Strangers” on the TV and taking pics of the TV screen with my phone…is anyone else out there experiencing difficulty watching this week’s episode of WD on the AMC website? It won’t let me sign in to watch the full episode…just when I learned how to do the “snipping tool” screen shot, too…damn fickle technology!

I will, however, embrace the lesson…sometimes you gotta go back to the very beginning, where it all started.)

In the opening shot of “Strangers,” we see the plume of smoke from the fires of Terminus burning.  The plume is grey now, not black, signaling the fire’s ending stage. The smoke plume is some ways away, so .the gang seems to have covered some ground at this point, putting some miles between themselves and Terminus.IMG_8388

Nest, we see a shot of Rick’s head, coming up over the hill…his stride, his whole aura is focused, purposeful…totally hot.

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The gang takes a much-needed rest break in a quiet glenn in the woods. We see Carl, in his father’s sheriff’s hat, bleeding wound on his cheek, quietly and happily feeding his baby sister, Judith, her bottle.

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Judith’s bottle is almost drained dry, leaving my WD buddy and I to wonder how much formula for Judith is left on them, at this point.  They are probably rationing her as much as they are able, but my WD buddy and I are moms…we know how much growing babies need to eat, and drink.  We are worried for that baby, on many, many levels.

It has probably been a while since any of them have eaten anything of substance.

On last week’s Talking Dead, Scott M. Gimple said while Gareth and the Terminans did size up certain people who would potentially be viewed as Terminal Assets, and while Maggie, Glenn, Abraham and Co. would have definitely been seen as having Terminal Potential, they didn’t get a chance to enjoy any Terminal Barbeque, as Abraham felt the need to mention the mission to D.C. pretty soon into the introductions, back at “Public Face,” prompting Gareth to give the nod, and the look, sending our gang to Train Car “A” at gunpoint, only after relinquishing their choice items to the outstretched hands of the Hungry Terminans.   No barbeque for you!

Meanwhile, back at the glenn, Glenn is busying himself around the area, bending down to pick up something on the ground beside Maggie, without really looking at her…she puts her hand on his shoulder, and as he looks up at her, she smiles at him, says softly, “Hey…not so fast.”

They kiss briefly, and Maggie pulls Glenn in for a brief, sweet hug, smiling at Tara over Glenn’s shoulder in a silent, “Thank You” to Tara for having her man’s back, and for helping bring him back to her safely.

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Tara is looking like she is dealing with some PDGS herself.

Tara is looking like she has been dealing with some PDGS herself.

As she turns away from the happy couple, Tara sees Rick.

Tara and Rick face each other warily, cautiously for a moment.  Rick speaks first, is direct, “You didn’t want to be there (as a part of the Gov’s Army 2.0)….that’s why I tried to talk to you.”  Tara says nothing.

Rick nods over towards Glenn, continues, “Glenn told me you saved his life.”

Tara laughs a little, nods back. “He saved mine.” Rick gives her a sweet smile, says, “Well, that’s how it works with us…right?” He puts the question back to her. Tara gives the sweetest look (she’s so pretty). like she can’t believe he’s being so cool, and says, with a little, shy smile, agrees, “Right.”

The moment shifts, and they step back, slightly awkward again with each other. Tara extends her fist, with a small, “Hey…” Rick looks down at her fist, hesitates, just a moment, before smiling and extending his fist out for the bump.

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Rick Grimes isn't one to leave a sister hanging.

Rick Grimes isn’t one to leave a sister hanging.

After pounding it out, Rick gently advises Tara to go get something to eat, they’ll start back at sunup. Seems like they are staying put for the night.

In the next shot, we see Rick’s head coming up over the hillside, then the rest of the crew.  Maggie looking weary, pale, sweaty…it must be so hard, being on the run, being on guard always, barely any food or sleep or rest…grueling, no time to recover from the last terrible thing that happened…and it’s just one long string of terrible things, all the time now. Our gang is having a hard time getting a break.

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In the next scene, we see Carol and Tyrese, crouched down, side by side, collecting water from a stream in plastic bottles. They look awkward, neither of them really talking, or looking at each other, but then Tyrese sneaks a look over, tells Carol that he “talked to Rick” and let Rick know that he, Tyrese, knows what Carol did at the prison, that Daryl and Maggie accept it, too.

At Carol’s silence, Tyrese adds, “You wouldn’t be here if they didn’t,” which I guess was meant to be reassuring to Carol, but doesn’t quite come across as the warmest “welcome back into the fold” speech ever.  Carol says nothing. Tyrese continues, offers to “talk to the others, make sure they accept it too.”

“They don’t have to,” Carol points out, quickly.  Tyrese looks over at Carol, quietly disagrees, “No, they do.”  He looks back down at the flowing water. “They just do.”

After a moment, Tyrese looks up, out at the water. “We don’t need to tell them about the girls…I don’t want to.”  Carol looks over at Tyrese, asks, “Why?”

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Tyrese stares down at the water. “I just need to forget it,” he says.

The montage shifts back to the gang, walking in loose formation, looking like the badasses they are.

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Bob and Sasha walk together, and we see Sasha talking, her hands gesturing, while Bob listens attentively, like a good boyfriend. (wave of sadness, sip of Stella) 😦

Up a ways, the group comes upon Hey, Where’s the Party At? Walker:

Hey, Where's The Party At?

I love Hey, Where’s the Party At? Walkershe seems like she can throw down with the best of them.

With a little smile, Michonne tells the gang, no worries, I got this...and with a little smile on her face, she  takes out some pent up anger on the walker...you wanna party?  Let's party!

