Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » The Walking Dead » Season 4 » Still
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
60
/100
Viewer
64
/100

The Walking Dead

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

57
/100
Viewer
66
/100

Episode 12 - Still

6 March 2014

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Darryl and Beth continue to survive together. Beth wants to have her first drink and they break into a country club. Darryl isn't happy with their drink choices and takes Beth to a still. They drink moon shine and talk about their feelings.

The Good: This absolutely had its heart in the right place.

The first half of the episode was succesful at making Darryl and Beth seem interesting as people. This whole season has made better use of the imagery of a post-apocalyptic world and yet another great choice was the car trunk teaser. Cars have become indispensible forms of shelter in this world and to show us just the sights and sounds of the dead passing by was clever. It gave us a simple but intense shot of two people struggling to survive. One tired and scared, the other gripping his weapon for hour upon hour upon hour.

Then we got to see them making camp and finding food which was interesting. Again the car provided valuable parts to create a small perimeter while to see a snake become a hearty meal was eye opening. Darryl's broken arrow hinted at the finite nature of their ability to survive alone. Beth's desire for more than mere survival made sense in the context of their situation. Darryl is refusing to communicate and they have no clue how to find their friends. So she decides to try and accomplish something, to live a little for today.

The country club continued last week's glimpse into those who committed suicide to escape this nightmare. Only this time we get the sense of class warfare playing out as those inside turned on one another.

At this point the writers, very bravely, gave Darryl and Beth a lot of acting to do. The simple things worked best. It looked like they were writing a sort-of Beauty and the Beast when Darryl nine-ironed the brains out of some Walkers only to ruin Beth's new clothes. And the story was similar when he broke down in tears admitting that he took some responsibility for the collapse of the prison.

Beth's side of things was more complicated. We learn that she was sheltered by her father and brother and was a good girl who didn't drink even when her friends were partaking in front of her. But that was who she was. Now she seems like she's almost part of Carl's generation. Someone who has adapted a new code of behaviour to fit the apocalypse. She is more willing to let go of the pre-apocalyptic past. In part because death and loss are so familiar to her now. She is better adjusted than Darryl at dealing with the balance of hope and cynicism (See The Unknown for more).

The Bad:
Burning down the still at night, while drunk was really dumb. Presumably this was done because the fire would be more dramatic at night. Either that or they wanted us to think these two were stupid.

The Unknown: Beth's character is multi-faceted. As it should be given the amazing change she's lived through. However it is difficult to explain exactly how her new psychology would work. In part because we barely knew what she was like before all this happened. So her claim that Darryl would miss her when she's gone was an awkward one. Was it representative of someone with a healthy seperation from the old assumptions about life expectancy? Or was it a naive girl trying to sound mature? The real problem is that I'm not sure I understand her better as a result of this.

Darryl's story was easier to follow in part because it's been told before. It was a rehash of the "red neck with a heart of gold" bit that basically is all there is to know. When he got drunk and became abusive it didn't feel like an insight into his soul. It felt more like what it was - a setup for him to cry and Beth to hug him so we could all see how amazing his heart really is. As you can imagine I was more interested in him actually being an abusive drunk. I mean he said pretty mean things to Beth. Perhaps he is silent most of the time for good reason.

The decision to burn down the still (if you take out the time of day) was gooey. Accompanied by an actual pop song and montage it felt very much like the end to a Lost episode. I didn't think it worked. I didn't feel Darryl's red neck past had been weighing on him sufficiently to make this the triumphant moment it needed to be. But I'm not putting it in "The Bad." It was harmless. It didn't make me dislike the characters or the writers.

In fact they tried really hard to make this like an episode of Lost. Complete with a game of "I have never" (as we call it in the UK) just as Sawyer and Kate did back in "Outlaws" (116). It was a lot of weight to put on Darryl and Beth and the acting was perfectly adequate. The writing couldn't quite carry off what they were looking for but Lost is the right model for The Walking Dead. I hope they don't ape it like this all the time but we need more episodes like this. We need more time getting to know people in this universe. This may not be anyone's favourite episode but it was more evidence of the creative team moving the show where it needs to be to make you care about these people.

Best Moment: Darryl smashing the Walkers to death with golf clubs. There was a lot to that scene including some tasty action. It seemed like Darryl was both enjoying his work and taking out his frustration. All the while Beth stares at her morose protector and wonders what makes him tick.

Conclusion:
This began really promisingly, became overambitious, swung and missed. But it wasn't a bad episode by any means. And I'm pleased to see them taking a swing.

