Last night’s episode was quiet, moody, slow and introspective. Not one of my favorites, despite having it follow my favorite duo– Daryl and Carol. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5 like I gave last week’s, but this time, I’ll applaud its overall unpredictability that really punctuated the overall subdued tone. 3.5 out of 5 machetes, shall we say, after the only really awesome, gory zombie kill of the episode? Or perhaps the unit should be books about dealing with domestic abuse.
At any rate, this episode follows Daryl and Carol through the streets of Atlanta, giving us a feeling of both nostalgia and frustration– is this really how far we’ve come, that we can return to the beginning so easily and quickly? The city is looking pretty rough at this point, and our dynamic duo have a lot of serious conversations in which not much is really said, while camping out partly in what was once a shelter for wives and children living with abusive husbands/fathers. The fact that Carol had stayed here once with Sophia is another eerie revelation about how far our characters have come spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even if not physically getting too far outside Atlanta’s city limits. It was emotional for Carol to see a zombified mother and daughter, and heartwarming in a weird way for Daryl to tell her he’ll take care of it because she shouldn’t have to; the next morning, she wakes up to Daryl respectfully burning the bodies. One great line in the episode comes from Daryl where he says that they’re not ashes, as they talk about who they were and how they’re different. The whole thing seems really intent on examining Carol in particular and retracing her steps, outlining and highlighting the various lows and sacrifices and unspeakable acts she’s had to commit, and we’re definitely meant to see that they’re taking a toll on her at this point, that they’re really informing her survival skills and weighing against her humanity a little.
One way the episode shows this that I did love was the way pretty much every return from commercial break was a flashback to some other moment in Carol’s timeline– when Rick makes her leave, or when she burns and buries bodies, etc.
The episode wasn’t devoid of action necessarily, and even if it were that would be okay with me normally. I think I was expecting something more from this episode, but I can’t quite articulate what, or why. Maybe it was a pacing issue especially given the fast pace of the season up until this point. But things certainly did get interesting when they’re stuck in a van that is teetering at the edge of an industrial bridge, with walkers swarming all around, forcing them to hold on for dear life and face the fall. Even more interesting, of course, was when they get their weapons stolen from none other than the escaped Noah. But, Daryl and Carol eventually catch up to him and switch places in terms of which one wants to kill versus spare him (at first, Carol is willing to wound him in order to save their weapons, but when Noah later actively endangers Carol’s safety, that’s when Daryl seems all too willing to let him die beneath a bookcase with a walker right over him). When they do ultimately save him though, they find out all about Beth and the hospital, so it’s a good thing– unless we’re not meant to trust him.
Carol, as usual, gets a little too trigger happy but this time, I mean that figuratively: she should have looked both ways before crossing the street, even during a zombie apocalypse– she gets hit by one of the hospital’s vehicles and subsequently saved and taken by that same vehicle (though I use the term “saved” loosely here). The episode ends with Daryl and Noah heading back to the church for reinforcements so they can save Daryl’s two ladies. So I’d presume that it’s Noah who’s in the woods with him after all but we’ll have to wait and see– all I know is, it looks like our group is gearing up for a classic rescue mission. I just hope it plays out in a refreshing and exciting way, because that is something that could very easily be trite and tired at this point. All in all though, this was a pretty good episode in a mostly amazing season so far.