Thanks for your patience everyone, in my writing this post delayed due to the Oscars! This episode, in my personal opinion, deserves 4.5 out of 5 bottles of moonshine. The episode’s title seems to be the very same adjective I’d use to describe my body while watching. This episode moved me in a way that most of the other similarly quiet, more character-driven episodes never quite manage at least not to this deeply affecting extent. Now, perhaps that’s because I’m a Daryl fan-girl at heart, but even so, I really thought this episode was a well-timed, well-acted (Norman Reedus gets to show some range and depth here) emotional gut-punch.
The episode focuses entirely on just Daryl and Beth, which I thought at first might annoy me. Somehow, it didn’t. Of course, we’re all worried all the time about all the characters. But Daryl and Beth are so unbelievably magnetic and dynamic to watch that I was less concerned about that than I usually am. The one thing that did annoy me at least at first, as understandable as I suppose it was especially as the episode went on, was Beth’s mission for alcohol. She more or less sasses Daryl like a irritatingly, irrationally rebellious teenage girl pretty early in the episode about how she never got to have her first drink, even flipping him off (which will later come to be the moonshine salute) and basically suggesting the usual: they don’t know how much longer they have to survive, so they might as well live.
So, they find a country club which is where a good portion of the episode takes place, including a pretty brutal walker massacre involving Daryl and some golf clubs. When they finally find the bar, and specifically peach schnapps, Beth finds her mission fulfillment really not fulfilling at all. She breaks down in tears, warranting Daryl’s response: her first drink isn’t going to be no damn peach schnapps.
This leads them to a house that we learn is all too reminiscent of Daryl’s childhood home. They drink moonshine together that they find there, but we also learn that Daryl isn’t the nicest drunk. Little by little, we learn what emotional turmoil he bottles up inside that we, as audiences then, never really see. Learning those kinds of things about Michonne has been great, but I think learning them about Daryl was even more rewarding because it has been an even longer time coming, and the way they came out was even more explosive to witness.
The explosions escalated a little something like this: playing never have I ever which leads to Daryl sarcastically saying he’s never had a pony (one of many symbols in this episode for privilege versus the bitterness that results from a lack thereof) which then leads to Daryl dragging Beth outside to learn how to shoot a crossbow. This, then, turns into Daryl’s most emotionally complex moment in the whole series I think. His argument with Beth about how closed off he is opens him up, and seeing him cry was a redemptive experience for both us as viewers and for Daryl himself, as Beth embraces him from behind.
The end of the episode is when we find out precisely, finally, what Daryl had done before the apocalypse: absolutely nothing. Daryl, as a character in general, is redeemed by the apocalypse then, because he has found purpose beyond his past which had kept him down for so long. In an attempt to put that past away, Beth convinces him to burn down the house together using the rest of the moonshine. As they watch it burn, they flip it off together– the moonshine salute. It is a beautiful and empowering and poignant conclusion to an episode that is all those things and more.