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by Thom Yee

All images courtesy of AMC and Fox International Channels.

All images courtesy of AMC and Fox International Channels.

5×02: “Strangers”

Remember Dale? The old-guy voice of reason and supposed moral centre of the group until he just started being really annoying? Dale’s death was one of the most impactful in the show, not for its execution or how much we didn’t want to see him die (because we did want to see him die by that point in season two), but because it was a huge departure from the comicbooks. His death was the first real sign that we weren’t in Kansas anymore/Kansas is going bye-bye/some other Wizard of Oz-based affectation about Kansas representing home/somewhere we’re comfortable (though you could argue zombie Sophia was a big one too, but nobody cares about Sophia, who’s still still alive in the comics). In the comicbook, Dale lived past the farm, past the Governor and past the prison, and it finally looks like we’re catching up to his comicbook (or “real”) death.

Here’s a great shot of Dale in case you’ve already forgotten him:

walking-dead-dale

Here lies Dale. Spoke his mind and got what he deserved.

“Strangers” is a generally serviceable episode, succeeding more in the promise it introduces for future episodes than the excitement it holds in itself. Settling into their post-Terminus/no sanctuary setting, the group keeps moving, literally toward wherever it is they think they’re going and emotionally toward forgiveness for its remaining perceived wrongs. Y’know, like how the last time Rick saw Tara, she was on the Governor’s side and is indirectly responsible for Hershel’s death or how Carol was thrown out of the group for preventative murder. Everyone pretty much calls bygones, possibly partly because they’re all hanging out in the church of mysterious newcomer Father Gabriel, whose story doesn’t really add up against any reasonable inspection but that’s a story for a later date. Also, the group finally agrees that yes, we are going to Washington so Eugene can solve everything. The whole Abraham-Rosita-Eugene-heading-to-Washington-for-the-cure plotline has kind of fallen by the wayside in the face of more immediate developments, and that group’s penchant for occasionally bringing it back up has kind of made those characters really one-note.

For me the highlight of “Strangers” was Daryl and Carol finding a half-working car and taking off after spotting the car that Beth was kidnapped in (or if you prefer, “the car in which Beth was kidnapped”). There’s a complex relationship between Daryl and Carol going on, and I’m glad to see that they’ll (hopefully) have some time away from the group for their own development. Still don’t care about Beth, though.

“No Tyreese, this time I’m going to watch the baby. You need to work on your killing.”

Lowlight of the night by far was seeing that Tyreese failed to kill that guy last episode. As a reminder, comic-book Tyreese was long dead by now, killed by the Governor Hershel-style after a long period of proving his worth and doing things worth doing. I know what they’re going for with TV Tyreese —and I get that no matter how sensible and necessary killing certain people may be for the good of all, there are (hopefully) a lot of us who would just not be able to bring ourselves to do it — but I’m really starting to hate TV Tyreese. He can save and take care of as many babies as he wants, but everything we’ve seen of him, from becoming overly attached to a girlfriend we never really met to being reluctant to do everything, has just made him look like an idiot, and as long as the writers remain incapable of weaving meaningful themes into intricate plots, he’s going to continue looking like an idiot.

In the end, Bob, he of the sudden appearance and unclear role in the group, is kidnapped by the remaining Terminites — now officially standing in as the Hunters from the comic. Bob goes and gets his leg amputated, cooked and eaten by the now officially confirmed cannibal faction, and while that’s a pretty horrific thing to do to anyone (and somehow knowing that the leg was also eaten makes the loss itself seem so much worse), the still-alive-and-now-well-fed Gareth insists its not personal, no matter how much his episode-concluding monologue comes across as directly antagonistic and evil. In the comics, it’s Dale who’s kidnapped and partially eaten, but in a great twist that I won’t reveal here, Dale ends up getting the last laugh on the Hunters. We’ll have to wait to see who gets the last laugh on the TV show, but until then, it’s supper time, and it’s time to get my cannibal on eat socially acceptable food. If there is still such a thing.

The Walking Dead “Strangers” final score: 7


Items of Note:

  • “Strangers” was written by Robert Kirkman himself, and you definitely get a sense that he’s refining the comparatively weak Hunters storyline he originally wrote. Still doesn’t make it a great episode.
  • Is this the official end of katana-wielding Michonne?
  • Forgot to mention the cameo reappearance of Morgan at the end of last episode. I know I’ve invoked comic knowledge a lot in this week’s review, but I’ll still point out that it wasn’t such a big deal for those who have read the comic.
  • Silly Gareth, babies taste best!

 


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