**Spoiler Alert – if you haven’t watched Episode 2 “Strangers” yet and you don’t want to know what happens don’t read any further. And you better stay off social media too, because spoilers are everywhere.**
Some people might think that the second episode of The Walking Dead’s fifth season, “Strangers” was a bit of a letdown. It wasn’t as intense as the season premiere, “No Sanctuary”, that’s true. But really it was a necessary breather before the story takes off in several different directions. There were several pressing matters that needed to be dealt with among the survivors, and the group got a rare opportunity to take a breath, enjoy a good meal, and talk to each other before things started spiraling out of control again. Here’s what happened:
The group is on the road again and looking for new places to crash each night. They are moving as swiftly as they can but with the confidence that comes from traveling in a battle tested pack. There are some great moments like when the group is passing a walker that is staggering towards the road and Michonne goes to kill it and remembers she no longer has her katana. Rick and Carol talk, and he says that while he’s still not sure how to feel about her killing Karen and David he does understand the motivation and that he owes her everything. In a rare moment of humility he asks her if they can join her, after acknowledging that she saved them all after he kicked her out of the group. It’s small vindication for Carol fans but at least he made an effort.
Daryl and Carol
Daryl and Carol have several really great moments in this episode. They stick together, even when just hunting or gathering water. Daryl tells Carol they can all start over and make a fresh start but Carol isn’t so sure. For the past few seasons it seemed that Carol was the one trying to get Daryl to open up. Now, because of his time with Beth and the events that happened he has realized how important the other members of the group are to him, especially Carol. He tries to get her to talk about what happened when she was on her own and with Lizze, Mika and Tyreese but she refuses to talk about because she says she wants to forget.
Rick and Tara also have a talk about The Governor and her involvement in what went down at the prison and Hershel’s murder. Rick absolves her and says he knows she didn’t want any of that to happen. Later in the episode Tara tells Maggie that she was at the prison with The Governor so that it’s not a secret. Maggie forgives her for her role in what happened at the prison. But the second day that they are on the road they are walking in formation when they hear someone screaming for help. At first Rick was not going to go help and wanted the group to keep walking, but Carl told his father that helping people was still who they are as a group, and they all run towards the screams.
They find an African-American priest, trapped on top of a rock with walkers surrounding him, very nearly grabbing him. The survivors kill the walkers and Rick tells the priest to come down, but even though the man is a priest Rick is very wary of him. He has learned at this point to never trust that someone is who they appear to be. This is the first time that audiences see Father Gabriel Stokes, a character that also appears in the comics. Father Gabriel is not very well suited for the post-apocalypse world. After coming down from the rock the first thing he does is throw up. While he is talking to Rick it becomes clear that Father Gabriel is pretty passive, and possibly weak. He asks the survivors for food and says this is the first time he’s ventured so far from his church. Rick asks him the three questions they ask all survivors before allowing them to join the group. Father Gabriel says he has never killed a walker. The group finds it hard to believe that he has managed to survive without ever having killed a walker but Father Gabriel declares that God has protected him.
The survivors accompany Father Gabriel to his tiny white church in the middle of the woods. Rick, still on edge, tells Father Gabriel to stay outside while he and a team sweep through the church to be sure it’s safe and that Father Gabriel is alone. After the events that the group has just lived through Rick isn’t about to let anyone get the jump on him again. The church is clear, and the survivors go inside to get a well-earned breather.
While the group is settling in at the church and checking the food supplies Carol and Daryl go for water. There is definitely more openness between them this season and Daryl is a lot more emotionally available, showing affection and concern for Carol. Even though they have gone through very different arcs there is a sense that now they are meeting on the same emotional ground and they understand each other better now than ever before. They have always had a kindred friendship but it seems to be intensifying this season which makes fans very happy. While they are on their way back with water they stop to check cars along the way to see if they are operational. They find one that still runs and Carol suggests they leave it where it is in case they need to make a quick getaway from the church.
