Season 4, Episode 13, “Alone”

“Alone”

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead,  and HBO’s True Detective, unless otherwise specified.)

 Alright, alright, alright! 

I need to address the first part of this post to the True Detective finale haters out there…not a confrontation, mind you, just a conversation, without spoilers, to maybe address some of the pent-up angsters who are spewing online hate-rant about the TD finale,“Form and Void.”  My intention with this brief detour into the world of TD is to merely open up a dialogue, explore an alternative perspective, and possibly redirect some of that hater energy to more positive and productive channels.  If none of that works, that’s cool too…just get meta with me for a minute, won’t you?

I am not saying it’s my job to make the hater peeps like the official ending of the True Detective finale episode, “Form and Void.”  Everybody has his, or her, opinion about things, and I am not trying to challenge that.  I am merely offering a few ideas about the finale episode and the concept of “resolution” within the realm of its ending, and how this concept of “resolution” may relate to the original, eight-episode True Detective series.

So, if you want to play along, keep reading.  However, if you tuned in soley to read about this week’s episode of The Walking Dead,, and you have not seen True Detective yet, or the TD finale, and you don’t want to join our brief TD discussion, merely soften your gaze and scroll down to the awesome picture I got of Matthew McConaughey, as Rustin Cohle, smoking the shit out of a cigarette…after that picture, my WDO darlings, we will begin our discussion of “Alone,”  the thirteenth episode of the fourth season of The Walking Dead, I promise…and thanks for being patient!

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Now, for the rest of you…if you have watched the True Detective finale and are left wanting, or unsatisfied, my first question would be, “Why?”  I am not asking to be a dick, but I would be truly curious to hear, or read, what the individual responses might be, to find out what each person was wanting the True Detective finale episode to provide, or resolve, within the story line and for the viewer.

I keep using the word “resolution” because I have heard, and read, the word used repeatedly in the TD finale hater rant…one young scenester that my WD buddy works with told her, I kept screaming at the screen while I was watching it…there was no resolution!  

First off, I know many TD fans were disappointed to learn that Matthew McConaughey would only be appearing in the original eight-part series, and not returning for a second season as Rustin Cohle.  Some of my friends who were privy to my many Facebook and Instagram posts of Rust Cohle pics over the past couple of weeks were sure that I would be among those who were disappointed…but, I am happy to say that I am not.

Matthew McConaughey just won an Oscar, people…it is pretty amazing that he, and Woody Harrelson, deigned to be in an HBO series at all.  McConaughey, who originally was asked to play the role of Martin Hart, loved the TD script and the character of Rust Cohle so much that he agreed to be in the original eight-part series, but only if he could play Rustin Cohle.

Sorry, kids, but it is not realistic to think that he and Woody Harrelson would keep it going as Rust and Marty six or more seasons later. The original True Detective eight-part series is a finite event, a standalone complex. We must take it as it is.  This begs the question:  Does a series need to go for six or seven seasons just to tell a story?

(Forgive my impertinence, Kirkman and Co., for the above comment…may you, and WD, and all our favorite WD characters, live long and prosper for many seasons to come!)

Maybe I am old-school enough to love the old-fashioned mini-series genre, and I am happy to hang with eight episodes of McConaughey and Harrelson.

I am definitely old-school enough to love the concise, exacting art form of the short story.  If a short story is well executed, there is no room for extraneous verbage, characters, or storyline…every line, every scene counts.

In our age of social media, where the sharing of our latest selfies, random thoughts, or clever links to all our Facebook friends counts as a creative act, is it any wonder that the concept of keeping a story spare, taut, and undiluted seems a little strange…lame…anticlimactic, to those who are attuned mostly to the whimsy of pop culture and social media?

Ok, so what I may call classic, you may call lame and stodgy…alright, alright, alright!  

(I do promise to stop doing that, but it’s so fun!)

As I was saying, it’s cool with me if we don’t agree on this. As someone who has always been obsessed with pop culture, I can understand what may be making the young, edgy, and discontented among us so restless with the TD finale ending. You wanted something…else, right? Something more CSI, perhaps, dramatic, with more gunfire and explosions? More scars?  A character holding up a sign that reads, “I am the Yellow King?”  I get it, I really do.  I really get off on that kind of thing as well.

But, isn’t it nice to be offered something…different?  More thoughtful, quiet, nuanced, more…intelligent?  An ending to an incredible story that makes us look inward, reflect, and meditate on the message and the meaning?

I really feel like the ending that Nic Pizzolatto went with offers this opportunity, and for me, it’s a welcome change from the usual “in-your-face” that our culture seems to gravitate towards in droves.

In offering a few ideas about “resolution,”  I invite those who were left unsatisfied by True Detective‘s finale to take a little time, and when you are ready, watch it again.

This time, you will be unburdened from the expectations that you had before. At this point, you have already yelled at the screen and posted your thoughts on the matter, so just breathe, reboot, and watch it again, with new eyes.

And while you watch, I invite you to entertain the following questions, or concepts:

What does the concept of “resolution” mean to you, the viewer; to the characters in this story; or to the entire series as a whole?

Also consider these different levels of “resolution” within the finale episode:

1) Resolution of the criminal case at hand…what elements, to you, were resolved? What elements were not? 

2) Spiritual resolution, or resolution of the inner conflict within a character’s psyche…what transformations, or resolutions, did each of the main characters come to, or experience, by the episode’s end?

3) Resolution of conflict between the main characters, Rust and Marty, and the resolution of conflicts that Rust and Marty had with other key characters, elements, and institutions presented in the story line. Where were these conflicts, and relationships, left by the story’s end?

And, after rewatching and considering the many levels of resolution that are possible within this story, does your opinion of the finale episode change or alter in any way?

