Who are the good guys? It's all a matter of perspective, although the poor explanation for the Terminus "hunters" becoming cannibals means we're still on grizzled Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) side, despite the fact he brutally murdered someone with a machete in the aisle of a church. But what do churches represent these days? Can there be a God if he's allowed this zombie apocalypse to happen? Father Gabriel's (Seth Gilliam) appalled Rick's group slaughtered people in the Lord's House, but for Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and the others it's just "four walls and a roof". A place of momentary sanctuary on this journey with an unclear destination; although Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) kindly left Rick with a map to Washington D.C, having now departed on his mission to cure the world with half of Rick's team.
This season's working very well so far, and that's down to the fact it's not biting off more than it can chew. Please excuse the pun, in an episode featuring zombies and cannibals. Here, Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) managed to avoid being slowly devoured by revealing to chief captor Gareth (Andrew J West) that he's "tainted meat", having been bitten by a walker, and is duly dumped on the steps of St Sarah's Church.
There followed another Rick vs Gareth confrontation with the church as their arena for an overnight 'grudge match', but I was pleased this storyline ended definitively. Rick outmanoeuvred Gareth's hunters with relative ease, reminding us he's the alpha male right now. Gareth's clique had a very effective honey-trap in Terminus, but it appears their survival skills were a little overrated in the real world.
Of course, the sequence where Rick and his comrades viciously butchered Gareth and his men in a holy place of worship was supposed to be shocking, and to an extent it was. If only as a stark reminder of how different season 5 Rick Grimes is to the frightened, confused man we first met wandering around an abandoned hospital five years ago.
There was a time when Rick might have imprisoned Gareth and maybe organised a trial, to try and maintain some semblance of pre-zombie civilisation... but now? It's much easier, and perhaps more sensible, to just kill dangerous people like they're rabid dogs. The world's a very different place and you either adapt to the nihilism or you die trying to uphold a moral code that, frankly, has been bent out of shape by necessity.
It was sad to say goodbye to Bob, too. We haven't had enough time to get to know him, despite the fact he was introduced a whole season ago, but I liked Gilliard's performance and everyone's reaction to the news Bob's hours are numbered after getting bitten was really good.
Enough was done to make me care about his quiet, dignified demise. Interestingly, I hear it was Rick's best-friend Shane who suffered Bob's fate in the comics, but the TV show went off piste with Shane's demise in season 2. So how did Bob actually die in the comics? Or is he still surviving? I don't seriously want answers for fear of spoilers, but it's interesting when The Walking Dead rejigs things to try and stay vaguely on-track with the source material.
We also discovered that Gabriel's sin was allowing dozens of people to die outside his church, as he was too scared to let anyone take refuge from the walkers, so believes he's damned to Hell. That colours his character very nicely, away from the naïve coward he was introduced as, and I'm sure part of this season will involve Gabriel finding redemption for that horrific, selfish act. But when you've willingly let families and children get torn apart by zombies, because you were too scared to unbolt a door, is there any coming back from that?
Overall, this was another good episode of modest intentions, perfectly operating within the realm of what The Walking Dead does best. The hunters storyline perhaps could have lasted a few more hours, as they were effective boogiemen you couldn't hope to reason with, but I'm pleased the show has managed to split the group up again. The ability to bounce between different characters worked well in season 4, and it seems like we're headed for a similar format this year... with Rick and Abraham as heads of their respective parties, due to meet at the capital by season's end?
written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed • directed by Jeffrey F. January • 26 October 2014 • AMC