“Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people.” — Joe
The Walking Dead has taken on a new narrative path since it’s return after this season’s mid-season break. One of the biggest complaints that some fans and critics have had about the show has been the lack of character development for many of the roles in the show. We’re not talking about people who show up for a scene or an episode or two. It’s for those who have become regulars through the show’s many season.
Well, it looks like from the show’s writers will be trying to rectify that flaw this second half of season 4.
Since the show’s return from it’s mid-season break it’s taken on an almost zealous attempt to show the audience more of who these people truly are. Each new episode in this second half has been more about exploring each surviving character’s backstory either through some sort of flashback (like we saw tonight with the cold opening showing Bob’s lonely existence before being found by Daryl and Glenn pre-prison attack) or some of the quieter moments of exposition between characters (last week’s episode between Daryl and Beth was a prime example of this). We’ve gotten to learn more about our favorite zombie apocalypse survivors. They’ve shown themselves to be more than what the previous seasons have made us to think of them.
Tonight’s episode continued to explore the growing relationship (whether romantic or platonic) between resident badass Daryl Dixon and bright-eyed optimist Beth Greene. We see him trying to teach the younger Greene girl how to become a better with the crossbow and be a better tracker. Throughout their section of tonight’s episoode we see Daryl become more protective of young Beth Greene. The false front he’s put up in the past to avoid getting closer to people has started to come down. In past season fans and writers have looked at Daryl Dixon as someone who probably would be better off being alone instead of trying to deal with a dysfunctional “family” unit of survivors. He’s the only one who seems to be ready-made for this zombie apocalypse.
Yet, as we’ve seen in the second half of this season being alone is something that he doesn’t want to ever return to. He may remain gruff and surly, but his need to be around those who care about him and people who he wants to belong with has made him a more well-rounded badass. The way the Daryl and Beth half of the episode ended it’s going to be interesting if his need to belong with a group will cause him to forget the humanity he has found while being with Rick’s group.
The theme of being alone continues, and actually began, with the Bob, Sasha and Maggie half of tonight’s episode which was aptly titled, “Alone”. Bob’s time being alone in the wilderness was the cold opening for tonight’s episode and revealed much about the enigmatic Bob. This was all done with Bob not speaking a line of dialogue in the first few minutes. He seemed able enough to survive on his own, but the moment Glenn and Daryl arrive and offers him sanctuary back in the prison he accepts with no questions asked.
It’s a theme that runs throughout tonight’s episode. Being alone may make it easier to survive. No one to worry about. Only have to keep one person alive. But for these survivors it’s the comfort of having others looking out for you which makes it all worth the headaches and drama that comes with being involved with other people. These lone wolf survivors may be great at surviving on their own, but they also want to be doing more than just survive. They want to live and being with others. It makes them feel more human and gives them a higher purpose than just trying to survive day to day.
Some fans may not be liking this more introspective turn of The Walking Dead this second half of the season. There’s still some gruesome scees to be had, but there’s also many more quiet scenes of just characters interacting with each other minus the violence and brutality inherent in a show about the zombie apocalypse.
- Tonight’s episode was written by Curtis Gwinn and directed by Ernest Dickerson.
- Some great genuinely scary moments in tonight’s episode: the fog sequence with the zombies involving Bob, Maggie and Sasha was shot and directed well by veteran director Ernest Dickerson (who has directed some of the best episodes in the series). Another was Daryl finding himself stuck in a room filling up with zombies and the only way out was going through them.
- Tonight’s episode was the strongest of this season’s second half. We just didn’t get to learn about some of the things which motivates Bob, but also what made Sasha and Maggie such good survivors. Larry Gilliard, Jr. hasn’t been given enough chances to stretch his acting skills this season, but tonight he was allowed to do just that and he passed with flying colors.
- Beth is really thirsting for some of Daryl and was really apparent in tonight’s episode. This should make Daryl/Carol shippers not very happy at all.
- For Dead Rising fans tonight’s episode should bring a smile to their faces as we see Maggie become an expert in zombie killing just using a street sign pole and it’s very sharp squared steel sign.
- The episode opened and ended with the song “Blackbird Song” by Lee DeWyze.
- Jeff Kober returns as the leader of the small band of raiders we saw in the episode “Claimed”. His return may mean he’s the big baddie for this second half as the different groups make their way to Terminus.
- Talking Dead Guests: Sonequa Martin-Green and Lauren Cohan, Sasha and Maggie of The Walking Dead.
- Episode 01: “30 Days Without an Accident”
- Episode 02: “Infected”
- Episode 03: “Isolation”
- Episode 04: “Indifference”
- Episode 05: “Internment”
- Episode 06: “Live Bait”
- Episode 07: “Dead Weight” (not reviewed)
- Episode 08: “Too Far Gone”
- Episode 09: “After”
- Episode 10: “Inmates”
- Episode 11: “Claimed” (not reviewed)
- Episode 12: “Still” (not reviewed)