Michonne tells the gang, no worries, I got this...and with a little smile on her face, she takes out some pent up anger on the walker. You wanna party? Let’s party!

I am coveting Michonne's boots so hard right now.

I am coveting Michonne’s boots so hard.

As Abraham and Rosita stop a moment to admire Michonne's handiwork, Abraham murmurs,

As Abraham and Rosita stop a moment to admire Michonne’s handiwork, Abraham murmurs, “Right there is why we’re waiting for our moment.” Rosita looks a moment, agrees, “Fair enough.

Later, at night, by the small campfire, Rick approaches Carol. “I owe you everything,” he begins. Carol shakes her head, slightly, demurs,  “You owe Tyresehe was at the prison.”  Rick nods, asks Carol if she went back there.

Carol doesn’t answer in words, but her manner seems like she did maybe try to go back to the prison, and saw what had happened to it.  She reaches into her bag and pulls out the watch that Rick had given to Sam, back in Season 4’s “Indifference.”  Rick looks at the watch, then back at Carol. She tells him she found the watch in one of “their storerooms,” back at Terminus.

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I actually shot up out of a sound sleep the other night, realizing, “It was the watch Rick gave Sam that Carol grabbed at Terminus, not the Ed watch!”

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“I saw them kill him…that kid,” Rick says, looking down at the watch…then, he reaches in and pulls out the watch face that Carol had given Rick to replace the watch that he had given to Sam that day. Rick offers the watch back to Carol, who shakes her head no. 

New Carol say, No way. Later for that shit.

Rick leans in closer to Carol.  “I still don’t know about what you did,” he says. “But, I know you knew some things that I didn’t.”  Rick looks away, pained. “I sent you away…to this. Carol interjects, “You said I could survive…you were right.”

Rick looks at her, then away again, I sent you away to this,” he repeats, “and now, we’re joining you.” Rick looks up at Carol, asks humbly, gallantly, “Will you have us?”

This humility, and gallantry, sent shock waves of Pure Rick Hotness through my WD buddy and me as we watched this scene.

“Will you have us?”

“True blue,” my WD buddy pronounced Rick Grimes, as we clinked glasses together in a toast.  I was in complete agreement.  The man just keeps getting finer and finer, people. Tender, and manly, lethal when he needs to be, kind, beautiful.

Rick Grimes is just killing me right now, he really is.

Carol, who isn’t one to leave a brother hanging, smiles a little and nods.  Rick bows his head slightly, once more, in silent thanks, before walking away.

Later…

Speaking of awkward silences...

Speaking of awkward silences…

...and beautiful, tenderhearted men...

…and beautiful, tenderhearted men…

Carol refuses to look Daryl, tells him,

Carol refuses to look Daryl at first, tells him, “I don’t want to talk about it.  I can’t.  I just want to forget it.”

Daryl does not reply. Carol turns to look at him. Daryl looks back at Carol a moment, says, simply, “All right.”  Carol looks away.  Daryl looks down, lost in his thoughts. He looks sad.

A lot has changed from the days before, at the prison...

A lot has changed from the days before, at the prison…

Suddenly, a noise from the woods diverts Daryl's attention...he's so on it, super hot

Suddenly, a noise from the woods diverts Daryl’s attention…he’s so on it, super hot.

Daryl silently springs up to standing, motions Carol back as he goes forward to investigate...

Daryl silently springs up to standing, motions Carol back as he goes forward to investigate…

As Daryl listens, the woods settle down to silence once more.

As Daryl listens, the woods settle down to silence once more. “It’s nothing,” says Daryl, but he and Carol stay still and quiet, waiting listening, a moment more…

...as we see a dark figure creep away into the darkness, from where they had been crouched, hidden, watching Daryl and Carol.

…as we see a dark figure creep away into the darkness, from where they had been crouched, hidden, watching Daryl and Carol, listening. Waiting…

The next day, the group is traversing the woods…they hear a noise, raise their guns, but it’s just Daryl, back from hunting. with a haul of squirrels. Daryl  raises his arms in mock seriousness, says, “I surrender.”  Soooo cute.

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Rick and Daryl stealth forward from the group, gliding through the woods, keeping eyes and ears open.  It seems that Daryl was not just hunting; he was tracking, to see if he could find traces of someone else in those woods.

“No tracks, nothin’,” Daryl says.  “So whatever you heard last night…?” asks Rick. Daryl tells Rick it wasn’t so much what he heard…it’s what he felt. Like someone was watching them.

Daryl, being a hunter himself, is attuned to the rhythms of the wild, and to his gut sense, his intuition. It’s so hot, one of the many reasons we love Daryl Dixon so.

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Abraham jibes Rick with some cop/coffee humor, then slips it in there about how they’re going to keep an eye out, at the next road, for a working vehicle that can take them North.

“Good?” Abraham asks Rick, of this plan. It seems he’s feeling Rick out, seeing if Rick and the gang are in on The Mission to D.C., but Rick simply says, “Good,” like, yeah, whatever you gotta do, man. Rick hasn’t committed himself, or his people, to Team Eugene yet.

Meanwhile, Bob and Sasha are playing an adorable game of Pros and Cons of Walker Apocalypse, Bob, of course, cheerfully providing the pros, while Sasha lists the many cons:

Sasha: Wet socks.

Bob: Cold feet.

Sasha: Mosquito bites.

Bob: Itching reminds you you’re alive!

Sasha: Danger around every corner…

Bob: Never a dull moment.

Sasha: The sun beating down on you!

