There are several unresolved questions that Season Five of the Walking Dead has yet to answer: What happened to Beth? Will Bob survive, and does he even want to? How will the conflict between the cannibalistic Termites and Rick’s group be resolved? What is Gabriel’s terrible secret and will it affect the group? Will Rick take the group to Washington? If they get to Washington, what will they find, and can Eugene really end the virus?
We open with lots of walkers watching the Termite cannibals chow down on Bob’s leg through a big glass window. Perhaps the smell of cooking human flesh makes them extra animated. It seems that Bob has a lot of meat left on him, because he is still alive. Gareth starts on a monologue about how they are innocent victims who never wanted to be cannibals. Gareth claims it’s Bob’s own fault they are eating his leg because Bob escaped from their slaughterhouse, helping destroy their Terminus home along the way. Cannibals seem to have a tendency to both play the victim and be quite vengeful—they are complex.
Gareth is really a talker. I wonder if the cannibals talk about eating him next amongst themselves just to get him to shut up. During his soliloquy, Gareth explains, “It wasn’t just a trap. It was going to be a choice. You join us, or feed us.” That isn’t quite true since they never really asked the groups fleeing the prison that showed up at Terminus, but perhaps our heros made it obvious through their reactions that cannibalism isn’t really their thing. Gareth talks about how women taste better than men. When we posed the questions that still hadn’t been answered at the start of the show this season, we hadn’t realized that whether men or women taste better was one of the unanswered questions, but regardless, it was answered.
Gareth’s speech is interrupted by Bob crying. We figure Bob started crying in an attempt to get Gareth to stop talking his ear off. His crying becomes laughter, and he tells the termites that Bob has been bitten—to be clear, bitten by a walker. The termites freak out (tainted meat!), as it’s not known if cooking human meat kills the virus or if they can expect to be turning sooner rather than later. This transforms Bob from a somewhat pathetic character to a powerful figure, despite his captured and gnawed state. Go Bob!
Sasha looks for Bob, but finds some walkers instead. Rick and Tyreese come out to help and she says that someone has been watching them. Rick and Tyreese tell her Carol and Daryl are missing too. We viewers know where they are—running after Beth’s captors—but Rick and his group assume there is a connection to Bob’s disappearance. They convince Sasha to come back into the church before she gets herself captured or killed.
Back in the church, the group forces Father Gabriel to confess his secret shame, thinking that he may have something to do with the disappearances. Father Gabriel tells his story—how he is damned because he kept his congregation out of the church while they pleaded for him to let them in as they were being killed by walkers. Honestly, not as bad as it could be in the world of The Walking Dead. Father Gabriel has been presented as being fairly cowardly, so this admission doesn’t seem too surprising.
The Termites have left Bob out on the lawn. They, or some other yet unidentified foe, put a scarlet “A” on the church for good measure. At least they are literate cannibals—or maybe they had seen the movie Easy A before the apocalypse. Bob tells them about the Termites and where they are. It’s not clear why the Termites would send Bob back alive. Do they think that he will turn and kill everyone? Seems unlikely. What is their plan? They must have a plan. If Terminus taught them anything, it was that organization and planning keeps you alive. Father Gabriel tells them the school is a ten-minute walk through the graveyard. Zombies, Cannibals, and now a graveyard—creepy! We hope the story involves eliciting the help of a friendly, but curmudgeonly, ghost from the cemetery.
Rick and his comrades discuss attacking the Termites. Abraham says he must extract Eugene due to the threat this Termite group presents, intending to take the recently fixed bus. Rick says the group is not leaving until Carol and Daryl get back. Tara tries to get them to stay by saying she will go with them if they can just wait a day. Apparently Tara is not good enough, because Abraham says he wants Glenn and Maggie too. Rick says no. Rick and Abraham are about to fight over Abraham leaving and taking the bus with him, but Glenn gets between them and says if they wait one day that he and Maggie will go too. What? That just won’t do for us. Abraham agrees to only four hours. He is one tough negotiator. With Carol and Daryl chasing Beth, and Maggie and Glenn scheduled to leave with Abraham in four hours, will our heroes be broken up into different groups as in Season Four? Despite how much we liked Season Four, we hope not.
Rick is pushing the idea of making the first move, since they know where the Termites are. Don’t, in fact, the Termites know that Rick’s group will find out where they are, since they left Bob on the lawn? This plan does not seem well thought out.
Sasha wants to join the attack on the Termites. Tyreese tells her to stay back and spend this time with Bob before he dies. He says that he would have wanted just a little more time with Karen if he could have had it. He still really carries a torch for Karen even though they “dated” for like two weeks. It turns out the real reason that Sasha wants to go is because she doesn’t want to have to kill Bob. Now that makes a lot more sense to us.
