The title of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead is “Still.” Still alive. Still surviving in a world that is still dangerous. A still moment trapped inside the trunk of a car. A moonshine still as a source of cathartic release for a character that has people wondering, “why is she still on the show?” An episode that highlights that even though this diverse cast of characters is living in a dark new day, they are still trapped with the preconceptions of their previous lives. All their wants, needs, wishes, and desires bleed through into their zombie apocalyptic lives.
An equally apt title for the episode would be “Haves & Have-Nots.” The driving motivations of Beth and Darryl are towards things that they have been deprived of, not just in the Land of the Dead, but in their lives before that. Beth’s desires a drink. She’s never had one before, and even though she knows how it tainted her father’s life, she wants something to take her mind away from the pain of losing Hershel and (presumably) Maggie. Darryl’s desires are multiple but mostly left unstated. He picks up a purse and fills it with money and jewelry. These things have no meaning in their current predicament, but the desire for wealth is a holdover from his previous life. We learn that before the dead walked he was just a drifter, mostly following the whims of his older brother Merle. While a viewer may have previously felt that Darryl finally metaphorically stepped out of his brother’s shadow in the last season, when he put down Zombie Merle, this is clearly not the case. Truthfully, Darryl has been accepted as an integral member of the group, as Rick, Carol, Beth and all the others accept him. Still, he feels that he didn’t do enough to prevent the Governor from attacking the prison again.
The haves and have-nots are illustrated by the two locations used in this episode. The majority of the zombie action takes place at a golf course country club, where Darryl takes out his repressed anger on a roomful of walkers. The distinction between low class and high class is not subtle. Darryl in his tattered leather vest is almost in worse shape than these zombies in their brightly colored polo and collared shirts. Beth changes into a white cardigan that quickly gets covered with gore. Darryl might insist that she’s just an insulated college-girl — the carefree singer of the group — but Beth’s survival instinct has been newly asserted. Nice clothes don’t matter when you’re dead. Survival is the only thing that matters.
Of course, it’s always nice to have a drink too. Beth and Darryl escape the country club and arrive somewhere that symbolizes where Darryl came from in the world before. It’s a run-down shack out in the woods. Something like his old man used to have. Something familiar. But this familiarity breeds a discontent in Darryl. Beth goads him into drinking with her, and that opens up his perception of the have/have-not gap. He is tired of dealing with every dangerous situation and having everyone depend on him. There is a tense moment when Darryl makes Beth look down the sights of his crossbow at a pinned walker, but Beth proves that even without bow skills, she can handle herself by braining the zed.
They get the bright idea to burn down the shack. It is not a logical one considering the danger of not having shelter, but it is fitting of the characters and their personal progression through the series. Plus, Beth is in good hands being under the protection of who she says will be “the last man standing.” (On that she is probably not wrong. Not because he is so equipped to survive, but because of his popularity, particularly among the female fans of the show.)
Geek of the Week
This one is not a walker, but a corpse. The torso stuck onto mannequin legs was pretty damn cool. Plus, it really drives home the distinction between the haves and the have-nots. I doubt that she was killed because she was well off, but someone, obviously in disdain, took the energy to construct this effigy against rich bitches.
- It looks like next week will continue with Beth and Darryl and expand the show’s POV to Maggie, Bob, and Shasha whom we haven’t seen since the return episode. Also, Beth is in danger, and with all of her good feely moralizing in this episode it wouldn’t surprise me to see her get bitten.
- I liked the bit of hiding in the car. That and the random shack in the woods reminded me of a great, recent zombie flick called The Battery. It is a low budget but compelling character piece with only two main characters. And they spend a lot of time at a woods in a shack and stuck in a car.
- How long do you think a zombie would hang before the rope finally cuts clear through the neck? A dead body would probably hang for a pretty long time. But I imagine that the friction caused by all of their undead movement would slowly cause the rope to saw through dead flesh. We’ve already seen hanging walkers before in season two. Let’s see some headless bodies and scattered heads underneath empty nooses!
- Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney put on some of the finest acting since Andrew Lincoln’s Rick lost his wife last season. It is not surprising to see how Reedus has given his character such longevity, but who would have thought that the whiny suicidal girl from the farmhouse would have stuck around for so long?
- Peach schnapps really would be a shit first drink.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!