Bob: C’mon…a glorious tan!

This tickles Sasha’s funny bone, and she licks the corner of her mouth, through her teeth, in mirth.  And joy.  And new love.

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Sasha: No privacy.

Bob: A captive audience. (With this, Bob leans in and steals a kiss, as Sasha laughs and beams back up at him.)  

Ouch, knife in my heart! 😦

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(It’s only 11:34 am, but I have opened a Stella, and I’ll tell you why.  Number one, the kids are at Mema’s for the night, and I don’t have to work. I do however, need to finish this post, so I can go see my beautiful hubby play some music tonight, and party by the lake, by the fire, with amazing friends, and be an adult for a night.

Number two, I need to raise this Stella to Bob… because I am having a major wave of PDGS right now, yes, but also because I am rewatching this, and I am seeing Bob be this great guy who can make a woman laugh, and be the kind of new boyfriend to keep a woman laughing, far into the night, giggling and cuddling and tussling until she’s like, “C’mon, we have to go to sleep…I have to get up for work in two hours!” And when she does get to work, late, she hasn’t had any sleep, but she does have a big smile on her face, and a spring in her step, much to the wonder and amusement of her co-workers.

To Bob Stookey, ladies and gentlemen. Raise ’em if you got ’em.)

To Bob!  Cheers! 

Surely, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Suddenly, a cry for help in the forest…

Carl urges, “C’mon, Dad…come on!” for Rick and the others to go see, and help whomever is in trouble. Rick hesitates, looks at the others, then they rush to investigate, and find the Eat the Priest Walkers, who have found a tasty snack on a rock, Father Gabriel.

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Eat the Priest! Eat the Priest!

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The gang comes to save another day, and mess up some walkers.

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I like seeing Michonne employ other weaponry and walker-killing techniques, but I do miss the katana…

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New Carol, ever handy with the knife…

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Rager Walker comes ambling around the rock...

Rager Walker comes ambling around the rock…

..looking for his girlfriend, Hey, Where's the Party? Walker...seems like they got split up at the last rager in the woods, a night or two back...

..looking for his girlfriend, Hey, Where’s the Party At? Walker...seems like they got split up at the last rager in the woods, a night or two back.

Naw, haven't seen her, man.  Sorry.

Naw, haven’t seen her, man. Sorry.

Once the Eat the Priest Walkers are taken care of, the gang turns to Father Gabriel, who turns out to be a crier…and a puker. (As I too am a crier, and a puker, I do not hold this against Gabriel.)  When Rick asks Gabriel if he’s ok, Father Gabriel lifts a finger, like, a moment, please…and then unleashes his lunch onto the ground, as the group watches in a comic mixture of sympathy, disgust, and impatience.

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Hurl!  Ughhh...man.

<Hurl!> Ughhhman.

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Rosita’s like, Gross…

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When Gabriel finishes hurling, he apologizes, wiping his mouth, before standing back up, thanking the group for saving him, and introducing himself, “I’m Gabriel.

Without introducing himself, Rick asks Gabriel if he has any weapons on him.

Gabriel raises his arms, and his eyebrows, looking around at the group, laughing in disbelief.  “Do I look like I would have any weapons?”

Abraham replies, “We don’t give two short and curlies what it looks like!”  Ha!

Father Gabriel then proclaims: “I have no weapons of any kind.  The Word of God is the only protection I need.”

To this, Daryl replies, “Sure didn’t look like it.”

Gabriel laughs, replies, “I called for help. Help came.

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Michonne, and the rest of the gang, are all like...say what?

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Is this guy for real?

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Rick In Charge thinks it’s all bullshit.

Father Gabriel’s stocks plummet even lower with the gang when he asks them if they have any food, as whatever he had in his stomach before just hit the ground…

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Daryl, sporting a black eye, just looks at Gabriel, like, dude…really?

Carl does the Christian thing to do, steps forward and offers Gabriel some pecans, while the others stare on in disbelief at this guy.

Carl does the Christian thing, stepping forward and offering Gabriel some pecans, while the others stare on in disbelief at this guy.

Gabriel then sees Baby Judith, being held by Tyrese, and smiles, comments what a beautiful child she is… At this, the gang instinctively draws in closer towards Judith, eyeing Gabriel menacingly…

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Carl’s like, “Oh, shit, no he didn’t...” The look on Maggie’s face is pretty awesome.

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Papi Grimes ain’t playing around with this shit any more.

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Rick gets Lieutenant Deputy on Gabriel and gives him the pat down (lucky, Gabriel!), asking Gabriel the first of the three questions, “How many walkers have you killed?” Astoundingly, Gabriel replies that he has not killed any.

Gabriel asks them if they have a camp, to which Rick quickly answers, “No,” then asks Gabriel if he does.  Gabriel replies that he has a church.  Rick then asks Gabriel the second question, “How many people have you killed?”  Again, astoundingly, Gabriel turns, surprised, to Rick, answers, “None.”

In a brilliant twist to the usual questions, without missing a beat, Rick asks the third question, “Why?”  At this, Gabriel draws up a little taller, although real fear is in his face as he regards Rick, and the group, who are all vibing him, hard.  

“Because the Lord abhors violence,” Gabriel declares sanctimoniously.

Rick crouches slightly in front of Gabriel, angling himself so he peers up into Gabriel’s eyes, as he whisper-hisses, to Gabriel, “What have you done?”  It’s amazing to me, watching it, that this way of getting down, crouching lower, to peer up into a person’s eyes while interrogating them is actually way more menacing-looking than trying to bow up, be taller.

