"The Walking Dead" has never shied away from using humor to lighten its grim, zombie-riddled load, and no more was the show's signature biting wit on display this week than during the scene in which Gareth's gang comes storming into Father Gabriel's church, determined to take out the remaining members of Rick's crew. As Gareth blathers on about how he's hip to their plan – he saw Rick and a few more well-armed members of the group sneak off into the woods, presumably to confront the exiled Terminites – and he knows exactly who's hiding in the church, we see Eugene glance at a plaque hanging in Father Gabriel's office. "Stupidity is also a gift of God," it reads, "but one musn't misuse it."
It's not long after that moment that the stupidity of Gareth and his band of merry cannibals comes back to bite them, with Gareth in particular saddled with the brunt of Rick's anger – and soon, the blade of his machete. This moment isn't funny in the least (though it is quite satisfying), as viewers know it's only a matter of minutes (seconds?) before Gareth and his gang are no more. The man begs for his life, trying to explain to Rick a rehashed version of the story we heard before (Terminus was a sanctuary, it got taken over by some bad guys, something something something cannibalism), but it's no use. Rick knows that even if he lets the Terminites go, they'll just meet and eat someone else – and that doesn't fly with Sheriff Grimes.
"Besides," Rick says, whipping out
But it doesn't stop there. Rick keeps hacking away, sending blood flying, as Abraham bashes someone's skull in with the butt of his rifle and Sasha stabs Martin (who actually dies this time; thanks for nothing on that one, Tyrese) with barely-concealed gleeful abandon. The rest of the group watches in stunned silence, some of them looking more horrified than others at the carnage that's unfolding in front of them. "It could have been us," Rick says, by way of explanation and self-absolution.
Rick going HAM has been an underlying theme of recent episodes, and there's been some not-so-subtle suggestion among group members that he's changed for the worse. But I absolutely agree that this act – while a bit more gratuitous than it perhaps needed to be – was justified, if only for the fact that the Terminites were straight-up evil. Oh yeah, and Gareth's gang CHOPPED OFF BOB'S LEG AND ATE IT IN FRONT OF HIM.
Speaking of Bob, my premonition about his actually getting bitten by a zombie at the food bank did indeed pan out, and was revealed in the most entertaining way possible. While still being held captive by the Terminus refugees, a stunned, legless Bob is forced to listen to Gareth wax on about his cannibalistic preferences, telling his prisoner that females taste better than males because of their extra layer of body fat. (Thanks for adding to the self-consciousness of women everywhere, dude.) "You idiots," a hysterical Bob finally spits out, exposing his shoulder and the fresh walker wound it sports. "I'm tainted meat." This news is quickly met with a hasty explanation (which is pretty funny if only for its seemingly on-the-fly concoction) that cooking the human meat should remove any trace of the zombie virus. Still, you can tell that Gareth's campmates are pretty grossed out by the prospect.
One revelation that was pretty ho-hum (and another correct prediction from last week – not that I'm keeping score or anything) was Gabriel's past, which wasn't nearly as salacious as I'd been fearing. Turns out he did indeed lock out his parishioners when they came to the church for help not long after the apocalypse began, and they were responsible for the etchings on its exterior. But Gabriel is wholeheartedly remorseful, and honestly, I'm just relieved that the preacher didn't wind up being a maniacal a-hole in keeping with The Governor; the latter man's storyline got really old, really fast, and I don't think I can take another inherently insane antagonist terrorizing the group episode after episode. Gareth was as good of a villain as we could have hoped for in this early part of season five, and there just wasn't room for another. I'm glad to have moved on from both, and eager to see who we have waiting in the wings. (After saying all this, of course, Father Gabriel is totally going to turn out to be a psychopath, isn't he?)
- I was convinced that the moment where Rick shoots off some of Gareth's fingers would be our signature "bloody leg stump" gore shot of the episode. And then we got a nice, long pan over Gareth's disemboweled body. Thanks, "Walking Dead" producers, for that lovely image.
- Speaking of grossness (and really, when are we not on this show?), I have to hand it to the prop masters, effects artists, and sound editors/mixers for making that church massacre a truly disgusting experience for both the eyes and ears: literal showers of blood, and enough squishing, cracking, and splattering to make those four walls and a roof positively ring.
- The one thing I will actually miss about Gareth is his penchant for revealing major plot points and dropping exposition bombs left and right during his frequent Cliche Evil Person Monologues. Included in his unnecessarily-wordy fireside taunting of Bob was the answer to the mystery of the notches seen in the trees near Terminus and the church: Gareth's crew put them there to help trace their way back to Terminus once they were done taking down Rick and co. Of course, Gareth admits, they forgot that there would be no Terminus to return to. Classic Gareth.
- And speaking of those notches, I bring you Morgan Watch: Week Three. No sign of the fan favorite during this episode, but Gareth's explanation about the notches places him behind the cannibals on Rick's trail – though we don't know by how many days.
- Bob was able to deliver some memorable lines before his ultimate (slow) demise, including a crack about his multiple injuries: "One good thing about being kicked in my face: It made me forget the pain in my leg." His reasoning for not telling Sasha about his zombie bite was pretty sweet, admitting that if he spilled the beans, their relationship "would become all about the end – and I really liked the middle." And finally, he reaffirms his previous conversation with Rick, telling the sheriff that "even in light of recent events," he still believes that nightmares end. "They shouldn't end who you are," he says.
- The moment Bob shows off his zombie bite to the group, and everyone was silently staring at him/each other: They were all totally trying to figure out who would have to kill him, right? I got a serious telepathic rock-paper-scissors vibe.
- This week in Random References to Earlier TWD Seasons: Jim, from season one, who (as Glenn reminded everyone) was bitten by a zombie and lingered for a couple days before eventually turning.
- Abraham and Rick have a bit of a power struggle when trying to decide how to handle the Terminites, though I found myself not really caring much about it. By episode's end, with their common enemy vanquished, the camp splits in two: Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Glenn, Maggie, and Tara (who I kind of forgot existed; she hasn't had much to do yet this season – or really, ever) head off to Washington to find Eugene's totally-definitely-not-made-up "cure," while Rick and the rest stay behind to wait for Daryl and Carol to return. Before they shove off, Abe hands Rick a map of their route, with the hope that the stragglers will soon follow them up north. Scrawled on the document is a note: "Sorry I was an a-hole. Come to Washington. The world's gonna need Rick Grimes." I smell a bromance brewing.
- And finally, on the Daryl and Carol front: Daryl pops back up for a few seconds at episode's end, surprising Michonne before calling out to someone waiting in the woods. Is it Carol? Is it Beth? Both? I'm not entirely sure we need a full episode explaining what happened to the youngest of Hershel's daughters when she was snatched from Daryl's side last season, but it seems we're going to get one anyway.
Photo credit: Gene Page/AMC