The Merriam-Webster definition of resolution is as follows:

resolution (noun) : (1) the act of finding an answer or a solution to a conflict, problem, etc. (2) the answer or solution to something  (3) the act of resolving something

In my opinion, True Detective’s finale episode, “Form and Void,” does effectively resolve the crucial, key conflicts that were presented in the story, and with the main characters, on some level or another.  That is the way it goes in life, and this makes the TD finale, to me, have the ring of truth to it.

Another element that felt true to me was that feeling of anticlimax, and melancholy, that the viewer may have been left with at the finale’s end.  In real life, detectives who spend years working on a case do report feeling a mixture of elation and let-down once a case is solved…all that time with a clear purpose, working on solving a crime, and then, once the crime is solved, and the case is closed, what comes next?

That lost feeling, coupled with the fact that even solving a crime will never bring a murdered, innocent victim back to life, or undo any evil or harm that had been done to others, makes the resolution of a case, or a story like True Detective, a mixed bag of emotions.

Just because something is resolved doesn’t mean the end result brings happiness, or satisfaction, to all the elements of a problem, conflict, or situation.

If you remain unconvinced, I completely understand.  If you are all fired up, still, may I suggest you channel your considerable energies and talents into writing an alternate ending, or starting your own series of True Detective or film noir fan fiction?  And please send it to me when you do…I would love to read it.

Writing is a lonely endeavor, at times, and it’s nice to know that there are others out there, slogging away at it, writing, rewriting, editing ad nauseum, guzzling beverages, and vainly trying to keep a grip on our sanity as we try to find a resolution to our own storylines.

So, to Nic Pizzolatto, and the TD cast and crew, I raise my glass to you…cheers on a job well done.  Whatever the future holds for True Detective, I personally feel the first, original season, beginning to end, was an artistic tour de force.  Thanks for the wild ride, the inspiration, and for the characters of Rustin Cohle and Martin Hart.

Rust and Marty forever! ❤

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One of my all-time faves…

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“Alone”

The opening scene of “Alone “ hearkens back to the first half of The Walking Dead’s Season 4, showing a powerful series of shots featuring Bob, in days of his wandering the woods alone, the sole living survivor of two other groups he had been with before the prison.

Set to the haunting “Blackbird Song” by Lee DeWyze, the montage shows Bob, with an empty, dazed look in his eyes, wandering listlessly through the woods, going through the rote mechanics of survival…in one shot, he hides behind a tree, staring ahead, as a group of walkers pass yards away:

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In another shot, we see Bob, barely able to stand, rapping on the entrance of a small shelter, checking for walkers.  He secures the entrance and proceeds to drink himself into a stupor. After getting his drink on, he watches, uncaring, as a walker tries to paw its way through the makeshift fencing he erected:

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As the montage continues, we see Bob has found the back trailer end of a large tractor trailer, abandoned on the wooded road. He hoists himself onto it, lying on his back and staring at the sky as a large group of walkers pass beneath him.  Once it’s clear, Bob sits up, dismounts, and begins his shuffling walk down the road, only to be startled by the now unfamiliar sound of vehicles approaching.  It is Daryl, riding his motorcycle, and Glenn, driving behind him in a pickup truck. Bob stands, watches them pull up, get out, and approach him warily.

“Hi…hello,” Bob calls to them, his hand motioning slightly towards them.  His voice is strong, and somewhat defiant as he says this, as they do not acknowledge his greeting, nor reply in kind.

Daryl keeps his eye on Bob, asks if it’s just him out here.  Bob replies that it is.  “How long’s it been like that for?” asks Daryl. Bob replies that he doesn’t know, that he had been with one group, then another one after that. “They didn’t make it, neither one of them?” asks Daryl.  Bob shakes his head, no.

Daryl asks his name. “Bob…Stookey,” he replies. Bob looks to Glenn, then Daryl, taking in their clean, well-groomed, well-fed appearance.  “You people have a camp?” he asks.

Glenn and Daryl exchange looks. Then, Daryl fixes his eyes on Bob, and asks the first of the three questions the prison council has come up with to size up any strangers they meet outside the prison walls, to determine if the person is somebody they would want to bring into their group: “How many walkers have you killed?”

Bob takes a moment, does the math in his head.  “I don’t know, ” he replies, “I haven’t kept count…a couple dozen?”

“How many people have you killed?” continues Daryl, keeping his gaze fixed on Bob. “Only one,”  Bob answers, looking down a moment, as if reliving a painful memory. Glenn looks to Daryl, who steps one pace closer to Bob, asks the final question, “Why?”

Bob looks up then, answers simply, “She asked me to.” Now it is his turn to look at Daryl and Glenn.  His demeanor is one of a man who has nothing to hide, and nothing to lose. Daryl takes a step back, asks Bob, “You wanna come with us?”

Bob looks around at the woods he had been traversing for who knows how long, answers, “Yes.”

“You got any questions for us?” asks Daryl.  Bob shakes his head, “No…it doesn’t matter who you are.”  “Really?” asks Glenn. It is the first time he has spoken. “Yeah,” replies Bob, sheathing his machete into his belt loop. “It doesn’t matter.”

The final shot of the scene is of Bob, riding in the back of Glenn’s pickup truck. There may be the barest glimpse of a smile around his mouth. Bob seems hopeful for the first time in a long, long time.

The next scene is in the present, with Bob, Sasha, and Maggie back to back to back in a thick mist.  From just beyond the mist, we can hear the hissing and slavering of the walkers getting louder, closer.  

Sasha, Maggie, and Bob are poised, ready, and from the mist approaches the first walker…the trio are ready to strike, and the following scene is another epic walker kill scene, with Bob, Sasha and Maggie springing to action and killing The Mist Walkers one by one with fierce, on-target head kills using a sharpened wooden stake, knife, and general bludgeoning techniques. 