Gabriel’s eyes are huge as he looks back at Rick.  “We’ve all done something, continues Rick.  Gabriel’s eyes dart from member to member of the group, as he replies that he is a sinner, who sins every day, and then confesses those sins up to “God…not strangers.”

Michonne pipes in, “You said you got a church?”

As Gabriel leads the gang through the woods, towards his church, Rick asks him if he had been watching them, before.  Gabriel replies that no, until today, he hadn’t made it very far beyond the safety of the church’s walls.  He muses aloud that nowadays, people are just as dangerous as the walkers…Daryl replies that people are worse.

As the gang walks, and wonders, about all this, Gabriel starts getting weird, says, suddenly, “Or, maybe I’m lying, maybe I’m lying about everything, and there’s no church ahead at all…maybe I’m leading you into a trap so I can steal all your squirrels…”

Why Father Gabriel would try a creepy unfunny joke like that on a hot, edgy, weapons-toting gang like our gang, I don't know...

Why Father Gabriel would try a creepy unfunny joke like that on a hot, edgy, weapons-toting gang like our gang, I don’t know…

...but our gang is not amused.  As Rick menaces up to a shaken Gabriel, Gabriel quickly adds that he has been told before that his sense of humor left much to be desired...

…but our gang is not amused. As Rick menaces up to a shaken Gabriel, Gabriel quickly adds that he has been told before by a friend that his sense of humor left much to be desired…

Daryl agrees...

Daryl chimes in, agrees…

“They’re right…it does.” Ha!

Gabriel's church, which was built on from scratch on the WD set

Gabriel’s church, which was built on the WD set.

As they approach the front door, Rick holds out his hand for the keys.  “We want to hang onto our squirrels, he tells Gabriel, sarcastically.  The gang enters the church and clears it, room by room.

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Carol finds Gabriel's office, with a journal book containing handwritten scripture...THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

Carol finds Gabriel’s office, with a journal book containing handwritten scripture. THOU SHALT NOT KILL.

At the front altar, Rick finds many opened cans of food, which backs up Gabriel's story or not leaving the church and being well-stocked from a recent canned food drive, before the turn.

At the front altar, Rick finds many opened cans of food, which backs up Gabriel’s story or not leaving the church and being well-stocked from a recent canned food drive, before the turn.

In another room, Glenn finds a framed embroidered quote...

In another room, Glenn finds a framed embroidered quote…

...and children's drawings of the burning bush...

…and children’s drawings of the burning bush…

...And baby Moses in the wooden cradle, hidden in the water among the reeds.

…And baby Moses in the wooden cradle, hidden in the water among the reeds.

When they come back out, Gabriel attempts a mild joke again, saying that he had been alone, not leaving the church, for months, so if they had found anyone inside, well, he would have been surprised.

Now, my question right now is this: It seems like at this point, Gabriel could really be telling the truth, but if so, where are the other parishioners?  If an apocalyptic event did take place, wouldn’t a close-knit community church be a logical place for people to go, especially if they had lost family members, had to flee their homes…wouldn’t they have come to the church, to unite with others and take shelter there?  And if so, where are they now?  Why is Gabriel all alone in that church?

Abraham reports that there is a short bus behind the church that he could get running in a day or two. Rick says nothing, smooths his hand on Baby Judith’s head.

Abraham continues, “Looks like we’ve found ourselves some transport.”   Rick says nothing. Abraham continues, “You understand what’s at stake here, right?”

“Yes, I do, “ Rick replies.  Michonne cuts in, “Now that we can take a breath…” Abraham points out that every time they try to stop and take a breath, shit inevitably goes down.

Michonne counters that they need supplies, and rest, and to figure out their next move.  Rick agrees, “Food, water, ammunition.”

And, one by one, the gang agrees before filing into the church… Glenn tells Abraham that they’re doing what Rick does, that their group is not splitting up again.  Tara stops, tells Abraham, “What he says,” before following Glenn into the church.

Sasha nudges Bob, who tells Abraham that they do want to roll with him, but, “What she (Tara) says,” before heading into the church as well, leaving Abraham and Rosita standing outside.

Inside the church, Rick asks Gabriel how he survived this long.  Gabriel explains that the church had just completed their annual canned food drive, and had not yet delivered the canned goods to the food bank.

Then, everything fell apart.  Gabriel subsisted on the canned foods for a long time, but the food supply eventually ran out.  He ventured out more, scavenging and cleaning out all the places nearby…all except one.  Rick asks why, and Gabriel says it’s overrun, with twelve or more walkers, by his estimation.

Rick says they can handle twelve walkers, and Sasha volunteers herself and Bob for the run, saying that Tyrese could stay back and help watch over Judith.

I love how Sasha is being so sensitive to her brother’s needs, and Tyrese smiles at this, says that he can watch the baby any time, and if she needs anything, ever, he is there for her. He really has grown to love little Judith.

Rick thanks Tyrese for this, stepping forward and quietly adding that he too is grateful to Tyrese for “everything else.” True blue, just like my WD buddy said.

Especially when Rick turns to Gabriel, tells him, “You’re coming with us.” As Gabriel protests (“You saw me out there…I’m no good around those things.”), Rick repeats, “You’re coming with us.”

Before they leave on the run, Rick crouches beside Carl, who is sitting in one of the church pews, and tells Carl that he doesn’t trust this guy. Carl immediately asks why. Rick asks Carl why he, Carl, trusts Gabriel.

Carl replies, Everyone can’t be bad.”

