If you were wondering where on earth Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) was, this week’s instalment of The Walking Dead finally has an answer for you: ripping out pages of the Bible in Alexandria’s church while looking morose.
Come to think of it, Gabriel has been a curious addition to the cast. A superficial coward who turned out to be exactly what it said he was on the tin, apart from be rescued and look anguished he hasn’t exactly done a lot. Here, he does more of the same, anguishing about things people have done while providing no solution himself. Clinging to faith in a faithless world, his days must surely be numbered.
The same cannot be said for another member of the cast though. Speaking of straightforward, you don’t get more so than Eugene (apart from the time he, you know, lied about knowing a cure and everything), who responds to an accusation of cowardice by saying “Yes I am. I told y’all I was.” Finally, he gets his time to shine, carrying an unconscious Tara (Alanna Masterson) from harm’s way
However, not everyone’s so lucky. As the van leaves Alexandria, with Knife Party’s Internet Friends blaring out the stereo (“and now you’re going to die”), things have ‘this isn’t going to end well’ written all over it. I mean, who plays loud, walker-attracting music? Seriously
Sure enough, things go wrong, and Aiden (Daniel Bonjour) snuffs it. Let’s see if Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) is so receptive to the group after her own son doesn’t make it back. Shortly after, Noah (Tyler James Williams) also dies. Horribly. That’s what you get when you receive some much-needed character development having spent a few episodes doing the better part of naff-all. Looks like Beth’s death just got that bit more pointless.
We also get some memorable lines. Turns out another euphemism for answering a call of nature is ‘sending a fax to Cleveland’ (speaking of which, this serves as a wake-up call for anyone who thinks they’d like to live in this world; you’re not even safe taking a dump), and that Abraham (Michael Cudlitz)’s battle cry is ‘Mother Dick’.
So in other words, it’s a pretty functional episode. You don’t exactly get any meaningful life lessons, but you do get some character development for those who truly needed. Plus, there’s a sense of tension and conflict being brewed in way that isn’t contrived or hackneyed.
The Walking Dead’s at its best when it’s stirring the pot and reminding its viewers that no one is safe (as if they needed reminding). It gets close here.