After our rag-tag bunch of survivors managed to survive the threat of Terminus in last week’s Season 5 premiere, Strangers sees the group back to what they know well: foraging for good and for a place to once again call home. Fear not, for there appears to be something on the horizon. Whether that something is good or bad, that’s yet to be revealed.
So Terminus, that huge threat to the group that was built up all throughout the season break. Yeah, that problem was side-stepped pretty easily in the show’s return. Now we find our group familiarly trapesing through woodland in search of a suitable place to lay their heads down for a while. Of course, the tranquillity of nature cannot go for long before something breaks the peace. Whilst a walker appears, it’s the distant scream for help from newcomer Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) that catches the group’s, not to mention the audience’s, attention. A character pulled straight from the comic books, Father Gabriel finally makes his TV bow. After an awkward introduction, Gabriel takes the group to the sanctuary of his church. Thing is, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) et al aren’t entirely sold on this man of God.
Elsewhere, a common theme throughout Strangers is that of being reunited and of reflection. Whilst Rick and his crew were holed up in Terminus, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) were struggling in the wilderness. Now reunited, the dynamic between these formerly separate survivor groups gets played out here. Carol and Rick exchange forgiveness and offer thanks, whilst Tyreese wants to forget about the things that have gone prior and is looking to move forward. This all only adds further to the redemption of Carol that we saw in No Sanctuary. Fear not, for she is now back in the fold and back in a big way, seemingly no heading up our familiar group whilst Rick is happy to dote over baby Judith.
Whereas Gabriel offers both shelter and poses multiple questions, it appears that Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) has bigger plans than simply settling at Gabriel’s isolated church. As such, he looks to kick things up a gear in his mission to get Eugene (Josh McDermitt) to Washington, meaning he’s encouraging the group to go with them. But still, this is a time where The Walking Dead seems a lot about reflection. Making the most of a relatively calm moment, the group hark back to tales of the past, some even suggesting how they yearn for the days of Hershel and Andrea rather than yearning for the days before the world became riddled with walkers. Still, don’t sit too easy for there is trouble a-brewing.
For fear of anything too spoiler-heavy, let’s just say that one of our group is about to be hit hard. With their world finally seeming idyllic (well, as idyllic as it can get in a world full of the undead), this person has a fair few problems up ahead. Again, sorry for the vague nature of this particular issue, but this will be something that can hopefully addressed in a non-spoiler way in next week’s review. Let’s just say, it finally appears that the ‘tainted meat’ idea may come into play. Long-time comic book fans will know exactly what’s meant by that.
All in all, Strangers operates on a far slower pace than its predecessor, instead choosing to focus on character development rather than action. There’s talking – plenty of talking – but the episode concludes with a sting that promises so much more to come… and it most certainly isn’t pretty.
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