Rick nods, pauses a moment, then tells Carl, “Well, I don’t trust this guy…that’s why I’m bringing him with me.  But he can have friends, so that’s why I need you to stay alert, and help Tyrese protect Judith.”

Carl nods at this.

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Rick shifts, continues, “Now, I need you to hear what I’m about to say. You are not safe, no matter how many people are around, no matter how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says…You are not safe.  It only takes one second, and it’s over.  Never let your guard down.” Rick asks Carl to promise he will do this, and Carl promises he will.

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As Rick goes to leave, Carl calls to his dad.  Carl says he knows Rick is right, and they they are both strong, they all are, but…they are strong enough that they can still help people. and they can handle themselves if things go wrong. Carl tells his father, “We’re strong enough that we don’t have to be afraid, and we don’t have to hide.”

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Once again, Rick is looking like the hottest single dad ever, taking in his son’s words, and his wisdom.  Rick nods, then tells Carl, “Well, he’s hiding something,” meaning, of course, Gabriel.  (And we know it too, but what? Whatever it is, it’s sure to be creepy as all get-go.)

As Rick, Gabriel, Bob, Sasha, and Michonne make their way to the food bank, Bob is telling Rick that D.C., and Eugene curing this epidemic, is going to happen, and when it does, one does not want to let too much of who they were, before the turn, go in the quest for survival.

When the cure happens, Bob says, you don’t want to be in a place where you can’t come back from it. Don’t let go of too much of who you really are.

“You’ll see,” Bob tells Rick. “You’ll be back in the real world.”  Rick counters, “This is the real world.”

“No,” Bob replies, “This is a nightmare, and nightmares end.”  Bob laughs at his own optimism.  “Maybe this is just one of those parts of not letting go.”

Meanwhile, Daryl and Carol are walking down another road, carrying plastic gallon bottles of water.  “I get it, you don’t want to talk about it,” Daryl says, with a small smile on his face.  He turns to look at Carol. “You ok?” he asks. Carol gives him a small smile.

“Gotta be,” she answers.

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Daryl says that they need to start over, all of them, with each other. He looks at Carol. “You saved us, all by yourself.” Carol replies that they got lucky.

“We all should be dead,” she announces, dryly. They see a car, go to check it. It doesn’t start, and Carol goes around, pops the trunk, There seems to be some sort of generator, or back-up battery, or charger.

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As she does this, Daryl steps up, holding his water bottles, and leans in, telling her, “We’re not dead.  We can start over. Whatever happened back there, happened. We’ll start over.” He looks so open, sweet as he says this, and Carol seems disarmed by Daryl as well.

(At this point, I would have pretty much thrown myself into Daryl Dixon’s arms, sending the water bottles flying, sobbing, “It was so hard…hold me!”)

Carol says, simply, “I want to.”  Daryl is giving her such a soulful look, so open and sweet, says, “You can.”

Carol  looks away, faltering, then gets back to business. She presses the red button on the generator, and the dials spring up, presumably charging the car’s battery. Carol then says that they should leave the car as backup in case things go south at the church.

Daryl starts to ask if she wants him to carry one of her water bottles, but in gesturing towards her, drops one of his own gallons.  Carol smiles at him, as Daryl sheepishly rubs his eye, bends forward and picks up the bottle he has dropped.

Smiling still, Carol says, dryly, “No,” before they continue on.  Pretty adorable.

Meanwhile, in front of the gun store, Tara mentions that maybe these days, a gun store probably doesn’t have anything left on the shelves, and Maggie agrees that it doesn’t exactly look good.  They hear a crash from inside, and instinctively raise their guns. Glenn emerges from the store, a little spooked. At first he tries to say there was a walker in the store, but has to fess up that he merely tripped over a stack of boxes, and a mop.

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Tara and Maggie share a laugh, and Glenn deposits three silencers in Tara’s hand. They are shocked that he actually found anything, and Glenn replies, walking away, that,Rule number one in scavenging...there’s nothing left in this world that isn’t hidden.” These words seem to hit home with Tara, and she looks down, troubled.

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Meanwhile, Rick and the gang, led by Father Gabriel, have arrived at the food bank. Rick leads the group in, gun raised, and hears sloshing noises, and the telltale hiss and slaver of walkers.  He approaches a hole in the center of the floor, wrinkling his nose at the smell,  looks down, and sees grey, goopy walkers sloshing through chest-deep water in the cellar.

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Bob and Sasha approach, Bob attempting to cover his nose with the crook of his arm, remarking, “If a sewer could puke, this is what it would smell like.”  Michonne looks up and sees the holes in the ceiling, remarks that the water’s been coming in here for a while, and it’s “slimed this place up good.”  Yuck.

Sasha has the idea of using the shelves to block the walkers, because of course, where the fetid waters, and walkers, are, so is the food, sitting in sealed cans and jars on the shelves in the cellar.

Rick agrees that Sasha’s idea is the way. They must go down, and as they prepare to do so, Rick turns back to Gabriel, reminds him that “you’re coming with us.” Gabriel’s look says it all, but wisely, he doesn’t complain.

Once down in Hell’s Slimy Basement, the gang starts moving the shelving together, creating a barricade against the walkers, who reach and paw at them. There are many large cans of food on the shelves, so it is definitely worth it to be down there, but oh, god. So gross.

Great kill scenes, with grey goosh shooting out of the walker’s heads when Rick and the others stab them with their machetes, knives, through the shelving.

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Gabriel then sees, through the shelving, a once familiar face: Friends With Benefits Walker, who was once a cute church lady in cat-eye glasses, is sliming her way towards him, hissing and snarling.

