The Walking Dead season 5 episode 3: When Bob was ‘tainted meat’

Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Bob Stookey - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Bob Stookey - The Walking Dead _ Season 5, Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC /

Episode 503 of The Walking Dead sees a definitive showdown between Rick’s group and the Terminus leftovers — notably Gareth and Martin…

Before the climactic moments between Rick and Gareth’s groups in season 5 episode 3 of The Walking Dead, we get to see these deviants eating portions of Bob’s leg. Not only do these people engage in cannibalism, but they also use it as a gimmick to get Bob to reveal details about Bob’s group and the church they’re staying.

When Bob starts laughing, he reveals that he was bitten by walkers the other day and that they’re eating “tainted meat.” Not finding the humor in the situation, they knock him unconscious. It was itself a fairly big moment for the series, and let’s examine why.

Where “Four Walls and a Roof” fits in philosophically

The Walking Dead has always been about societal collapse. However, when we get to see taboo behavior such as cannibalism, it ought to look different from whenever walkers pursue human prey (or other animal prey, as we’ve also seen). The terminus crew aren’t exactly mindless brutes. In fact, they frequently allude to more tranquil times where they didn’t engage in cannibalism or other subversions of normal behavior. This episode (like some others) gets into the ways people rationalize and justify the unjustifiable. Rather than taking the high road, so many people on The Walking Dead use collapse as an excuse to put aside conventional morality, which they see as holding them back.

Of course, such approaches have never just been relegated to the fictional world, as it’s sadly what happens in reality all too often. We see it in dictators, serial killers and — let’s face it — aggressive people generally. While not everyone with violent potential resorts to cannibalism, The Walking Dead reminds us that human conflict is self-defeating and potentially self-devouring. Beyond all the sloganeering and clever justifications people have, a brute is still a brute.

One might say, “Oh, my violence is so much more justified than theirs,” when in fact there are likely grey areas and a blurring of the lines. This is why, really, Bob may have sadly made a mistake by getting involved in Rick’s group. He may have been better off alone, in many ways, free to develop self-love and respect that precludes any absolute need for companionship. This, too, is an angle one can easily find in The Walking Dead universe, as we see people pay again and again for becoming too dependent on others.  Being a social animal can look like a social curse.

What is the church?

In a key moment of the episode, Father Gabriel Stokes laments the cannibal’s bodies in his church, reminding them it’s “the Lord’s house.” Maggie Greene swiftly replies: “No. It’s just four walls and a roof.” It’s an example of The Walking Dead having a hard realist position yet again. While some people may criticize story elements for being this way or that, there’s no denying that the characters (oddly) represent the world much as it is, rather than how we’d like it to be. We all want to be safe to some degree, to have everything work out, to have little to no confusion and to always make the right choices.

However, life can put people in uncompromising positions, to the extent where they’re willing to forfeit their morals and even do the unthinkable, This can be a matter of degree, Rick and crew may never resort to cannibalism. However, as we’ve seen, they are capable of things that are about as dramatic and morally murky. This is exactly what makes The Walking Dead a compelling show. Even if it can us uncomfortable, it can also make us peer deeper into the human-machine. How much better are we than those we condemn? Then again, people probably shouldn’t eat each other. Some fences aren’t exactly worth sitting on.

Next. A look back at TWD episode 502. dark

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