The Walking Dead, Ep. 5.03, “Four Walls and a Roof”: An emotionally devastating hour of television

Four Walls and a Roof

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof”
Directed by  Jeffrey F. January
Written by Angela Kang
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC

Last week in “Strangers,” we saw the group taking shelter with the mysterious Father Gabriel, before deciding on a proposed plan to head out to Washington. Only we knew their plans would be interrupted, as the episode ends with Bob discovering a new threat lurking in the woods and Carol and Daryl driving off in chase of Beth. This week, Rick and the others realize the threat of the surviving Terminus cannibals, while Bob shares a surprising revelation about his departure.

The Walking Dead isn’t exactly subtle with its imagery, but credit goes to director Jeffrey F. January for making it compelling nevertheless. In the opening minutes, January juxtaposes shots of Gareth’s group feasting on Bob’s leg with a dozen or so walkers in the background trying their hardest to break through the glass pane. As Gareth delivers his villainous monologue, he reaches out and presses the palm of his hand up against the window before we see his reflection. The idea that there is very little difference between the undead and the living as never been as evident as it is here. Who are the real monsters in this series? Is it the living, who are very conscious of their evil actions, or the walkers, who only act on instinct. Everyone is trying to survive as long as they can in this post apocalyptic world, even if it means eating another man’s flesh. The question is, just how much humanity is left intact in our heroes?

In The Walking Dead comics, the story arc revolving around the cannibalistic hunters takes place only across a few issues of the series. Despite already knowing this fact, it’s still surprising that the TV show keeps the storyline brief as well. If you don’t count the time Gareth and his goons spent spying on Rick and his group offscreen, the entire arc takes place across the span of only one episode. The final resolution to Gareth and his men brings about some intriguing developments along the way, including the full explanation of Gabriel’s survival within the church, and a rather sweet, albeit emotionally devastating goodbye for Bob — but the episode doesn’t deliver anything truly unexpected. It was pretty obvious that Gabriel locked the doors after the dead rose, and stopped his congregation from getting in, and even more obvious that Bob was indeed bit when attacked in the floor basement last week. It wasn’t a big surprise to realize Gareth was leading him away from the church, nor was it surprising to learn Rick was smart enough to return back to the church right away.

Abraham

“Four Walls and a Roof” wastes precious little time confirming our theory that Bob was infected, but it also doesn’t do much in the way of showing us if eating tainted meat would infect those feasting on it, considering they were already infected and capable of reanimating at the moment of their death? I guess we will never know the answer, since everyone who partakes in the Bob-b-q are killed at the hands of Rick and company within the hour. There is something satisfying about seeing the smug Gareth get his comeuppance, even if it means losing the most interesting villain the show has given us since Shane back in season two, but did we really need to hear Gareth remind us that he and his people were once good, and were forced to do the terrible things they do. Didn’t we already hear that not once, but twice over the span of two episodes? Gareth begs for mercy and promises that he’ll never cross paths with Rick again, but as Rick wisely points out, that won’t stop them from harming others. And without hesitation, Rick, Sasha, Michonne and Abraham kill the cannibals just as brutally as they’d kill any walker, smashing heads and stabbing them over and over again. One thing is for sure, Rick Grimes always keeps his promises.

This episode is all about Bob, and Lawrence Gilliard has plenty of moments to shine and showcase his range as an actor. From his hysterical laughter leading up to the famous “tainted meat” line from the comic to his ultimately optimistic goodbye, Gilliard puts on one of the show’s best performances yet. Unlike some characters from the past, the creative team put in a lot of work into making Bob a fully realized player, and someone we actually care about. And for a series that doesn’t usually allow anyone much time to linger on the deaths of the central characters, we are given plenty of screen time to say goodbye to one of the best. In a truly gut-wrenching scene, Bob, Rick and Judith share an important moment at a time when the group is torn between optimism (Abraham’s plan to get Eugene to Washington and find a cure) and pessimism (Rick slowly losing complete faith in humanity). It was vital that Bob hold on to his eternal optimism, in hopes that some of it might rub off on Rick and the group. In his final moment with Sasha, Bob dies before he can answer her last question: “So what is it. The good that comes out of this bad?” If only a brief moment, Bob reminds us that all nightmares end eventually.

Bob: “Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are. And that, is just this dead man’s opinion.”

The episode doesn’t waste any time setting up the next story arc as we close with the group once again splitting up, only this time by their design. While Daryl appears right before the credits roll, it remains to be seen just who is tagging along with him. My guess is either Morgan or a group of people we haven’t yet met.

– Ricky D

Other thoughts:

Gareth: “I’m being a human being here — I’m talking to you,”

Gareth: “It wasn’t just a trap, it was going to be a choice. You join us, or feed us.”

Bob: “Tainted meat! You eatin’ tainted meat!”

Gareth: “You didn’t kill us when you could have. There had to be a reason for that.” Rick: “We didn’t want to waste the bullets.”

Father Gabriel: “This is the Lord’s house…” Maggie: “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.” Episode title!

Even if Michonne made it clear last week that she didn’t need or care about her katana, I’m glad she has it back. Plus it only makes sense that she take it, since it does serve as a useful tool when fighting off walkers.

Don’t forget to listen to our Walking Dead podcast. We release new episodes every week with a special guest host each time.

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