When we last saw our survivors, Abraham's group reluctantly agreed to go with Glenn and Tara to find Maggie. Rick, Carl and Michonne were headed toward the same destination as Tyreese, Carol and the kids. Maggie was relieved to discover that Glenn was not a bus-walker, but Bob and Sasha were concerned about her state of mind. And Beth started to lose the hope of reuniting with her loved ones, while Daryl fell into a depression after the loss of the prison.
In this week's episode, "Still," Daryl and Beth try to survive on their own and we learn more about both characters. Read on to find out if this episode of The Walking Dead
can deliver that mix of sweet zombie action and rich character development we crave.
The Walking Dead: What Does It Mean to Be a "Good" Person? >>>Getting to Know You
One of the best things about season 4B is that it gives us a chance to explore characters who have been around for a while, but who we still know precious little about. Beth has been with us since season 2, but what do we really know about her? She loves her family and she has a beautiful singing voice. We know she tried to be strong in this post-apocalyptic world by shutting down her tears and focusing on her job at the prison. But now the prison has been lost, and she has been separated from almost everyone she cares about. How will Beth keep going? What does she have, at her core, to help her survive?
One of my favorite moments in this week's episode is when Beth challenges why she has survived in this world. It feels like she is talking to the audience as much as to Daryl. Beth says she has questioned why she survived, as I imagine all of these characters do at some point. She knows she is not a warrior like Daryl or Michonne or her sister, but she survived anyway. And I think this is an important point.
It takes much more than just physical strength to survive in a world like this. Beth survived because she has heart and because she is willing to contribute to the group in whatever way she can. So if that means she has to look after the baby or sing a song to lift the mood, that is what she is going to do. Not everyone can be a warrior and that is okay. Beth's inner strength is what got her this far and it gives her a purpose in this episode -- a purpose that ends up helping Daryl, too.Beth Finds a Mission
When we pick up with the depressing adventures of Beth and Daryl, they are hiding from walkers during a thunderstorm. They find an abandoned car and take shelter in the trunk until the next morning. Once the coast is clear, they grab some supplies from the car and head back out.
The next time we see them, they have made a shabby little camp and Daryl has gone out hunting. Beth gets the camp ready by starting a fire and setting up a perimeter, and Daryl brings them some snake jerky for dinner. Beth interrupts their lack of conversation by declaring that she wants a drink, as in alcohol. It is something she has never had and that little mission gives her a reason to go on in the face of her recent losses. Daryl shows no interest in her quest for booze, but eventually joins her when she points out that it is better than sitting around doing nothing.
Their first stop on the 'find booze' mission is a country club. In the club, they find a bunch of hanging walkers, because the people who killed themselves did not know they were infected with the virus before they took their lives. They search the club for booze, but only come up with a bottle of peach schnapps. After Beth breaks down, Daryl throws the bottle away and says that her first drink is not going to be something as weak as peach schnapps.
The next stop on their 'find booze' mission takes them to a shack in the woods that reminds Daryl of a place his father once had. Daryl gathers supplies and pours Beth a glass of moonshine. She thinks it is disgusting, but continues to drink it anyway. When Daryl refuses to drink because someone needs to keep watch, Beth jokes about him being her chaperon and calls him 'Mr. Dixon.' I would just like to point out how much I enjoy these two together, and how both actors really bring their A game in this episode.
The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode Photos>>>Drinking Games are Serious Business
Beth finally does get Daryl to drink and they wind up playing a game of 'I Never.' Eventually, their drinking game gets a little heated. Beth makes an assumption about Daryl having spent at least a night in prison, and Daryl gets pissed off. He starts ranting about all of the things he never got to do, then stomps off outside to play with a walker. Beth ruins his fun by killing the walker and reminding him that killing them is not supposed to be fun.
Daryl screams at Beth, asking what she wants from him. Beth says that all she wants is for him to stop pretending like what they went through does not matter, and that the people they lost meant nothing to him. Beth remembers Daryl's reaction to Sophia coming out of that barn and she believes Daryl will not let anyone get close to him because of how he felt when Sophia died. This leads to an important revelation.
Daryl tells Beth that everyone they know is dead, and even if they somehow survived, they will never see them again. Daryl starts to break down, finally admitting the guilt he feels over what happened to the prison. He thinks maybe if he had not given up the search for the Governor, things would be different. He starts to sob as he wonders if there was something he could have done to save Hershel.
Beth gives him the best backwards hug I have seen in a while and it is a great moment for both characters. We finally understand why Daryl has been acting so distant since the prison fell, and Beth gets to prove her worth once again by being his friend in his moment of need.
After some of the booze has worn off, Daryl sort of apologies for being a jerk and Beth admits to all the things she hoped for before the prison fell. She talks about how she imagined her father growing old and dying in peace. And she feels stupid for ever believing in that possibility, given the world they live in. She wishes she could change more than she has and she knows it will not be long before she's gone, too. Before the moment can get too depressing, Beth tells Daryl that he is going to miss her when she's gone and he jokes about her not being a happy drunk after all.
Who was Daryl Dixon?
In this week's episode, Daryl reveals what he did before the walker-pocalypse and it is probably what you would expect. Before the world was plunged into chaos, Daryl did nothing. He was a drifter and just did whatever Merle decided they were going to do that day. Daryl goes on to say that the reason he is so good in this world is because he has always been in it. He is used to things being messy and horrible, and he is used to taking care of himself. Beth says that he has to put the past behind him or it will kill him.
So they end the episode by burning down the moonshine place. It is a simple gesture, but it clearly carries a strong message for Daryl. As Beth reminds him, it no longer matters who he was -- all that matters is who he has become.The Walking Dead: Why Plunging Into the Depths of Daryl Wasn't that Satisfying>>>
A Change of Pace
This week's episode is very slow-paced, something that will no doubt bore some people. But I actually think it is necessary at this point in the series. This episode is a reminder of just how few people are left in the world, and it shows what they have to do to maintain their humanity. Beth's booze mission is not just something to do, it is a way for her to keep going when all she wants to do is give up. By dragging Daryl along on her mission, she gives him something to focus on as well. And it leads to some needed catharsis for both characters.
This new formula of focusing on a few characters per episode was never going to please everyone. Some fans hate it, but I think it is working. We learned more about Beth in this one episode than in the two and a half seasons she has been on the show. And while this may not matter to fans who do not care for Beth, chances are there is at least one character on the show you would like to know more about. This formula gives us that opportunity, and for some of these characters, it may be our last chance to really get to know them.
Remember how little we knew about T-Dog when he died? The poor guy barely got to say anything for the entire second season and he was gone shortly thereafter. Imagine the impact his death would've had if we spent more time with him or knew more about his past. Hershel's death was always going to shake up the series because he was so important to so many of our characters, but would his death have hit us as hard as it did if we did not care about him?
The Walking Dead is a show that gets a lot of mileage out of the idea that anyone can die at any time, but those deaths lose their impact when we do not care about the characters. By giving us this chance to get to know our regulars on a deeper level, we are more invested in what happens to them, and the constant threat of death has more meaning.
What did you think of this week's episode? Do you think Daryl has really put his past behind him now or will it always be something that haunts him? What did you think of Beth's mission to find booze? Personally, I think it is about time someone other than Bob made booze a priority. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.The Walking Dead
airs Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC.(Image courtesy of AMC)