The internet really exploded during last night’s episode. There were so many conflicting opinions and interpretations. I loved reading them. Because, now that means I can share my own thoughts. You know the drill, folks…If you haven’t watched the show yet, either leave this page or get caught up by clicking here for a spoiler filled play by play.
All set? Let’s do this!
After last week’s hour was dedicated to Carl, Michonne, and Rick, many fans were expecting an equally over-sized welcome back for the remaining characters. It was not, however, what we got. The entire episode was divided into equal quarters with 15 minutes (less if you allow for the onslaught of commercials) highlighting specific survivors. It was non-linear, but not in a Tarantino kind of way. You watch a segment, then rewind and view the same span of time from a different perspective. Reminds me of that movie Vantage Point. So let’s dissect this one quarter at a time.
First up, Daryl and Beth.
As buzzards flew overhead, Daryl and Beth escaped the prison on foot. As they dodged throngs of walkers, Beth’s voice could be heard reading from pages of her journal. The entry in particular was written shortly after they had cleared the prison. You may recall, back on the farm Beth had given in to depression and desperation allowing suicidal tendencies to take control. It wasn’t until she felt “secure” at the prison that Beth began to heed her father’s wise words: “If you don’t have hope, what’s the point of living?” Oh, that Hershel was a wise man! Our little Beth went from completely Emo to being a full-fledged survivor, her optimism false and nauseating at times [cue the singing and inappropriately cold responses to Zach’s death and the flu outbreak]. But as our block of time with them draws to a close, we see Beth–reality having finally caught up to her–slowly tearing out the pages of her journal and using them as kindling for the fire. I loved the contrast in her this episode; the confidence and optimism stripped away leaving her shaken and finally releasing the tears she hasn’t cried in nearly two years. The girl is broken.
Her traveling companion, however, was already broken. Daryl has been broken for so long. The start of Season 4 was the first time in ages that we saw Daryl calm, smiling, playful even (though still far too reserved). His new “family” had begun to heal him. Now, think about the timeline of these events. Rick and Carol went off and had their little chess match. Carol was banished. While this was happening, Daryl and company were on a field trip to the veterinary college for medical supplies. No more than 24-48 hours in total had passed from the time of Carol’s banishment until the Governor attacked the prison. Daryl had just been told by Rick that Carol was gone. As I’ve previously stated, Daryl did not react as I expected him to. Long gone are the angry Daryl S1-S2 days. He’s so internal and brooding now. But for a moment, he looked as though he could have lashed out. The two men went to talk to Tyreese and that’s when the tank attacked the prison. Daryl, who was never allowed an opportunity to properly mourn the loss of his brother, was still trying to wrap his head around losing Carol. Suddenly, he lost everyone. Save for one snide comment he made to Beth about Hershel, Daryl still hasn’t emotionally reacted to any of this. He has completely internalized it all. The man is a ticking time bomb. This can’t end well. Sorry, it just can’t. Oh, and for all you “Bethyl” shippers out there, it ain’t gonna happen. Daryl felt bad for being mean to Beth, so he silently offered up his bandana for her to collect grapes in. She takes it. Olive branch success! Please note: Dudes that are interested in a chick, even if they don’t know it yet, will move in closer. If Daryl could have reached from any farther away with that bandana he would have fallen over. He felt guilty, not horny. Let. It. Go. The good news is Daryl and Beth are only a half-day’s trek behind our next group of inmates. (How do I know? Read on…)
2nd Quarter belonged to Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika, and–surprise–Judith and Carol.