The Food Bank
Father Gabriel has been holed up in the church since the apocalypse happened. He had enough supplies in the church that he didn’t need to do a lot of foraging. But over time his supplies dwindled. There are not many supplies for a large group in the church. Father Gabriel says that he has picked over the supplies from all the buildings that are close to the church except one, a food bank that his church had been gathering supplies for when the world fell apart. The food bank was overrun with walkers he told them, so he had left it alone. When Rick asked how many walker inhabited the food bank Father Gabriel tells him there are about a dozen walkers in the building. That, of course, is not a challenge at all for the survivors. They decide to take a team to hit the food bank for supplies. Rick forces Father Gabriel to go with them.
They make their way into the food bank pretty easily, but that’s because the walkers have fallen through a hole in the floor into a basement. The basement flooded thanks to burst pipes and a hole in the ceiling that sent rainwater right into the basement. The water logged walkers are some of the most grotesque walkers ever made for the show. They are even more disgusting and terrifying than the well walker from Hershel’s farm in Season 2. They are horrifying, and there’s a lot of them. The group has to go through the water to get to the supplies and the filthy, contaminated water is filled with walkers. When the survivors are almost to the other side Bob gets pulled under by a truly ghoulish walker and disappears. He pops out of the water and kills the walker. Sasha asks him if he has been bitten and he says no, but the look on his face says otherwise.
Father Gabriel gets chased by a particularly gruesome walker, with a melting face still wearing eyeglasses, and he loses it. He backs away through the water hyperventilating and crying. Rick is puzzled at the reaction but later correctly guesses that it was because Father Gabriel knew that walker when it was still human. Later on audiences see Father Gabriel looking at a photo of the woman that the walker used to be.
As they haul carts full of food and other supplies back to Father Gabriel’s church Rick and Michonne talk. In a rare moment of openness after Rick asks her if she misses the katana she says that she doesn’t. She said that before finding Andrea, and then the prison group, she wasn’t really living. She does tell him that she misses Andrea, and Hershel. When she talked about Hershel fans everywhere told their televisions that they missed Hershel too. Hershel is probably the most mourned character on the show so far.
What is Father Gabriel Hiding?
When they arrive back at the church Carl is talking to Rick and he shows Rick some strike marks on an outside window and a door frame that look like knife marks, as if someone had been trying to get in. Scratched in the paint and wood nearby with a knife where the words “You’ll burn for what you did” which makes Rick even more certain that Father Gabriel is hiding something. He tells Carl, in a poignant speech inside the church, that Carl can’t ever let his guard down or act like he’s safe because in one second everything can change. He also tells Father Gabriel that he knows he’s hiding something, and he doesn’t care what it is as long as it’s clear that Rick will kill him in a heartbeat if he threatens any of the survivors who are his family.
A Quiet Interlude
After the food bank run the survivors take a breather to have a nice meal for a change. They even drink some communion wine. Throughout the evening Bob is very loving with Sasha, but seems distressed. Abraham makes an impressive speech about why the survivors should join them and go to Washington, which Rick has resisted in the past. Baby Judith and Rick have some truly adorable moments where he is holding her and cuddling her and she is baby talking to him. When Abraham finishes his speech Judith makes a noise and Rick says that since Judith is in, they are all in and they will go to Washington with Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. As the dinner winds down and people begin to pair off Bob silently leaves the group, increasing speculation that he has been bitten. He walks outside and starts to cry. All of a sudden he is hit from behind and knocked out.
Where is Beth
As Daryl and Carol are making their way back with the water they stop near where they stashed the working car and she goes off on her own. Daryl finds her and asks her where she is going. It’s clear that she was thinking of leaving the group but Daryl convinces her to go back with him. As they are talking they hear a car. They hide behind the getaway car as a black car with a white cross in the window, the car that took Beth, races by them. Daryl quickly smashes the tail lights of the car and jumps in. He tells Carol to get in telling her that is the car that took Beth and the two of the race off to find Beth.
At the end of the episode Bob comes to and he is tied to a tree. Gareth is sitting there and tells him that they didn’t want to hurt anyone, and that they didn’t want to become hunters but they did what they needed to do to survive. He talks about eating people to survive. As he is talking about eating people the camera pans back and shows Bob’s legs have been amputated, and one is being cooked over the fire. The Termites who fled are eating Bob’s legs around a fire. Gareth tells him that he tastes much better than they thought he would.