After last week’s triumphant final sequence, this week sticks us back in the mud. Nope, none of our folks can catch a break. It’s how they deal with it that keeps us watching (most of the time – I actually watched the finale of True Detective as it aired on Sunday instead. I have thoughts, if you’re interested). In this episode of The Walking Dead, the emphasis is on the original existential crisis: we are all, each and every one of us, alone. This person’s struggle, that one’s loss, is distinct. But by sticking together, perhaps we can lessen our burdens.
The episode begins with a (slightly confusing) flashback. We met Bob Stookey at the beginning of season 4, but he was already in the mix at the prison; they’d encountered him between seasons 3 and 4, when the prison community was at its safest point. We never got to see why Daryl was so suspicious of Bob, or why Bob risked his and everyone else’s life (and killed Zach in the process) for a bottle of booze. In this glance back a few months, Bob looks every bit the walker himself. He slouches along empty roads, his icy eyes straight ahead, a machete perched on his shoulder. He hides in railroad ditches, gazing dispassionately at the walkers’ futile attempts to eat his face. When Daryl and Glenn find him and ask him Rick’s three questions (How many walkers you killed? How many people you killed? Why?), he’s positively thrilled; in the back of Glenn’s pickup he starts to adopt the faithful, sanguine smile he wears now.
After the credits, we switch back to the present, in which Bob is no longer alone: he, Sasha, and Maggie stand back to back in a foggy woods, surrounded by a herd of walkers. The three of them work together to protect each other, and Bob gets bitten, but says cheerfully, “he got me right on the bandage!” The three of them are happier and more alive than we’ve seen them in a long time. After a walker tackles her to the ground, Maggie discovers her compass is busted. Bob, optimistic as ever, says they don’t need it, because they can watch the sun. He’s so cheery; it’s a little weird. Read more