The Walking Dead “Four Walls and a Roof”: What Are We Doing Here?

Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Gareth (Andrew J. West) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) in Season 5 Episode 3  of The Walking Dead "Four Walls and a Roof" Photo by Gene Page/AMC

After two weeks of Carol kicking ass, taking names and all around being the best damn character on The Walking Dead, “Four Walls and a Roof” was sadly, Carol free. That being said – it was still an excellent episode of post-apocalyptic TV. The Bob mystery finds a resolution, and the group once again finds itself pushing the boundaries of what they need to do to survive versus what survival has done to their humanity.

It’s incredible that in its fifth season The Walking Dead still finds new ways to shock us. The ways it chooses to deploy shock has evolved over the years. In the first episode the “shock” gore moment belonged to the moment when Rick, still in shock from the newness of the situation sees a young girl, and realizing she was a walker, shoots her. He was terrified and somewhat innocent back then. Who would have thought (other than comics readers) that we would get here.

While the show has been hanging on, sometimes to an annoying effect, to Rick being the leader, the center of the show, but even that has evolved significantly from the early days of the Rick/Shane showdown, to a much broader ensemble that defines The Walking Dead today. Rick and the group of people are still the heroes of this story. We want to root for them – and the show, particularly lately, has been challenging us on that idea that these are the good guys.

The murder of the cannibals was shocking even by The Walking Dead standards. We’ve seen gore, and we’ve seen our group make difficult decisions and part with those they love – usually once they were already gone (via walker bite). We saw Carol torn apart when she made the heartbreaking decisions to kill (girl) in “The Grove” because she was a terrifying danger to everyone around her, too far gone.

We watched our heroes viciously kill the group of cannibals. They didn’t want to waste the bullets, but they could have used them. These are still humans they are dealing with. They are people too far gone, been through too much and done too much. It was a deliberate choice to kill them that way. Fueled with hate and revenge beyond self-preservation. The way the camera pans around the room, lingering on the faces of the people who did the killing as well as the witnesses forced us to soak in that act. Challenge our idea of who is good.

Even the priest, Gabriel Stokes, eating his hypocrisy as the words come out, exclaiming that this is a house of god, has just confessed that the reason he is still alive is that he let his community die horribly outside the safety of those four walls and a roof. A reminder that passive or pro-active. No one is making it out of this without blood on their hands.

Even the opening sequence, the disorientation in the dark, close ups of walkers mindlessly eating flesh, transitioning into the cannibal camp chowing down on Bob fit perfectly into the theme of the episode and set the tone for what was to come. While it may be a little heavy handed, it was so visually interesting that I think it worked, visually blurring the distinction between the living and the walking dead.

This episode, perhaps more than anyone before it reinforced the notion put forth by the woman at Terminus to Carol, that in this new world, you’re either the butcher or the cattle. This isn’t a new concept for the show, but it’s certainly cemented in “Four Walls and a Roof”. That staying alive isn’t enough; the struggle is remaining human while they do so.

 The Walking Dead "Four Walls and a Roof"Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) in Season 5 Episode 3  of The Walking Dead "Four Walls and a Roof" Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Hail of Bullets:

  • While I didn’t get an appearance from Carol, they call her “Grey Haired Queen Bitch”. I think she’d own that title
  • TAINTED MEAT! I’ve come to understand that this is an iconic moment from the comics and wow – it was an incredible moment. We all suspected Bob had been bit – so that revelation wasn’t the driver – it was the manic laughter and the loopy sense of revenge he was gaining in the reveal to Gareth
  • I’m a little bummed that we don’t find out what happens when humans consume TAINTED MEAT!!!! But it was probably a good point to get rid of the cannibal crew – when they were a terrifying threat, and picture of what’s out there, what happens when people get truly hungry, and before they reached Governor level cartoon villainy
  • As much as I’m not really buying into the Eugene’s story about a cure – they do provide a strangely optimistic alternative to the purely to survive lifestyle as they move forward with the momentum and conviction of people who actually have hope that this might one day end and the world may begin to heal
  • Really beautiful moments between Sasha and Tyreese as he supported her as she watched Bob slip away
  • WOW the sound folks deserve major credit (again!) on this show. The disgusting noise the blade made when Tyreese slipped it in to Bob’s head. Major props for just how gross that was
  • I don’t love Maggie and Glenn being separated from the group, but I take that as the show’s promise that we’ll be returning to “the cure” story line sometime this season
  • I feel like the show was straight up trolling me (and the other die-hard Carol fans) when Daryl appeared out of the woods at the end of the episode and the show straight up refused to show us who he was with

So what did you all think of “Four Walls and a Roof” and Season 5 so far?

Photos Courtesy of Gene Page/AMC

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