Walkers melted to the street.
You read that right. Meet Exhibit A as to why, no matter how hardened you are to this show, they keep topping themselves. What they do with that is a new low, or high I suppose, depending on whether you think your vomit bag is half full or half empty.
This week is a mishmash of stuff setting up yet another big battle finale. The main story, prepping for the assault on Grady Memorial, works reasonably well. We also get a little "Field and Stream" education, apocalypse style, from Glen and company on the road. The only storyline that falls flat is Father Gabriel. I can forgive him being a coward. It's the hyperventilating idiot part for which I'm having trouble turning the other cheek.
We open with the group working to make Father Gabriel's church safe. Sasha's hacking up a pew bench to get boards to cover the windows, while Tyreese and Daryl use the organ pipes to make a fence around the front door. Father Gabriel puts on his best useless wimp face and whines "Do you want to take the cross, too?" Darryl disses him appropriately. "If we need it."
Honestly. How can someone have lasted this long in the zombie apocalypse and still be so attached to material things? And don't tell me he's a man of God. He turned his back on his parishioners when they needed him, a lot worse act than hacking up a pew bench for raw materials. It's like the writers are going out of their to make Gabriel pitiful and useless in a way no real human being who survived this long could be. He even obsesses with trying to remove bloodstains from the floor (remember the cannibals dispatched back in episode 3?) while everyone else is busy making his church secure.
It's four walls and a roof, pal. Get over it.
Carl and Michonne stay at the church with baby Judith. Everyone else loads up and heads to Atlanta to rescue Beth and Carol. Father Gabriel continues to wipe away at those bloodstains until a put out Carl offers to teach him how to use weapons. Gabriel decides he needs to lie down. It's an awful scene. He all but stands up and says "Oh mercy me, I do declare, I have the vapors." Michonne even tries to give this loser a pep talk, to no avail. The man belongs on a sitcom, not "The Walking Dead."
Rick wants to infiltrate the hospital using the information they've received from Noah, doing whatever damage is necessary to rescue their own. Tyreese demurs. Why not just take a couple of Grady's cops hostage to make a trade? Daryl agrees. Keep it simple, and everyone goes home.
In Grady Memorial, Head Cop Dawn is arguing with another cop about Carol. He thinks the newest arrival is a lost cause since the juice she's using up on machines could be used to recharge his DVD player instead. Nice guy. Dawn can't hold these asshats together, so she agrees to turn off Carol's equipment while giving Beth the key to the drug locker. It's suddenly Beth's job to inject whatever drugs give Carol her best chance on the down low.
Beth does it, then holds Carol's hand.
Abraham is still on his knees, semi-catatonic in the middle of the road after last week's revelation that Eugene is a fraud. Eugene is still beaten unconscious after last week's revelation that he's a fraud. Abraham definitely has the better half of that stick. Maggie gets the unenviable job of watching over them while Tara, Glen and Rosita head out to get water from a creek. They pass some walkers pinned under a power pole that fell along the way. It's a cheap laugh.
The water is muddy, so Rosita teaches them how to filter it. Glen notices some fish, so it's back to the pinned walkers to stick knives in their head. Seems they were wearing jackets with mesh lining, which Rosita and Glen tear out to make a net.
They catch a fish. Tara finds a yoyo. Eugene wakes up while Abraham finally drinks some water. Days don't get much better than that in the zombie apocalypse. It's cute and touching, something the show has been doing better and better since we ended the dreary Governor arc. Just because the world has gone to s**t doesn't mean everyone in it has to be a s**t.
A little light goes a long way.
Next up? One truly incredible gross out. Rick's gang uses Noah as the bait to capture two of Grady's officers. A third officer shows up and frees them. The gang shoots out his tires, which leads to a chase through the remains of an evacuee assembly point that burned. It's now a field of raw Walkers melted to the street. Good Lord. But if you think they're content to just show that in overview, you don't know this show.
Darryl gets tackled by the third officer. He's being choked while a straining melted Walker mouth gets closer and closer. What do you do? If you answered stick your fingers into the Walker's eye sockets, rip its head loose and swing it like a bowling ball into the officer's skull, well congratulations. You could be a writer on "The Walking Dead."
That actually did happen. It's one of the most awesomely awful things I've ever seen. Still beats Helix though, which is simply awful.
So what do you follow that up with? If you simply concede it can't be topped, you give up and go back to the irritating Father Gabriel. He whimpers and mewls and looks all hysterical, in an incompetent sort of way, as he pulls up a floor board and escapes through the crawl space below. Of course he steps on a nail first thing out. I'm sure he soiled his pants, too. Gabriel wanders off into the woods to be freaked out by a Walker he can't bring himself to kill. Can't we just give him tetanus and have him die?
Preferably off screen.
The nicest of the captured police officers talks Sasha into dropping her guard. He then knocks her out and flees, thus setting up next week's big finale, a battle between Rick's group and some hospital group we neither know nor care about. Hard to see how that can top Terminus, but I wouldn't have believed in Walkers melted to the road before tonight, either.
This show has genuinely picked up its game since the Governor lost his last election. It's more than just gross now. It's good.