First of all, unless you believe that walkers would unbuckle and remove a baby from a car seat prior to eating it, you knew Judith was alive. We realize quickly that little Luke and Molly didn’t make it very far. Womp Womp. Have no fear! Psycho Lizzie is here! Seriously, this girl is a sociopath. Tyreese is doing all that he can to take care of the baby and encourage Mika. Even he looks a little uncomfortable with Lizzie’s behavior. I know I was uncomfortable watching Lizzie slice up baby bunnies for the sheer hell of it (ahem…feeding rats to prison walkers, anyone?). Never was the psychological conflict more evident than when Lizzie commented about Mika, “She doesn’t understand walkers.” Mika snapped back, “No, you don’t understand walkers!” Tyreese leaves the girls alone to go battle the undead. While he is gone, Judith starts crying again. Lizzie handles it like any normal person would: she puts her hands over the baby’s face and tries to smother her.
She puts her hands over the baby’s face and tries to smother her!! This girl is trouble with a capital T. Watch your back, Mika. Suddenly, Carol appears and saves the kids. Now, you know she saw what Lizzie was doing, right? There’s physically no way she did not see it happening. When we first see Carol, she is holding Judith. When Lizzie confidently says, “You found us”, watch Carol’s body language. She adjusts the baby’s weight further onto her hip, away from Lizzie. She barely pats Lizzie and keeps moving. No big smile. No hug. Just a brief acknowledgement and gesture away from Judith. That makes three ticking time bombs (Daryl, Beth, and Lizzie) for those keeping count. This little group then has a quick exchange with the last, albeit bit, survivor by the tracks. He tells them to go find Terminus (literally the “end of the line”) for Sanctuary. They leave. Here’s how we know how far away Beth and Daryl are. The man that they leave behind isl the same walker who attacks Beth in the forest during their segment. Daryl and Beth find the spot with the 2 dead walkers killed by Carol, unbeknownst to them. Flannel shirt guy had turned and then wandered into the woods. Carol and Tyreese’s mistake (letting the guy die on his own) nearly killed Daryl and Beth. Oopsie! Regardless, Daryl is hot on Carol’s trail. Wink.
Next up: Maggie, Sasha and Bob.
The last time Maggie saw Glenn, she had moved him from the cell block to the bus. You know, the bus that was loaded with supplies and was the designated escape plan on a route to nowhere because no one thought to choose a rendezvous point. We knew Glenn wasn’t going to stay on the bus. He loves Maggie too much. Without a map, I’m slightly confused about where they are. I assume still close to the prison given the hitchhiker warning signs posted and the fact that the bus didn’t get far (it was being shot at and was full of people still recovering from the flu, remember? Only a day or so had passed). Bob is remarkably…happy? I don’t know. Maybe it’s shock. Maybe it’s accepting a doomed fate. Maybe it’s sobriety. But he was a little creepy. Even Sasha seemed put off by him. Maggie was determined to go back for Glenn. Upon discovering the bus, we get the best depressing, exciting reveal since Shane released the barn walkers. One at a time, Maggie put them out of their misery as she searched for Glenn. Of course, they were eventually faced with a melee of walkers. As Maggie stood in shock, we were faced with another example of bizarre Walking Dead physics: A walker is closing in on Maggie. We are looking at him “through” her eyes. He is mere feet away. Bob shoots him from behind, at close range, with a handgun. The walker’s forehead explodes. Why wasn’t Maggie harmed? Bob is military trained. Again, this was at close range. I am to believe that a bullet went through a buck and then through Carl in Season 2, but Maggie wasn’t shot in the face? Really? They’ve already proven that walker skulls are like mush. They are decomposing and squishy. Clearly that’s the reason Michonne can slice through them like kiwi, but it took 7 tries and a sawing motion for the Governor to behead Hershel with the same kitana. Squishy skulls. Maggie, you are one lucky broad. My favorite moment came after Maggie boarded the bus for one final sweep searching for Glenn. Once she had put down the last walker, Maggie cracked. She broke down in tears that quickly turned to fits of laughter. Obviously rejoicing in the possibility that Glenn survived, but fearing what may have become of him. She broke my heart in this episode. Well done, Maggie.
Fourth and final quarter belonged to Glenn, Tara and some newcomers!
