The Walking Dead – Four Walls and a Roof Review
"Excellent Performances Lead Strong Episode"
"Four Walls and a Roof" was an episode that combined all of the best elements of The Walking Dead
into a single hour. We were given the death of a fairly major character, a mystery as to where Daryl and Carol have been (and if Carol has even returned), a major split within the group, and, perhaps most importantly, another level in the debate over where the line between good and evil rests in this post-apocalyptic universe.
I would be remiss if I didn't spend some time talking about the death of Bob, who, as many suspected, had in fact been bitten prior to being turned into Bob-b-que last week. While Bob was one of the more three-dimensional of the supporting characters (we certainly knew more about him than Eugene or Rosita), I still feel like the character was a missed opportunity. Were I to eulogize him, all I would be able to say was that he was a former Army medic, he was a recovering alcoholic, he was a loner until he found the Grimes Gang, and he loved Sasha. Not all that much to say about someone who has been on a series for over a year, but in the realm of Walking Dead
characterization, that's actually not too bad.
While we might not have known Bob as well as we could have, his death was still handled extremely well by both the show's writers and Lawrence Gilliard, Jr. After a season of having very little to do with the character and being relegated mostly to the background, Gilliard really rose to the occasion and offered an excellent performance during Bob's final hours. Having seen his work on The Wire
(and if you haven't checked that show out yet, please do), I know Gilliard is capable of amazing things. I only wish he had been given the chance to be more a part of the action prior to this small arc. In terms of the writing, Bob's speech to Rick was masterful, and hit on a major theme of the episode: how to retain your humanity in the face of so much pain and suffering. "Nightmares end. They shouldn't end who you are," were Bob's words to Rick. While the sentiment was excellent, and certainly applicable to Bob's character, I think it might be a bit too late for Rick and several others within the group.
The concept of humanity and what it means to be good in the face of evil has been the philosophical argument running throughout the series. Over the last year, the idea of humans being the true danger to the living has also developed into a key element of the series. We saw last season that Rick drew the moral line at killing "innocent" people who were infected with the virus when he banished Carol. We know that the gang is definitely not on board with the Terminus idea of killing humans for food. But Rick, along with Michonne, Sasha, and Abraham, have now made it clear that anyone who attacks a member of the group is fair game.
Now, I can certainly understand this decision. It's dangerous and, in this particular instance, Gareth and his group would certainly attack someone else on the road and eat him or her. The Terminus survivors were, by our standards, not good people. But a visceral and bloody death in a church, smashing in their skulls, when Rick and company could have simply shot them in the head and been done with it? That's where things get a bit blurry. Nightmares end, but they shouldn't end who you are. This Rick is not the same Rick from the beginning of the series. It's not the same Rick from the beginning of last season. A lot has happened to him and his makeshift family to destroy his trust in the good of humanity. But this brutality is a clear signal that something has firmly changed within Rick. Whether it's something that will serve him well in this new world is something I'm sure we'll get the chance to see over the course of the remaining season.
The episode ends with two interesting story choices. The first saw the group once again split in half, with Abraham recruiting Glenn, Maggie, and Tara for his trip to D.C. While I have never professed to be a Glenn or Maggie fan, I was encouraged to see Glenn and Maggie making their own decision to go with Abraham on his trip. My only worry is that dealing with another split storyline, where the show's weakest and least developed characters of sequestered on their own and the show's strongest characters are in a separate story, may lead to uneven storytelling.
The second piece of the ending brought Daryl back to the group, setting up next week's episode that will focus on where Beth's been since she disappeared last season. But the mystery of Daryl's return is who is with him? Did he succeed in rescuing Beth? Is Carol with him? Considering Carol's current state of being the show's resident badass, I don't really see her hanging back in the woods while Daryl takes point unless she's hurt (or, in the alternative, Beth's hurt), so that troubles me. I would be very very disappointed if something bad happened to Carol, Walking Dead
writers. Either way, Beth was on her way to becoming one of the more interesting characters on the series when she was taken, so I'm intrigued to see what she has been up to during her time away.
-- Kudos to the show for putting an end to the Gareth storyline before it ran out of steam. After the debacle with the Governor, I'm always wary that the show hasn't quite gotten the hang of the whole less is more theory. But ending Gareth's threat here was the right move, and opens things up for the show to keep growing and changing.
-- You know what would be really cool? If the show left the D.C. bound bus alone and didn't fill us in on their fate until the day that the remaining Grimes Gang members find them. I doubt they will, but that would be pretty amazing.
-- I wonder where Morgan is? We know he's following Rick, but is he still close? Is he the person hiding in the woods with Daryl?
-- Kudos to Sonequa Martin-Green
(Sasha) for her incredible performance in this episode. Like Bob, Sasha has been a bit of a forgotten character of late, so it was great to see the writers flesh her out a bit and give Martin-Green something to do. Also interesting- seeing that Sasha doesn't embrace the pacifist ideals that Tyreese seems to espouse.