Yikes! Talk about kicking a season off with a bang, The Walking Dead’s Season 5 has boasted two impressive efforts before this, and Four Walls and a Roof continues the standard that has been laid down before it. The end of last week’s Strangers saw poor Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) wake up surrounded by cannibals (is Termites the correct term, still?) and sans one of his legs. As legless adventures go, this was a bit of a shitter. No end of night kebab, no over-indulging in cheap drinks offers, no dancing around to overplayed songs of yesteryear (Terrorvision’s Tequila, anyone?) and no regrettable one-nighters. This was a different type of legless escapade for Bob Stookey; this is one that saw him awaken to see somebody chewing away on what used to be his leg.
Four Walls and a Roof picks up right where last week’s effort left off. As the remarkably creepy Gareth (Andrew J. West) gives Bob a Bond villain-like chatter about why the unfortunate Mr. Stookey is missing his left lower leg, the audience gets hit with a big kicker, with a punchline that adds a different twist to the conundrum. For fear of spoilers, we’re just going to say that long-time Walking Dead comic book fans will finally get to see a famous Dale moment play out from the comics. Safe to say, Gareth and the rest of those creepy Terminus bastards may have a rough ride ahead of them.
Elsewhere, again picking up from last week, we get some more time with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and get to see a little more into what exactly he did previously that makes him just a tad untrustworthy to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and our group of familiar survivors. And it’s with these familiar faces that we see some unrest in Four Walls and a Roof, with Rick and Abraham Ford’s (Michael Cudlitz) relationship becoming a little strained over just what the group’s actions should be at this stage of the game.
As alluded to in the opening paragraph of this review, this season of The Walking Dead has been absolutely brutal at times. Last week’s episode was a relatively calm one in terms of violence and carnage, but the Season 5 premiere was surprisingly gory and pulled no punches, with this episode following suit. With no exaggeration, Four Walls and a Roof houses some of The Walking Dead’s most physically brutal scenes to date. Then again, the characters in the show are at a point where they have been put through the ringer so much, their grasp and concept of what things used to be like is so far gone, that maybe that’s just what we’re in for going forward: brutality. A key theme to this episode is the notion of kill or be killed, of hunt or be the hunted. Nothing is held back, no hesitation is even contemplated; this is all out survival, warts ‘n’ all.
Whereas the Terminus escape in No Sanctuary was almost a smash and grab effort and Strangers was a more settling outing, Four Walls and a Roof is the best episode of Season 5 so far. And that’s without touching on spoilers. Truth be told, there is an emotional ending to the episode, with an almost tranquil-like, respectful end to a horrid situation. But make no bones about it, The Walking Dead is as strong as ever, is as brutal as ever, and is engaging as it always is. Then there’s the ever-familiar climactic tease of what’s on the horizon next week…
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