Warning: Spoiler Alert
Gareth loves the sound of his own voice. So much so that he can’t stop talking, even as he’s eating Bob’s leg.
After Terminus fell, he explains, the group struck camp “here” (outside a building that’s filled with walkers). They marked their way across the woods as they searched for Rick’s group. They’ve been planning to hunt and eat them since their home (or, gross cannibal slaughterhouse) burned down. They’ve planned to exact revenge and eat their enemies from the beginning. Maybe the group should have listened to Rick and gone back to finish them off, after all.
Bob weeps. Gareth tries to justify the prospect of Terminus. It was sanctuary at first, and then it wasn’t, and so they would give people a choice: either join them, or feed them. Bears in the wild will eat their cubs if they’re starving. They’re going to destroy Rick and company because they attacked them. Blah, blah, blah, Gareth. It’s hard to believe anything you have to say, even with your natural, no-nonsense, white-boy demeanor, when you’ve got a greasy chunk of human flesh hanging out of your mouth. It’s all very richly shot—hazy waves of firelight catches the filthy, self-loathing faces of the Termites (I’m falling in line with Hardwick’s nickname for the group). It reflects on the window panes of the adjacent building, obscuring the dozens of walker hands that paw at the glass. Bob’s weeping turns to choked sobs. Then, the choked sobs turn to laughter. They sickening haze of smoke from Bob’s fire-roasted leg hangs in the air as he laughs and laughs. It seems they’ve made a mistake.
He rips open his shirt to reveal the bite wound he received earlier, at the food bank.
Termites, I wonder, were any of you concerned about pink slime hamburger meat before the zombie apocalypse?
Everyone begins vomiting, but Gareth is confident that, since they cooked the meat, they won’t be infected. Such a cool head in a frenzied storm, that one. I suppose once you start eating human flesh, all your other problems seem small enough to manage.
Back at the church, Sasha has noticed that Bob is missing and is in the woods looking for him. She wastes a few walkers, and she’s possibly in over her head, but she’s backed up by Tyreese and Rick in the nick of time. She insists that she saw someone stalking the camp through the night-vision scope on her gun, but Rick corrals her back inside.
They’ve noticed that Carol and Daryl are missing as well, and Sasha has had exactly enough of all of this shit. Between Gabriel’s trembling and strange behavior that nearly got them all killed, Bob nearly dying at the food bank, and the message carved into the church, she wants to know Gabriel’s story. He begins to sob, and explains: He locked the church doors at night as he always did. In the early hours of the morning, his congregation convened on the church, seeking refuge as the walkers began to overrun everything nearby. But, Gabriel became terrified of their screams, and remained hidden inside the church.
His congregation was subsequently ripped apart by a passing herd, and he’s constantly haunted by their screams.
And he kinda should.
The group seems satisfied to know the truth, but the three missing among them is still a problem. There’s a noise outside. The Termites have left Bob, unconscious, just outside. He’s hustled inside, and reveals everything—Gareth’s plan to kill everyone, the fact that Daryl and Carol drove off, and that he’s been bitten.
They lay Bob out to die on the sofa in Gabriel’s office, but there’s never much time to mourn in this world. Gabriel says that the school that Bob described is a ten minute walk away. Abraham, of course, wants to bail immediately and head to DC in the bus. Rick refuses to leave with so many missing. The confrontation is very Alpha Male vs. Alpha Male, as Abraham wants to take the bus since he got it running, and Rick is unwilling to let it go. Abraham insists that getting Eugene to Washington is more important than waiting around for anyone else. Glenn eventually intercedes, saying that it’s foolish to set out in the dead of night anyway. Eventually, they compromise. At noon, Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita, along with Tara, Glenn, and Maggie, will set out to DC. In the meantime, though, there’s some Termites that need to be exterminated.
The group assemble at the altar of the church, preparing weapons and their plan of attack. Abraham admits that Rick’s plan (which involves surprising them somehow) is ballsy but questions their chances of success. Rick insists that it’ll be the way to go. He, Michonne, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, and Abraham set out into the woods. They leave Rosita, Eugene, Carl, Gabriel, and Tyreese behind to look after Judith and Bob.
