Will Rick & Co. Finally Be Safe?

Spoiler-hunting and prediction-making is fun when it comes to AMC's The Walking Dead. Since the show has source material, it's easy to look for clues about upcoming Walking Dead plot lines... but the show has also departed from Robert Kirkman's comic series enough that audiences can never be quite certain about what's coming next. It's nice that the showrunners have been able to maintain surprises for Kirkman fans and uninitiated viewers alike — although it does make hunting for clues an often difficult endeavor. Take the upcoming third episode of The Walking Dead Season 5, titled "Four Walls And A Roof." What details can we glean ahead of time?

In typical fashion, AMC's summary of the ep is frustratingly vague:

Rick and the group find themselves pitted against some very nasty people, but our group might just have a plan to gain the upper hand.

That could literally describe just about any episode in The Walking Dead's history.

What about the source material? The plot of Rick & Co. meeting Father Gabriel in a church and subsequently being assaulted by the Hunters (aka Gareth and his cannibalistic gang) is straight out of the comics. So far, it seems that this is one story line that the show is following to the letter... with one major exception: Bob Stookey has replaced Dale as the victim of the Hunters' voracious appetites. Since Dale's already been killed off on the show, there's really no way to tell how the TV version of this story is going to end.

So let's look to the title of the episode for clues. Since titles are handpicked by the show's writers, they're usually a good clue towards what's about to go down. Sometimes they're cryptic, like the Season 4 finale, titled simply "A"; sometimes they're blatant, like the Season 5 premiere, "No Sanctuary," which laid out pretty clearly that Terminus wasn't the safe haven our group was hoping for. So what can "Four Walls And A Roof" tell us about Sunday's hour?

That title clearly evokes the idea of shelter, something that's crucial in this post-apocalyptic society. You could pretty much summarize the entire series so far as "Rick & Co. find shelter; Rick & Co. feel temporarily safe; Rick & Co. lose shelter..." Rinse, wash, repeat. It seems unlikely that Father Gabriel's church will become any sort of permanent shelter for the group; if they couldn't hold onto a fortified prison, how could they hold on to a tiny place of worship?

So why the focus on shelter in this episode? For one, it plays directly into Father Gabriel's backstory, at least in the comics. Commence comics spoilers: When the zombie outbreak began, Gabriel decided his only way to survive was to horde the church's supplies for himself by locking the doors and leaving his entire congregation to perish outside. It's a decision that has weighed heavily on him ever since, and is likely a story we'll hear him tell this week. End spoilers!

While shelter has been a valuable resource in terms of regrouping and resting, it has ultimately been the source of all the group's conflict, as other desperate humans invariably attempt to take it for themselves. Perhaps Rick & Co. will finally realize that the idea of "shelter" is in itself something to be avoided because of all the inherent evil that arises from clashes over the possession of it. Since they're shepherding Eugene to Washington D.C. anyway, perhaps after hearing Gabriel's awful story, they will swear off the idea of four walls and a roof entirely, and commit to a nomadic life on the road.

Images: Gene Page/AMC (3)