“If you feel safe enough to be bored, you’re lucky.” ~Beth
Each week, I watch the newest episode of The Walking Dead a minimum of three times–yes, three times–before I write a word about it. First, I watch it live with family and friends. Then, we briefly exchange reactions and break for the evening while watching the Talking Dead. By the time that show ends, I’m usually curled up on the couch alone watching TWD a second time, taking notes on anything I may have missed. Then, on Monday mornings, after everyone leaves for work/school, I watch it a final time, having had a full night’s sleep to contemplate the episode.
When S05-Ep4 aired, I was so…so…what’s the word I’m looking for here? So…ambivalent (?) that I didn’t bother staying up. I watched most of the Talking Dead and then went to sleep. On Tuesday afternoon, I forced myself to watch it a second time and take notes. I have been staring at those notes all week, not having the motivation to actually discuss it any further. In the meantime, I have received numerous messages asking where my recap was. Lest I disappoint any readers by denying them my highly-opinionated drivel, here goes nothing.
For those of you who haven’t seen the episode or just need a quick refresher because your attention waned mid-way through the episode, Click Here for a spoiler-filled recap.
You’ll have to forgive me if my train of thought derails from time to time. Just follow along as best you can.
First off, someone smack Maggie in the head for me. Courtesy of the voice-overs, we know that Maggie was told that Beth is alive. At no point in time has Maggie expressed any desire to go and look for her. She was so quick to want to abandon her “family” and go to DC, never once requesting that they stick around an extra day or two for Beth’s sake. She never asks if they can look for her along their journey. Hell, she wasn’t even willing to stick it out long enough to see if Daryl and Carol were going to return. Maggie has officially given up on this group. As such, I have officially given up on her. Hershel would be disappointed in you, young lady. Beth is still fighting, and you’re so content having found Glenn that nothing and no one else matters any more. I look forward to the day regret seeps in for burning that Polaroid.
Now, if you followed the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey nature of this episode (and those of you who survived the back 8 of season 4 should have had no problem in doing so) you were able to see that the events of this episode took place over the course of a few weeks. From the night that Beth was taken from Daryl, we saw his time with Joe’s gang, a reunion with Rick, the remaining journey to Terminus, an escape from Terminus (presumably within a day or so of arriving), fleeing Terminus, camping out for a night or so, and finally, arriving at Gabriel’s church. Beth woke up after a day or two, learned about the hospital, worked for a few days, said F-this noise, planned an escape, failed the escape, got the crap beaten out of her, and then enough time passed for her new wounds/stitches to begin to heal, leading up to Carol’s arrival.
I saw one too many posts on Twitter that night with people not understanding this timeline AT ALL. “Carol is faking it to get in there and rescue Beth” being my least favorite theory. Why? Because, while we were all watching what was essentially a flashback episode, people seem to have forgotten to keep Daryl’s timeline in mind. The group finds Gabriel shortly after sunrise. They return to his church. They escort him to the food bank. They come back to the church. They feast. All in the SAME day. Bob slips out the door to go off and die alone. Carol, guilt-ridden over Lizzie, slipped out another door. Daryl, worried about his BFF followed her. That is when they saw the car with the cross and took off in search of Beth. Then, Abraham promised Rick that they would stay and help until Noon the next day. Then, our group laid a trap for Gareth and the remaining Termites. As promised, morning came. Bob was laid to rest, and by Noon Abraham’s Army was on the bus and gone. That evening, keeping first watch, Michonne discovers Daryl (and most likely, Noah) in the bushes.
Daryl (and Carol) were gone 24 hours. That’s all. 24 hours is enough time to drive your car and follow a vehicle into Atlanta, which according to Gabriel, they weren’t far from, given his comments about his flock. They arrive in Atlanta pre-dawn hours. Something goes wrong. Daryl loses Carol to the hospital baddies. Daryl discovers Noah. Noah warns him off of the place and confirms Beth is alive. Daryl brings him back to get Rick and the support of others to stage a rescue (albeit, he was hesitant approaching the church because the bus was gone). 1 day. He was gone 1 day. Not enough time to invent an elaborate bait-and-switch game with Carol to stage a rescue. And, if the writers somehow manage to make that happen, kudos to them for taking this further into fantasy land. No. Tonight’s episode focuses on Abraham’s Army. Next week will be Daryl bringing Rick up to speed and returning to Atlanta. That leaves only 2 episodes left in which to reunite with Abraham and attack the hospital, either ending in a pointless mid-season cliffhanger, or wrapping up this filler story (which is what it is) and bridge us to the back 8 of season 5 and the inevitable arrival of Negan.
