After last week’s slower, sentimental episode, The Walking Dead fires back with a momentum building offering this week. Does this episode show us that there’s still some room for suspense and intrigue before we get to Terminus?
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Alone’ finally achieves what I had been hoping for ever since the prison group fractured into smaller survival teams mid-season. In a jam-packed episode we get equal parts suspense, action and character development along with probing questions about what awaits us in the season’s final three episodes- exactly the kind of injection that The Walking Dead needed.
We open with a flashback of when Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) was wandering around alone and listless after being the sole survivor of his second group, only to be discovered by Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). We’re given no new information about Stookey, but the context this little vignette sets up speaks volumes regarding his character motivations as the episode progresses. We understand why he’s so hell-bent on following Maggie (Lauren Cohan) on what appears to be a suicide mission to find Glenn even if we don’t get the exact details of what happened in Bob’s past- he simply can’t be alone anymore. Further to that Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) protests about continuing the search for Glenn and trotting on down to Terminus serves as a wonderful counterpoint to Bob’s optimism and Maggie’s relentless hope. The interactions that we get between this little group give us an amazing amount of insight, and I rejoice as Bob and Sasha finally emerge from the background to be characters we actually care about.
It’s fascinating that we can know so little about Bob, yet I feel so sympathetic toward him. There’s something wonderfully subtle in Gillard’s performance that shows a quiet exuberance and joy about his new found family as the feeling of belonging and hope radiates from him. Even with the inherent awkwardness of planting one on Sasha to convince her to continue to find Maggie, Bob’s genuine desire to keep his little family together makes the kiss feel endearing rather than inappropriate. When the three finally reunite at episode’s end, it’s a winning moment where we feel like we’ve gotten as close to the characters as they have to one another.
It’s also quite fitting that we have the reunion of Maggie, Sasha and Bob intercut with a down-trodden Daryl as he’s discovered by the bedroom invaders that have predictably reappeared since we saw them last. Out number and out-weaponed, it appears that Daryl has found his new temporary family – whose leader Joe (played by brilliant character actor Jeff Kober) entices him with the memorable question of ‘Why hurt yourself when you can hurt others?’ The significance of Daryl meeting these clearly terrible people right on the heels of declaring a newly formed faith in humanity is a bit too obvious for my liking, but at least we know that it’s highly unlikely that Daryl will permanently go to the dark side. I’m sure many will predict that Daryl will ride the coattails of the bedroom invaders in order to find Beth (Emily Kinney) who was presumably kidnapped.
Even though the Daryl plot thread feels a bit thin, it does serve as a nice counterpoint to the sunshine and rainbows that we get with Bob & Co. as they reunite on the way to Terminus. It’s a strong lead-in to the season’s final episodes and I’m anxious to see what the next episode holds. That’s a definite win for a relatively slow-moving midseason, so here’s hoping the show can continue with its forward momentum.
- As much as I didn’t like the thought of Beth and Daryl as a couple, the moment they shared over a candlelit dinner of pig’s feet and diet cola was incredibly sweet and had me singing a different tune. I still would like to see a Daryl-Carol pairing, but I’m not as adverse to Beth and Daryl getting together as I was last week.
- That being said, I really hope that Daryl does NOT end up swooping in ‘Trailer-Park-Prince-Charming’ style to rescue Beth. With all her smack talk in the beginning of the episode while holding the cross-bow, I would love to see an evolved Beth with agency, and breaking her the ‘damsel in distress’ stereotype.
- Speaking of strong female characters, I’m starting to love Sasha. I appreciated how she tried to reverse the kiss from Bob for a reason to abandon Maggie and instead stay with her. I very much appreciated how Sasha stuck to her guns rather than melting into Bob’s arms succumbing to whatever he said. Further to that, the moment when she realizes she’s alone in the abandoned building and starts to breakdown is perfectly played by Martin-Green. I loved how she only allowed herself to cry for a moment before quickly composing herself and owning the decision she made. Rarely have I seen a female character with such resolve. Although she ultimately abandons the idea of surviving alone, I felt Sasha’s emotional journey before reuniting with Maggie and Bob to be completely genuine, well crafted and performed.
- The opening scene of Maggie, Bob and Sasha fighting off walkers attacking them through the mist seemed a tad bit gimmicky, but is forgivable as it more than delivered on the suspense aspect, which I’ve felt has been missing this season.
- As much as I’ve ragged on Beth, her idea of leaving a thank-you note after she and Daryl clean out half of the stash in the funeral home is just precious. There is something to be said about a survivor who hasn’t completely lost her manners in the apocalypse.
What did you think viewers? Did you find yourself caring more about Sasha and Bob after this episode? What do you think Daryl’s next move will be? Who do you think has been shacking up in the funeral home before Daryl and Beth arrived? Where do you think Beth is and what’s happening to her? What will Glenn’s reactions be when he discovers Maggie’s notes to him? Let us know your theories in the comments below.
A gentle reminder that we adhere to a SPOILER FREE zone here, so please keep any plot points from the graphic novels to yourself.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm EST on AMC.