The second half of this season has continued to focus on the group members as they remain scattered, and this week’s episode was no exception. We got more movement on Bob, Sasha and Maggie’s expedition, and we also saw Daryl and Beth’s relationship deepen. And though our entire group is still dispersed, it appears they are finally coming closer to all being in the same place at the same time.
The episode opens with a flashback to Bob’s lonely existence in the woods before Daryl and Glenn pick him up and take him to the prison. Now, even though the most recent episodes have delved into supporting characters such as Sasha and Beth, my immediate thought when seeing a peak into Bob’s backstory was that he wasn’t going to make it to the end of the episode. And though he did have a close call, he (at least temporarily) did indeed make it.
The close call, in fact, came courtesy of an exciting, brilliantly spooky scene in which Maggie, Sasha and Bob are enveloped in fog – walkers closing in on them. The three can’t see until the zombies are literally on top of them, and Bob gets bit during the onslaught. We quickly find out, though, that the bandage on his shoulder wound protected him from the bite, saving his life. It’s of note that in the earlier part of the season, The Walking Dead seemed like they had resorted to just trying to up the gross factor every week by finding more gruesome ways to kill walkers. In this second half, however, we have been treated to truly frightening scenes showing our characters in peril with claustrophobic, high-tension moments that sometimes don’t even involve walkers (like Rick’s brush with the marauders in 4.11). Whatever the reason for the change, it’s been very effective.
After their narrow escape, Maggie, Sasha and Bob (who are running dangerously low on ammo) forge ahead and stumble onto the railroad tracks, spotting the sign for Terminus. Bob explains about the transmission he heard while on his run to the Veterinary college during the outbreak at the prison – and it’s nice that the show remembers to tie in that moment from a previous episode. Maggie and Bob want to follow the signs and head to Terminus, hoping it might lead them to Glenn and other members of the group. But Sasha thinks it’s too good to be true.
Later on, Sasha reveals to Bob she thinks Glenn is already dead, and she fears the three of them will be next. She wants to move to high ground and try to just survive, and she also plans on talking Maggie out of her present quest. The next morning, though, Bob and Sasha discover Maggie already moved on without them. Bob immediately wants to catch up with her in an effort to keep the group together. He’s just happy not to be alone. When Sasha balks at the idea, he calls her out on her fear – of hoping. She’s clearly scared to even think of the prospect of Tyreese being alive. Bob attempts to reassure her with a comforting kiss, but Sasha isn’t buying it.
Where the episode strays into questionable territory is when Maggie and Sasha split the group up. What sane people would choose to leave others they have grown close to in favor of being out in the zombie apocalypse alone, even if they had different philosophical ideas about hope? At least Maggie was on a mission to be reunited with loved ones, and even later reconsiders and stays in one place, at her own peril, so Bob and Sasha can catch up. But what did Sasha think was going to happen when she got to the abandoned building alone? She never had to find out, however, because ironically, Maggie is there waiting, and the two get to spear and – well, sign – some walkers’ brains in. Afterward, Maggie basically tells Sasha that it’s ok to hope, despite being afraid. Sasha finally admits that she is afraid to hope, but she is willing to buy into the dream. A mini reunion follows as Maggie and Sasha meet up with Bob and the three head to Terminus together.
Meanwhile, Daryl is teaching Beth how to track and use the crossbow, but when she tries to kill a walker in the woods, she steps in an animal trap, injuring her ankle. The twosome need a place where Beth can rest a while, and they end up finding a funeral home with a small cemetery in the yard. The scene where Daryl puts flowers on the grave of the anonymous “beloved” father as Beth takes his hand in hers, was very sweet. Though these two initially seemed like an oddly matched pair, after last week’s episode and their easy chemistry in this one, their growing relationship (whether platonic or something more) seems spot-on.
Daryl and Beth explore the funeral home, and discover it’s neat and tidy with a small amount of food stocked, leading them to think someone is currently using the place. Beth’s growing influence on Daryl is ever more apparent as he tells her that maybe the two of them can share the place with whoever has been using it – exemplifying Daryl’s belief that maybe there are still good people left in the world. The two have yet another moment when Daryl lets Beth know- without words – that his change of heart in the belief of the goodness of people is because of her. Now, I don’t “ship” in shows, but sheesh, this unlikely duo is making the notion too irresistible not to.
Their idea of making a little home for themselves is short lived, however, when walkers come bursting through the front door. The two separate with plans to meet up down the road, and we get another high-tension, close quarters, zombie-killing scene as Daryl uses gurneys and syringes to take down a large horde of walkers. Again, the show is firing on all cylinders with effecting action sequences like these. And I have to say I love when they remember to aid the audience in their suspension of disbelief, as they did when on his way out, Daryl grabs one of his arrows (he doesn’t have an endless supply, after all) out of a walker’s head.
When Daryl escapes outside, he sees a car peel out, supposedly with a kidnapped Beth inside it. He runs all night trying to catch up to it, but is overcome with exhaustion and has to stop – finding himself at a literal crossroads. Of course it’s a metaphorical one as well, because Joe, one of the raiders Rick hid from in 4.11 (I thought we’d see Jeff Kober again) and his gang confront Daryl, then seeing his moxie, offer to let him go along in their group. Daryl, out of options and outnumbered, agrees. So now that Daryl believes in the goodness of people and he and Beth have the cutest relationship ever, the show is going to test him by hooking him up with these guys? Ok, I’m kidding. But not completely.
This episode was enjoyable on many levels. It had some interesting development for characters we didn’t previously know that well, as well as inventive, intense action sequences. What’s more, it was so very – optimistic. The mid-season finale was so gloomy that I was worried the show might be sending us the message that these people are doomed no matter what safe haven they may temporarily find. But now, pretty much all the prison survivors are on board with carrying on, baby Judith is alive, Carol is back, and the group is closer than ever to being reunited (Glenn’s group being the last to see the Terminus sign). With the exception of Daryl and Beth, things couldn’t get much happier in the world of The Walking Dead. But we all know the show we’re watching, so things will most certainly go downhill. And despite thoroughly enjoying the hopefulness that our characters have struggled to find throughout this most recent journey, I’m also really excited about what lies ahead when things go all to hell (just please, show – keep Baby Grimes safe).