Gabriel panics, splashing and slipping in his haste to get away, pulling the rotten wooden staircase into the water as he tries to scramble up the steps…in a last resort, Gabriel reaches back and drapes his arms out on a horizontal wooden beam behind him, looking like Christ on the cross.

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Miss me, sugar?

Miss me, sugar?

Awww...come on, don't be that way!

Awww…come on, don’t be that way!

Gabriel definitely has a flair for some dramatic posturing.

Gabriel definitely has a flair for some dramatic posturing.

Gimme a kiss. lover.

Gimme a kiss, lover.

Rick of course must go save Gabriel’s sniveling ass, and the others are forced to push the shelving barricade in front of them down, submerging the walkers, some dead now, some not, while Rick makes his way towards Gabriel and his full-on wack attack.

As the others grapple with the other water-walkers, Rick reaches Gabriel’s FWB Walker, grabs her by the back of her head, and smashes her goopy head into the wall, where it explodes apart in a sickening display.

Bob makes his way to a floating box of canned goods, smiling, until Halloween Store Skeleton Walker grabs him from under the water, pulling Bob under.  Sasha screams for Bob, lunging towards where he went under, and suddenly, Bob and the Halloween Store Skeleton Walker surge back up, the HSSW snapping its teeth at Bob.  Sasha ends up bashing its head in with the corner of a plastic container, before checking on Bob, who is shaken, but tells Sasha he’s ok.

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The scene between Bob and the Halloween Store Skeleton Walker wasn't really doing it for me...it kind of just looked like Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., who plays Bob, was just pretending to wrestle a...well, a Halloween store skeleton.

The scene between Bob and the Halloween Store Skeleton Walker wasn’t really doing it for me…it kind of just looked like Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., who plays Bob, was just pretending to wrestle  a Halloween store skeleton.

Sasha checks Bob over, as he tells her he's ok.

Sasha checks Bob over, as he tells her he’s ok. “I’m fine, now.”

As the gang wheels their haul of plastic container boxes of canned food on dollies back to the church, Gabriel apologizes to Rick for panicking back at the food bank. Rick looks at Gabriel, asks him if that woman walker back there was someone he knew before. Gabriel says nothing, and Rick narrows his eyes, says, “Yeah, I get it. You only tell your sins to God,” and walks away, leaving Gabriel speechless.

Later, Rick asks Michonne if she misses her sword. She replies that it wasn’t really hers to begin with. Rick asks her how she got so good with it, and she tells him that for a long time, it was just her, and them, and that’s all there was.  Michonne says that she isn’t sure what that time was, but it sure wasn’t living…not like now, she adds, smiling…chest-deep in slime, all for a haul of canned peas and carrots…now that’s living.

Rick laughs, a real laugh, at this, and I thought to myself, “Are they flirting?” I would really love that!

Carl has something to show his father, upon their return.  On the outside of the church, there are punctures, scratches in the wood and paint, as of someone was trying to pry their way in with a knife.

Did Gabriel lock himself in the church, closing its doors to the parishioners outside, refusing them refuge inside?

Did Gabriel lock himself in the church, closing its doors to the parishioners outside, refusing them refuge inside?

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Carl has something else to show Rick.”It doesn’t mean Gabriel is a bad guy, but it means something,” Carl says, as they take in the message carved into the side of the church: “You’ll burn for this.”

That night, our gang is enjoying a rare feast, complete with wine, and laughter.  Abraham has chosen this moment to bring home The Epic Speech: 

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“I’d like to propose a toast…I look around this room, and I see survivors.  Each and every single one of you has earned that title.” He raises his glass, “To the survivors!”

Glasses raise, voices call, “To the survivors!”

Abraham wipes his mouth, continues by asking, “Is that all you want to be? Wake up in the morning, fight the undead pricks, forage for food, go to sleep with two eyes open, rinse and repeat…cuz you can do that…you got the strength, you got the skill…the thing is, for you people, what you can do, is just surrender…for, when we get Eugene to Washington, he will make the dead die, and the living will have this world again, and that is not a bad takeaway for a little road trip.”

Carol, as Abraham says all this, is looking at the door.  Abraham asks Eugene what’s in D.C., and Eugene said it real fast, so I didn’t really get it, but the words “pandemic” and “infrastructure” came through.  Abraham translates for the group…walls, and protection, and however long it takes Eugene to flip the switch on this walker pandemic, the gang will be safe there, safer than they’ve been out here.

Abraham drives it home. “Come with us…save the world for that little one,” and all eyes, of course, go to Baby Judith, who is getting sleepy in her father’s arms.

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Baby Judith sits up and makes a sweet noise that sounds like, “Yeah!” and her father laughs, says, If she’s in, I’m in…We’re in!” 

Cheers and smiles follow this sweet pronouncement.  Bob’s eyes are soft as he looks at Sasha, with wine, and emotion, and love.  Sasha tells him that her brother isn’t going to be the only one who gets to hold that baby, Before she gets up, Bob pulls her back down, for “one more.”

They kiss (probably for the last time), and look at one another for a long moment, before Sasha goes to scoop up Judith and Bob shuffles off through the church, lost in his thoughts.

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Meanwhile, Tara has come over to sit beside Maggie.  Looking into Maggie’s face, Tara comes clean about being with the Governor’s army. She tells a shocked Maggie that she didn’t know who the Governor really was, or what he could do, and she certainly didn’t know Maggie and the rest of the group at the prison.