It is some gnarly hand-to-hand combat, from three who are seasoned warriors by now, and who can bring it:

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It’s a close call, though, as Bob almost gets bitten and Maggie gets a walker on top of her that is hard to keep back.  Sasha, ever handy, bludgeons Bob’s walker and rekills Maggie’s walker with one well-aimed shot to the head:

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After killing Maggie’s walker, Sasha turns to Bob, worried, until Bob, giddy with relief, informs them that the walker only got his bandage and not his shoulder…Sasha is unable to contain her joy and gives Bob a big hug, which is super cute:IMG_3867 IMG_3832

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Maggie looks on and laughs, but you can tell she’s thinking, “Where the hell is Glenn, dammit?”

After the celebration is over, however, the trio have some things to decide on…Maggie wants to get on the move to find Glenn, while Sasha advises they wait until the fog clears.  Maggie has some bad news…the compass is broken.  Bob reassures them things will be fine. “Sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we’ll keep an eye on it in between…we’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, Daryl is positioned behind Beth, giving crossbow and tracking lessons…they are looking pretty adorable together, if truth be told.  Beth is trying to get Daryl to give her some clues as to what she’s looking for, but he is being a good teacher, and putting the questions to her…what does she see?

Beth can see some zig-zaggy tracks…she’s feeling pretty pleased with herself, jokes to Daryl that she’s getting pretty good that this, that soon she won’t need him anymore…

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While watching this, I actually typed, C’mon, let’s see these two get sexy.  I mean, the suspense, right?

We’ve seen them kill walkers together, get drunk together, wage drunken battle together, and then get real with each other, burn a house down together, while flipping it off in unison…is it just me, or by this point, were you all like me and chanting, under your breath (because, you know, the kids are sleeping), “Do it, do it, do it!”

Beth and Daryl spot a walker feasting on some poor animal that got caught in a steel trap, and Beth, crossbow poised and ready, steps quietly towards the walker, ready to shoot…and steps on the sharp metal spike securing the trap.  The spike sinks into her foot (owwww!), and Beth collapses to the ground.

The walker whirls and lurches towards her, and Daryl once again comes to the rescue, employing his invaluable “crossbow upside the walker’s head” maneuver, rekilling the walker and  then crouching down to gently check Beth’s foot (“Can you move it?”) She can…but it’s definitely a bad one.

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While the Beth injury scenario definitely annoyed me, I do realize that her injury set some key plot-changing elements in motion, like Beth asking Daryl for a sitting break when they arrive at a graveyard…her foot is hurting, and she needs a rest.  Daryl, who is getting better and better at recognizing good-boyfriend-opportunities as they arise, scoops up Beth in a piggyback and playfully jokes with her that she’s a lot heavier than she looks:

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Now, that is pretty adorable…

Daryl and Beth find a gravestone from long ago that reads:

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Daryl picks a clump of wildflowers and puts it on the gravestone…he then stands besides Beth and their hands find each other in a hand-hold so sweet, I actually cheered out loud:

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Personally, I am so loving seeing this sweet side of Daryl…he’s got that sexy tough & tender combo that’s a real panty dropper.

Back on the tracks, Bob, Maggie and Sasha spy the Sanctuary sign…Bob shares his memory of hearing the message about Sanctuary on the car radio during the antibiotic run.  Sasha is doubtful about the Sanctuary and its promising slogan, “All who arrive survive,”  thinking it’s too good to be true.

I am definitely giving Michonne and Sasha props for intuition regarding this Sanctuary…you can’t feed a savvy sister some white man’s slogan and expect her to believe that shit without question.

Bob, however, is on board with checking it out, and Maggie is convinced that Glenn would head there if he saw the sign, thinking Maggie would go there to find him.

In the end, Bob proposes a vote…they cannot split up, and perhaps others from the prison will be at the Sanctuary.  Sasha doesn’t like it, but she agrees to go along…and so they begin the long trek to the Sanctuary.

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Meanwhile, Daryl and Beth investigate the large white funeral home adjacent to the cemetery. It seems clear of walkers, and is clean, they notice, like somebody has been tending to it, living there.  They find a room with an embalmed body, dressed in a suit and arranged, hands folded over each other, in an open casket.  Daryl reaches out to the corpse’s face, runs his fingers through a thick layer of makeup, looks at Beth questioningly.  In this day and age, why would somebody go to the trouble?

They continue on, find a sterile processing room, with bodies on metal tables, in varying stages of being prepared and dressed, as if for a funeral.  One corpse’s face shows the telltale sign of decomposition that comes from becoming a walker…is some Mysterious Mortician preparing and dressing walkers for some crazy wake or funeral scenario? And if so, what the fuck is up with that?

Daryl comments, “Looks like somebody ran out of dolls to dress up,” and Beth comes quickly to the Mysterious Mortician’s defense, saying that she thinks it’s beautiful, that somebody cared enough to remember that the bodies were once living somebodies.

“Don’t you think it’s beautiful?” Beth asks Daryl, and Daryl has this look on his face, like,  Well, I don’t know about that…I actually think it’s pretty fucked up…But, I think that would be the wrong answer to say that, to her, right at this moment…so I will say nothing…

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Daryl looks away and gets quickly back to the business of cleaning and wrapping Beth’s injured foot.  Daryl is no dummy, and he sure as hell is catching on with this boyfriend thing really fast… Good for you, buddy!  I never had any doubt…he has always been so sweet, ever since Sophia.  (Man, I can’t wait to talk about all that shit! Season 2, we are coming, I promise!)

