Episode: 502
Airdate: October 19, 2014
Directed by: David Boyd
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Robert Kirkman

Last week’s season opener was a stunning hour (or 42 minutes, really) of thrills and non-stop action, definitely in my top 3 episodes of all time – and perhaps my favorite. If you’d like to know more about my take, check out my review here, or find a link to my new podcast with my friend and fellow viewer Dan here.

So, after such an explosive start, how do Scott Gimple and co. intend to follow up? It would be impossible, both from a special effects budget perspective and because of the potential long-term damage to the hearts of fans due to adrenaline overdose, to try to continue at the same pace established last week. The producers will likely tone things back several notches, and allow us all to take a collective breath after the exciting events at Terminus. Click through after the break for a look at the Preview video and some early pictures released by AMC this week.

<<Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 2 “Strangers” includes promotional material from AMC, and will speculate on future events.>>

With Terminus burned to the ground, and the whereabouts and health of Gareth in question (we definitely haven’t seen the end of him, as has been indicated in some of the early Season 5 preview videos released over the summer), what are our intrepid survivors going to do? I suspect that whatever they choose, it’s going to involve a lot of walking, at least until they can procure enough transportation to accommodate their now suddenly expanded group – a group that is about to get a bit bigger yet again. Before getting into that, let’s take a look at the Preview video released by AMC:


In a nutshell, we have Bob and Sasha playing a game Sasha calls “the good out of the bad” and making all kissy-face, when a yell for help in the woods has Carl pushing Rick into action. It’s interesting to see Bob becoming the group optimist, a position usually filled by Glenn. Maybe they’ll become buddies.

Glenn, looking for meaning as Bob takes over as "group's most optimistic member"

Glenn, looking for meaning as Bob takes over as “group’s most optimistic member”

A few comments here. First, while Gimple and Nicotero said on last week’s Talking Dead episode that there would be more romantic liaisons beyond the Maggie/Glen connection happening this season, it always concerns me when I see it happening. I mean, seriously, who among you is not waiting for either of Maggie or Glen to bite it? The more sympathetic the characters, the higher the stakes when one of them is put in jeopardy. Last week, when Bob had Gareth’s knife at his eye, did anyone feel particularly worried? About Bob “I’m basically a non-entity” Stookey? But what happens if Sasha, Tyreese’s little sister, falls in love with him? The ante definitely gets upped, if only a little. Now try this with a Daryl/Carol or a Daryl/Beth relationship, and suddenly you get the idea – Gimple is an insidious bastard, trying to toy with our emotions. I love it.

Carl, about to get all helpful and stuff

Carl, about to get all helpful and stuff

Second, has Carl not learned a single thing for all the angst-ridden pouting and mistakes that took up most of his time in the latter half of Season 4? I’m growing to like Carl a bit more than I did before – Chandler Riggs is not a great actor, but he’s definitely learning and becoming stronger. However, if Carl keeps making the same errors, it calls into question the direction that Gimple wants to take his character’s arc. Last season, Carl heard a man yelling for help, and he took off on Rick and Michonne, nearly exposing them to a small herd of walkers (the problem with having random survivors dying in stupid ways, even though they’ve been around through two-plus years of the zombie apocalypse, is a topic for another day). So here he is, after surviving Terminus – where you’d think his primary lesson would be “Don’t trust what you see and hear from others” – and he’s ready to run off all gung-ho once again. To his credit, he does wait until Rick gives a reluctant nod to the rest of the group before taking off pell-mell into the woods.

Third, what’s with Rick’s sudden indecisiveness? It’s only momentary, and it’s barely noticeable, but go back and look at the end of the video again, focusing on how he reacts to Carl. He goes from concern, to disbelief, to a flash of anger (when he crinkles his nose), to resignation in an instant. There is a sense of decisiveness as he begins to run, but the flash of emotions says two things: first, Abraham Lincoln is emoting well, with nary a hung head (his usual method of showing concern, as he turns his head down and to the right or left), and that the bad-ass Rick who did what he had to last week might not be the permanent face we end up seeing. Yes, Rick has shown amazing transformative powers in the past, but what this group needs is a strong Rick/Carol take-no-prisoners approach in order to survive. Other survivors that have lived this long? They’re not going to be blanketed in snowy-white innocence. The group should always be ready to do what it must to survive, or it’s going to cost them – and that begins with the leadership. Hopefully this was just a momentary glitch, and bad-ass Rick is here to stay.

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes

Some of the other preview material from last week’s Talking Dead, as well as from the summer, show that the yells are from a minister stuck on a rock, surrounded by walkers. He’s Father Gabriel Stokes, played by Seth Gilliam. Gilliam will best be remembered for his long run as Detective Ellis Carver in The Wire, although more recently he’s found himself in lighter fare such as Teen Wolf. He can bring the gravity needed for a serious character on a serious show, so that does bode well. Father Gabriel is also another fan favorite character from the comics, so it will be interesting to see if he’s played relatively true to his origin, or is changed wholesale for the television show.

All of that said, let’s not forget last week’s stinger, with Morgan [Lennie James] showing up on the group’s trail. If they stop for anytime whatsoever, it is likely he’ll catch up to them. That should be a reunion worth watching. Here’s hoping that tonight’s episode is able to ratchet down the adrenaline a bit, while still maintaining all the promise that this season has early on.

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