Tara tells Maggie she didn’t want it the be “hidden” any more, that she was with the Governor’s army, back at the prison.

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Being the angel goddess that she is, Maggie hugs Tara, tells her that “you’re with us now.”

Rick approaches Gabriel, who sits alone in a pew.  He thanks Gabriel for the hospitality, lightly remarks that he’s surprised that Gabriel didn’t drink all the communion wine, being holed up in the church, alone.  Gabriel replies that there is nobody around, any more, to take communion.  “The wine is just wine, until it’s blessed,” says Gabriel, before taking a big swig of it, straight from the bottle.

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Rick watches this, says softly, “You’re hiding something, and it’s pretty obvious it’s something you can’t hide from….that’s your business.  But these people, these people are my family, and if what you’re hiding hurts them in any way, I’ll kill you.”

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Meanwhile, Carol has found her way back to the car they had found earlier. It sounds like she has gotten it started, when a lone night walker lurches towards her. She steps forward and rekills the walker easily, then whirls at another noise.  It’s Daryl, looking majorly fine as he emerges from the darkness. He asks Carol what she’s doing, and Carol shakes her head, answers that she doesn’t know.

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Follow that car!

Suddenly, the screech of tires…Follow that car!

Suddenly, the roar of another car startles them, and they duck behind the Carol car to hide. Daryl stands when he recognizes…the black car, with the white cross painted on the rear window. Daryl runs to the Carol car, smashes out the real taillights.  “What are you doing?” cries Carol.  Daryl tells her “that’s the car, they got Beth! Come on!” And Daryl and Carol speed off after the dark funeral car, to get Beth. (Was not expecting that one! Could get interesting…)

Meanwhile, Bob is buzzed, outside, looking in the windows of the church, at his friends inside, happy, smiling. Then, he shuffles to a tree, leans heavily against it, and breaks down in tears.  And of course, behind him, comes the hunter, who bashes Bob’s head from behind, dropping him.

There was some speculation that Bob had actually gotten bitten in the Hellish Basement of Grey Goo Walkers by Halloween Store Skeleton Walker, but I do not think that is the case.  I think Bob was just buzzed, and feeling emotional, and thought he had a moment to indulge himself in a little drunken crying jag.  But, Bob thought wrong. So wrong.

I have a terrible habit, sometimes, of fussing at my kids when they come to me after getting hurt.  I clean their wound, kiss their boo-boo, but sometimes I get so freaked out when they get hurt that I kind of yell at them, like, “Sweetie, I’m so sorry that happened, but why were you running in the car port with the dog? She can trip you, and you can get hurt if you fall on the concrete! I’m so sorry sweetie, so sorry you got hurt…but you know you shouldn’t run on the carport!” 

I know, terrible, and even more terrible is that you now have to indulge me a moment while I act out this terrible parenting on Bob right now, because I am so freaked out that he is getting hurt: “Bob, you know that while you like to catch a good wine buzz, alcohol is not exactly your friend…you tend to get in trouble when you get a buzz on, you know that!  And if you needed to take a leak, fine, but then you go back inside, not stay outside, weaving and lurching and getting all weepy on a tree…nothing good can come from that, Bob! And now, they got you, and I’m so sorry that happened to you, but what were you thinking?

I am a terrible person, I know..truly a flawed human being.  I hate myself.

But what I hate, even more, is this:

Blurred, dazed, Bob’s perspective as he begins to blink awake…we see some dude, poking at the fire, and we see Shitty Martin, who Tyrese apparently did not kill, and then we see, and hear, Gareth.

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“Waking up…ahh, you’re back with us.  Good news is, you’re not dead yet. That’s a relief, right? Try not to read too much into the word ‘yet’ there, It’ll just drive you crazy, Bob.”

Bob looks around, the fear and  horror of what is happening sinking in as he looks, realizes, takes it in.  Gareth, meanwhile, crouches down beside Bob, tells Bob that he wants to “explain himself.”

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“We didn’t want to hurt you…before. We didn’t want to pull you away from your group, or scare you…these aren’t things that we want to do.  They’re things we gotta do. You and your people took away our home.  That’s fair play…now we’re out here like everybody else, trying to survive. And to do that, we have to hunt.”

Shots of the group, inside, talking, laughing, relaxing. Shot of Gabriel, looking down at a picture of himself and his special lady friend, before she became Friends With Benefits Walker.

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Gareth continues, “It didn’t start out that way…eating people. It evolved into that…we evolved. We had to.  And now, we’ve devolved into hunters. I told you, I said it, ‘You can’t go back, Bob.'” Gareth wags his finger at Bob, then smirks at him. “I just hope you understand, that nothing happening to you now is personal.. Yeah, you put us in a situation, and it’s kind of a cosmic justice for it to be you…but, we would have done this to anybody. We will.”

Gareth looks off for a moment, saying this, “At the end of the day, as much as we hate all this ugly business, a man’s gotta eat.” And the camera pans back, and Bob looks down at where his left leg used to be, and is now only a bloody, bandanged stump. Bob starts to hyperventilate, as Gareth holds up a finger, and after taking a bite of meat, says,

“If it makes you feel any better, you taste a lot better than we thought you would.”

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And we, and Bob see, the group around the fire, quietly eating meat that has come from Bob’s leg, which is shown burning on the grate over the fire.

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Dude, even the Gov’s like…

They eat people? Man, that's fucked up.

They’re eating his leg?? Man…that’s fucked up.

