The Walking Dead Review: “Still” (Season 4, Episode 12)

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If I can be completely honest and, in the process, risk losing the respect of everybody who might for some reason read this, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Daryl. It’s been clear from day one that he was always the Sawyer to Rick’s Jack (Lost), which I’ve always struggled with. I don’t think that Norman Reedus has the authority to pull off the troubled outlaw redneck with a heart of gold quite like Sawyer could either. Up to now, that is.

My thoughts on Daryl have significantly changed though after seeing Reedus’ performance in “Still,” which is some of the best acting of the entire series. Reedus has excelled himself with what he manages to do with fairly basic material. He turned Beth’s desire to have her first drink into an event with vast existential consequences, like whatever the incident that caused this whole mess was, and in doing so gave gravity not only to the situation, but to the character that he’s been playing for the last few years.

Starting off with a drinking game was a great idea, as it allowed Daryl to reveal just what a shitty life he’s had. His pain was obvious on two very distinct levels – one, that he was never privy to the comforts that Beth had when she was younger and two, a much deeper pain that in the end, Beth’s no better off than he was. All the yearning he did as a child, seeing kids like Beth running around while he sat in squalor, was for naught. At the same time, all the self-improvement and self-rearing that he’s gone through from being a youngster till now, and since the incident, has also been for nothing, as Beth has survived just as well as he has, and better than Michonne, or Caroline, both of whom he believes to be dead. The anger that Daryl holds toward Beth isn’t personal, it’s just anger that everything he’s striven for his entire life has been for naught, and currently lies in ruins. Without anyone or anything else, just Beth, he has nothing to live for.

We’re confronted with the grim reality of that realization when Beth and Daryl enter the golf club and find a room full of hanging walkers. Suicide has always loomed large over the world of The Walking Dead, but we’ve never seen hanging, writhing walkers before – people who’ve turned after committing suicide. After killing himself, Daryl wouldn’t be any better than a common zombie, unless he shot himself in the head. Death holds no escape for him, and there’s no way he can win. If Beth dies, he’s dead. If she lives, he’s dead. Everything they knew and loved is dead and broken, or so he thinks. And that, is the message of this episode.

Random Robservations

  • The hanging walkers were gross. Ew.
  • I’m not surprised that the peach schnapps was the only thing left. It’s revolting.
  • As a Brit, the full gravity of someone having their first drink didn’t really dawn on me until it was made explicitly clear. We’re a nation of boozers, practically from birth.
  • Daryl losing his mind with the zombie was genuinely scary. We’ve never seen him like that before.

See you next week for more The Walking Dead.