The opening scene of this week’s Walking Dead was teased last Sunday, and yet again I found myself thinking, “The trunk of a car? Is that really a good idea?” While it still had some suspense to it, I felt like the idea of Daryl and Beth climbing into the trunk of an abandoned car as a large group of walkers wanders by warranted a more interesting outcome. It was, to say the least, underwhelming.
Daryl and Beth weren’t featured in last week’s episode, and Still makes it clear that in the interim he’s taught her a few things about survival – but at the same time, as the episode progresses it’s obvious that this pairing is about more than Beth learning skills. She still has a will to live, while Daryl seems to have lost a lot of his. At this point, they’re helping each other, and that’s maybe the only way either of them is still alive.
But when Beth became fixated on the idea of finding alcohol so that she could have her first drink, I had my concerns about where they were going with this episode. And it seemed that the chances of them finding any alcohol were slim, because let’s be honest – that would be some of the first stuff people would finish off if the zombie apocalypse hit. However, it was a mission for Beth, and if anything she has proven that in order to keep going, she needs a mission – be it a drive to get her first drink ever, or the job of taking care of Judith.
Between the car trunk scene and their foray into the country club, there were some good suspenseful scenes in the first half of Still. And really, poor Beth just couldn’t win in this episode – first she finds a bottle of wine, only to have to use it to defend herself against a walker. Then she finds some nice new clothes in the pro shop, and they’re quickly ruined when Daryl smashes a walker’s brains all over her. Finally, even when she finds more alcohol, it’s peach schnapps. (And Daryl smashes the bottle on the floor, to boot.)
There was no need to fear about Beth getting that drink, though, because Daryl knows where to find the closest moonshine! Unfortunately, this is where the episode took a turn for the awkward. I couldn’t tell if Beth was merely trying to get Daryl to treat her like an adult, or if she was flirting with him. Playing ‘Never Have I Ever’? Really? At this point I was on the edge of my seat less because I felt like Daryl and Beth were in danger and more because I was worried that they would take their relationship to the next level, so imagine my relief when instead they get into an argument. Which was amusing at first, when Daryl made fun of Beth’s singing (admittedly something I’ve been doing for some time now)…and then quickly stepped into the “Oh no he DIDN’T” category when he shoved her suicide attempt in her face.
Though I’m not a big fan of episodes that feature so few characters – and this is in fact the first one ever that featured only two of the show’s main characters – Still did a great job of building up to Beth and Daryl’s fight. Emily Kinney and Norman Reedus did an amazing job making it believable and even heart-wrenching. We’ve seen Norman’s acting showcased countless times before, but while there may have been moments where Emily’s talents shone through what has generally been a badly written character, I can safely say that I’m not certain which one of them did a better job with that scene.
One thing that Beth pointed out was that even though she’s no Michonne or Carol or Maggie, she’s still there, still around, still alive. I’m not sure if this is the first time her character was supposed to have realized that there must be a reason for this, that she’s a survivor in her own way and her own right, but what matters is that she knows it now. That gives her something else to hold on to.
Things calm down a bit at the end of Still, as Daryl finally admits what he did before the zombie apocalypse (surprise! it was…nothing!) and Beth admits that she let herself believe her dad would grow old, Maggie and Glen would have a baby, and essentially they would all live happily ever…something. While I’m not certain I agree with the writers’ choices in regards to the conversation or the characters, one thing that came from it is that these two characters now know each other on a much deeper level. Beth’s suggestion to burn the moonshine still seemed to be more for Daryl than for herself, and as they walk away from the ‘pyre’ it’s clear that they are finally, truly, a unit. A team.
When it comes to Walking Dead episodes that have focused on just a few characters, this was definitely one of the best – yet I still kept wondering if at some point we’d get to see what was happening with everyone else. With just four episodes left this season, how many of the main characters have a logical chance of being reunited with each other?
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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