'The Walking Dead' - 'Alone': We're All Lookin' For A Life Worth Livin'

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'The Walking Dead' - 'Alone': We're All Lookin' For A Life Worth Livin'

By TK | The Walking Dead | March 10, 2014 | Comments ()


There’s a strange sense of stasis in these last few episodes of The Walking Dead, as if there are things happening, but the story isn’t necessarily moving. This has been a trend that has dragged down prior seasons, particularly Season Two with its interminable time on the farm and the same themes repeated over and over. Yet in this season, it’s working — there’s a reason for these little splintered groups. The obvious one, of course, is to allow for some much needed character development — the catch with focusing on more action-heavy episodes (or on the antagonists) is that the pace doesn’t always allow for the characters to grow and become more real. With this new setting, these new contrasting groups, we get to see just a little bit more of each of them.

This technique was particularly effective with the ongoing story of Sasha and Bob. The opening moments of Bob, alone in the woods, dazed and drunk on cough syrup, without pride or purpose, simply waiting for something to happen, be it death or destiny. Bob, it appears, just needs to be a part of something… and for better or worse, we soon see that he is, when we find him, Maggie, and Sasha, surrounded in that eerie mist, fighting like primitives with their rudimentary weapons and depleted ammunition. In an interesting little twist, Bob gets bitten, but luck saves him, because perhaps that’s Bob’s curse — being lucky.

Yet things are new and different, as is apparent from Bob’s relentless optimism. Larry Gilliard has been doing strong work, portraying a difficult and peculiar character, and it’s made for interesting watching. We’ve watched his lows and his highs, his heights and his falls, and it’s slowly evolved into a rather enjoyable — if sometimes deliberately quirky character. It also provides a critical contrast to Sasha’s onslaught of skepticism, her need to simply stop. Stop running, stop hiding, stop searching, because if she stops, then she doesn’t actually have to learn the truth, and not knowing the truth about Tyreese may be easier. It’s a difficult and nuanced concept that Sonequa Martin-Green demonstrated nicely, giving her character a complexity that she may have been lacking, mostly due to being overshadowed by Tyreese.

The episode fell victim to a weakness that was not dissimilar to last week’s — namely, a poorly scripted, manufactured event that on the surface makes little sense. After Sasha loses out against Maggie and Bob’s reasoning, however clouded by hopeful optimism it may be, they make the decision to stay together. It was a solid moment, as was Sasha and Bob’s frank and sad conversation in the dying firelight. And despite the harshness of Sasha’s words, Maggie’s decision to take off was just… irrational. It defied logic, and was clearly constructed so that we could build tension, and eventually have a moment where they all really begin to understand and accept and embrace each other. Yet that series of events was so overwritten, so clearly scripted and that it felt artificial. Yes, there is some charm in Bob’s happiness at not being alone, and his insight into Sasha is apt, if jarringly so. And while I enjoyed the contrast of hopeful vs hopeless — mirroring the same conflict between Daryl and Beth last week — it was handled awkwardly.

Speaking of Daryl and Beth, their adventures continue to be a study in even harsher contrasts. There’s a kind of sweetness in the interplay now, though, and it was nice to see Daryl lightening up for a minute, even if it was destined to crumble. Their time together was peppered with some genuine-feeling moments of tenderness — the moment at an unknown father’s grave, pig’s feet and a “white trash brunch”, Beth singing as he lays in the coffin. It was an odd, yet surprisingly effective series of moments that built on the foundation that was laid in the prior episode, and made Daryl’s eventual collapse at the end even more poignant and powerful.

The other thing that’s made Daryl and Beth’s journey so remarkable is the unusual selection of settings that they’ve been thrust into. Much like the horror show of clas warfare and chaos at the country club, there is something both reassuring as well as profoundly unsettling about a funeral home in a zombie apocalypse. It allowed for the continued demonstration of Beth’s belief in the innate goodness of people, and while it was at times a bit much — her “beautiful” speech was certainly a little contrived and the thank you note veered dangerously into being too damn precious — it served its puirpose, mainly to finally crack Daryl’s veneer a little bit, even if he can’t truly verbalize it (and I am very curious about what, if anything, is developing between them, and how it will impact the eventual reuniting with Carol). But of course, we can’t have too much happiness in one episode, and eventually hell breaks in. It’s a nightmare moment, with Daryl blocking the undead with the dead, buried in walkers, trapped, only to break free and find Beth has been taken, and that light, that hope, feels lost. What’s worse is that Daryl finds the most dangerous of allies, men we know are dark and dangerous and without conscience — men like Daryl’s past, men from another life, and who knows what that will mean for his.

