“The Walking Dead” has its best lineup of characters yet in Season 5. All of its survivors are hardened yet endearing people, and it’s hard to find a weak link among them — at least, not anymore.
With seasons to develop characters like Rick, Carl, Michonne, Carol, Daryl, Glenn and Maggie, each of them feels integral to the DNA of “The Walking Dead.” Even relative newcomers like Tyreese and Sasha have endeared themselves to viewers, making all of them feel unkillable in a show that prides itself on the mantra “no one is safe.”
There’s all those awesome, fully developed characters, and then there’s Bob Stookey. If there was to be a weak link in “The Walking Dead’s” group of survivors, it was him. After being introduced in Season 4, “The Walking Dead” didn’t take much time to develop him. He was an alcoholic, then he wasn’t, then he and Sasha struck up a romance. In a show that has much better writing than it’s given credit for, Bob drew the short straw.
If someone had to die in the early “The Walking Dead” Season 5 episodes — and in the zombie apocalypse, someone always has to die — it was obvious that it would be Bob. That’s the biggest problem with him being the one to go in episode 3, “Four Walls and a Roof.” For the material he had, actor Lawrence Gillard Jr. did a great job turning Bob into a fully fleshed out character, particularly in the first few episodes of Season 5. But his death didn’t pack a gut punch the way losing Hershel, Lori and Andrea did.
“The Walking Dead” loses some of its bite when it becomes predictable, and killing off Bob was very predictable. It became obvious when he got taken by Gareth and the Hunters in episode 2 that he wasn’t going to last much longer, and he didn’t. Though the twist that he had been bit before the Hunters took him was great — “TAINTED MEEEAAAT!!!” — he ultimately died by the end of episode 3, and had Tyreese prevent him from reanimating as a walker.
Wouldn’t it have been more shocking for Bob to live after losing a leg like Hershel did instead of immediately dying? Or to have someone like Glenn, or Michonne, or Daryl taken instead? But even while writing those names down it’s hard to imagine “The Walking Dead” without those characters. Each one has an important role to fill, and Bob wasn’t at that point yet. Maybe he could have been one day, but he wasn’t given the time to become integral to the show before his death.
With Bob gone, “The Walking Dead” is back to having mostly “safe” characters. Let’s face it: Rick isn’t dying anytime soon, Maggie won’t get axed and audiences love Daryl and Carol too much for them to go. The core group feels unkillable, and with new characters like Father Gabriel being brought into the picture it’s clear the show is restocking its Redshirts.
But maybe that’s exactly the sort of lull “The Walking Dead” writers have in mind. If audiences feel like their favorite characters are safe, that’s exactly the perfect time to have them lose the ones they love — “Game of Thrones” has become a pro at this technique by this point. Still, it’s a shame Bob was the one who had to bite the metaphoric story bullet here and die because he was the least developed and easiest to lose.
Were you disappointed that Bob Stookey died so soon?