Daryl and Beth are getting awfully close while Maggie refuses to endanger anyone else while she’s on a quest to find Glenn…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
With only a few episodes to go this season, I’ve been ultra critical of the story telling mechanisms employed by The Walking Dead these last few weeks as we’ve teetered on the edge of pointless for more time than we’ve found relevancy in the gravity for the situation of our survivors. No one seems to like to see Rick and the rest of his group stay in any one place too long where it’s safe, so out into the wilderness they must wander but for the last few weeks they’ve been a splintered group with no real direction of where this was headed outside of a few vague mentions of a mysterious town called Terminus where all those who arrive survive.
Thankfully things took a turn for the better in the latest episode titled ‘Alone’ where we actually continued with one story from last week (Daryl and Beth) while we also caught up with Maggie, Bob and Sasha. We’re still waiting on everyone to find their way back to each other, but for now this newest offering will suffice because we started to move in the general area of where this story might be headed.
I Shall Not Walk Alone
Outside of his alcoholism, we really haven’t learned much about Bob since he entered the show at the beginning of this season, but we finally see a bit more of where he came from in this episode. Bob was a part of two previous groups after the zombie plague hit, and both times the people around him bled, died and rose again (only to be killed again we assume) thus leaving him alone on two different occasions with only the road as his companion.
It’s the irony of that situation that led Bob to finally being picked up by Daryl and Glenn months ago where he relocated to an even larger group inside the prison. Once that fell apart, Bob was back walking but he had Maggie and Sasha keeping him company. There was some real despair in Bob’s eyes throughout the episode as it appeared he felt doomed to eventually be abandoned or lose those closest to him, where he would return to the lonely state he was in just a few short months earlier.
This was the kind of intricate and well placed story telling missing from the past few episodes where we had to hear Daryl tell us step by step how he got here, whereas with Bob we learned tidbits and by episode’s end we had the puzzle formed ourselves. It’s subtlety that wins the day not a blunt object beating us over the head with a forced story about a character’s background. More of this and less of what we’ve had over the last few weeks.
The Road to Terminus
Maggie, Sasha and Bob are still camping out in the woods, on the hunt for Glenn after tracking the path from the bus they found a few weeks back. Of course little do they know Glenn was never on the bus but that’s neither here nor there. Maggie’s starting to feel the pressure from the rest of her group because it’s clear they don’t give a damn about Glenn, and that’s assuming he’s even still alive (which they believe he isn’t).
Along the way, they find a sign pointing them towards Terminus and that’s where Maggie finds her hope. If Glenn came along anywhere in this same path, he’d head for Terminus, too, so she has to walk that path and try to find him. Sasha and Bob are a bit more skeptical because if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. So instead of dragging Bob and Sasha along for the ride, Maggie cuts them loose and tells them to do whatever they feel is right but she has to continue to look for Glenn.
Not long after she bolts, however, Bob and Sasha go on the hunt to find Maggie because she can’t survive in this world all alone. Sasha catches up after spotting some blood soaked messages along the road telling Glenn to head to Terminus, but Bob is nowhere to be found. Sure enough he ‘s back on the road, alone, just like he was twice before since the zombie apocalypse all started. This time, however, he’s only a solo act for a brief period of time as Maggie and Sasha catch up to him and they all head down the train tracks towards Terminus, but what awaits them when they arrive?
Mortuaries, Pig’s Feet, and Peanut Butter & Jelly
The other group we continue to follow this week are Daryl and Beth, who we first find on the hunt. It’s not food their after but instead Daryl is teaching Beth how to track, and they are hunting a walker so she can put an arrow in him with her newfound crossbow skills. Unfortunately she happens across an animal trap that snaps up on her ankle, probably ruining the last good pair of cowboy boots in all of Georgia. Since Beth is hampered by a bum leg, they have to find a place to rest and that’s when they happen upon a mortuary, complete with walkers made up in funeral suits and everything. Beth takes this as a sign that someone still cares enough to bury the dead. Take a while guess what Daryl is thinking?
Inside, Daryl finds a stash of food that includes pig’s feet, peanut butter and jelly, diet soda and a lot more. The stash is fresh — not a drop of dust on it, which means this belongs to somebody that was either just there and left or might be coming back. So instead of gorging themselves on every last morsel, they conserve and only eat a few things, leaving some food behind for whoever might be staying there.
Beth notices a glimmer of hope in Daryl’s eyes as he starts talking about setting up camp in the mortuary. This comes just days after he seemed to have a very woeful outlook on the future of humanity, particularly the survival rate of a redneck hunter and a little blonde girl with only a knife as a weapon. When she presses him on why he has such a renewed outlook on life, he can only stare back at her doe eyed stare and Beth knows it’s here that gave him hope again.
This is a short lived shared moment because seconds later Daryl accidentally lets a flood of walkers in the front door when he thinks a dog is outside, and in the scramble he tells Beth to make a run for it, while he battles back against the undead. He narrowly escapes, but when he gets out to the road he sees Beth’s purse laying open on the ground and a car speeding away in great haste. It would appear Beth has been kidnapped, and Daryl can’t do anything but run after them for as long as his legs will carry him.
Daryl sits motionless in the middle of the road exhausted after chasing Beth’s abductors for who knows how long, but when he raises his head for the first time, he’s surrounded by a band of men all pointing guns and bows at him. He quickly jumps up and pops the leader in the nose, drawing down on him with the crossbow. The entire group has Daryl in their sights, but the leader has other ideas.
He has an easy philosophy to live by here on the road — “why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people?”. He introduces himself as Joe and that’s when it hits — he’s the leader of the group that invaded Rick’s new house a couple of episodes back. A violent bunch by all accounts, and Joe is the leader of the pack. They invite Daryl to walk along with them since it’s clear he can handle himself, and it appears he’s found a new group at least for now.
The final shots of the episode show Glenn seeing a sign for Terminus when it’s clear that’s where he’s headed as well, presumably where he will reunite with Maggie very soon.
A much stronger offering this week than the last two combined. At the heart of it all, The Walking Dead is an ensemble show and while character development is key to the longevity of a series, this one needs a group ahead of any one individual. The lack of character development is why I believe no one had much use for Dale or Andrea despite their opposite portrayals in the comic books, who were both beloved by fans. The group can easily crush an individual, but an individual given too much attention can do the exact same thing to the larger entity at hand. That’s why in my opinion, teen angst Carl didn’t work nor did The Breakfast Club with Daryl and Beth.
This week gave a slight hint into how Bob got here and the fears he’s been dealing with when no one’s around. Meanwhile, the connection between Daryl and Beth is undeniable, whether it’s romantic or more big brother/little sister is unknown but something tells me he’s not going to stop until he finds her safe and sound. This is Daryl’s redemption after not finding Sophia and it’s likely he’ll be like a dog with a bone until he sees Beth’s smiling face and big puppy dog eyes staring back at him again.
There’s purpose in The Walking Dead again and it’s about time.
Next week when The Walking Dead returns, it’s back to Tyreese, Carol and the kids as they continue to travel towards Terminus.