“Alone” was a solid little transitional episode, solidifying the path of Bob, Sasha and Maggie, and creating whole new ones for Daryl and Beth. It seems like our group is still some time away from finding each other, and for the moment, I’m quite satisfied with that. It’s working well, this branching of different journeys, and while there have been some stumbles and some of the stories haven’t felt like they developed organically, the end results have mostly been satisfying.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Ariana

    There was one great laugh out loud moment for me:
    'Bob you need to rest, go to sleep'
    'Ok I'll try'
    Bob lays down
    ***horrible graphic zombie snarling****
    Bob sits up
    'Ok, I tried'

  • SeattleIsInfected

    Well I was obviously overly optimistic about them not making daryl and beth a couple. I really can't respect daryl as much if he would seriously pursue an 18 year old. At least they are doing a lot of development for Beth so she's more interesting than she's been the last 3 years.
    I liked this episode on the whole. Maggie an Sasha are both such strong leads, and Bob (a character I previously had zero feelings for) is also stepping up. Although I suspect that is because they're about to kill him and they don't want it to be like T-Dog's death where he was a main character for a long time but had so little character development no one could bring themselves to really care.

  • Maydays

    Clearly, Daryl's not dying, so this could get interesting! And...Daryl in the candlelight. That needed to be said.

  • Boothy K

    I hope Daryl will be fine. The character has grown a lot and I agree that he may use these guys to survive and maybe either over take them or pick them off.

    On the Daryl and Beth front....I'm not sure how I feel about them romantically. How old is she supposed to be anyway? I realize that in a zombie apocalyptic world sexual norms probably go out the window pretty quick but she was always portrayed as a teenager, so, there's that...

    I haven't read the books so I'm looking forward to seeing Terminus.

  • Emran Huq

    Is it only me, or has anybody else noticed the similarities between the two Maggie-s (Michelle Monaghan from True Detectives and Lauren Cohan from TWD), especially in the upper parts of their faces?

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    i'm really liking all these character building episodes, because now i am super tense and scared for the characters when the zombies attack. you know, as it should have been from the get go.

    real talk though, i reeeeeeally thought this was gonna be it for Daryl, trapped in such close quarters like that, "blocking the undead with the dead" as TK put it, which is actually kinda hilarious

  • logan

    My wife says Bob is the "redshirt" i think so too. They cant kill off anymore main characters so they are building him up to be the season ending sacrifice.
    Makes sense.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Of all the times where Daryl's lucky to look like a racist, sh*tkicking redneck...

  • Repo

    Right though! Although to be honest, I'm really not looking forward to him backsliding as a person. We've even got the surrogate Merle version 2.0 for him to take orders from and do bad things in the gang leader.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I don't think he's backsliding, I think he's infiltrating. He figures they took Beth and is going to pretend to ally with them to rescue her.

  • mairimba

    I don't think he thinks these are the guys that took Beth. Whoever took Beth was living in the funeral home. The car that took off was one that belonged to the funeral home. At least that's what I took from the cross on the back window. I think he's going to go along with them to stay alive. They were going to kill him right there, no questions asked, until Joe saw he could be of use to him.

  • Bert_McGurt

    That does make a lot of sense. I might have caught that if it was a hearse instead of a sedan.

    I don't think they have her either. And it's nigh-impossible that they're the ones living at the funeral home.

  • TK


  • Repo

    That would be awesome. My take was he finally opened up again after the prison fiasco and was promptly stripped of all hope again. So he's going to be all broken and not caring about anyone. I hope you're right.

  • John G.

    I thought this episode was great. Exactly what we need here, and what we didn't have in season 2's endless meandering, is an exploration of character and backstory and motivation. Ultimately, that's what this show has to be about, since there are no more formal events in life. All that's left is just surviving in this world that never seems to run out of dead people. We have to care about these people, and that's never going to happen if it's just one run-in with walking death after another, over and over again. This setup that allows us to really get to know these people, while still allowing them to face difficult challenges is exactly what we need now.

  • lmtj

    Exactly. If Hershel had kept his faith and hope to himself, then we wouldn't still be feeling his loss now. It's getting to know "people" that make us care about how their loss is/will be profound and necessary to the group, like Dale's, as someone else mentioned.

  • JustOP

    Bob killed it this episode. His whole character and that little music section at the end where they walked just made me think 'wow, this character is actually really interesting and different'.

    Feel kind of weird about the Beth and Daryl thing - I can see Daryls arc becoming a highly predictable turn of events with his new group fighting his old buddies and 'who will he side with' kind of thing.

  • mairimba
  • mairimba

    I'm a bit worried about how this season will end. There are only 3 episodes left and the only 'reunion' we've had so far is Michonne, Rick and Carl. Two things can happen. Either they rush things in order to get most of the group together in time for the season finale, or they leave us with a HUGE cliffhanger. I'm not liking any of those options.

  • Maydays

    I thought the same thing during the "only 3 left" commercial. WHAT? There is waaayyyy too much to do in 3 episodes. Especially at the pace they're moving. I hope they're not pulling a Breaking Bad/Sopranos stunt and waiting a whole year to bring it back.

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