Yep… spoilers within.
Oh, The Walking Dead, how you tease me so. After last weeks fantastic episode with the revelation that Sgt. Abraham Guile’s protection mission/reason to live was a lie created by Eugene’s motivation to extend his lifespan to one that was slightly longer than a mince pie in my presence, the random character wheel has been spun once again. And this week, the action shifts to Daryl and Carol’s big adventure in the city.
This episode does feel like a bit of a slowdown after last week, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Last week’s plot bonanza and revelations did help move the story along, but this weeks offering is a much tighter and terse two-hander between two of the shows strongest characters. One of the reasons I love TWD is the level of detail and characterisation that exists amongst the survivors, and this week allows us to spend time with two characters who have been with us from the beginning. And two who have evolved from the beginning.
The benefit of spending most of the hour with just two characters is it allows us to dive into their history, and examine how they’ve changed. But it’s more than that – a glimpse of a ‘Dealing with abuse’ help book, a childs room… it’s the details of how the characters – Carol in particular – have gotten to this point. It’s the subtlety that the show provides that stops it from becoming overbearing though, most notably in an almost wordless three minute scene that sees a zombie mother and daughter introduced, dispatched and burnt by Daryl. Whilst this could have been used to drive the parallels with Carol, the point is made. The actors facial expressions carry the scene, and it is a brilliant moment.
It’s not just Carol though who’s changed. Another theme of the series is the attempts of the characters to retain their humanity in this ongoing nightmare. Having seen the Hunters at the beginning of the series – a group driven to lose any semblance of humanity and operating a human slaughterhouse – we saw Daryl spare Noah’s life on two occasions. Even after Noah stole their weapons and left them to fend off a couple of zombies, Daryl spared his life when Carol pointed a spare pistol at him. Compare that to the cynical character at the beginning of Series 1.
The driving plot points see the two carrying on the search for Beth through the city of Atlanta, before eventually teaming up with escapee Noah. And whilst I was concerned that this would be a continuation of the hospital tedium a couple of weeks ago, the plot was largely a secondary concern. Wandering through the streets, zombies, escape… the purpose of the episode was the examination of Daryl and Carol. The ending of the episode seems to be trying to tie up the loose plot threads as Carol was hit by a car and taken to the hospital, which is where we were at the end of episode four. Daryl returned to the group for reinforcements, which is presumably where we were at the end of episode three. Two episodes left to the mid-season finale… things will be heating up now.
Zombie kill of the week
No weapons, a herd of walkers… How do you escape? Drive a van off a bridge, obviously. Whilst in a vaguely fantastical moment, both survive the plummet unharmed. The lemming-like walkers aren’t so lucky though, and the splatter of zombie parts on the top of van chasing after the human flesh was a comic joy to behold.