Meanwhile, back to Bob and Sasha…it seems to be part of their courtship dynamic to hash it all out, and call each other out.  It’s like some sort of edgy, in-your-face foreplay, and I, for one, am kind of liking it.  It fits them…they’ve both seen some shit, and they know that nobody has time to fuck around anymore.

Bob asks Sasha why she wants to stop, instead of continuing on to Sanctuary.  Sasha replies, “To not die…” She feels the close call that morning was “a warning…we get warnings, and the next time,” and she looks pointedly at Bob’s shoulder, then at him, “Next time, it’s on us.”

Sasha lays it out, as she sees it. “Odds are, Glenn is dead, Odds are, we will be too,” Sasha feels they should follow the tracks to the next town, find a building, hole up.  They only have six bullets left, Bob is bleeding…Sasha asks Bob to think about it, to help her convince Maggie when Maggie returns.

Back at the funeral home (ha! How many times does someone get to say that?), Daryl and Beth keep finding signs that someone has been keeping up the house.  Daryl finds a cupboard stocked with peanut butter and jelly, diet soda, and pigs’ feet. The cans of food, like the rest of the house, are clean and look recently stocked.  Daryl remarks on this, while helping himself to jelly straight from the jar (to Beth’s feigned disgust), saying that they will take just a little, and leave the rest.

Beth laughs at this, telling Daryl she knew he believed, deep down, that there are some good people left in this world.

Ok, you two…that’s very cute and all…now why don’t you find a couch and get down to the business of making out, so we can all watch?

Now, if I may say so, at this point, did I not call this, Beth being all cute in the squatter house, as she and Daryl get more and more into each other? Just saying, that’s some oracle shit, right there…or maybe it was really obvious.  Anyhow, feeling pretty McConaughey in the moment.

Oh, have I not mentioned that I have begun using “McConaughey” in many different contexts?  For example, it can be used as a not-so-proper noun, (“I want to do many naughty, delicious things to your McConaughey.”); an adjective (“That is so McConaughey of you.”); a mild expletive, (“Just what the McConaughey is going on here?”); a verb: (“I’m going to go take a couple hours for myself to go McConaughey.”) To McConaughey, of course, could mean you are going to take your shirt off and bang on some bongoes, or it could mean that you are going to go create a 450-page timeline and synopsis of the latest iconic character you are playing in your upcoming movie…the world is your oyster when you McConaughey!

Back at the funeral home (yes! fun every time), things are getting pretty teenage-weird. There are candles lit, which is nice, but Beth is singing some dumb song at the piano, and Daryl is getting in the coffin, saying it’s the most comfortable bed he’s been in in a long time.

Now, I do understand that Beth is a teenager and Daryl’s probably never been on a real date, but my eyes were kind of rolling in the back of my head, at this point…it’s like, Um, excuse me, Kirkman? Gimple?  When is the heavy petting going to start?

My WD buddy texted,  I am bored of Beth…where the fuck is Carol?

Ha ha! I could not stop laughing…just somebody start making out already, please!

Back at the camp, it seems that Maggie has ditched and set off on her own to go find Glenn. Bob and Sasha quickly roll up camp and set off after her. At the Sanctuary sign, Maggie encounters a snarling, hissing she-walker, who Maggie rekills…then in a moment of goretastic ingenuity, Maggie slices open the walker’s belly to scrawl a note for Glenn in walker blood. Maggie’s gotten so dark, and sexy…so not boring like Beth is being right now.

My WD buddy texted me, I want Rick, Carol, Tyrese drama…lol

I texted back, Lizzy! Lizzy!

Bob and Sasha set out to go find Maggie, Bob’s smiling because he’s not alone anymore.  I really like Bob more and more, especially after this episode…I was a real dick about him at first, mistaking his spookiness and general social awkwardness as some sort of guilt or shadiness, but Bob’s alright.  Sorry I was a dick, Bob.

Bob and Sasha find Maggie’s sexy walker blood note for Glenn:

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Back at the honemoon funeral home, Daryl is carrying Beth to the table for a pickle snack (no, a real pickle snack, like on a plate…shit’s moving Dawson Creek slow around here). They hear a scratch at the door, and Daryl’s looking like a cute protective boyfriend as he leaps up, motioning for Beth to stay put. (Put another boyfriend point up on the scoreboard for our man, Daryl Dixon!)  He opens the door to reveal the cutest, scruffiest one-eyed dog, who whimpers and runs off.  Fuck, I forgot there were dogs in the world!

On Talking Dead, Lauren Cohan and Sonequa Martin-Green said the dog used in that scene lost his eye protecting his owner from a carjacking…give up a paw for that sweet, scruffy hero!

As a sassy night walker snarls in the moonlight, Bob and Sasha are sitting on a roof, getting real, again. Bob comes out and asks Sasha why she thinks Tyrese is dead, because they both know Tyrese would go to Terminus.  Bob tells Sasha that he thinks she is too afraid to find out, one way or another, if Tyrese makes it to Terminus, if he’s alive or dead.  Bob tells Sasha that he thinks that’s funny, because up until now, Sasha had been “the toughest person” Bob had met, “which is funny, because you’re also the sweetest…” At Sasha’s “are you for real?” look, Bob laughs, says, “Just sayin’!”

At this point in the watching, I was thinking, Well, maybe somebody is going to make out in this episode!  What else is there to do on that roof?  Sassy Night Walker certainly isn’t going to let anybody get any sleep. But, alas, Bob takes Sasha’s advice to get some sleep, lies back on his makeshift pallet, leaving Sasha sitting awake, with only the song of Sassy Night Walker to keep her company. Damn!

