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The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is a drama about a zombie apocalypse. It is based on the 2003 Image Comics series. AMC 2010-???

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65
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Episode 13 - Alone

14 March 2014

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Maggie finds the Terminus map and insists on following it. Bob agrees but Sasha would rather find a secure location to make home. Maggie leaves them behind so that they won't feel burdened by her mission. Bob insists on following after her. Meanwhile Darryl and Beth come across a funeral parlour and begin to play house. Soon a host of Walkers overrun the place and Beth is seemingly kidnapped. Darryl tries to follow but eventually collapses in despair before being discovered by the gang who Rick recently escaped.

The Good: Once again this was far from perfect but really encouraging in other ways.

I thought the scoring worked nicely here as there was a distinct tone set early and repeated to enhance the Bob story in particular. It was nice to get a flashback to Bob's time alone. It didn't add much to our understanding of him but it gave more highly watchable shots of existence and survival in this world.

Bob's happiness at simply forming bonds with other people was pleasant. As was his decision to take a risk and kiss Sasha. His insistence that they stick together worked thematically (with the growing sense of hope shared by our suvivors) as well as logically (since being alone in the apocalypse is a dumb idea). Maggie's willingness to admit that she couldn't continue alone was similarly pleasing and I kind of bought her argument that Sasha would agree to help her because the cause was worth following. In a world with so little hope these people seem to recognise that fighting to keep their unit together is a better choice than becoming nomads.

It was nice to compare that attitude to Darryl and Beth's situation. With no one driving them toward Terminus they have seemingly given up on finding their friends. However the same spirit of companionship exists. They don't have much chemistry as a couple, perhaps because of the gulf in experience or maturity. But that contrast is clearly what drew Darryl in. Beth's innocence and faith in goodness allowed him to imagine a happier existence with her.

His recruitment by the gang who Rick escaped is a very nice use of the story threads. Clearly that is one of Gimple's strongest suits. Once again Rick's three questions were referenced (which Darryl asked Bob in the tease), while in the present the radio message which we heard briefly (in 403) is connected to Terminus. Now we have Darryl trapped with a bunch of scumbags (we assume) just when he is trying to track down a (presumably) kidnapped Beth. I definitely liked the funeral home as a setup. Walkers being made up for a funeral was yet another creative use of the apocalypse and the clearly occupied residence guaranteed trouble.

Maggie using the gore of a Walker to send Glenn a message was intelligent and appropriately desperate.

The Bad:
I think we're beginning to see the flip side of Scott Gimple's strengths. The Lost-style focus on individual stories has been a hugely welcome change of emphasis. However it has begun to neutralise the show's one indisputable strength: the sense that anything can happen.

It seems increasingly obvious that these characters are being invested in. They have arcs and relationships now. That makes it clearer that they aren't about to die. It may well be a worthy trade off in the long run. But in the short run it's making some scenes far less effective than they should be.

Of course a lot of that has to do with staging. When Rick was trapped under the bed the tension was palpable. But twice here the scene looked ridiculous. The effort was there to convince us that Darryl had dropped his guard because Beth is just so damn cute. But really, after four seasons of relentless vigilence it seemed ridiculous that Darryl wouldn't glance through the front door to check who was actually rattling the cans. His escape from a swarm of Walkers was then inevitable while Beth's kidnap felt soap-opera like after all the gritty reality. Just as she and Darryl were about to make out she is taken away, gosh darn it!

Similarly Bob, Maggie and Sasha began the episode fighting in a fog of convenience. The attempt to make some morning mist into a life threatening event was a sensible idea but in execution it felt inconsistent. It went from thick as soup to merely an inconvenience once the Walkers had been dispatched.

Worse was to come when Sasha spotted Maggie lying down by some Walkers. Why was she lying there exactly? Just recuperating from an attack? Ok. Sasha comes to the rescue and naturally the previously quiet spot is now infested but the two of them batter their way out with little trouble. It was an awkward sequence which was designed to bring the two women together but made the zombies appear entirely contrived.

