Sometimes The Walking Dead‘s fractured storytelling is a blessing and sometimes it’s a curse. It was fun hanging with Abraham and the Mullet last week. Last season, the new pairs were fabulous — I loved Carol and Tyreese, Rick and Michonne, even Daryl and Beth. Today, however, the show suffered from two characters with very little chemistry doing nothing much of interest while being boring.
This show loves to push people together and pull them apart. The Walking Dead is a never-ending, cyclical journey of separation and reunion. Last season everything centered around getting to Terminus and surviving after the prison. We knew that, inevitably, everyone would wind up in the same place. That’s how this show works. No matter how hard it is to get around — due to zombies and a lack of viable transportation — we know that by some point in the season, all of our zeroes will be back together. It happened after Woodbury. It happened after the prison. And it’s going to happen here.
This episode basically shows us how that’s going to happen. Everyone’s favorite character, Beth, has been missing since last season. No one really seems to care all that much that she’s gone, not even her sister. The only one who’s missing her is her post-prison traveling companion, Daryl. And, by golly, he’s going to find her. And then he’s going to enlist everyone’s help, asking them to follow him to the hospital to save her.
The problem with this episode is, well, it’s mostly that the episode is pretty dull. Now, I don’t need zombie kills and war and shooting and all that nonsense. I’m happy with a quiet character-driven episode, generally, when the character work actually means something. There are a few good lines here and there — something about Carol wanting to live as long as she can, assuming she’s going to Hell — but, for the most part, the revelations are a bit duh-doy. Did we know (or figure) that Carol had been abused by her husband? Yes. Did we know (or assume) that Daryl had been abused as a kid? Yes. Did we know that Carol felt kind of really bad about the shit that went down with the girls and Tyreese in that house? Yeah. And I had assumed that all of this was water under the bridge. Carol knows she did what she had to do. She’s said so. Repeatedly. For a while now, she’s been through with being apologetic. She’s been the one to step up and do the shit that everyone else has been too scared to do.
Do I buy that she might have an attack of conscience at some point? Sure. But there was no catalyst for it here. It was just nothing and then all of a sudden, she’s saving people and worrying about going to Hell. And I didn’t buy it.
There are bits of flashback thrown in here that provide not much but confusion. There’s a scene at the beginning where she’s in a law office setting up rain catchers (I think; by the way, does it ever rain during the Zombpocalypse? I can’t recall a single rain scene). It’s hard to tell what’s going on here. I tried to judge when it happens by Carol’s hair length. Is it post-leaving Daryl, pre-meeting up with Beth? When we see her approach the burning prison tower, it seems that scene took place after Rick ditched her, I guess. It doesn’t matter. This scene teaches us nothing and it goes nowhere. Same with the other little moments — bits of burning bodies, mostly. We get it. Carol is feeling remorse.
But, considering the Meet Joe Black moment at the end of this episode, maybe those little life snippets are just Carol’s psyche flashing her life in front of her eyes before she dies.
But she doesn’t die. She’s with Beth now, in the hospital. We know that because we saw it happen a few episodes ago. We also knew from the get-go that Daryl would wind up safely back at the Church of New Otherton. We knew Carol would live the whole time, and we knew Daryl would as well. This episode was suspense-free.
So now Carol’s in the hospital and, basically, this episode was a round about way of showing us who Daryl told to come on out of the bushes back at the church a few episodes ago. Surprise! It’s Everybody Hates Chris. That’s pretty much what this episode amounted to. Carol got hit by a car. Daryl and Everybody Hates Chris are Thelma and Louise-ing across the Georgia countryside. Boom. Next episode, please.
- It sure was easy for Daryl and Carol to get to Atlanta once they started following that hospital van. Full tank of gas. Only moderate zombie threats. Getting around during the Zombpocalypse is really easy to do, if that’s what the writers need to have happen.
- When Daryl and Carol are wandering through the streets of Atlanta worried about attracting unwanted zombie attention, why didn’t they just slather themselves with zombie guts? Why isn’t everybody wandering around wearing zombie blood all the time? Why hasn’t someone developed and Eau de Zombie cologne by this point?
- How had no one raided that water cooler in the women’s shelter by this point?
- A book for children of abuse falls out of Daryl’s backpack. Subtle.
- Daryl sees a mark made by a dog dragging its ass across a canvas. Carol sees art. It’s the glass half full/empty of the Zombpocalypse. Suddenly Carol is Miss Mary Sunshine.
- It has now been two weeks since we’ve heard Rick say, “Coral.” I’m getting the shakes.
What did you think?
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