Back at the pickle-picnic, Beth is writing the Mysterious Mortician a thank you note, for when they leave. Daryl shyly suggests that maybe they don’t have to leave…that maybe the person won’t come back, or if they do, maybe they’ll be cool. Beth laughs, asks Daryl what changed his mind about people, what made him believe there can be good people?  In response, Daryl fixes Beth with the sweetest love look, like, ever…

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Another scratching sound at the door interrupts their moment, and Daryl reaches his fingers into a jar for a pickled pig’s foot to lure the dog in, saying he’ll “give that mutt one more chance…” Oh, those crazy kids…first they fall in love, then they shack up, adopt a dog…but this time, it’s not the dog.  It’s a crush of walkers, pushing their way into the house as Daryl vainly tries to hold them back, screaming for Beth to grab her bag and get out the window, that he will follow.

What does follow is one of the most harrowing walker escape scenes in WD history, in my opinion.  On Talking Dead, they discussed the making of the scene where Daryl uses the exam tables to block the crush of walkers and buy himself a moment to escape up the stairs…the scene was shot in a small room in a storage facility to create the narrowness of Daryl’s amazing escape.  It was hard to get a good shot of it, only got this one:

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Despite poor Daryl’s superhuman escape, he just misses Beth…he sees her bag lying in the road, then sees the Mysterious Mortician’s black funeral procession-leading car speed off with poor, gimpy Beth undoubtedly inside, captive:IMG_3970

Poor Daryl! He was just starting to open up, damn…now this…

My WD buddy texted, I want Rick! Me too, dude…Rick Grimes just makes everything better.

Back on the tracks, Bob is telling Sasha that he realizes now that he doesn’t need to be afraid, that he is not going to be alone anymore like he was, not going to hold back on taking risks and really trying to live.  He is going to go on, find Maggie, go to find Sanctuary.  Then, Bob answers my prayers for a lip-lock in this damn episode and pastes one on Sasha…thank you, Bob!

Finally!

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After the kiss, Bob bids Sasha goodbye and heads on down the tracks.  Sasha looks after him for a moment, then turns to go to the building she had spotted and wanted to make a home base with Bob.  She goes inside and upstairs, finding a nice airy loft with lots of light and pretty exposed brick….but she is hating it, you can tell.  Fighting back tears, she goes to a window, looks down, and sees…Maggie! (Who is lying down among dead walkers, next to an ice cream truck, for some reason…)

When Sasha accidentally pushes the pane of window glass and sends it crashing below, it awakens other walkers, who start coming for Maggie.  Sasha runs out to help, and the brand-new besties slice and dice some walkers together, bad-bitch style:

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Maggie asks Sasha to be PSOAM’s together…Post-apocalyptic Sisters On a Missonof course Sasha says yeswho can refuse that smile?

Poor Daryl, collapsed and exhausted in the road, is not faring as well. It seems he has been discovered by the Downstairs Thug Boys, with their loud douchey leader, Joe. When Joe reaches for Daryl’s crossbow, Daryl takes him out with one upswing and sends Douchebag Joe to the ground.

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Luckily for Daryl, Joe laughs, shows Daryl props for being a “bow man.”  He orders his henchmen down, and invites Daryl to join them, rather than fight them, as Daryl’s resistance would be tantamount to “suicide.”

In the most fucked up slogan ever, Joe asks Daryl, “Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people?”  Daryl must play along as Joe’s new pet, it seems, until he can find a way to get to Beth.

Back on the tracks, Sasha and Maggie have caught up to Bob. They embrace, begin the journey to Sanctuary, together.

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The very last shot of the episode shows Glenn, who has found one of the maps to Terminus…he touches it with his finger, and you can see the wheels inside his head turning.  Looks like there’s going to be a prison gang reunion at Terminus, if all can arrive alive…we’ll see, won’t we?

Until next week, and enjoy the playlist:

Playlist:

Rush, “Headlong Flight”

Beck, “Blue Moon”

The xx, “Islands”  (for Bob and Sasha, Daryl and Beth, and Glenn and Maggie)

Redbird, “Moonshiner” (for Daryl…and Rust <3)

alt-J, “Dissolve Me”

Lee DeWyze, “Blackbird Song”

The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 12, “Still”

In my world, The Walking Dead’s Season 4, Episode 12, “Still” felt kind of like a limp little paper umbrella topping off the shitty cocktail of a weekend full of feverish, pukey kids, sleepless nights, headaches, and crying jags (both the kids’ and mine).

At one point, it felt like my life was awash in tears, vomit, Children’s Advil, and finally, at the end of the vomit-soaked weekend from hell, my ultimate reward finally came: Coronas with lime, and The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 12, Sunday night, 9pm.

While setting up my laptop and Corona situation in front of the television at around 8 pm, I idly purveyed the red carpet fashions of Oscar night and wondered what was in store for us with “Still.”  It wasn’t until about 45-minutes into watching the episode that I realized that the entire episode would be dedicated to exploring Beth’s teen angst and Daryl’s arrested development.

By the end of it, I was re-upping two Coronas at a time…lime, salt, glug-glug-glug…but the Coronas weren’t making it better fast enough.

My ever-discerning WD buddy texted me about thirty minutes into it:  Kinda bored with this episode.  That was my inital hit as well.  My mind has changed about it, and my appreciation has deepened for it, with subsequent viewings.  That night, though, I was bored and restless with it.

While I remain fully supportive of Daryl and Beth deepening their friendship and maybe falling in love, I guess I kind of felt about it the way I feel about teen love in general: it’s great and all, but I don’t want to necessarily watch it for more than about 10 minutes, 15 minutes tops…usually.  

When teen love is portrayed right in a movie, or on television, it’s awesome.  Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Freaks and Geeks, The United States of Tara come to mind as examples of television doing teen love right, capturing the newness, beauty and awkwardness of it while being thoroughly entertaining and relatable at any age.

