Let’s Get Away From It All
Call me crazy, but I actually prefer episodes like this to the big, action-heavy episodes. We usually get some interesting development or enticing set-up when our characters are isolated, trapped, or imprisoned. While this episode did rely a bit too much on ambiguity and familiarity, it was an admirable attempt all the same.
We really only follow Daryl and Abraham/Sasha this episode, which, again, is nicer and more intimate by way of storytelling. Let’s look at Daryl first, as his plotline had a bit more going on and I typed his name first. The short recap is this: Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha get separated after being attacked by a mysterious roaming gang-in-a-car. Daryl’s bike breaks down in the woods, subsequently ambushed by three new characters, and is held hostage most of the episode. He eventually breaks free, realizes he stole their insulin, returns it out of guilt, has a run in with a new threat, and finally gets his crossbow stolen by the original three captors. Got it?
This was strong exercise in storytelling because we learned as Daryl learned. This method of writing falls flat quite often, as it can be difficult to know just how much information is needed to give to the audience in order to keep the story engaging but not over/under laden with details. This episode seemed to hit that sweet spot, as we knew just enough to care about Daryl and his situation while still wondering who these three seem to think he is with. We glean that they are some sort of laborers (and if I had to guess, maybe even working with human slavery?), and they ran away from their camp to start anew. However the threat of recapture is clearly large enough to force the crew to make knee-jerk decisions on the regular. It’s pretty clear that these three are ill-equipped to handle the woods on their own, and we see that with just how haphazard their own operation is.
While I’m sure most of this is setting up the second half of this season (or maybe even the next), it did allow for Daryl to actually do something, rather than just look around and ask questions to extract exposition. The big moment came when Daryl returned the stolen insulin to his captors, while acknowledging that doing so was a stupid idea all the same. It was at this time, too, that we saw just who this mysterious threat is. We got no names or looks at faces, but we saw a man get bit and immediately call for his arm to be amputated. His request was met with no deliberation, meaning these foes clearly know what they are doing. Could these people be with Negan, the forthcoming and newly announced character? One can only hope…
Sasha, unfortunately, was underused this episode, existing only as a springboard for Abraham’s development. We didn’t get much by way of cold hard facts or past life events, but we did get a good sense of Abraham’s wants and needs. We learned, maybe unsurprisingly so, that he is a man of action who craves action. He needs to feel useful and important. With Alexandria (to his knowledge) working out for the better, he is starting to lose purpose, even if that purpose is just slaughtering zombies wholesale. Don’t forget that the character was introduced to us with a game plan: Get to Washington D.C. When that plan fell apart, there was enough other drama going on that he could focus his efforts elsewhere. Now, he’s just a glorified security guard in a thrown-together slice of old-school America. That’s a big change for a guy to go through.
Perhaps the best thing about this episode was the lack of zombies. I’ve been saying for quite some time that the zombies should not be a real threat anymore…the danger should be coming from the people using the apocalypse to their advantage. Seeing Abraham toy with the zombie-on-a-stick or Sasha watching the zombie through the glass was a step in the right direction. The only zombie kill in the episode was done well, as it illustrated how worthless Daryl’s captors truly are in the wild. It would have driven the point home a bit more if other characters weren’t falling victim to them so frequently, but I gotta give this season credit for one thing: with the exception of Glenn (?), no characters have really died at the hands of zombies this season. It’s all been man-to-man murder, which is the direction the show should have headed like three seasons ago, but I’ll take what I can get.
Let’s end with our new recurring segment “Glenn Watch 2016.” I’m currently sitting at about 87% certainty that the guy is still alive. The lack of information on him (no corpse, big emotional ending, etc.) all seems to point towards a triumphant return. The fact that the show “killed” him in such an unceremonious way and THEN continued to dance around the subject leads me to believe they are ignoring him on purpose. They want to build suspense and have it all pay off in the end. The writers, no matter how much crap I give them, would not be stupid enough to kill a character so poorly and then NOT address it AND continue to flirt with the idea both in the show and online. It doesn’t absolve them from being dirty, filthy liars, but it makes sense in the end.
It’s the poorly handled ambiguity that’s making it all so frustrating, and what makes good episodes like this actually seem better…it’s refreshing for once; a phrase that you don’t want to describe your show when coupled with surprise.
Odd and Ends
- Now there’s a rocket launcher in the mix and you better believe that sucker is coming back.
- The zombie-in-the-room shtick was actually kind of nice when it was paired with, what I can only assume is, his writing on the wall. It was the subtle acceptance of death that gave the scene just a bit more gravitas.
- Mud was a recurring visual this episode and I’m genuinely unsure as to whether or not that was on purpose.
- The writers have said that that wasn’t Glenn on the walkie-talkie. But I don’t trust the writers at all, so you keep holding out hope…
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.