Last episode was all long takes and silence, with minimal cast and things left unspoken. This instalment of The Walking Dead takes us slightly back towards some semblance of normality, reuniting us with a few more cast members and tying up a few more loose ends. I guess this will carry on into next episode too, which I have a hunch might follow directly on from the events at the end of this episode. It’s about setting ourselves up for what’s to come, about getting all the pawns together into the right places on the chessboard to enable whatever the hell is going to happen in the season finale, which is titled “A.” Whatever “A” is, Lord Satan himself only knows, but whatever or whomever it is, we’re working towards it right now, so I suppose we’d better buckle up.
First, Daryl and Beth. Daryl’s fed up at the campfire, and doesn’t think they should really be attempting to find the others when they could stay safe, together, in a smaller and more agile group. No kids to worry about and no one but the two of them. Their situation could be much worse, but it’s difficult to understand the logic in not trying to get back with the larger group, even if one of them does have a pretty cool crossbow.
It’s really strange to see Daryl depressed after being such a happy-go-lucky guy all the way through, but they’re setting up Carol’s return to Daryl; he thinks she’s dead, or worse – remember, this a world in which any of your old friends could end up as an enemy ripe for a head-stabbing, and they could come across her (or anyone they used to know) on their travels. No wonder Daryl doesn’t want to track.
I really liked the time-shift structure this episode took. It reminded me of the format that they used for most episodes of Lost, which is welcome (huge fan of that show), and it was an interesting shift in the way the show works. To mess with the format this early into this half of the season is interesting, and suggests that exciting times are ahead.
I also thought that the emergence of Beth as an active presence amongst the adults rather than damsel in distress amongst the children is a nice change in her character, and such a shift in her character is believable if you take into account the events of the last few weeks. If your fortress had been discovered, invaded and overrun by the walking dead, your personality would change as well. Sure, she gets overwhelmed at times, but that’s what happens when everyone you ever knew might be dead, and the majority definitely are dead. That little flame that Daryl and Beth had going was a bit heavy handed symbolism-wise, but at least it got the point across – hope lives, no matter how hopeless things might seem. And I think that’s the overriding message of this episode.