Upon reading the comments section for this week’s episode review on IGN, I instantly thought to myself “God, am I grateful for not having to post such popular TV articles every week.” Most fans of The Walking Dead ripped it open and tore it apart, all because of the fact that it got a 7.8 rating as opposed to the much-hated “Still,” which wound up scoring an 8.5 by the website. The many points that were strewn from them went from perfectly sensible to bizarre. Some people stated that they’ve enjoyed the series up until this season’s second half because of its slow progression, others trashing the body of work it’s put together since the season 2 finale simply because it’s not as action packed or dramatic as it was. Others just straight up proclaimed that this show is “boring.”
My opinion on this show will stay the same: it’s certainly not the best show on television (I have yet to see anything touch True Detective for months,) but it’s one of the most intriguing and entertaining of its kind. Some viewers need to understand that not every installment of The Walking Dead can include a barrage of attacking walkers, human threats, and important character deaths. The world these people have found themselves in is unlike anything we’d ever want to be a part of, and there are plenty of facets both emotionally and dramatically that need to be fully realized. So, in defense of this season’s slow pacing, I feel as though this series is still doing what it has done best for years now.
Whether you agree with me or not, “Alone” is probably the perfect episode for this kind of conversation. We get all the zombie-slaying action that has made this show a Sunday night staple in pop culture, as well as a ton of character development and loose ends to chew on for next week. I could care less if Weezy23956 thinks that both this week’s and last week’s chapters were pieces of s#*!. I loved what I saw here, and I’ll tell ya why…
Maggie’s quest to find Glenn leads her to the very same train tracks that Carol and Co. originally discovered a couple episodes ago. Of course, this means that we were forced to watch her convince Sasha into following this path to Terminus in the hopes that they’d find him, something I’m getting a little tired of. I almost literally began scratching my head over Sasha’s insistence to seek shelter instead and avoid taking risks, but then the thought occurred that, maybe, she probably had a point to her reasoning this time. What if Terminus is just a trap, and the ones who posted the sign on the train tracks have bad intentions? In the following live showing of Talking Dead, Sonequa Martin-Green (who looked absolutely stunning, I might add) explained how her character used to be a firefighter before the zombie apocalypse began, and how she learned to avoid imminent danger without giving out a sense of weakness or insecurity around the men she worked with. Now, that last part may be a little irrelevant regarding Maggie and Bob’s negligence to sitting in judgement of anyone, but it’s not exactly far-fetched to believe that Sasha may be right about not taking the bait.
One thing that we could all agree on, though, is the satisfyingly growing relationship between her and Bob. Based somewhat squarely on the circumstances, there was an air of intimacy here that wasn’t quite materialized in “Inmates.” You could say that some of it was also an excuse to highlight Bob’s renewed confidence and optimism, but seeing them express their feelings so naturally felt genuinely refreshing. They looked like a couple of folks on a blind date, reluctant to indulge in each other at first because of the mess they’re in, but realizing the comfort level they now find themselves in for opening up. We haven’t gotten much of a chance to witness this kind of interaction this season, but I couldn’t help but eat all of it up. Even the little make out scene towards the end of the episode was rewarding, while continuing to prove why these characters maintain some shrivel of hope in this world.
“Still” figured out how to incorporate these very same elements into the story arc while gearing us up for any and all consequences that could follow. There was plenty of speculation regarding Daryl and Beth’s relationship, and whether or not it would develop into something sexual later on. Suffice to say that this week’s episode instantly addressed the disadvantages to the two of them letting their guard down regardless. Upon discovering an open church, they happen to also stumble upon a “free crib” with enough food and supplies to feed all four groups at once. Beth’s appreciation for human life returned in the scene with the dead walkers dressed in black suits, as well as Daryl’s willingness to change by listening to her sing and play piano for a change. Here’s where both instances hurt them: whoever does live in that house most likely heard the singing and alerted the attention of nearby walkers with the dog that constantly stopped by the front porch, and the morgue-ish basement Daryl and Beth found probably gave them the sense that they could stay long enough to write “thank you” notes before departing. Ultimately, we end up with Daryl fighting a whole wave of zombies to stay alive, while Beth gets (supposedly) kidnapped.
As much as I wanted to believe that this part of the episode worked for showing more of a grounded friendship between the two, I couldn’t quite understand how they both basically threw any and all kind of common sense out the window over grape jelly and a nice place to sleep. More often than not, I wondered where the dog came from, but neither one of them entertained the possibility that the house was a set-up to put them in harm. The fact that they invented no protection or level of awareness beyond the clothesline of cans around the front door was undoubtedly one of the most mind-blowingly stupid things I’ve ever seen in this series, especially since we’ve seen Daryl handle adversity and suspicion so well before. What I did walk away enjoying was the fear and disappointment on Daryl’s part when Beth was kidnapped. You can see that he wanted to break down and expose as much anger as he humanly could, but he seemed too mad at himself for not being more cautious. The scene in the kitchen where he almost express his feelings for Beth immediately came to mind for me when he stopped in the middle of the train tracks. If he truly is in love with Beth (which would be extremely sudden and a little forced,) then now he knows what it’s like to let down those he cares for for the first time.
The few more things I want to finish off with pertain to Maggie’s actions this week, among other things. While it was pretty cool to see her leave a trail of bread crumbs for Glenn to follow to Terminus using the blood of a dead walker, I don’t understand how Glenn reached the train tracks so quickly. Maybe the final scene was fast forwarded up to that point, but if it remains within the same period of time then we deserve an explanation. Remember, the last time we saw him he was a three-hour drive away from the prison with Tara in “Claimed.” Also, there’s absolutely no way that Maggie knew she’d find Sasha near that abandoned apartment building with a hoard of walkers covering the side of it. I get that this group was meant to stay together towards the end, and that Sasha is supposed to eventuually give in to the gameplan and stop worrying so much about safety, but this was a poor excuse to prove so. Lastly, the action in this episode just kicked ass, particularly The zombie showdown in the beginning. Drenched with a heightening level of suspense due to the amount of fog Maggie’s group had to fight through, it sent this week’s proceedings in the right direction, and pulled us right into the episode by keeping us on the edge of our seats. Ditto for the scene at the house Darly and Beth found, although I’m still puzzled as to why Beth never stayed to help Daryl clear out all the walkers.
The good in “Alone” certainly outweighs the bad, and while there are only three episodes left this season we can finally start discussing what Terminus is with confidence. The slow progression that has plagued this whole season was featured yet again, but like “Still” we got to proudly see most of our heroes under a bit of a new light. I, for one, would love to see more fog massacres and kidnappings, but the dialogue here works and allows us to grow more concerned for these characters when the time comes and they’re killed off. One more thing, do you think Daryl knows what kind of trouble he has found himself in with that group of misfits at the train tracks? I’d like to hope so…
+Showdown in the fog and the house of bountiful goodies
+Bob Stookey and Sasha, sitting in a tree…
+And the hype surrounding Terminus begins
+I liked that Daryl and Beth were becoming good friends…
-…But the kidnapping scene at the house seemed totally out of character for both of them
-GTFO Maggie, you didn’t know Sasha was gonna find you there.