I’m not so much discussing the points of this episode as I am talking around it. I didn’t like how less than two weeks before she was kidnapped, Beth couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a machine gun (were you watching when Hershel died?) and suddenly, she can pull off 10-11 shots like an expert marksman, most of them in total darkness?
I am intrigued by the use of Caravaggio’s The Denial of Saint Peter. Each episode this season has had very religious undertones, or whatever you’d like to call them. The placement of religious iconography is as deliberate here as book placement was on the series Lost. I’ll let you form your own theories as to the relevance of this painting, at least until the cock crows. However, I would ask you to consider this breadcrumb: Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes.
The story describes the Assyrian army laying siege to the Jewish city of Bethulia. When the inhabitants were on the point of capitulating, Judith, a rich and beautiful widow, devised a scheme to save them. She adorned herself ‘so as to catch the eye of any man who might see her’ (10:5), and set off with her maid into the Assyrian lines. By the pretence of having deserted her people she gained access to the enemy commander, Holofernes, and proposed to him a fictitious scheme for overcoming the Jews. After she had been several days in the camp Holofernes became enamoured of her and planned a banquet to which she was invited. When it was over and they were alone together he had meant to seduce her, but he was by then overcome with liquor. This was Judith’s opportunity. She quickly seized his sword and with two swift blows severed his head. Her maid was ready with a sack into which they put the head. They then made their way through the camp and back to Bethulia before the deed was discovered. The news threw the Assyrians into disarray and they fled, pursued by the Israelites.
Food for thought. And, speaking of food…I’ll never look at a lollipop the same way again, how about you? I swear, as uncomfortable as that was to watch, rapey guy was one of the most realistic things this episode had going for it. Ick.
Thoughts on Noah? Is the uncle he was searching for just a red herring on the part of the writers? Or, will he be with us long enough for us to know that his uncle is Gabriel (they both have biblical names) or could it be Morgan (he’s catching up eventually, wouldn’t it be nice if he had someone in his life again, a reason to go on living?).
According to Noah, the people at the hospital only rescue the meek. But we know what the bible said about the meek, right? They shall inherit the earth. Clearly, Beth was underestimated, just as Carol and Carl have been. As much as I am not a fan of the character Beth, I will give it up for Emily Kinney’s performance in this episode. Well done.
It was also interesting to see an above-ground view of the city again. We saw Atlanta get napalmed in the flashback with Shane and Lori. We have seen the street view. And, in season one, we saw the view from the rooftops (which would have been within what? 6-10 weeks from the bombings?) Roughly two years have passed (calculating Lori’s pregnancy, the time jumps between seasons 2-3 and 3-4, and Judith’s approximate age now). Seeing how the city has started to fall into decay was a nice touch; broken windows, overgrown vines and foliage, evidence of burned out buildings from occasional fires. Very nice touch, indeed.
I understand the necessity of having this type of episode, but I do not feel that Beth was capable of carrying a full hour. When Woodbury was introduced, we had stand alone episodes such as this. The difference? We had characters that we were invested in (Andrea, Merle) and the introduction of comic favorites (Michonne and the Governor) to split the time and carry the story. It was a risk, letting the entire episode fall on her shoulders, especially for a story which, as I’ve stated, is merely filler to move the season along.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this episode. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the remainder of this half of the season plays out. I would like to leave you with this: Given all of the information that Jenner gave to the group at the CDC (regarding the spread of this “plague”, various organizations and cities, fall of communication, and so forth) and considering that Rick, Carl, Glenn, Carol, and Daryl are still alive and carry that knowledge, WHY are they so keen to believe everything that Eugene tells them about DC? He can never answer specific questions when asked. The information he does provide is in direct contradiction with what Jenner said. We know Eugene is lying. Why don’t they? Rick was a cop. Has he never interviewed someone in custody before? Is it blind faith brought on by exhaustion. Has Rick just resigned himself to the fact that the only way to stay safe is to keep moving, especially after what happened at the prison? Shane would have handled this situation by now. And, I’m surprised Daryl hasn’t at least raised a distrusting eyebrow.