I’m not quite sure what to make of The Walking Dead anymore. It seems like it can shamble on forever, and will always hover in the zone between good and bad called “watchable.” Even when it’s uneventful, The Walking Dead is certainly that, watchable.
I wasn’t expecting a Daryl/Beth wandering episode, at least not now. If anything, this felt like it should have been episode two, rather than what we did see in episode two, which was just Beth and Daryl running around the woods for five minutes until it cut to other characters.
That said, I think this episode was a necessary one. Neither Daryl nor extra-promoted-to-regular Beth have had much time devoted to their character development. Daryl has always been a supreme badass, but that’s kind of it. Recently, he’s been demoted to the new Michonne, all walker-killing and grimaces, whereas Michonne is now smiling and socializing.
That’s well and good, but I worried that Daryl was sinking into sort of a one-note character outside of a few select moments in seasons two and three. He’s really only had bonds with two characters to date, his brother, Merle, and Carol, though I have to admit I never quite understood the nature of their relationship.
We learned a bit more about both characters last night, and as silly as it sounds, I think a quest for booze was a perfect vehicle for such an event. I really liked the contrast of the two environments, the country club and the ramshackle cabin. One of was how Daryl saw Beth (even though she’s a farm girl) and everyone else who was “better than him” in his past life, and the other is more akin to where he came from. Even though the world has ended, Daryl still can’t resist stealing the dead people’s money and jewelry, even though they’re worthless. It’s not until the end where he sets fire to stack of hundreds to burn down the cabin that he realizes it was rather silly.
I find it hard to believe that Beth wasn’t a lot more drunk than she was, given the fact that she would have zero tolerance and was swigging ridiculously high proof moonshine. Like, she should have been on the floor, or at least wincing hard when she drank it. Not a terribly realistic portrayal of teenage drunkeness there.
Daryl did far better with the concept, and I loved the “oh shit” moment when Beth realized it was probably not such a good idea to get Daryl drunk. But through that we learn that Daryl holds himself responsible for the Governor raiding the prison, as he gave up the hunt for him and became complacent. Michonne did the exact same thing, but it appears she doesn’t quite feel the same level of guilt.
We didn’t learn all that much about Beth, as her character is relatively straightforward. She’s numb to all this now, and taking a drink is scarier than knifing a walker at this point. She was more a vessel for Daryl to open up, and though we know she misses her family and wanted an ideal life at the prison, she’s more of a realist now.
Momentarily, I got a bit of a…vibe between the two of them, and I swear at one point Beth was going kiss him. Considering she’s supposed to be what, sixteen, and he’s I don’t know, 35 or something, that would probably be too creepy to happen. If this was the comic (and Daryl was in the comic) it would absolutely happen because the graphic novel loves weird-ass sex stuff (Dale was banging both Andrea and her sister at one point), but I don’t think AMC is going to spring any creepy Daryl/Beth, Carl/Michonne pairings on us.
The burning of the cabin at the end was a little heavy handed with the symbolism of Daryl putting his redneck life behind him, which really happened a long, long time ago. Also they could have potentially started a forest fire that could have killed them, but hey, symbolism.
Another watchable episode and Beth’s lack of believable drunkeness aside, nothing too major to complain about. I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones’ return so Sunday nights will have a bit more substance to them.