The Lost­-style emotional connections also felt forced. I'm sure Sasha's behaviour was motivated by fear but her suggestion that they hunker down was also a sensible one. When she admitted she was afraid it felt less like cartharsis and more like peer pressure.

It seemed bizarre that Bob wandered off without her. It seemed like he was persuading her to follow him and then he just left. I have no problem with their smiling reunion but all of them should know by now that splitting up is madness.

The Unknown: Terminus is growing large in the narrative of the show. It seems so unlikely that a genuine sanctuary awaits and yet a giant Woodbury-like trap would seem too obvious. Conidering Scott Gimple's attention to detail I'm beginning to think again about the giant army of Walkers that Darryl drove into when he first heard the radio signal. Could it be that Terminus was a sanctury or is one but is about to be overrun? That's one guess amongst many that you can find in thetvcritic Forums.

Are Joe's gang as bad as we fear or do they have redeeming qualities? Do they know anything about Terminus? Who is the funeral home owner? Did they use their dog to sniff out Darryl and send Walkers in to clear him out? Did they kidnap Beth? If so, why?

Best Moment: Beth giving a coffin-bound Darryl a concert in an empty funeral parlour was a fascinating visual which aided the story.

Conclusion:
Despite the length of "The Bad" section I didn't think this was bad television. As much as I love the tension sequences which TWD has excelled at, I wouldn't swap it for real character development. And that's what this is an attempt at. I will forgive a lot when a show understands that that is the most important thing. I completely understand if the logic issues drove you to distraction. But I'm remaining patient because the signs are still good that the show is headed in the right direction.

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  • For what it's worth, I just wanted to say that the efforts of Robin and listeners such as Fluids, Derek, William, Yogabon, and many others (and a special shout out to Cordia and The Buffy Rewatch!) are what bring me to this site and interest me in listening to several hours of podcasts per week. I feel I can allow myself the luxury of being temporarily unsure because of you all, and I truly appreciate it :)

    Posted by Matt E., 17/03/2014 8:56am (5 years ago)

  • ***POST PODCAST COMMENTS***
    Great podcast!
    I thought that was an interesting comment you made about our group of survivors finding places that are functioning fine.
    It got me starting to think about the possibilities. It would add a sorely needed layer of human group on human group politics to the show. (The stuff of Game of Thones at a very basic level of course.)
    Leaders of groups would have their chance of demonstrating their skills at negotiating for supplies, territory and other things including dealing with skirmishes between each other.
    The show hasn’t seen something like that since the Woodbury episodes in Season 3 (which we all agree weren’t handle all that well. 6 of the bottom 10 episodes we rated show this:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/166)
    Terminus in a way could be a great opportunity to do this better and enhance the hope of survival of humanity a little. I think it would work best if there were three or five encampments.
    Then they can flip between different collections of survivors in secure fortified physical locations.
    You are correct about Eugene. Abraham says Eugene knows what caused the outbreak. Tara says to Abraham that Eugene is the who knows how to end this.
    If that’s all he knows then you’re right. There’s no indication he has a cure. Let’s say as an example, he finally gets to DC and tells someone that a giant solar flare sent gamma rays in heavy doses at the earth causing our DNA to change and the dead to rise.
    What’s the cure for that? – Right?

    Posted by Fluids, 16/03/2014 4:41am (5 years ago)

  • The guy eating from a can while Rick hides under the porch is Joe :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 15/03/2014 1:00am (5 years ago)

  • I am a little confused. What evidence is there that Daryl's new "friends" are the ones that Rick escaped from?