Glenn, upon waking and realizing that everyone is either dead or gone, makes his way to his cell and lays down on the bed, utterly defeated. He looks at a photo of Maggie. Suddenly, he is filled with the power of hope. We’re about to come full circle here folks, you ready? As Beth recalled her father’s words and slowly unraveled, giving up all hope, Glenn remembered some more words from Hershel, reminding him to “believe”. Glenn sprang from his bed and packed the world’s greatest bug-out bag. He strapped on the riot gear and charged the prison courtyard like a boss! Who knew it was that easy? Pulling a Heisman maneuver really would have helped Rick back in Atlanta, huh? Go Glenn! As he is leaving, Glenn spots Tara, the last remnant of the Governor’s posse. She is numb, in a self-imposed prison clutching a pistol that she hasn’t fired a single time. Glenn lays some Journey on her and they make their escape. But then, our hearts had to break. Tara was the one to inform Glenn of Hershel’s fate. Ugh. It hurt just to watch. Glenn didn’t crumble, though. He clung to the hope that he held so dear. He referred to Maggie as his wife (no, there was no actual wedding episode…theirs was a wedding of the heart and soul…a promise made to each other before god alone…reminiscent of Braveheart, now that I think about it.) Glenn collapses after fighting off some walkers (he has the flu, remember?) and Tara is left to greet the newest characters: Abraham Ford and his companions Eugene and Rosita. Here comes trouble!
As always, it was a great episode. I wasn’t a huge fan of the character quarters. It felt like they were trying to cram too much into one hour. As one online WBP follower noted, “They should have split it…there’s no chance for those golden moments we got to see last week.” True. Just as I got invested in a story segment, they cued a commercial and moved on to the next story. I don’t like that. Especially knowing that there is so much ground left to cover and a scant few episodes to do it in. At least doing it this way, I know that a reunion is that much closer for our friends.
I do feel the need to touch on one other thing that has been bothering me. Not to get all political or be overly critical, especially since it holds true for 80% or more of prime time television in America, but let’s discuss the topic of race. It’s something that has been joked about on the internet for some time, and as of recently, more than one WBP follower has mentioned it to me directly. What is with the lack of characterization for Black Americans on the Walking Dead? Michonne being the one exception, silent though she may be. Let’s do the math: T-Dog was one of the most underutilized characters in television history. Bob is a shifty “recovering” alcoholic. Sasha is whiter than some of the white trash redneck girls that have been on the series. And Tyreese? He’s a gentle giant not unlike that Coffey guy from the Green Mile. They are playing Ty as such a pushover. From day one, watching him and Sasha interact is like a bizarro skit from Of Mice and Men [a more accurate reference to the novel than was made on the Talking Dead last night…their “super fan” compared Lizzie and the bunnies to Lenny from OMAM. Really? So glad Hardwick corrected him. Lenny innocently hugged the bunnies to death…Lizzie, not so much.] Here is a screen shot of a census/demographic breakdown of Atlanta and the surrounding areas:
With that many Black Americans in the area, how is it that these are the only ones that have survived the zombie apocalypse? Rest in peace, Shumpert. Moreover, why are there so many caucasian walkers? Yes, there have been some walkers of various races and ethnicities, but realistically, the numbers don’t add up. And not to sound like a jerk, but I live in the south. I’m well versed in redneck, white trash, and ghetto fabulous. Based on Michonne’s flashback, the girl had some affluence. I’m willing to bet the same for Sasha (and Tyreese by blood association). And the same guess for Bob. The writers had no problem throwing in a character like Daryl Dixon, so where my ghetto at? (“Ain’t nobody got time for that” memes explode everywhere). T-Dog was keeping it real, so they gave him less than 20 lines and killed him violently. Nobly, but violently nonetheless. Forget Sanctuary. Forget the Saviors. I want to see more Vatos, and I definitely want to see some Bloods and Crips rolling up to do some damage. To the fan that requested it, here’s your rallying cry, as promised. With a little of this on the side.
Here’s hoping for a real nail-biter next week. Until then…..