I’m not trying to be a dick here. I know it’s zombie freaking apocalypse, and there isn’t that much room for witty teen banter when peeps are running for their lives…it’s actually an amazing feat that the writers of The Walking Dead have managed to interject as much love, humor, and human moments as they have, four seasons into this story.  It’s super bleak subject matter to be dealing with, and the writers manage time and time again to wow us with the depth and complexity of the characters and the human relationships they form with fellow survivors.

Maybe the WD writing team is just giving us a break before they start really kicking our asses.  I’m sure that’s it.  Knowing Kirkman and Co. (and I really don’t, although I pretend I do…delusional much?), maybe it’s the calm before the storm, the exploration into Daryl and Beth, both as individuals and as partners, romantic or otherwise, which remains to be seen.  I do like that Kirkman and Co. have kept the Daryl/Beth potential hookup card held close to their chests, for now…will they or won’t they?  

And…do we want them to?

I think, after watching “Still,” the majority of WD fans would support Daryl and Beth as a couple (unless said fans are in the creepy “I am Mrs. Norman Reedus” demographic and can’t stand the thought of Daryl with anyone other than them….those bitches do not like to share).

I don’t know what it was about this episode that left me flat. Maybe we fans are just plain spoiled with such consistent, high caliber writing. I write a freaking blog, for christ’s sake. Who died and made me some kind of expert?

There were many aspects of “Still” that make a strong case for it as an episode.  It was truly righteous of Beth and Daryl to survive both the Car Trunk Walker Rave and the Pine Vista Country Club Walkers, find the Shitty Shack and get drunk together on moonshine, work out some personal issues and deepen both their connection and their resolve to carry on. Just because I am not convinced that the episode was the most enthralling television ever doesn’t mean I am not loving those crazy kids…it’s Daryl and Beth, for chrissakes!

And as a WD fan and sometimes sideline reporter, I am also stoked that Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney got to flex their fine young talent in an episode devoted just to their characters…it’s the first time ever that The Walking Dead television series focused an entire episode upon two main characters.  Bully for Daryl and Beth in all those regards.

All props aside, I was left feeling like the episode was a bit…long-winded.  My WD buddy agreed with me. When we discussed it the next morning, she told me she felt like the whole thing between Daryl and Beth could have been consolidated into about 20 minutes, and that the rest of the time could have explored what was happening with other characters.  Agreed.

Now, it’s time for me to make a true confession:  Aside from my being bitch-slapped by the stomach flu over the weekend, my ennui with “Still” may also have been due to the fact that my attention has also been swayed, just a little, by the arrival of a new cult classic on the scene: True Detective, and its leading man, Rustin Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughy, and his partner, Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson.

In the course of six episodes, I’ve only taken, like, a thousand pictures of Rust Cohle…and that’s just of him smoking

Rustin Cohle...

Rustin Cohle…

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I am obsessed with the dynamic between Cohle and his partner, Marty Hart…and pretty much obsessed with all things Rustin Cohle

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When a character is this beautiful, and brilliant, and is willing to sacrifice his own soul and sanity to save the innocents from dark forces, how am I not supposed to love that shit, I ask you?

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I have posted so many pictures of Cohle on my personal Facebook and Instagram pages that I am sure that people think I have gone a little insane…and maybe I have…it’s my Rust Period. Just go with it.  I have.

So, there it is, people…I’m cheating on WD with TD…maybe it’s not cheating, but whatever it is that I am doing right now, there are some dark-ass storylines rattling around in my subconscious these days.  For the past two weeks, I have basically been white-knuckling it, perched upon the precarious precipice of dim Carcosa…it’s like I am Method-watching these brilliant and disturbing shows, and getting a little demented in the process.

I do the mom/wife thing, go to work, but I am vague, distracted. Many details are forgotten. My friends and co-workers keep asking me if I am ok.  I don’t know if I am.  I mutter some barely intelligible reply in response, and, if I have the focus, I change the subject . If not, I simply turn away, lost in my thoughts.  My dreams have been weird as shit.  At the children’s bedtime, I hug them for dear life.  I am tweaked, people. These days, I am a junkie for the dark and crazy. So is it any wonder that Daryl and Beth’s after-school zombie special didn’t really do it for me this week around?

But, in the spirit of positivity, and because I am a loyal fan of the WD, here is my The Top 5 List of “Still”:

1) The Car Trunk Walker Rave

It is a dark and spooky night, and a storm is brewing…the camera pans to an abandoned car. The driver’s side door has been ripped off, the driver’s body spilled out from the car onto the road.  She has been dead a long time.  We hear a rustling from the brush, then we see Daryl, then Beth, emerge from the woods… she runs to the car and tries to start it, to no avail….of course.

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At the sound of walkers approaching, Daryl proves his constancy and resourcefulness yet again by quickly opening the trunk of the car and motioning for Beth to climb inside…he follows suit, fashions a quick knot to secure the trunk without closing it all the way, and props the wide arc of the crossbow sideways to prevent the trunk from closing completely. He then aims the crossbow at the small opening, ready to fire if needed. They watch and wait…

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The noise of the walkers approaching, and passing, outside the car becomes deafening…it sounds like there are hundreds, thousands outside. Time passes, the storm erupts, adding to the savage caucophany of the walkers.  The camera pans on Beth’s face, pale and frightened, and on Daryl’s, as he keeps his crossbow ready, still and watchful as the walkers outside seethe and snarl and hiss.

It is a truly terrifying scene, one of my favorites thus far in WD…The Car Trunk Walker Rave!

My WD buddy texted me, That trunk scene could have been way hotter!  Ha! Agreed, but it would have been kind of hard to get things going with all those damn walkers partying outside, even while sharing the tight quarters with Daryl Dixon.

