(Spoilers abound, if you have not seen Season 5, Episode 3: Four Walls and a Roof.)
Here's a first for this blog: a bible passage! As Gareth and the termites were looking for the survivors in the church, the readings for the next week were plainly visible. One of them was Luke 24:5. The text of that passage is: "And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?".
So that was no accident. And it's a sign that the writers are paying attention to the details of story telling rather than just relying on the zombie action to move the narrative forward.
Tonight's episode of the Walking Dead was especially strong. For once, they let our people be genuinely smart and they paid off on Rick's "promise" to Gareth from the season premiere. It also ended on an appropriate mysterious note. I also officially admire the show runners for making the season 5 premiere so deceptive. (Watch the above video from about :48 to 1:04 to see what I mean.) This gambit created genuine suspense in tonight's episode. Well done.
The writers did cheat once in this episode. I'm not sure it was really realistic for Abraham to split from Rick's group as quickly as they did, but splitting the group in two does make it easier to write complex and overlapping episodes going forward. It's safe to say that the groups will meet up again, but it's almost certain that we'll lose at least one character from each side before that happens.
Here are the two rosters. The numbers match their ranking in my previous post, which was based on how much I would miss these characters if they died.
A-Team: The Ricktatorship B-Team: The Small Bus to D.C.
1. Rick 6. Maggie
2. Darryl 7. Glenn
3. Judith 11. Rosita
4. Carl 17. Abraham
5. Michonne 18. Tara
8. Tyrese (40%). 19. Eugene
15. Father Gabriel
Well, the A Team is the A Team for a reason. They have the best leadership. I would want Darryl, Rick and Michonne on my team before anyone from B-Team and Tyres and Sasha are also great survivors. Even Carl is pretty useful, and getting smarter all the time. Father Gabriel and Judith don't bring much to the fight, but neither does Eugene.
I assume that Abraham will act like the B-Team captain. But we all know Maggie and Glenn are infinitely smarter than him and every bit as brave. Abraham is a great NCO, but I suspect he's not cut out for major command. If this was my unit, I would hang Captain's bars on Maggie and let the rest of the team do their part to not screw things up.
There are some pieces missing from this chess board. Four, by my count:
C Team: The Wild Cards.
Tonight's curtain line was Darryl saying "Come on out" to someone that we could not see. Forty eight hours have passed since he and Carol got in that car to chase after the car that Darryl recognized as the one driven by Beth's abductors. We know from the coming previews that next week's episode will show us that Beth is in some kind of hospital in downtown Atlanta. I suspect that a lot of the clips we see will be from the weeks or months between Beth's kidnapping and the events at the church. But I don't think the entire episode will be in that hospital. (Maybe I'm giving the writers too much credit here, but I hope they learned from the fan response to last year's Governor only episodes and the episode about how Darryl doesn't kiss Beth.)
I don't think Darryl is with Carol because his voice is very curt towards whoever it is that's behind him in the woods. I don't think we will see Morgan just yet, as we know he comes to the vicinity of Terminus by himself. So Darryl is probably with someone new. There have been rumors that Morales might return to the show this year. The actor who plays Morales stoked these rumors by posting some photos on social media that seemed to imply he was back on set. Maybe he headed towards Atlanta after things went bad for him in Birmingham. Darryl would have remembered him, so maybe that will be him stepping out to join.
Which still Begs the question: what happened to Carol. Obviously that story closely relates to Beth's whereabouts since she was last seen pursing her kidnappers. Darryl's company, whether it's Morales or someone else will probably know where Beth is. Those stories could connect in a big way and we probably will have a feel for what the rest of this half of the season will be like after next week. But here's my stab at what Primary and Secondary stories of the next 5 episodes will be.
The Coming Episodes, Predictions.
Episode 4 ("Slabtown") : I want this episode to be equal parts Beth in the hospital and What Happened to Carol and Darryl. But the title seems to refer to the hospital where Beth has been taken. My hunch is that 90% of the episode will be about Beth but I hope we at least get a few minutes at the end to show us who is with Darryl. Maybe just a quick scene to establish that they have to go to Atlanta to find her.
Episode 5 ("The Choice"): Rick and the A-Team set out to find and/or free Beth. Maggie and the B-Team meander Northward, get hit by walkers and someone dies. I suspect "the choice" refers to either the A-team deciding whether to go after Beth or Team B having to choose whether to press on to DC or accept some sort of diversion, like helping a newly discovered group of suvivors.
Episode 6 ("Heart Drift"): Resolution, one way or the other, of Beth's story and more complications for Team B on the Road to DC. Whose heart could be drifting? I really hope this isn't about Darryl being torn between Beth and Carol but no other options come to mind.
Episode 7 ("Crossed") Well the title opens a few possibilities. The Cross could refer to the cross on the back of the car that Darry and Carol chased after, but I think it more likely refers to the A and B teams crossing paths. (A phrase that was used by Gareth tonight.) So I assume the teams will meet up, mourn their respective losses and then head north.
Episode 8: As Yet Untitled: Arrival at the Alexandria Free Zone. The Alexandria Free Zone is a major part of the story in the comics. It is essentially several blocks of Alexandria, Virginia that have been made safe by a group of about 30 survivors. That sounds pretty similar to Woodbury in the comic book, so they might want to mix things up somehow. (In the comics Woodbury was never idyllic and the Governor was known to be a bad guy from the beginning.)
I suspect this half-season might just end on a relatively peaceful note. It could end up looking like a mirror image of the first half of season 4, beginning with action and ending with Rick's people in a seemingly stable environment. Of course, I think they will at least hint at the next big villain or challenge. My other hunch is that this will be the episode where we learn that Eugene and his "cure" are a crock.
Uber-nerd alert: An almost frame-by-frame look back at the season 5 preview.
I just re-watched the Season 5 Preview, with frequent use of the pause button. The only things that we haven't seen yet, with time mark are:
a. Carol and Darryl standing in the woods, weapons at the ready. (2:04) Probably from the episode where we learn what happened to them after they took off in that car.
b. Rick, Michonne, and Sasha enter some kind of store or wardrobe room. (2:20)
a. Glenn kills a walker by the side of the road (1:49)
b. Abraham decapitates a walker with a baseball bat in front of a fire house (1:55);
c. Abraham crying in anguish at a roadside (2:03). So someone from B-team catches one.
d. Abraham, Rosita and Glenn stand by the cab of a truck as the walkers exit that fire house (2:10)
e. 5. The church bus goes airborne over what appears to be a parked car. (2:14). This one has the look of Eugene screwed up again.
The last 30 seconds show Beth in the hospital, some of which we saw in the previews of next week's episode. At 2:45 we see her apparently looking for an escape route. We then see either a walker or a female inmate/patient biting a guard. Then we see Beth shoot a walker in the face with a hand gun. At 2:50 she is shown running away from the building in her hosptial gown. A male inmate/patient is standing behind her but doesn't look to be running.
i. Carl and Roista pointing guns at someone in an office. (2:14) This could be an outtake from tonight's episode. The office looks similar to Gabriel's. Or maybe they wind up in another office after the teams cross paths again.
ii. A bus (but I don't think it's the church short bus) goes off of a bridge in downtown Atlanta. (2:23) This is probably from when they spring Beth out of the hospital.