This second episode was not nearly as strong as the premiere but it saw the introduction of some characters and moments very familiar to fans of the comic books, no doubt due in some part to Robert Kirkman himself penning this one.
The beginning of 'Strangers' is dedicated to mending character relationships after all the chaos. Tara - who I forgot was even in this show - makes good with Rick and Maggie. Tyreese forgives Carol. Sasha and Bob are suddenly in a relationship (convenient timing - more on that later). There is also more talk about Eugene's plan for DC and the so-called cure (we all know by now he's full of shit, right?).
Then we are introduced to Gabriel, who comic book fans should recognize:
Though a few things are out of order, Gabriel's introduction to the story is pretty much right on schedule. It seems Kirkman is planning to follow his backstory pretty closely, based on those knife marks on the side of the church. I'm already loving Seth Gilliam as Gabriel - he brings just the right combination of cowardice and untrustworthiness.
I am most curious as to how this all ties into Beth's abduction. Ever since we first spotted the cross on the back of that vehicle, fans have been speculating about Gabriel. That theory never made much sense to me, however, since the priest is pretty harmless. That is not to say the show's writers couldn't have other plans in mind for him. I had simply assumed that vehicle was tied to the burial home where Beth was taken, but seeing as that locale is long gone and the car resurfaces just as we meet Gabriel, well, it's no coincidence. So I'm curious to see where that goes.
The big zombie scene of the episode takes place in a food bank full of water-logged walkers. They looked good, especially that nasty one that attacked Bob:
Still, the scene did feel a bit too reminiscent of the far-superior Big Spot! scene from the season 4 premiere (where it rained zombies). Anyway, when Bob gets attacked, it's pretty much clear to us right away that he is hiding a bite, made all the more obvious by his "One more" kiss to Sasha in the church. And I figured he would get jumped by Gareth & co. outside, but I did NOT expect what followed (and what is about to follow).
**WARNING: COMIC BOOK SPOILERS AHEAD**
Once again, fans of the comic book should be excited because we know exactly what is coming! It was actually #1 on my list of shocking plots I wanted to see from the comics! The campfire scene played out a little differently of course, with Dale:
Even more exciting than the prospect of Bob manically laughing and yelling, "Tainted meat!" is the prospect of Rick & co. brutally murdering the Terminus crew. It is a dark path that needs to be taken and I for one cannot wait!
**END COMIC BOOK SPOILERS**
Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but mostly that was because I get really excited when the show follows the comics closely. As much as I've always wanted the series to go its own way and give me new material, Sophia's death was really the only original moment to wow me on the level of the books. Dale's TV death came close, as well. Every other brilliant, gruesome moment happened when the writers steered back toward Kirkman's sick mind. Hell, most of the items on my aforementioned list have only recently come to fruition thanks to Gimple. So fuck it, keep the good stuff coming! I'd rather see the same storylines I already read brought to life than suffer another boring plotline like the prison virus.