This episode has taken a lot of flak from the “fans” who saw it as a wasted filler episode with nothing to add to the series. Well, aside from Beth’s apparently amazing tolerance for alcohol, this episode was actually filled with lots of nice character touches and quiet moments, while it also provided a glimpse into what the world was like as the zombie apocalypse took hold. The creative combination of director Julius Ramsay and writer Angela Kang have given us a stylish, and at times touching, glimpse into Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) that helps to redefine both of them in light of one another. If it stumbles at all, it’s in the fact that using the conceit of the drinking game to force characters to interact is kind of trite and has been done before (as Lost fans have been quick to note). But that triteness is kind of the point of the game, too. Viewers tend to forget that Daryl was something of an enigma to most of the people at the prison. His rock star status was a far cry from where we first met him — a possible junkie white supremacist — and he’s not a character who shares anything personal with anybody else. The person he was closest too was just banished a few days ago (in-show time), and as we find out this week (thanks to the end result of the drinking game), he feels responsible for the Governor’s attack because he quit searching for him. He became complacent and comfortable. He let down his guard and almost everybody died. The big revelations about Daryl this week weren’t that he had a shitty childhood — or a shitty young adulthood — but that he was in danger of regressing. It’s a parallel to Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) journey a few weeks ago. Comfort, friends, and seeming safety opens one up to having it all taken away. Painfully. On the flipside, Beth turns out to be the one with the backbone this week, pushing Daryl into waking up. The burning desire to have her first alcoholic drink wasn’t a stupid wheel-spinner on the part of the creative team. It was a simple, direct goal that she could use to motivate Daryl — who was providing no guidance beyond the barest need to survive. She decided that an objective had to set and obtained in order to keep them from drifting. And it ultimately leads to a couple of scenes between the two of them that may not have the “fans” engaged, but provided the actors with a couple of amazing opportunities to stretch and grow their characters. The burning down of the shack also served to parallel the Governor’s burning down of Woodbury earlier this season. Only in his case he was destroying everything he had become since the apocalypse — clearing house for a psychological break to a simpler time. Daryl’s destruction of the past is just the opposite. He’s tearing up his roots once and for all, burning it down and embracing who he’s become since finding his new family. And through it all, Beth shows that she may be the most pragmatic member of the group. At least the most pragmatic who doesn’t think early-warning-sign-killing is justified. Although, who knows? She might be Team Carol, too. In the background of the episode we got some more glimpses of the world outside the prison that we’ve not really gotten to explore so far; particularly in Beth and Daryl’s misadventures at the Country Club. You want to talk about class warfare? There was an entire film’s worth of story to be unpacked in the aftermath that we were shown this week. Mass murder, execution-style, as the employees of the country club apparently rose up and took down their “betters.” The walkers strung up who clearly hadn’t been walkers at the time of their lynchings, the “Rich Bitch” sign on one corpse, and the “Welcome to the Dogtrot” graffiti on the wall above another group of face-down corpses were the trace evidence of a violent situation that we can only imagine. But that class-focused targeting of people — people, not walkers — helps to inform just what we’re starting to see all over the place as our scattered heroes start to slowly wander toward Terminus. The ruling classes were not prepared for this. The bosses, the moneymen, the rich, the ones in charge — without the weight of societal norms keeping people “in their place” they had no way to maintain their status. The ones to survive the apocalypse are those who were raised in apocalypse. The survivors roaming around in gangs, like the ones Rick (Andrew Lincoln) narrowly avoided last week, are going to be the majority now. The ones for whom the apocalypse was a homecoming. When Beth tells Daryl that he’ll be the last one standing, it rings true, because he was one of them. He knows how to survive without the comforts of civilization and the support of others. He’s got the skills but he is growing into the sort of person who can utilize them and survive without abandoning those around him; without losing his empathy — his humanity. He’s bridging the gap and setting himself up to suffer the most. He really is going to miss Beth — and all the others — when they’re gone. The Walking Dead 4.12 "Still"4.0Overall ScoreShare this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response The Walking Dead 5.10 "Them" - Psycho Drive-In February 17, 2015 […] by Julius Ramsay, who has only directed one other television show, and that was last season’s “Still,” also helped to undermine my enthusiasm before watching. “Still” wasn’t a bad […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.