Hey, undead assholes, keep it down…we’re trying to get busy in here!

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The next morning, sunlight shines through the tiny opening.  It is silent outside, finally…the walkers are gone. Beth and Daryl emerge from the trunk, alive for another day. After stripping the car for anything they can find (bottled water, side mirror, hubcaps, rope), Daryl looks at Beth a moment, turns and walks away while she stands there beside the car…she’s thinking…we can see the look on her face as she begins to form the idea in her head…

“Fuck this shit.”

2) Beth Needs a Damn Drink

And who can blame her, really?  I mean, while it’s pretty fascinating to watch them set up camp (Daryl hunts and skins a rattler while Beth uses the car mirror to start a small fire and drapes the hubcaps low across the trees as a walker-alert mechanism), the rote survival grind has got to be pretty dreary at this point.

 Run until you collapse. Hide. Watch. Wait. Hunt and forage for food, water. Set up camp.  Eat charred snake and huddle around the small fire. Watch. Wait. Sleep, for like 10 minutes. Hear walkers, run until you collapse. Repeat.

Beth has had enough of this shit.  “I want a drink, she announces, as she watches Daryl eat rattler by the fire.  He doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even look up from his meal, just tosses the water bottle at her and continues eating.

Beth looks down at the water bottle, then back at Daryl.  “No, I mean a real drink…as in alcohol.”   As this pronouncement fails to elicit a response from Daryl, Beth continues, “I’ve never had one…because of my dad and all…but he’s not exactly around anymore, so…I thought we could go find some.”  Still nothing from Daryl…he just keeps going to town on his grilled snake, is silent.

Beth watches him for a moment more.  Her mind is made up. She is a teenager on a mission.  “Ok,” she says, standing up. “Enjoy your snake jerky.” She walks past Daryl, yanks her knife from the log, and stalks off. Daryl doesn’t look up from his meal.

“Jerk,” she mutters, alone in the woods.  A small group of walkers appears in a clearing, and Beth hides behind a tree, lobs a pebble to distract them.  When the last walker finally turns away to investigate the noise, Beth whirls around to find Daryl, who has silently had her back the whole time:

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As Daryl leads the way through the woods, Beth directs Daryl, “I’m pretty sure we need to go that way to find the booze.”  When she steps into the hubcap-alert mechanism, she realizes Daryl brought her back to their little camp.

“What the hell?” Beth yells. “You brought me back! I’m not staying at this suck-ass camp!” And then Beth unleashes the first flip-off of the episode:

You tell him, Beth!

You tell him, Beth!

Beth whirls on Daryl, when he tries to pull her back,What the hell is wrong with you? Do you feel anything?  Yeah, you think everything is screwed…I guess that’s a feeling! So you wanna spend the rest of our lives staring into a fire and eating mudsnake? Screw that! We might as well do something!  I can take care of myself, and I’m going to get a damn drink.  And with that, Beth marches off, and after a moment, Daryl follows her.

Ha! Teenagers!

3) The Pine Vista Country Club Walkers

It is indicative of Beth’s youthful innocence that she thinks there is a drop of alcohol left in The Pine Vista Country Club by the time she and Daryl arrive on the scene…what she doesn’t realize is that even on a good day, those rich juicers are probably going to drain the bar dry, let alone their being holed up inside the hallowed walls during the first stages of a zombie apocalypse.

Good luck finding anything to drink in there, Beth.

What Daryl and Beth discover inside the Pine Vista Country Club resembles more of a class-war graveyard than a “bon voyage, life!” party.  The floor is strewn with dead bodies lying atop sleeping bags, while walkers dressed in sports coats, dresses and pearls hang, hissing and snarling, from the rafters.

Messages are scrawled on the walls beside piles of bodies, suggesting a grim humor being wielded as viciously as the weapons used to kill the priveleged former patrons of the country club.  Welcome to the dugout, reads one message, and Beth is horrified to discover a woman’s corpse, strung up on a mannequin’s stand, with the sign “Rich bitch” around her neck:

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Beth tries to remove the body from the stand, but is unable to do so, so Daryl throws a sheet over it to placate her…dark, and hilarious, especially the scene when Daryl drives a walker’s head with a golf club and sends its brains spattering all over Beth’s new white cardigan:

My new sweater!

My new sweater!

After finding nothing but cashmere and sport-coat swaddled walkers and one shitty bottle of peach schnapps at the Pine Vista, Daryl finally steps up and acts like a real boyfriend. He grabs the bottle of schnapps and smashes it to the floor, tells Beth that her first drink “Ain’t going to be no damn peach schnapps!”

And so, with that, Beth and Daryl bid “hasta la vista, Pine Vista” to the dilapidated country club and head out to go get them some moonshine at…

4) The Shitty Shack of Moonshine and Bad Memories

Daryl takes Beth to a place that he and Michonne discovered, a small cabin that has a moonshine still inside and is stocked with jars full of clear moonshine.  “That’s a real drink right there,” says Daryl.

At first, Beth isn’t so sure. “My dad said you can go blind from bad moonshine.”  When Daryl replies there’s nothing out there worth seeing anyway, Beth relents.  She balks at the first drink, but the second goes down easier. At first, Daryl refuses a taste, saying that someone needs to keep watch. Beth challenges him, “What are you, my chaperone?”

After giving Beth a run-through of the Shitty Shack, which boasts all the comforts of Daryl’s dad’s place (complete with pink plastic bra planter, an old dumpster-picked chair, buckets placed strategically to spit chaw in, and an old weekly for entertainment), Daryl relents and takes the jar that Beth offers him. He goes to the old dumpster chair and has a seat.

“Home sweet home,” toasts Daryl, and takes a drink of moonshine.