('DiggThis)

Feedback

Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment

Comments

  • Nothing wrong with character focussed episodes, Gimple using this back half of the season to flesh everyone out in preparation for season 5 (and beyond) is a risky idea though. Compare this episode to Breaking Bad's 4 Days Out, and it very obvious that The Walking Dead lacks subtlety compared to BB.

    That said, there is nothing overtly wrong with this episode, but it just comes and goes. The idea of a teenager wanting to have a drink before she dies is a decent excuse for a Walker excursion, although I question the choice to burn down shelter at night (during the day wouldn't bother me as much, because at least you can see danger coming in the light).

    On the bright side, I can at least say this quality of episode is better than Woodbury last season, and this exodus from the prison story remains mysterious in its direction.

    Viewer score: 56 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 05/03/2014 10:19pm (5 years ago)

  • Just a quick note; I laughed at the wonderment Beth showed at the little bug on the leaf. A true Georgia girl probably would have squashed. Of course in the real world there'd be far more bugs; mosquitos and flies especially in the South.

    Posted by Yogabon, 05/03/2014 8:18pm (5 years ago)

  • • The use of setting the still house on fire (for fun) and to purge Daryl’s conscience of his past for some closure didn’t work for me.

    It was just like the burning of Woodbury with the Governor back in Episode 6 of this Season also didn’t work for me. It would have worked better if it was actually the old Dixon house; however I would still feel the same way.

    Why’s that?

    You have to take into account that some good things within Daryl came directly from his horrible upbringing, and he cannot erase or forget who he is and everything he has been through.

    Making peace with the worst parts of his past life is a process that takes time and heals in pieces, a fire isn’t going to wash all that way either.

    In some cases there are things a person cannot get passed. Look at what happened with the Governor and his episodes. If the next episode is a continuation of Daryl’s catharsis then you have the Governor episodes all over again.

    If Daryl and Beth had more fun on the golf course that would be a way of getting rid of old Daryl because he’s learning to have fun and becoming a more balanced person (not just a superb warrior and survivor).

    BTW, he never thanked Beth for helping him let his hair down after the still house fire took full affect. A pat on Beth's back and a ‘Thanks’ would have brought the point across that she was just trying to get him to open up and have some fun in the process and he really appreciated it.

    Posted by Fluids, 04/03/2014 6:15pm (5 years ago)

  • I like the quiet opening. The zombies moving slowly outside the car trunk made them the scariest they'd seemed since they popped out of the corn fields last week. Less is definitely more with them.

    I think Beth wanted a Drink to better understand Hershel's demons and to allow herself to mourn. But in the end it was Daryl who ended up being comforted by her. Which was tied for best scene for me with the time in the trunk.

    I agree with others this felt rather filler but did a good job of highlighting their new world and the folly of having hope in it.

    The decision to burn the house down was pretty foolhardy, really.

    The unknown, how much time they've been traveling and where are they going?

    Viewer score: 72 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 04/03/2014 12:53am (5 years ago)

  • When I heard about a Daryl and Beth episode I was pretty worried but it turned out a lot better than I anticipated.

    I enjoyed the simplicity of this episode and the fact that these two characters are the complete opposite of each other is what made the episode fascinating and their awkwardness and bickering for the first 30 minutes was hilarious.

    I thought the directing, writing and acting, particularly from Norman Reedus, were all strong and this episode reminded me of why I loved Daryl as he has lacked any real development this season until now.

    I agree with Aaron that the end scene was pretty stupid from a survivors point of view but I liked the message behind it. It showed the two characters turning a corner and closing a chapter in a way.

    You might be wondering why I have given 65? And that is ultimately because no matter how good the episode is, it was still filler. The plot didn't move forward and that is my only frustration. Why wasn't there a segment with Maggies group for example?

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Tiarnan, 03/03/2014 11:28pm (5 years ago)

  • I enjoyed watching two characters who, even within the world of this show and its limited population I don't associate with each other and probably never would have ended up together had it not been for the events at the end of the prison arc.

    The intense character development and evolution (more for Darryl than Beth, I think) made me genuinely fear for the safety of both Darryl & Beth, two characters who I could certainly see being killed off, notwithstanding Darryl's popularity, which, at least for the first half of this episode, the writers almost seemed to be purposely sabotaging by showing us the unlikeable side of him which we have only caught brief glimpses of during the series, but which I think the attentive viewers have always understood exists within him.