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by hodag007, 14/03/2014 7:54pm (5 years ago)

  • If you are interested, I organized all the Forum Walking Dead Threads here:

    Walking Dead: All About Daryl: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/160
    Walking Dead: Bob Stookey http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/167
    Walking Dead: Daryl's Dilemma: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/editpost/467
    Walking Dead: Luke, Molly and the Black Shoe: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/159
    Walking Dead: On Frank Darabont: http://www.thetvcritic.org/blog/frank-darabont-and-the-walking-dead/
    Walking Dead: Psycho Lizzie: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/156
    Walking Dead: Rhetorical Questions you have posed to yourself you would like to share with everyone (comments?) http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/152
    Walking Dead: Robin Reads the Walking Dead: http://www.thetvcritic.org/blog/robin-reads-the-walking-dead/
    Walking Dead: Show Axioms: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/151
    Walking Dead: Terminus eh?: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/157
    Walking Dead: The Funeral Home: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/161
    Walking Dead: The Silver Spoon: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/162
    Walking Dead: The Walking Dead Vs. Breaking Bad: http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/43
    Walking Dead: What is the Walking Dead to you? http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/150
    Walking Dead: Writers of all the episodes with our ratings http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/166

    Posted by Fluids, 13/03/2014 3:30pm (5 years ago)

  • Another character-focused episode in a row. These several last episodes of the second half of the season 4 were all kinda set-up to shape everything for the final outcome. I myself enjoy waiting for something huge and exciting to happen in the end. So, we have been seeing our survivors are getting on track to reunite. But there may would be a problem to this approach: we are really waiting to witness something strong, meaningful and big for finale episode, so if it’s weak and disappointing, then the time spent on it will have felt nothing and I’d really get mad.

    Meanwhile, the pace got a little faster this week with Beth kidnapping and also now we know for certain that writers’ goal is to reunite everybody at Terminus.
    Bob became a believable character for me. I liked his faith and optimism to the future.
    I think the best event was Daryl landing with those murderers, who are they? Is it possible that they had a past with Daryl before apocalypse?

    Overall, this episode was in line with previous ones. Very good character moments, some simple and not intense zombie killing.

    I think there would be nothing at Terminus. Everybody is dead. And it runs by some new bad people like Governor. I don’t know, I just want a extremely exciting and breathtaking final. I think, they are developing characters to create some tension-filled scenes. So, I really want to feel the result of these slow-paced episodes.

    thank you

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Reza, 12/03/2014 3:47pm (5 years ago)

  • I continue to thoroughly enjoy the journey the writers and directors are leading us through. After three and a half years of ensemble episodes, closing out this last half season with individual story arcs is a welcome change and has further renewed my interest in the show. I'm presuming that these individual arcs will ultimately converge at the end of season four, leading us back to the ensemble-formula of prior seasons.

    Although it didn’t lend much value to the story, I really liked the Bob flashback. Flashbacks are a show element that I always look forward to for character development and gap fillers. I hope the writers continue down this path as there is a wealth of untold stories that took place in the months leading up and following the start of the plague.

    While I get that Maggie was most likely resting aside the dead walkers to mask her scent and avoid walker attention, she could have just as easily (and more safely) chosen to rest on the roof of the truck she was lying next to. If she was in the middle of an open field with no protection I can buy her strategy, but not amongst all the buildings and vehicles. It was all too obvious that the directors chose to place her next to the dead bodies to elicit viewer shock.

    I rate this episode a 67 out of 100.

    Viewer score: 67 / 100

    Posted by Michael S., 12/03/2014 3:25pm (5 years ago)

  • Great point about the one eyed dog Tiarnan.

    The crux of multiple plot point possibilities lies with that one eyed dog and what
    actually drew walkers to the residence.

    Does the dog belong with the residence; car; both or neither?
    What drew the walkers?
    Does the car go with the person at the residence or is it separate?
    What was the intention of taking Beth?

    The obvious possibility is one that Robin points out here:
    http://www.thetvcritic.org/forums/other-tv-shows/show/161

    The people who own the black car also run the residence and they are not nice and are trying to run the people in their house out of it with walkers.

    Then the question was did they do this with walkers they drew with the dog or with ones that showed up due to Beth's singing and piano playing earlier that day and the dog was just used to draw them to the door?

    There's other possibilities:

    1. *The dog belonged to the car owner and both have nothing to do with the house*

    How likely is it for someone to train a dog to help do drive by kidnappings?

    2. *The dog belongs to the residence and the car doesn't*

    This implies someone who lived at the residence either recently left the house to go on a supply run or was overtaken by someone leaving the dog on it's own.