Soon, Beth is teaching Daryl the rules of “I Never.” She seems surprised that Daryl’s never played it before.  “I ain’t never needed a game to get lit before,” replies Daryl.

“Wait, are we starting?” asks Beth.

Beth starts easy…she’s never shot a crossbow before. She tells Daryl to drink.  Now it’s his turn. Daryl pauses, then begins by saying he’s never been out of Georgia…Beth seems surprised by this, but says, “Good one,” and she drinks. Beth says she’s never been drunk and done anything she’s regretted. Daryl drinks, of course.  “I’ve done lots of things.”

Daryl says he’s never been on vacation, and when Beth says she’s never been to jail (as a prisoner, that is), Daryl doesn’t drink.  He narrows his eyes, asks, “Is that what you think of me?”

Beth protests lightly, replies that even her dad got locked up in the drunk tank, back in the day…she invites Daryl to resume the game, but he tells her he needs to go take a piss.  He goes to the other end of the room, smashes his glass, unzips, and begins pissing into a corner.

When Beth tells Daryl to be quiet, Daryl snarls, “I can’t hear you! I’m pissing!” It has become apparent that Daryl has Gone to the Dark Side.  He continues his tirade, listing to poor Beth all the things he’s never done: he’s never eaten frozen yogurt, he’s never gotten a pet pony, he’s never gotten a present from Santa! ( 😦   Poor guy…he really did have a shitty childhood!)

Daryl continues his rant, flinging his ire directly at Beth (“I’ve never sung out in front of people before, out in public, like everything was fun, like everything was a big game…I sure as hell never cut my wrists, looking for attention!”)

Daryl’s rant gets the attention of the Shitty Shack Lurker Walker, who starts getting agitated outside and tries to paw its way into the cabin. Daryl continues castigating Beth. “You’ve never fired a crossbow before? I’m gonna teach you right now!” He pulls Beth by the arm, pulls her outside, still yelling, and gets behind her, sets the bow and starts shooting arrows into the poor lurker walker, impaling it onto a tree.  Beth begs him to stop, rushes forward and stabs the walker in the head, rekilling it.

“Whadja do that for?” demands Daryl. “I was having fun!”

“No, you were being a jackass!” Beth yells back.  She continues to call him out on acting like he doesn’t care about losing the people they loved and cared about…she even calls him out on Sophia, saying that she saw his face when “that little girl came out of the barn, after my mom (as walkers)…you were like me, then,” but now, Beth tells Daryl, he acts like he doesn’t care about anything, or anyone.  “You look at me like a dead girl…It’s bullshit!”

Daryl first tries to tell her she doesn’t know him, but he breaks…he blames himself for the fact that he quit looking for the Governor, and the Governor came back, mowed down their fences, and destroyed the life they had worked so hard to create at the prison.  He mentions Hershel, that maybe he could have saved him..and Beth rushes to him as he breaks down and hugs him from behind:

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Dude, how can I be such a dick and hate on this episode? This moment is really beautiful…I think I just kept wanting them to do it. Sorry, guys

Later, that night, Beth and Daryl are sitting on the porch.  They are relaxed now, joking about Beth being a happy drunk, while “some people get mean.”  Beth looks pointedly at Daryl, who agrees easily, “I’m a dick when I drink.”

Daryl reveals to Beth that before the turn, he was nothing…he was just drifting around with his brother Merle, doing what Merle said they were gonna do that day.  Daryl looks at Beth as he admits he was, “Nobody, nuthin’, just a redneck asshole with an even bigger asshole for a brother.”

Beth asks Daryl if he misses his brother, and she talks about how she misses Maggie, her big brother Shaun, and her father…Beth admits that she hoped for a quiet peaceful life for her father, with a grandbaby from Maggie and Glenn, and picnics, and life to a ripe old age, surrounded by people he loved.

“Shows how stupid I am,” she laughs, reaching for her jar to drink. Daryl is sweet as he listens, says,  “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Beth tells Daryl she wishes she had changed, and when Daryl tells her she has, she disagrees.  “Not like you….you were made for the way things are now.”

Daryl counters that he was brought up in ugliness, that it is merely familiar to him, like the shitty cabin they found that reminded him of his dad’s place. Beth tells him that he is not of that, not anymore, and Daryl replies, “You’ll have to keep reminding me, I guess.”

Beth then tells Daryl that one day, she’ll be gone.  When he protests, she tells him it’s true. “You,” she tells Daryl, “will be the last man standing.”  Poor Daryl’s face when she says this…it’s like she just voiced his worst nightmare.

Beth looks at Daryl and tells him that he’s going to miss her when she’s gone. “You’re gonna miss me so bad, Daryl Dixon,” she tells him with a little laugh in her voice, but it hitches with sadness, too.

Beth tells Daryl that he needs to stay who he is now, and leave who he was behind, and places like the cabin need to be put down, “or they will kill you.”

And then Beth has another great idea…

5) Let’s Burn the Motherfucker Down

And so, they splash the rest of the moonshine around the inside of the cabin, light a stack of bills from the country club on fire, and flip a double bird salute to the burning cabin.  Later, motherfucker.

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Daryl has a smile as he walks away…whatever happens hereafter, he will most surely be freed from the past…and who knows what the future will bring?

Until next week, gang.  Wish me luck with my dark and crazy, and enjoy the playlist…

(All images used in this post are screen caps from AMC’s The Walking Dead, and HBO’s True Detective, unless otherwise specified.)

Playlist:

No Doubt  “Just a Girl” (for Beth)

Bittersweet  “Dirty Laundry”

Queensryche, “Silent Lucidity” (for Daryl)

Me First and The Gimme Gimmes  “I’ll Be There”