    The scene where Darryl decided to drink along with Beth and then plop himself down in that old familiar chair certainly made me fearful for them - seeing our two characters both make the decision to dull their senses thereby making them vulnerable, but, on the other hand, it brought me back to what I have brought up as a running theme, at least in my own head, and that is, what is the value of life in this world?

    If you were living in this world, and you were given the choice, would you rather live on indefinitely, with every day being another test of survival to seemingly avoid the inevitable for another day?....or....would you rather live one or two final days in comfort, having some of the comfort and joys of your old life?

    I'd have to think there are worse ways to go in this world than having a bellyful of rattlesnake, sitting inside on a recliner and sipping some moonshine.

    Of course, by the end, both characters had come to the realization, very much at Beth's inspiration, that you have to be who you are and not who you were, which I think was a key point to the whole episode.

    I can understand that the burning of the home in the end was a symbolic and therapeutic thing to do - although maybe in the middle of the night during a zombie apocalypse, a better and smarter spot for that kind of symbolic gesture could have been made than burning down what seemed like a relatively safe shelter.

    P.S. For anyone wondering, the excellent song which closed out the episode was "Up The Wolves" by the Mountain Goats.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by Jeff K., 03/03/2014 8:26pm (5 years ago)

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the time devoted to character development and back-story, as this is one aspect of the Walking Dead that I've always found lacking. The writers made up a lot of sorely needed lost ground over the past four episodes by filling character gaps.

    I thought some of the situational setups were wanting, such as Daryll and Beth's drinking game which was akin to the game Carl and Michonne played in "Claimed" where Michonne divulged personal information in each room they cleared. Although I fully understand why the writers opted to take this direction to unearth character background information, I feel there are better and less mind numbing ways to get there.

    Finally, I get the symbolism for Daryll and Beth burning down the house at the end of the episode, and also get that a nighttime fire looks much better on film than a daytime shot, but come on, did they REALLY just burn down their only shelter in the middle of walker infested woods the dead of night? Really?

    In all, I give this episode a 74/100.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Michael S., 03/03/2014 8:21pm (5 years ago)

  • *Toilet Choking Scene Callback from Season 4, Episode 11*

    Tiarnan made a great comment about the full dressed man who was choked sitting on the toilet in Season 4, Episode 11. I also thought the scene looked a bit amusingly odd that his pants weren’t around his ankles whilst fighting Rick, and I had rationalized that they were cleansing the scene for TV.

    However, if you go to the end of the choking scene you will see a pair of fuzzy tall boots to the left of the toilet. It appears when Rick had stumbled upon the man he was pulling off his booties as he sat on the toilet before using it, which is why his pants were up instead of down during the fight. I think this would have been clearer if they had put the boots at the beginning of the fight sequence not the end.


    *** Beth versus Daryl***

    Beth approximately 18 and Daryl is probably somewhere between the ages of 35-45.
    Beth has decorum Daryl doesn’t.
    Beth was raised in a large family and Daryl basically raised himself since his parents were both alcoholics.
    Daryl and Beth both lack abilities to express themselves to others in their own ways.
    Daryl is not religious and Beth is.

    Both lost everyone else they were with, and are withdrawn about expressing their feelings. However, Beth seems to have been jolted into expressing herself and appears she is determined to get this from Daryl, which we finally got about 40 minutes into the show.

    Good:

    • The moonshine house was a wonderful prop for giving us a taste of the environment he grew up in. We have been giving hints of the Dixon’s household through episodes past with Merle and Daryl and it was good to have a refresher since his character has taken to being withdrawn up until now.

    • Daryl’s lack of decorum is balanced well by Beth’s sense of propriety at the golf course: she wanted him to take down the rich dead lady who was wearing misogynistic labeling by someone because it was the right thing to do; even the dead deserve dignity. Daryl didn’t see the point since she’s dead and they are surrounded by dead people. Daryl didn’t seem to mind urinating in the same room against a wall while Beth looked the other way.

    • The loss of Hershel (and everyone else for all they know) and a strong safe haven has left Beth and Daryl feeling lost and grabbing for ways to cope or hide from dealing with their emotions. They live a very hand to mouth, pragmatic existence (the first 10 minutes did a wonderful job of showing us survival skills that you would come to expect from people who have a survived that long under those extreme circumstances.) However, they have their flighty moments of dealing with their emotions and losses (quests for hard liquor being at the top of the quick list).