As the group slips away from the church, a silhouette emerges from the woods down the road. And another. And another. The Termites are moving in for an ambush, led by always-prepared, always-focused Gareth himself. (I can’t decide if his personality is creepy-Boy-Scout-gone-psycho, or business-frat-dudebro, or marketing-major-slimeball. Any thoughts?)
The Termites enter the church slowly, and Gareth again narrates his plans. They know who is in the church and who has left already. And if they give themselves up, they might be able to die quickly instead of horrifically and painfully. Carl and crew wait in the office with guns drawn. An ill-timed cry from Judith gives away their location. Gareth gives the order to two of his people to blow the door of the room.
Their heads explode.
Rick advances from the back of the church, firing silenced bullets into the Termites, blowing off Gareth’s trigger fingers in the process. The rest of the group descend on the Termites, and when it’s clear that they’re outgunned, Gareth begins to plead for mercy. You haven’t killed us yet, he begs, you want us to live otherwise you would have killed us by now! No, Rick explains. They just didn’t want to waste
the ammo. Plus, he promised Gareth that he’d chop off his head with a machete. Rick Grimes is a man of his word.
And the bloodbath ensues. (I’ll admit, after the totally powerless rage I felt during the attack on the prison, this season has some pretty sweet revenge scenes so far). Sasha, Abraham, and Michonne join Rick in executing the Fine Young Cannibals (yeah everyone is making that joke and now so am I). Many of the others, notably Glenn and Maggie, watch on. As the last bit of bone is ruptures the last bit of brain, Gabriel decries that this “is the Lord’s house” and seems to suggest that the carnage that happened within is of some especially grave consequence. But Maggie soberly declares that it’s “just four walls and a roof.” “The Lord’s house” was an idea that humanity could afford before they started killing and eating each other while seeking shelter through hordes of infectious, reanimated corpses. That’s not the world they live in anymore.
But even on his deathbed, Bob won’t admit to this world’s nightmare. He explains to Sasha that he didn’t want to tell her that he was bit, because once he did, their relationship would become about the end and he “was really enjoying the middle.” Bob dies slowly in the peaceful morning, as the bodies of the Termites get cleared out of the hall of the church. He reiterates to Rick that the world is still worth something as long as they’re able to retain their integrity and respect for humanity. Rick, cradling a dozing Judith in his arms, agrees.
In the end, Sasha is sitting with Bob. He wakes, looks up at her, and smiles. If he weren’t dying, I’d feel like his optimism would begin to exasperate Sasha. But she indulges him, and asks him why he’s smiling. He was dreaming, he supposes, and in his dream, Sasha was smiling at him, so he smiled back at her. Smiling like only someone with their heart breaking can smile, she asks Bob what good will come of the loss of him in her life.
He doesn’t answer.
Sasha pulls out her knife, but Tyreese comes in and takes it from her. He won’t let his sister be the one to put a blade in the temple of the man she loves. Tyreese pauses, and trembles, but sinks the blade into Bob’s brain before he begins to turn.
Abraham sets out for Washington in the bus with Tara, Maggie, and Glenn, as agreed upon. He gives Rick a map with their route highlighted, hoping that they’ll catch up to them once they find Daryl and Carol and get on the road. He’s written a note on the map, as well. Seems even Alpha Males with ridiculous facial hair can admit to being assholes. Washington, he continues, will need Rick Grimes.
Across the thick, weedy lawn, Tyreese is digging a mass grave to dump the Termites’ bodies in. Rick helps him. He asks Tyreese what happened before he reached Terminus. Tyreese confesses, wide-eyed, that what happened has killed him. Rick disagrees. The men continue to dig.
That night, as Michonne (who has plucked her sword back from a Termite corpse’s knapsack) sits on the steps of the church. Gabriel joins her, giving another trembling confession of grief. Michonne’s nonplussed, but offers that the horrific memories may fade over time.
There’s a noise in the woods. Gabriel scurries inside while Michonne stands to investigate. It’s definitely a noise, definitely in the darkest part of the wood’s edge. A figure emerges.
It’s Daryl? But he’s not alone. “Come on out,” he urges.
And then the credits roll.
It’s just enough carnage for closure, since assuredly next week we’ll be finding out what has happened to Beth.
The Story Continues Next Sunday At 10:00 pm on AMC.