The Walking Dead 'Strangers' Review: Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get Any Grosser
This was an interesting episode all around, but of course all anyone's talking about is the stomach-turning ending. Poor Bob was (spoiler!) taken hostage by the Termites and kept alive to watch while they ate his leg. It was horrifying, and was only made more horrifying by the fact that #BobBQ started trending on Twitter.
People are too clever for their own good.
There was an added wrinkle to Bob's disgusting fate: he was possibly (read: definitely) bitten by a walker earlier that day. We know that dying from a walker bite acts like an infection, so does this mean that the Termites will start dying and becoming walkers? This storyline has precedent in the comics, but I personally hope it's not as simple as that. It seemed like all of the remaining Termites, including Gareth, whom we care about most, were eating Bob, which means that infecting them with the zombie virus would very abruptly end the whole Hunters plotline.
Although this was certainly the most memorable part of the episode, the rest of it was fairly thematically significant, as it set up the central theme of the season. Where the first season saw the survivors accepting that the world would never be the same, the second season saw them accept that they would have to lose their humanity to some extent in order to survive in this world, and the third and fourth together demonstrated that people had become worse and more dangerous than walkers, this season is about the fact that the survivors would no longer fit into a non-apocalyptic world. Rick is reluctant to take the trip to Washington, not because he thinks it would be too dangerous or because he doesn't want to get their hopes up, but because he thinks they're too far gone to go back to living rather than surviving. In order to live, you need to repent for the terrible things you've done, you need to show compassion, trust others, and generally find the positive aspects of humanity again. Rick doesn't have faith that they can atone for their individual atrocities, or that a less Darwinian world would welcome them back with open arms. The priest might be painfully out of place in this new world order, but he would belong to the world more if it truly reverted back to the way it was.
That being said, this episode had an interesting take on forgiveness in a post-apocalyptic world. Although the show has made it abundantly clear that they're "losing their humanity" in many ways, they're arguably more forgiving now than they would have been before the apocalypse. Carol killed two innocent people in cold blood, but the group welcomed her back after she saved their lives. Tara helped the Governor, who beheaded Maggie's father, but she have Tara a hug because she's "one of them" now. One could argue that it's purely out of necessity, that they forgive each other because they need each other to survive, and so don't have the luxury of genuine emotional reactions. That's definitely part of it, but there's also a solidarity in the fact that they've all been forced to do terrible things, and so are more understanding of others' fallibility.
-If I had one major complaint about this episode, it's that it was too explicit about its themes and ideas. We've known for several seasons that people are "worse" than walkers. The "never again" graffiti and upsetting flashbacks were enough to tell us that the Termites are supposed to feel like they don't have a choice, and etc.
-Bob isn't dead yet, but he likely will be soon, whether he's eaten or zombified. I'm sure that Tyreese will be relieved that he won the battle for token black man. There's only room for one! (Apparently)
-I really, really hope that Beth's time away hasn't turned her into a cannibal or something equally evil, but knowing how dark this show gets, I wouldn't really be surprised.
-Was that Carl holding Judith? Was that RICK holding Judith? When did these two get over their Judith allergy?