This episode of The Walking Dead had it all: Incredibly satisfying moments, introspective character scenes, the reveal of Gabriel's secret, a character death, some crazy violence… of course, it also had a plothole so large you could drive a church bus through it, but hey, that's part of "everything," right?
"Four Walls and a Roof" begins exactly where last week's episode left off, with Gareth and the Termites eating Bob right in front of his face, and Gareth going on and on and on just to remind everyone he's the most amoral fucker in the land (he's so smarmily evil, but it works for him). Then Bob starts crying/screaming, which slowly turns into a hysterical laugh — and he reveals he was indeed bitten last episode, and all the Termites are eating tainted meat, which Bob helpfully points out by shrieking "TAINTED MEAT! TAINTED MEAT!"
Man, I wish this had been the close of last week's episode — it would have been so mind-blowing — but it was still immensely satisfying to have Bob turn the tables on his captors so quickly, and to watch them throw up in horror (making a cannibal gag is pretty impressive achievement). The Termites are so upset they basically decided to drop one-legged Bob back off at the church, where Bob warns them of the danger, confesses he's been bitten, and manages to pass along the news that Carol and Daryl drove off after a car (the Termites were watching them, too).
With that news, Rick is determined to wait for his people and take out the threat of the Termites, but Abraham, seeing an unknown threat that could compromise his mission to bring mulleted wonder-scientist Eugene to Washington DC to save the world, thinks it's time to take the now-working church bus and leave. Of course, Rick has more people and also wants the buss, and eventually Rick and Abraham nearly come to blows, Abraham putting the mission above all else, the same as Rick does with his people. Glenn manages to intercede, and strikes an awkward compromise — Abraham and his group stay for 12 hours to help fight the Termites, and at the end of it Glenn, Maggie and Tara will go with them. They agree.
Rick has a plan, and it's basically this: leave all the dead weight at the church, while Rick and the others head to the nearby school where the Termites are camped to bring the fight to them. Bob, of course, it busy dying, and Sasha wants revenge. Tyreese tries to convince his sister to stay with Bob in his final hours, talking about forgiveness… but Sasha has no forgiveness for the assholes who ate Bob's leg (she has a point). In the end, Sasha leaves with Rick and the others, while Tyreese stays with Bob, a knife in his hand, in case Bob stops breathing.
So Rick and the others march off into the woods… and the camera pans over to a sign for Gabriel's church… and waits… and waits… and waits some more and you start wondering if maybe you hit pause by accident, or maybe there's an issue with the broadcast feed… and then a little more, and you think maybe there was a bizarre editing accident that somehow made it onscreen… but then from the other side of the screen, Gareth and the others slowly, quietly make their way to the church, break down the door, and then it's The Gareth Show.
Gareth talks for about five straight minutes in the church. Partially because he loves to hear himself talk, and partially to show that he's being driven by nothing other than his own inhumanity. He announces the Termites arrival, and then lists off exactly who in the group has been left — by name at that. He tries to get them to reveal themselves, not really because he thinks they will, but just to prove his mastery of the situation. He offers to let Gabriel walk away and live — hell, he can even take the baby — if he'll reveal where they're all hiding. Gareth doesn't just want to kill the group, he wants to make them betray each other, or to trick them, or even to make them give up. Alas, it's Wee Baby Judith who gives away their position when she finally cries (although to be fair, she had another bout of amazing silence. Seriously, if you had to be stuck in the zombie apocalypse with a baby, you could do infinitely worse than Judith).
An extra smarmy Gareth heads to where the remnants of the group are hiding… which is when his hand explodes, because Rick and the others have circled around and snuck back behind them. They kill a few and force the others to drop their weapons and get down on their knees. Gareth keeps talking, promising to leave, promising to never cross their paths again. But Rick already gave them a chance to leave them alone. Rick also made a promise to Gareth that he'd kill him with his red-handled machete — and that's exactly what he does. They all butcher the unarmed, kneeling Termites, and when I say butcher, I mean it — they continue hacking at them long after they've died. Maggie and Glenn look sick while they watch. When Father Gabriel comes in, he's boggled at the blood and gore in his church. "But this is a house of God!" he cries. Maggie retorts, "It's just four walls and a roof."
The next day, everyone says goodbye to Bob. It's one of the rare moment where someone dies with a bit of warning and in relative safety on this show, and it's kind of moving to see everyone pile into the room to make their goodbyes, even if Bob is a reasonably recent addition to the cast. Bob ask Rick to hang back, thanking him for being a good guy. This scene could come across as tone-deaf, but I think it's very intentional that the smiling Bob exalts Rick, even as the blood in the church proper congeals. Eventually, Sasha says her goodbye too. As Bob continues to smile, she asks him what's so good about this situation, echoing their previous game. Chillingly, emphatically, Bob dies before he can reply. A distraught Sasha has to let Tyreese stab Bob in the brain to keep him from turning.
At this point, the 12 hours is up, and Abraham Rosita, Eugene, Maggie, Glenn and Tara take the bus and take off for DC. Abe leaves a map of their path for Rick to follow, since they're waiting on Daryl and Carol (he even leaves a nice note for Rick on the map). So… why does Abe do this again? Yes, they made an agreement to leave, but the whole reason Abaraham wanted to leave was because of the unknown threat. This threat is now a pile of corpses in the church's backyard. There's literally no benefit to them leaving now. In fact, since they're splitting their forces, they're empirically less safe. But the show seems to want to split the group up, despite how idiotic it seems to be.
But at least someone returns to the fold, albeit in a weird, completely uncomfortable way. As Michonne contemplates her sword, she hears rustling; eventually Daryl walks through, seemingly worse for wear. Michonne smiles and asks where Carol is; Daryl looks supremely uncomfortable, but turns back to the foliage and yells "Come on out!" Something tells me Carol is not the one coming out.
If we were playing Bob and Sasha's "bad thing-good thing" game, I feel like the good would outweigh the bad. Sure, we had a giant plothole with Abraham, but we closed the chapter on Terminus permanently. Yes, the splitting of the group was unnecessary and kind of dumb, but it seems like the Beth mystery will be revealed soon. I don't think Gabriel's reveal was quite the shocker they wanted, partially because they oversold it too much, but at least we got it over with in episode 3. And last, but certainly not least, we lost Bob, but we gained a scene of cannibals vomiting. Really, is there anything more we can ask?
• Oh, when Bob gets dropped off, Rick starts grilling Gabriel (er, probably the wrong verb to use here) if he has anything to do with the Termites. The answer is no, but Father Gabriel does reveal his Deep Dark Secret — when the zombie apocalypse happened, the church's doors were locked and men, women and children came to him for shelter, he kept the doors closed and listened to them get torn apart by zombies. I know the show wants to go "WHAT A HORRIBLE SECRET" but I'm having a hard time imagining this as Gabriel's supreme moment of weakness. Really, Gabriel? You couldn't let any of them in? They were always accompanied by too many zombies to handle? And you figured out from the very first how dangerous everything was? Enh.
• Michonne finds her samurai sword among the possessions of the Termites, and picks it back up. Between her previous happiness without it last week, and her butchery of one of the Termites tonight, having the sword return to her seems rather appropriate.Well-played, TWD.
• Apparently when Dale finally died in the comic, he was both infected and eaten. Had I known that, I would have been even more confident about Bob's fate last week.
• Cross-stitch in the church, seen as Gareth and the Termites stalk the pews: "Stupidity is also a gift of God, but one mustn't misuse it." Apparently that's really a saying. But if God made people stupid, what the hell do stupid people have to apologize for? They're being idiots like the Lord intended, right?
• What the fuck is Slash doing on Talking Dead?
• If you're living in the zombie apocalypse, and someone brings up the idea of everybody becoming cannibals, you now have a strong argument not to do that. Really, any plague or illness-based apocalypse, just don't eat people.Now, if there's an economic or gas-based end of the civilized world, a la Mad Max, then yeah, bon appetit.
• So on next week's episode, we finally learn what the hell happened to Beth, and who took her. The preview shows her waking up in a hospital — like, a hospital with lights and medication and shit — and then getting slapped by a woman.