Dear Walking Dead showrunners,
Thank you for trying this week. “Alone” is how you do an episode: interesting, drama, backstory, forward story, love story, action, blood, violence, loss of hope, hope regained, humor, and more.
So, on behalf of all us “Deadheads” who’ve been waiting for you to get it right since the mid-Season return, thank you.
With the good sentiments out of the way, let’s get on with this thing.
Hi, My Name Is Bob…
Along with a terrifying scene in which Bob, Sasha, and Maggie fight off Walkers in a thick fog, we finally got some backstory for Bob. We didn’t go back as far as his life as an alcoholic medic in the military, but it was still kinda interesting. Actually, this episode’s title probably has more to do with Bob’s story than anyone else’s and the episode was bookended with the “alone” theme.
At one point during the episode, Sasha asks Bob why he’s smiling, and he starts preaching about “self-awareness” being “a beautiful thing.” Adding, “ You should try it some time.” This side of his character doesn’t make any sense to me. When did he get so spiritual and levelheaded? Isn’t he supposed to be an alcoholic who’s only in “recovery” because there’s no booze around (or because Daryl threatened him)? Seems to me that an alcoholic would be an anxious asshole after the attack on the prison and the subsequent splintering of the prison community, plus the fact that Maggie just ditched Sasha and him. He wouldn’t be smiling because he’s not alone, he wouldn’t be so adamant about finding Maggie; he would be looking for any excuse to go out and find some booze to numb the pain.
Bob, before he puts the move on Sasha, also sort of talks to her about hope, recognizing that she’s given up hope that Tyreese is still alive. He ascertains this because Sasha would rather stop at the next town, find suitable lodgings, and forget about finding the sanctuary and even Glenn.
What we get from Bob’s past is his survival in the world since the Walkers emerged. He’s alone after being in two failed groups and he’s pretty sane about it, although he isn’t unaffected. When Glenn and Daryl first encounter Bob, he answers their questions and he doesn’t really care to know who they are, or whether or not they’re good or bad people.
The sudden shift in Bob’s character is the only real gripe I have with this episode. I’m fine with the new direction for him, but what would you have rather seen: what we got or something that related more to his alcoholism?
The Good Ones Didn’t Survive
The other characters we got to spend some time with this week were Beth and Daryl. The silence between these two has clearly ended, and am I wrong, or is there a little taboo romance brewing here? Then again, it could be some sort of surrogate father/daughter relationship happening, though it seems a little soon for Beth to be looking for a new fatherly figure.
The larger thematic tie-in here between the Bob storyline and the Daryl/Beth storyline is the idea of good and bad people. Remember at the start of the episode how Bob didn’t care what kind of people Daryl and Glenn were? In Daryl’s case, as he’s pressed by Beth, he’s lost hope for humanity, believing that the “good ones [didn’t] survive.”
As the two revel in suspicious refuge in the funeral home, Daryl ironically swings back the other way to believe that there are good people left on account of Beth being one of them. Ironic because just as Daryl swings his vote, a trap is set and Beth is captured by some unknown people.
After an intense scene in which Daryl fights off a small horde of Walkers in the funeral home, he rushes outside to find Beth’s bag abandoned on the road and a car racing off. Daryl then follows in pursuit on foot and the next day he collapses of exhaustion at a fork in the road dissected by railroad tracks, of all things. Soon he comes face to face with six rough looking men, and when the leader, Joe, approaches Daryl, Daryl hits him with his crossbow and holds him at point-blank range. Joe then compliments Daryl on his manliness for being a true bowman.
Question, are these the same bandits that took over the house Rick, Michonne, and Carl were squatting in during the “Claimed” episode?
At any rate, it seems Daryl’s rough, redneck appearance and his ballsy attack on Joe has garnered him some respect with these bandits. Will it be enough to rescue Beth?
A Bottle Blood
As mentioned earlier, Maggie ditched Bob and Sasha to go to the mythological sanctuary in the hopes of finding Glenn. Throughout the episode Maggie has been leaving bloody messages for Glenn to make his way to the sanctuary, messages that Bob and Sasha have been coming across as they try to catch up to her.
Before they catch up to Maggie, Sasha makes the choice to be alone to take up a stronghold for herself, finding it hopeless to continue. Surprise, your squatting in a building just where Maggie is. So, they find a bond of sisterhood or something and both of them set upon the tracks again to catch up to Bob.
At the end of the episode, Maggie’s messages in blood prove to not be in vain as Glenn comes across one of them.
So, to recap the alone theme: Bob is happy to not be alone, Daryl is tricked into being alone, Beth is alone in her nightmare, Sasha chose to be alone but is persuaded to continue, Bob is willing to be alone for a greater good…
Big question: If Joe and his bandits are able to enact an elaborate trap as they did to capture Beth (and I’m assuming unknowingly trick Daryl), are they able to pull off a massive trick to set up a fake sanctuary? Is the sanctuary a trap and are all of our favorite characters individually (and slowly) being led into it? Will we see the sanctuary before the season lets out?
If we do see the sanctuary, I’m not holding my breath for anything more than a short introduction to it. Clearly Season 5 will be about the sanctuary.
And let’s not forget the funniest line in the episode: “Peanut butter and jelly, diet soda, and pig’s feet, that’s a white-trash brunch right there.”
Rock Hard \m/