    The walkers show up due to Beth's singing and piano playing and the car occupants were just coincidentally driving along and saw Beth and grabbed her
    when they saw her.

    3. *The stray dog and the owner of the house and car are all separate*

    It's equally possible the dog is a stray that came to the door for food a couple of times.
    The house owner is gone for good or out getting supplies.
    The car just happened to be there at the time the house was overrun and took Beth because she was an easy target with her limp.

    Any of these scenarios I think has Daryl going back to the funeral home to pickup Beth's trail.

    Posted by Fluids, 12/03/2014 2:27pm (5 years ago)

  • Overall, Gimple's approach has hooked me. For the first time in a while, I'm really excited to see the next episode of the Walking Dead, more than any other show I'm currently watching. And I disagree a little with Robin that the character arcs mean no one can die - IMHO, each group has at least one "spare" who the show could kill at any time - Beth, Sasha, Tara, Rosita, Carl, and either one of Maggie or Glenn. I agree that it would be surpising to see any of the super popular characters die, but even that is possible.

    The good: When the show is good, it's good enough to make me fail to nitpick the illogical stuff, and I mostly let stuff slide, like how Bob and Sasha's camp had a guard wire strung all of 18 inches from their sleeping area, or why Beth would light about a dozen candles to play the piano, instead of lighting one and saving the others, or why Beth would flee the building instead of just running into an interior room and closing the door.

    - I really liked Darryl and the dog, and I bought that he just really wanted a dog.

    - The show is doing a great job moving the characters around, and I really wonder what the finale is going to be. They just did a giant battle a few episodes ago - maybe we'll end with the groups finding Terminus.

    The unknown:

    - Is there an explanation for why walkers normally make loud groaning noises, but sometimes a whole group of them go completely silent? If not, put this one in the bad, but I almost can't blame Darryl for not guessing that a pack of twenty walkers was staying completely quiet outside the door.

    - The mortuary was weird. Was there a sleeping area or any personal belongings? And why only four kinds of food products? I wonder if it was some kind of trap, and if the dog and the car both belong to whoever has been keeping it clean.

    The bad:

    - I liked Bob, but I didn't understand him. Why is he so delighted not to be alone, when the chances are reasonable that more disaster will strike sooner or later? Why did he leave Sasha to follow Maggie? I would have liked this much better if he had given Sasha one last speech on how hard it is to be alone.

    - On the other hand, if Bob was too opaque, Sasha was too transparent. Bob diagnoses her as afraid to look for Tyrese, and then it turns out, yes, that's exactly it, and now it's resolved. It seemed a little simple to be real characterization.

    Viewer score: 62 / 100

    Posted by Joseph, 11/03/2014 11:40pm (5 years ago)

  • I'm giving a 65 again because i feel that Alone was no better or worse than the previous installments in the back 8 and i agree with Matt, I think it will only be at the end of the season were i can truly judge if these episodes worked or not.

    The pre-credit scene was once again my favorite of the episode as we got a glimpse into how Bob has survived on his own. This led to him revealing why he keeps smiling finally! (although I'm still convinced it's because he's surrounded by two beautiful women).

    I'm starting to get frustrated with consistent out of character moments. Maggie leaving Bob and Sasha before later admitting to waiting because she needs them was pretty stupid but it didn't bother me too much. The worst offender was Daryl. Are we expected to believe that arguably the most skilled survivor in the group opens the door to zombies than even the viewer can see!

    That scene once more showcased the zombies ability to activate stealth mode when they choose as the cans were successfully avoided for the most part and there was no groaning at the door.

    Apart from that I enjoyed the episode, I just find it easier to talk about the things I didn't like.

    I am intrigued to see who kidnapped Beth as it would appear they led the zombies to the door by using the dog? and will Daryl revert to his old ways because Joe's gang seem to have a lot in common with our favorite redneck. I think personally, it would be interesting for the show to keep Daryl with the bandits past the finale. It gives us an intriguing B story line and would be realistic that at least one prison group member doesn't reunite.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Tiarnan , 11/03/2014 5:37pm (5 years ago)

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