Daryl sees Eugene’s mullet, and raises him a goatee
It looks as though we’re going to get another one of the post-mid-season finale focus episodes this week, again looking primarily at only one or two groups. The bad news is that this part of Season 4 is starting to lose a little direction; the good news, is that it both allows for the kind of character development we weren’t seeing during the group’s long hiatus at the prison, and the constant movement has led to some fine moments of tension (especially with regards to Rick last week). What can we expect from this Sunday’s episode? Click through after the break to get my thoughts.
<<Spoiler Alert: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Episode 412 “Still” will discuss events from earlier episodes in the series, as well as discussing events that may be upcoming. Read only if you’re all caught up!>>
We’ll begin by watching the Sneak Peek video AMC released this week:
So, much like the Sneak Peek from two weeks ago, it looks like we’re largely concerned with Daryl and Beth’s story arc in this episode. I find it interesting that there’s absolutely no dialogue in the clip. This works to increase tension without relying on speech, something that, while a horror movie trope, works well here, and definitely builds on the tension we experienced in some of the scenes last week. We begin with Daryl stalking a squirrel, aiming carefully with his crossbow. His bolt misses, driving into a tree and scaring the squirrel away. He pulls out the bolt, and notes that it’s cracking. We get a close up of his eyes as he finishes the job, bending the bolt between his hands until the break is complete. This is symbolic of what’s happening to he and Beth at this point, as all their expectation, all they held as being solid in their lives, has fallen out from under them. In fact, this is the first time I can remember seeing Daryl miss a shot, and it wasn’t from very far away at all. Beth is setting up a camp for them, digging a shallow fire pit by hand and using a car’s side view mirror and focusing sunlight through a piece of broken glass to start a fire. She strings up a rope holding a couple of aluminum hubcaps which rattle together at the barest touch – simple and cheap motion sensor. We cut to a rattlesnake as it slithers through the bracken. Daryl is walking after it, holding a forked stick in one hand, his knife in the other. He approaches, and catches it just behind its head, thrusting the knife through its brain – time to get dinner cooking. Daryl grunts once when he catches the snake, and a second time when he stabs it; these are literally the only two vocalizations (well, really sub-vocalizations) in the entire clip. Other than expanding the tension as I’ve mentioned above, it also serves to show that Beth and Daryl are getting a little desperate. They’re relying on Daryl’s hunting skills, and camping right out in the open where any old wandering walker might happen on to them. The last time we saw them, they were only a few hours behind Tyreese and the girls, and they’d found the train tracks. This scene looks to me like it’s taking place further back in the timeline; it’s possible we’re going to see Beth and Daryl from when they leave the prison, and catch up to where we’ve already seen them at the end of the episode. That, or they decide to stop following the tracks for some reason. It’ll be interesting to see which it is.
Unusually, the Promo video also concentrates solely on Daryl and Beth. In most Promos, we end up with a quick montage of actions pieces set up by one or two key interactions between major characters; here, we’re back into Beth’s diary mode. Have a look, and we’ll discuss it after the video:
Beth is walking beside an abandoned car, and then we see her and Daryl walking down a road away from the vehicle. We hear Beth in voice-over, “After the prison, we were always moving.” The music takes an eerie turn, sounding like children singing a nursery rhyme just out of hearing, and slightly out of tune. Beth breaks through some bushes onto a golf course, as her voice-over continues, “We just need a safe place to be.” They pass by an overturned golf cart, approaching the clubhouse. “We can stop runnin’, stop scavengin'” said over a series of flash cuts: the clubhouse entrance; walker in the dark; entrance; walker moving its jaw; entrance; a dead woman hanging – she could be a walker, but perhaps more of a hanger here; entrance; two walkers coming forward through a swinging flashlight beam; Daryl holding the flashlight, as he and Beth turn away from the room with the walkers, Daryl saying, “Move” as they go further down a hallway, looking through a second doorway and acting shocked and horrified. This cuts to him closing a door hurriedly, but in true Promo fashion, it looks as though it is a different door than the one they’re looking through – they may be playing with sequence here to intensify the horror. We then see Daryl in a darkened room, going mano-a-walker with two undead, slicing one through the throat as Beth yells, “Daryl!” twice, the second cut off and almost sounding like “Don’t!” We then see Beth, light through an opening illuminating her teary eyes as shadows of movement flicker past. She finishes her voice-over: “If you don’t have hope, what’s the point of living?”
Beth looks back at all the things she’s lost
Things don’t look good for our heroes at this point. They appear to get separated, and the tone in Beth’s voice suggests something may be happening to Daryl. I sure hope that the showrunners, now that they have Abraham as incoming resident badass, haven’t decided to cut ties with our beloved Daryl. I seriously doubt it – he’s by far the most popular character on the show, only rivaled at times by Glen. If they decide to get rid of him, I suspect that the ratings will tank, as many a fan leaves the show behind. Beth is certainly less popular, and if they’re going to make a sacrifice this week, it may well end up being her; but maybe that’s my own predilections showing through.
I doubt we even see another group all night, unless it’s at the very end of the episode when either Daryl or Beth or both of them get out of the clubhouse and back on the road. They may very well run into Glen and Abraham as the come back their way, and perhaps this will then get the last few on the road to Terminus. This would just leave us with Maggie, Sasha, and Bob – I hope they get some screen time this week, as I’d like to see the group back together and the narrative regaining some of its lost structure. I don’t miss the prison, per se, but I do miss the sense of purpose that has been lacking so far this half season. Surviving is in itself a purpose, yes, but it doesn’t really move the narrative forward.