We see the school and the walkers pounding on the window. This sure looks like a trap. The trap theory is confirmed when the Termites show up at the church. The Termites sure broke into the church pretty fast, considering that Father Gabriel kept his congregation out so easily and has stayed there safely all this time. Gareth starts talking. This man loves the sound of his own voice. He claims that he knows that most of their group, the tough ones anyway, have left to go to the school. Judith’s presence in these situations always heightens the threat. Gareth is quite the smooth talker. He tries to convince them to give up and walk away. What would possibly motivate them to become an easy meal for the Termites? No one would be dumb enough to think they would be allowed to get away—then why would the Termites have shown up at the church in the first place? Suddenly we realize that Rick and the other badasses are at the church. It seems that Rick is pretty smart after all. Gareth tries to tell Rick another one of his yarns: “We used to help people. We saved people. Things changed. They came in and … after that. I know that you’ve been out there, but I can see it, you don’t know that it is to be hungry. You don’t have to do this. We can walk away and we will never cross paths again. I promise you.” Rick, being the silent type, isn’t easily sold this marketing scheme. Rick points out that the Termites would still be out there killing humans. We don’t think Rick needs to rationalize his actions; these people have clearly been hunting them, and ate the leg of one of their group members. Yet it humanizes Rick and his group, in a very inhumane world, that they thought about their decision for a minute.
Then there is lots of violent killing of the Termites. We were glad that the scene was pretty dark, and by dark we mean that there was an absence of light, so we didn’t have to cover our eyes during the killings. Tyreese looks horrified. They all seem a little taken aback at what they have done. Rick says, “It could have been us.” When Father Gabriel reproachfully says, “This is the lord’s house,” Maggie responds, “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.” We love it when the title of the episode is in the dialogue.
Everyone is saying goodbye to Bob. That is kind of a great way to go in a world where there is “continual fear and danger of violent death” and life is so “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” That’s right, we’re literate too; we read Calvin and Hobbes. Bob talks to Rick about how appreciative he is that Rick took him and others in—that before the prison he didn’t know there were still good people left in the world. He gives Rick some advice about the path he must ultimately choose as he goes forward: “Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are.” (Though we could barely focus on their conversation, because the whole time we were terrified that Bob was going to turn and attack Judith.)
Bob reminds us that each Walking Dead character’s evolving construct of the world impacts their perceptions about choice and meaning in an apocalyptic world. Bob’s makes his death consequential, by trying to influence Rick’s worldview one last time. The Termites constructed a world where cannibalism is a natural consequence and not a choice, and therefore moral. How will Rick and his group construe the changing world, and how will this impact the manner in which they will move forward?
When Bob finally dies, Sasha continues to sit by his side. She cries for a while, and we worry for her safety, as she seems reluctant to do what needs to be done. Tyreese comes in to do the job—that’s what big brothers are for. This is a little surprising, and a relief, as it indicates Tyreese may be getting over his inability to kill—though technically Bob is already dead, so he is not killing him, just keeping Bob from turning into a walker. It’s probably still a horrible thing to stab someone you cared about in the head.
Rick and the others stay behind at the church to wait for Daryl and Carol, while Glenn and Maggie, oh, and Tara, too, go with Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene. We don’t want Glenn and Maggie to go. We are sad. Abraham gives Rick the route they are taking so they can catch up later.
During a conversation between Rick and Tyreese as they dig graves for the Termites, Tyreese makes it clear he doesn’t want to talk about his and Carol’s pre-Terminus story. We are starting to feel like we are in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, as we keep thinking, “No, this must be the final scene. … No, this must be it. … No. …”
Michonne (who we haven’t seen nearly enough of in this episode) is keeping guard outside on the steps of the church, talking to Father Gabriel (who we have seen far too much of). He talks about his guilt, and though she doesn’t seem too compassionate, she tells Father Gabriel that though he will always remember what he did, he will eventually think of it less often. There is a noise in the bushes, and, naturally, Michonne walks directly towards the noise, brandishing her newly recovered sword. She is one tough woman—if we want anyone to protect us in the zombie apocalypse, it’s her. The person in the bushes turns out to be Daryl, and he has someone with him, but we don’t get to find out who it is. We don’t know if it’s Carol, Beth, or someone else.
“Four Walls and a Roof” appears to finally put to rest the Terminus story. Though some of our questions were answered, we still have some left that will keep us anticipating next week’s episode.