TWD TBT: Gareth’s Last Supper–The Symbolism of Bob Stookey
Bicycle Girl takes a look at religions symbolism and what it means for Bob in Episode 503 “Four Walls and a Roof” in this week’s The Walking Dead Throwback Thursday post
How do you ruin a cannibal’s epic bad guy monologue? Tell him you’re tainted meat!
That certainly spoiled Gareth’s fun in “Four Walls and a Roof,” which not so coincidentally is the subject of my TWD Throwback Thursday post this week.
This episode is LOADED with symbolism, but before I get into that, I want to add a quick disclaimer. We zombies appreciate people of all religions and those with no religion at all–you all taste delicious to us! That said, this article is going to discuss some Christian themes. It’s not meant to be an endorsement or a criticism of any religion.
I’ll be examining this symbolism from a secular standpoint and from the perspective of the show only. In other words, please don’t hate on me in the comments or reply with comments slamming religion! We’re not here for that.
So without further ado…here’s my hypothesis–Bob is a Jesus Christ-type figure in The Walking Dead.
What do I mean? Well, let’s take a look at what the story of Bob and his death have in common with the Biblical story of Jesus and examine some of the symbols in the episode that led me to believe this.
1. Bob Wandered Alone in the Wilderness
In Episode 413, “Alone,” we saw Bob by himself in a flashback being discovered by Daryl and Glenn. When Daryl asks Bob Rick’s questions, he reveals that he’s been on his own for a long time. He reveals that he’s never killed anyone except for one woman who asked him to, presumably because she was bitten. Matthew and Luke both talk about Jesus wandering alone in the desert for 40 days during which time he was tormented by the devil.
2. Bob Struggled with Temptation at First
Bob’s desire to drink was a major theme when he first appeared in Season 4. In the season premiere “30 Days Without an Accident,” he was nearly bitten when he pulled a shelf over on himself, trying to get a bottle of wine. In Episode 404 “Indifference,” Bob is again nearly killed because he was trying to get alcohol, leading to an intense confrontation with Daryl. During his time in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by the devil, much like Bob who was tempted by alcohol. Ultimately, Jesus resisted temptation, and similarly, after Episode 404, we really don’t see Bob tempted again.
3. Bob Went Off to Mourn When He Knew He Would Die
After being bitten in Episode 502, “Strangers,” Bob walked by himself outside. In tears, he came to grips with the fact that he was going to die. The Agony in the Garden is commonly depicted in Christian art as the time when Jesus went off alone without his disciples in Gethsemane on the day before he was taken to be crucified. During that time, he asked God to spare his life, but ultimately, he accepted his fate.
4. Bob’s Body Was Eaten
Yeah, it’s gross but think about it, but it’s true! At the Last Supper, Jesus broke bread and gave it to his disciples, saying it was a symbol of his body. Bob’s leg was physically eaten by the Termites and Gareth, and it turned out to be the last supper the survivors from Terminus would ever eat. Reinforcing the connection between these two events is the woodcut shown below. It was hanging above the couch in Father Gabriel’s office where Bob died, and it depicts the Last Supper.
5. Bob Prophesied and Focused on the Good
Like Jesus was described in the Bible, Bob brought light and joy to the people around him. One example is the game he played with Sasha where she would tell him a bad thing, and he would turn it around into a good one. He also spoke of the future as a time where everyone would be saved. During his final moments with Rick, he looked at Judith and said,
“Just look at her and tell me the world isn’t gonna change
6. There Were Other Symbols in the Office
There were two other symbols in Father Gabriel’s office that connect Bob to religion and the figure of Jesus. First, is this clock stopped right around 8:40. It’s shown just before Bob dies during his last moments with Sasha. The number 40 in Biblical symbolism refers to times of trial and testing, and the number 8 is used to symbolize resurrection after death. The clock being stopped at that time symbolizes Bob’s past struggles to survive and his impending death, I believe.
The other symbol is the cross, which was right behind Bob’s head while he was laying on the sofa. Interestingly, you don’t see it in any shots until after Bob dies in the moments when Sasha is mourning him, just like the women at Jesus’ tomb.
The Dark Final Takeaway
So as you can see, there are a lot of parallels between Bob and the figure of Jesus, but what’s really compelling about the two is the way that their stories differ. Of course, the end of Jesus’ life story isn’t his death in the Bible; it’s his resurrection, which Christians believe allows mankind to have eternal life and a chance at redemption.
Bob, however, is not resurrected. If he had been, it wouldn’t have been to ascend to Heaven. It would have been as a walker. That is the eternal life that waits in the world where the dead walk.
Ultimately, there is no redemption, no savior in the world of The Walking Dead. Everyone has to fight for themselves and find their own reason to live.
But no matter how strong you are, no matter how smart you are, no matter how skilled you are at delivering a monologue–the meal you’re eating could be your last supper.
The best you can do is live in the moment, savor your meal and hope it isn’t tainted meat.
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