The Walking Dead: Strangers Review


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“I just want to forget.”

Atonement is an ongoing theme of The Walking Dead and it’s on full display in “Strangers.” In that regard, both Rick and Carol need to atone for various decisions they’ve made: Carol for the killing in the prison and Rick for banishing her. Their exchange was very simple yet powerful, with both showing respect for the other’s choices. Rick has gotten to the same point as Carol slightly slower than she did, but the point is that both find ways to survive. They’ve always respected one another because of their capabilities and that respect just continues to grow as they endure together.

The introduction of Gabriel is a little heavy-handed, but it does serve a greater purpose for the direction of the story. Gabriel traditionally represents a messenger from God sent to certain people and in this case he’s sent to the survivors to remind them that everyone isn’t evil. It’s a harsh lesson for the jaded survivors, especially in light of their most recent situation. Carl’s continued ascension as “good angel” on Rick’s shoulder is a further embodiment of Gabriel’s message, as Carl believes that not everyone is bad. It’s a very tough pill to swallow in this world. Rick doesn’t seem to think that people are capable of being good, evidenced by his rather trying test for Gabriel.

Rick’s insistence on getting answers to his three questions is a nice sort of reminder of how things are. When they first appeared, they were done as a means of setting the tone for one of his first random encounters. Since then though, it acts as something more of a litmus test for Rick’s trust. Gabriel offered probably some of the more original answers rooted in his devout belief in his religion. He proves himself to be very religious, but not without a sketchy past as evidenced by the carvings on the side of the church. No man is without sin, especially in the world of The Walking Dead.

Some of the other relationships are also getting their time in the spotlight. Tyreese gets to reunite with his sister, who’s vey open in her affection for Bob. Glen and Maggie continue their life together, with a brief respite thrown in. Carol and Daryl seem to rekindle their past kinship, save for a few secrets that Carol refuses to discuss. It’s largely implied that those secrets have to do with some of her decisions to kill the living. Carol feels as if she doesn’t belong with the group and is on the verge of leaving, but that impending departure gives Daryl the coincidence he needs to pick up the trail on Beth.

Beth’s abduction was somewhat strange last season, mainly because there was little else mentioned about the abduction. All he remembered was the white cross on the back of a car and that was dropped as a loose reference in the first episode of the season. It reminded the viewer that Beth is still around, but there’s still very little mention of who abducted her in the first place. It’s a pretty big dangling plot thread that hopefully won’t have the same drag to it that the Sophia storyline in season two did. Beth grew into a more interesting character as last season progressed and Daryl clearly had something invested in her personally.

The big reveal of the episode was the return of Gareth and the hunters. The group has been stalking the survivors and their first victim was Bob. It was a little interesting that he was the first one taken, but it’s readily apparent that he won’t be the last. The group is desperate to survive and prove that they will do whatever it takes to do so, even if it means continuing their cannibalistic ways. The end scene of the episode was probably one of the more jarring of the series, really setting the tone for the season to come.

“Strangers” is a very interesting episode that does what The Walking Dead does so well in bringing together disparate personalities. Those personalities aren’t always brought together in concert, as evidenced by the hunters’ desire to survive at all costs. Rick is still in full distrust mode, refusing to believe that Gabriel is being completely forthcoming with some of his past decisions. Daryl and Carol may be on the path to something else entirely, while Abraham and his crew are still fighting to get to Washington, DC. Their trip may be put on hold though as they fight for their lives yet again against their new enemies.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    One Comment

  1. BroganOctober 26th, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Nice review. I was wondering what people make of Bob leaving the church when he did. I wondered if perhaps he’d been bitten when the walker dragged him under the water in cellar, and what that would mean for the guys from Terminus…

    I have to say, I liked what you said about atonement being a recurring theme. I’ve thought about it in regards to Carol quite a bit… What she did in the prison vs saving the group at Terminus. The group seemed to view that as a redeeming act, and even though you say Rick isn’t trusting anyone, he trusted Carol enough to let her rejoin them. Carol on the other hand still seems to think she’s (maybe) not worthy of being part of the group and the ‘community’ that comes with them…

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