Every once in a blue moon, The Walking Dead takes a break from the divergent path it has made from the comic books in order to really bring it back to the source material. While the first three episodes of this season have varied in characters, their likeness to the comic books is completely uncanny. Whether or not it has done Robert Kirkman’s story justice is up for debate. If you’re having a hard time hitting the nail on the head, why not just get a bigger hammer, right? Viewers who have not read the comic books are in for a special treat, but avid readers may not get as much out of this episode as they would have liked.
In some ways, “Four Walls and A Roof” translates the events of the issues it takes its materials from (Volume 11: Fear the Hunters) flawlessly. The writers are able to seamlessly blend the events of the comic books with what has already happened at Terminus – a concept that doesn’t exist in the books – and make it all flow together. Word for word, the entire “Tainted Meat” scene is taken from The Walking Dead #66, and was a horrifying, yet appropriate way to open up the episode. We knew Bob had to go after we saw him legless at the end of “Strangers,” but that doesn’t mean he can’t go out in style, because he said the line we were all waiting for, and went out like a true G.
The Terminians, as the show has branded them, have always been a smart group of people. I mean, how else would they have been able to take back their camp, survive for so long, AND get the upper-hand on Rick’s group? Their downfall, however, would be their ridiculous arrogance. Leaving themselves a trail like Hansel and Gretel to get back to Terminus (is there even anything left there?) is inviting anybody – say, Morgan for example – to follow them. Also, while painting a big bloody “A” on the church when they returned Bob was spooky, a notion to the group that the Terminians still had them trapped, but it gave themselves away too early on.
However, Rick and Co. prove that their arrogance would be their undoing, as a small group trick the Terminians into entering the church under the pretense that all the strong members were leaving the weaker ones at the church to ambush the Terminians, but were rearing back around to surprise them. It was all going well until somebody, once again, decided to bring the baby to the apocalypse party. I swear, Judith better have the cure to the zombie virus because she is a complete crutch at this point. The scene where Rick finally finishes off Gareth and the rest of the Terminians is pretty quick. There’s not nearly as much build-up as I felt there were in the books, and even the poetic justice of Rick hacking away at Gareth with the red machete is a bit cliché. I would like to think that if I am about to commit gruesome revenge murder on somebody who just ate my friend’s leg, that I would have come up with a better punchline than “I already made you a promise.”
While the scene that unfolded in the comic books was not as visually vile as the one on the TV show, I felt an inane sense of horror reading it. The reaction that Rick, Sasha and Michonne get from the others is half-surprise, half-disgust. From the get-go, Maggie, Glenn and Tara have always known Rick’s group to be the “good guys,” which definitely challenges the idea of Rick gutting Gareth like a pig. Could that have been an influence for them to immediately join Abraham’s group in traveling to “Washington DC?” It seems as though Glenn has become the voice of reason in the group, and while Rick is not talking into disconnected telephones anymore, he sure doesn’t seem level-headed. Glenn even has to use his balls of steel to tell Rick to stand down.
With another episode of The Walking Dead in the books, we lose another group member in Bob. Bob’s character has gone through quite the transformation, going from the drunkard that Daryl almost through off a roof to a solid member of the team, and the only one able to crack the ice cold persona that Sasha had. The actor behind the Bob, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., has always been a Hush favorite. His place on the show has always been an auxiliary one, not one of great importance. Hey, at least he lasted longer here than he did on The Wire.
Speaking of that timeless show, the guy who really stole the show here was Seth Gilliam (Ellis Carver in The Wire), who plays the timid Father Gabriel. Under the confession-influencing blade of Sasha, Gabriel spills the beans about his cowardice when his congregation came to him at the start of the outbreak. Gabriel’s teary confession was both chilling and sad, making us really feel for him as a character. Gilliam plays the character to a T, really exploring the depths of his acting ability and making him instantly recognizable as the same character in the books. Although not necessary “useful” in the traditional sense of murdering scores of the undead, his spiritually-driven words will ground Rick Grimes, who seems to be teetering off the edge of normalcy.
Aside from the fact that the episode is primarily taken directly from the source material, there are a few Easter Eggs that the show refers to that might be of interest:
- When Father Gabriel voices his disapproval of the church slaughter to Michonne, and explains that he still hears the voices, Michonne coldly says, “Yeah, that won’t stop – hearing the voices.” This could be a reference to Michonne’s comic book character, who, like Rick and his phone, talks to her former lover through her Katana. When she states earlier that she did not miss the sword, perhaps she was trying to move on, but the pull of having it was a bond to more than just her killer, badass self, and more to the loved ones she has lost before joining the group.
- The marquee in the church has a series of Bible passages that relate specifically to the zombie apocalypse, or the second coming of Jesus, or whatever:
- Romans 6.4: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
- Ezekial 37.7: “So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.”
- Matthew 27.52: And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised”
- Revelations: 9.6: “During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.“
- Luke 24.5: “In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
- Although not exactly in sync with The Walking Dead timeline, Morgan does make a brief appearance in the books about 15-20 issues after the Hunters are dealt with. It doesn’t look like Morgan is in the same frail state of mind we left him in Kings County seasons ago. Will he be good? Bad? Crazy?
Hush Comics gives “Four Walls and A Roof” a B for its solid adaptation of one of the most brutal chapters in this now over a decade-long series. The episode has effectively transformed Rick’s group into cold-hearted killers, where the role of the “good guy” is extremely subjective. The acting in the episode was phenomenal, from Andrew J West as Gareth to Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel. However, I feel like comic book fans got the raw deal here. Where the show largely succeeds is its variation from the source material, and what he got here was a complete reenactment of what we already knew would happen. We would have liked to see a bit more originality and suspense. We do know that next week’s episode “Slabtown” will at least give us that much, as we get to see just what the hell Beth has been up to. #praythestrainaway?