    • Through Beth and some moonshine, Daryl has finally been giving a means to truly express his guilt, pain and feelings of loss to someone else. A lifetime of having to keep his feelings to himself is hard to overcome so I thought his break through scene was the best part of the episode. Daryl has a release of emotion; a combination of guilt (for not helping others more during the battle), loss (for Rick and crew), helplessness, frustration (at his inability to express his emotions) and rawness from using this as almost a first time to express his emotions to someone else. This helps him bond with Beth and they are closer and understand each other a little better now.

    • Beth went shopping in the gift shop Robin! (Short-lived when Daryl splatters her new gotten sweater with the gore of a zombified club member.)

    Enjoying the little things as you say Robin they should do more of (that theme is explored in the movie Zombieland.)

    This may be out of character but why not have fun riding around in golf carts trying to ram or swing at the heads of zombies? They could have taken turns caddying for each other (kind of nod to Lost and their golf course.)

    Bad:

    • I don’t want to sound like a broken record; however this episode could have accomplished a lot more in 60 minutes. This episode to me came across as half character development and half stalling the regrouping of the survivors (to keep the suspense and show tension sharp.)

    • I have to agree with Aaron on this one, characterization on its own cannot carry an episode of TV. As good as the characterization was in this episode, what has been furthered along with the story? Where is the plot movement in this episode?

    Unknown:

    • Will Daryl and Beth end up fooling around? It’s possible, however I think unlikely.

    • What was the goal besides finding a hard drink and having Daryl gush?
    Perhaps Beth just wants to have fun or maybe she sees the alcohol as a way for her and Daryl to temporarily not deal with anything. Does she see the booze as a way for her to deal with having to put up with Daryl or get him to put up less of a wall towards her?

    • Why didn’t they play a few holes at the golf course?

    • Why not show other groups in this episode?

    The best I figure, the longer you can keep these stories from progressing, the longer you keep your audience watching and the more suspense and character development you can build so the resolution is more rewarding.

    I will add that with this show (combining horror, drama and action) it’s a delicate balance to do this and up to this point, the Walking Dead has had problems (sometimes with either excessive action, or some cases character development) which has lead to deflation of suspense which causes the audience to become disinterested and hampers the show’s intensity (especially in Season 3 with the way the Woodbury/Prison battle was handled.)

    I look forward to hearing your podcast Robin and hearing and seeing everyone’s feedback.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 03/03/2014 7:41pm (5 years ago)

  • The fact that this episode was so different from other Walking Dead episodes was both good and bad. Did we really need an entire episode devoted solely to the character development of two characters who have been on the show for almost the entire series? For Beth maybe, for Daryl certainly not. As an episode by itself, I liked the material but it still felt like a waste as it did not contribute to the main plot in any apparent way (except for maybe the very end). However, the very end of this episode dropped my score down from a solid 65 to below a 60. In what world do we decide to burn down a perfectly good shelter? Certainly not a world infested with killer zombies. The end of this episode made zero sense. Are we really supposed to believe this was Beth becoming a rebellious teenager at the drop of a hat? This scene was stupid and may possibly be a cheap plot device to reunite daryl and beth with another group (presumably maggie based on the next week's previews). Help me understand Robin!

    Viewer score: 59 / 100

    Posted by Aaron, 03/03/2014 6:36pm (5 years ago)

  • Wow. So a week or two after I send Robin an email saying that the show can't scare me or interest me in its characters anymore, it totally sucks me in. "Still" was pretty blatantly manipulative, but I was totally sold.

    - For the first time, I was actually scared by walkers popping out. Beth and Darryl's vulnerability sold me, and even gimmicks like the shelf full of pots and pans or the grandfather clock really worked to stress how important it was to stay quiet.

    - Darryl breaking down after a drink and a half was silly, but Norman Reedus really made it work, and it totally made sense for the character. Darryl let Meryl AND Carol go for the sake of the prison and his role as the group's protector, only to watch it all crumble. Of COURSE he blames himself.

    - It was great to see Beth flower a little bit, and it makes sense that she's more able to express herself now that Hershel and Maggie are out of the picture, so she's not trying to live up to what they expect her to be.

    - The bit where she realizes Darryl will outlive her was sweet and touching. (OTOH, it's not true - one mistake is all it takes to kill anyone, no matter how tough).

    As I said, the strings were pretty obvious, but they hooked me early and never let go.

    I like that the show is trying some experimental stuff, like Michonne's dream or the reverse narrative with the various groups passing by the train tracks. Some of the experiments will be clunkers, but some will be awesome. I'm legitimately excited for the rest of the season.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Joseph Klein, 03/03/2014 3:07pm (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments