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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: “Strangers”

Aptly named “Strangers,” this week’s The Walking Dead brings a new face into the mix after an action packed premiere.

Reaping the benefits of the reunion, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leads the gang through the forests as they try to determine their next destination, food, security, etc. While seeing everyone together is great, it does bring back questions of the individual characters before the attack at the prison.

After all that he’s faced, Rick has very serious intentions for Carl (Chandler Riggs) when he states, “You will never be safe.” No matter where he is, danger will always follow and you have to keep constant vigilance to stay alive in this world. On the other hand, Carl seems a bit more positive on the group thus far. They’ve made it this far; what’s stopping them from continuing? Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) chimes in with this atmosphere as well: “This is a nightmare, and nightmares end.” Michonne (Danai Gurira) gives her opinion on a post-materialistic world when she says that she doesn’t miss her sword, which was left behind at Terminus. Well, Michonne, we miss it quite a lot.

Tyreese and Carol agree to not tell everyone what happened to Mika and Lizzie. Carol reveals to the group that it was she who was responsible for killing Tyreese’s girlfriend at the prison. She keeps explanations brief between herself and Daryl (Norman Reedus), just that some things occurred in the past, but that they were in the past. Forgive and forget.

Happy moments and smiles are shared between Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Glenn (Steven Yeun), and Tara (Alanna Masterson). Eventually, at the end of the day, Tara reveals to Maggie that she was on the Governor’s side when Hershel was killed, but that she had no idea of the Governor’s treachery. Maggie doesn’t smile, but gives her a hug, mentioning that it’s all in the past. Forgive and forget.

The stranger they meet is Pastor Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam), whom comic book fans will recognize. Pastor Gabriel is timid, fragile, and a self-declared pacifist. The gang relieves him of a group of zombies that have cornered him, and after freeing him, he barfs straight onto the group. Anxious and without a flock, the pastor reveals that he’s been hiding out in his abandoned church and has made very little efforts to forage out into the real world. After very awkward and brief exchanges (“what a pretty baby you got there!”), Rick decides that they will follow the pastor back to the church, in hopes of finding a somewhat permanent establishment.

Upon arriving and making sure that the church is secure, the group settles in. Rick decides to take himself, Michonne, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Bob, and the pastor out to scavenge for food and supplies at local shops. They happen across a thrift shop, and underneath it, a sewer combined with the entrails of twenty-ish zombies (the writers apparently wanted a throwback to the hideous well-walker of Season 2 in Hershel’s farm). The food items are all submerged in the sewer, so they all lower themselves into the water. While they end up successful, it isn’t without trouble; the pastor almost gets taken down by a glasses-clad zombie, and Bob literally gets taken down beneath the water by a zombie. While he emerges unscathed to everyone else, he does look a bit frightened, leading us to believe that he might have gotten bitten.

When they arrive back, Carl points out to Rick scratch marks on the outside and a message on the wall of the church: “You’ll burn for this.” Gabriel definitely is hiding something. Though everyone on the show has secrets, Rick makes it a point to single out Gabriel (who is already very much under his watchful eye) and let him know that if he ever was to threaten his group, he will kill him.

At nighttime, morale is high as a hearty meal is eaten around a small fire. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) takes it upon himself to give the dinner speech, and openly asks the group to join him in his quest to D.C. so that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) can help end the apocalypse. Judith first rings in the affirmative with a “goo ga!” and shortly everyone else follows.

Outside of the church, Carol and Daryl try to jump-start an abandoned car, in case they need a backup plan. As fate would have it, a car suddenly drives by them. Daryl instantly recognizes it as the car that kidnapped Beth (as indicated by the cross on the back of the car), and they punch out the headlights in the back before jumping on board and following.

Back at the church, Bob gives three extra kisses to Sasha before wandering outside. He gives a sad smile towards the church before he is suddenly clubbed on the head. When he wakes up, he is staring directly into none other than Gareth (Andrew J. West). Gareth proceeds to taunt him, as he did in the opening scene of the premiere in Terminus. “You took our home,” so we’ll just have to take yours, and destroy your group while we’re at it. As the camera pans out, it turns out the cannibals haven’t quite gotten rid of their cannibalistic tendencies; Bob’s leg has been cut off and turned into food.

Here are my top three moments of the episode:

Bob: As irrelevant of a name and character, Bob manages to make things much worse for both himself and the others. I’ve never really understood his purpose and character arc; while the writers attempted to breathe life into him with the alcoholic backstory, it never seemed poignant enough. And his relationship with Sasha seemed super forced. After the current turn of events, however, he has suddenly become a much more relevant character – Hershel 2.0. Though it definitely seemed as though he was bitten, according to his actions with Sasha, he may have been temporarily saved in a way by the Terminus Cannibals; if he was bitten on the leg, it sure as hell is gone now.

Gabriel: Pastor Gabriel seems innocent enough as a character, though seemingly as useless as Bob. His anxiety and pacifism don’t seem to be a façade, as he clearly seems ill-equipped to deal with the walkers. The markings on the perimeter of the church, and the creepy drawings from inside bring more questions than answers, however.

They’re back: We just couldn’t bare the separation from Gareth and his cannibal friends, so it seems. While Rick et al have the upper hand at the church, Gareth’s threats do not seem empty in any way, and if anything stands testimony to their determination, it is Bob’s Burger. Could they potentially be eating Bob’s infected leg, thus infecting themselves? Is there any connection to them and Pastor Gabriel (they seemed to follow their tracks to the church so easily)? Why do they seem to be eating human meat 24/7? (Like seriously, they’re always eating). Only time will tell.