Due to technical and emotional setbacks, and due to the fact that there was a lot of life happening in between the bouts of writing this post, this post is super late, for which I apologize. The playlist, as I said, is pretty great, as some of my faves are in it for sure, and even though Gareth is the damn Cutter, I will not let him be a song ruiner for what may be my favorite Echo and the Bunnymen song.

You may have gotten Bob’s leg, Gareth, but you don’t get the song!

 Playlist:

The Temper Trap, “Sweet Dispostition” (for Bob and Sasha <3)

Radiohead, “Optimistic” (and for our sweet gang..)

Mastodon, “Aqua Dementis” (for all the fugly water walkers…poor Sweet Walker Pete’s prolly not looking too good these days, either)

Lykke Li , “Possibility” (Bob, I am so sorry, man. 😦 )

Echo and the Bunnymen, “The Cutter”  (Ok,..dammit, Gareth, I probably am going to think of you now every time I hear this song….but I’m still gonna love it.  Maybe even more so…damn you.)

A Flock of Seagulls, “Space Age Love Song,”  (for Sasha and Bob) 

11 thoughts on “The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 2, “Strangers”

  1. Your The Walking Dead posts are EPIC! Seriously, epic. I don’t think you missed anything in the whole episode. And is it only me or does Rick look like he’s aged 10 years from last season to this? I don’t know, seems like he’s beginning to look haggard. But, like I said–maybe it’s just me!

    Awesome playlist as well! 🙂

    • Ha. what you call haggard, some may call rugged…c’mon, cut the dude some slack…it’s been a hard week! 🙂 Jack, I think I may have inadvertently copped a concept from your book…that great moment when Ranger remembers his wife, and making her late to work with a smile on her face…I think I subconsciously invoked that in this last post…thanks for the inspiration, there. Yes, the playlist is awesome, glad you listen to the music. I think, unfortunately, if readers read on a tablet or a phone, they are not able to access the music directly.

      For those people, I suggest compiling the suggested playlist on a music sharing site they can access, and give it a listen…always trying to turn peeps on to great music they may not have come across yet!

      Hope the book is selling off the charts 🙂 Thanks for the shout, as always, Jack!

  2. Thanks for another great post Katie, and prologue too, hilarious! I’m all recapped and ready for tonight. See you soon. xo

    • Hi, and thanks so much for reading! Yes, the Season 5 mid season will be here soon, and I am going to be posting a mid-season pre-post soon to get us all ready for Feb. 8th. You can sign up on WordPress to follow my blog, and you will get an email announcing each new post from barnfullawalkers, and if you put a “Like” on barnfullawalkers’Facebook page, you will get a Facebook post each time I put out a new post. Here’s the link:

      Thanks so much for writing…I see people are reading the blog all over the world, and I love hearing from them. Keep in touch, and keep reading! Cheers 🙂

  3. Resolving this issue is far simpler than you may think.
    You must love mucking out; love early mornings; love late nights in the
    freezing cold; love wet winter feet; love mucking out to the lights of your cars ‘cos you don’t want to put money in the meter; love
    schooling in the dark (ditto); love jumping down with frozen feet that tingle with pain when they hit
    the tarmac; love coming back from a hack with your
    hair stuck to your face from the pouring rain; love being stuck in a foot of mud when you take them to the field in the morning; love falling in mud as they decide to move, anyway;
    love the hypnotic munch of hay; love ripped new rugs;
    love mud all over; love freezing-freezing mornings; love frozen hands and fingers; love Summer showers
    that tingle on your nose; love the way they chuck all
    their carefully measured out feed on the floor; love it when you just manage to hang on; love
    it when you don’t; love it when you win, love it
    when you lose; love it when it all works (finally.
    Games actually include buttons to lean left or right, so it is hard to call this hacking.

    • I really love this, and I really love that you sent it to me, even if it may be a general fishing-style mailout to generate visits on Google or whatever. I still think it rocks as a piece of writing. So, thank you. In my last post, I invited readers to submit writing and art to barnfullawalkers@gmail.com, as I was prompted to consider featuring guest writers on barnfullawalkers by our esteemed reader, Brooks. (Thank you, Brooks, for your inspiring suggestion, and I hope you are still reading! Send me a shout)

      As there are periods of time when I take a much-needed rest from tweaker blogging, I figured it would be cool to open barnfullawalkers.com as a forum for writers and artists, photographers to showcase their creativity.

      I don’t know how much of this blog you have read, or if you read that invitation in my post for “Coda,” dear Renegade Writer, but I am considering this piece the first submission to the barnfullawalkers forum. (I tried to contact you via the email address included but it got bounced back, so I refer to you in this moment as Renegade Writer, and give you mad props on your hauntingly beautiful piece…email me at barnfullawalkers@gmail.com if you want to submit future work, and if you want to include any image with it, include that as well.) If you are for real, keep writing this great stuff, keep sending work along as comments, submissions, whatever.

      I think of this as a poem, as it flows like one, and because of the rich imagery woven through, like tapestry. It’s organic, and every word, every image counts. I love the images of farming, tending to animals, working in all hours, all weather, and that connection to all that is wild and natural. The wordplay and alliteration you use make the work flow in such beautiful, emotive rhythms. I wholeheartedly approve this comment, whatever its intention may be, and give mad props to our First Forum Master Ninja, Renegade Writer. Bravo, Master Ninja, and my humble thanks if you keep reading. Feb 8th coming soon, people…are you ready? Prepost in the germination, I promise…and check me out on Instagram (@barnfullawalkers). It’s new, and it’s almost too much fun! <3<3

  4. Wonderful items from you, man. I have consider your stuff prior to and you
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