24. “You Can’t Go Back, Bob”
Episode 508 “Coda”
Original Airdate: 11/30/2014
Submitted by: Liam O’Leary
If you’ve read my previous moment, I want you understand it was one of those “To tell you this story, I have to tell you that story, first.” Because, as the first half of Season Five of The Walking Dead wore on, the idea of “Good people going bad” had begun to reflect even on our protagonists. It had begun with The Group’s decimation of Gareth and his Hunters, yet, became more apparent as Rick made plans to rescue Beth from Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta; Despite the fact the hospital was being operated by a surviving squad of Atlanta police officers, Rick’s plan was, basically, to kill anyone who got in The Group’s way.
Despite Tyreese convincing Rick not to go with that plan, and instead, negotiate a trade for several of Lieutenant Dawn Lerner’s officers in exchange for Beth and Carol, Rick seemed more than happy to go with his first plan, if he felt it was warranted.
As the midseason finale, “Coda”, began, we watched as a handcuffed Officer Bob Lamson ran down the streets of Atlanta with Rick chasing him in Lamson’s patrol car, ordering him to stop. After Lamson refused to comply, rather than just corner Lamson, Rick simply slammed the officer with his car, sending him flying several feet and slamming into the pavement, presumably suffering critical injuries in the process.
As Rick steps outside of the car to confront the crippled officer, Lamson begs Rick to return him to the hospital, as he had done for Carol. Rick, likely knowing Lamson being in that condition would compromise any exchange, callously replies: “You can’t go back, Bob.”
That phrase from Rick mirrors a conversation between Bob (Stookey) and Gareth at the season’s beginning in “No Sanctuary”, where, as he, Glenn, Rick, and Daryl, are about to be killed by the butchers, Bob pleads with Gareth, telling them that they have man with them who knows how to end the apocalypse, but, Gareth refuses to release The Group, replying: “You can’t go back, Bob.”
This gave the crazy man’s words to Rick in that same episode a whole new meaning. The Termites were the same as him, and now, Rick was becoming the same as them. “We’re the same!” was no longer just mean a comparison between the crazy man and the Termites, but, now, a direct statement to Rick: They were the same, Rick’s own words being the exclamation point on the parallel.
Why does this rank in my top 100 moments of The Walking Dead? Because it showed us just how bad Rick had become. Rick had always been this incorruptibly good person, as evidenced by his impassioned plea to The Governor to bury their war and come together in harmony. Yet, now, he had become the complete opposite: A man with a blood lust, killing otherwise innocent men for defying him; Becoming little better than the villains he’d previously killed.