07 March 2014

Talking Out the Dead: “Still”


Thomas Crawford: All in all, this was an amazing episode.  This had the most dramatic scenes since Carl stood over an unconscious Rick and told him he had failed them.  So, Beth wants to have a drink.  Not a drink of water, she wants her first drink of alcohol. SPOILERS…

An episode which centered on finding some hooch, how could this one go wrong?  Seriously, the booze was just a bit of a side quest, the real focus being on Daryl and Beth as they struggle to survive outside the prison.

Survive might not be the right word to use to describe the situation.  Let’s be honest, Daryl has had little trouble surviving in TWD universe.  The mixture of his outdoor skills, mental toughness, and ability to remain calm peg him as a man meant to survive.  The fact Beth is along for the trip with him, well, she is just really lucky.  If she and Daryl hadn’t gotten thrown together, she would most likely be walker food at this point.

This episode was a twist because it only focused on these two characters for the entire show.  I am sure many fans weren’t too happy about it, as Beth has been getting a lot of hate recently.  Even the first episode focused on Rick, Carl, and Michonne.  Not this one, this was all about the bad ass and the farm girl.  My guess was correct, it was another character driven episode.

You have Beth and Daryl, on the run, hiding in the trunk of a car.  They are setting up camp and eating some delicious looking snake.  Read the sarcasm, the entire snake scene turned my stomach.  Eating a snake isn’t disgusting.  The method of seeing it skinned and then Daryl chowing down like a walker really made me cringe though.  Anyone else notice that Daryl eating the snake looked a lot like walker Merle when Daryl found him in “This Sorrowful Life”?  It was just an odd moment that was probably an accident, still creepy.

Beth sort of flipped on Daryl, saying she wanted a drink, not sit out and make camp.  This little outburst really seemed to portray her as a spoiled brat.  I think she even called herself one either at this point or later on in the episode.  I am sure most fans agree, here is a guy trying to protect her, and all she wants to do is go get drunk for the first time.

I will give her a pass.  I have touched on this before, the fans have had months to digest what happened when the prison got overrun.  I am not certain about the timeline at this point, but it couldn’t have been a week or so in the story.  She just watched her father get beheaded.  Try to soak that in for a second.  She watched. Her father. Get beheaded.  On top of that, she lost her home, the one place she was safe in the crazy new world.  She also has lost her family, friends, and her sister at this point.  I think she has a right to have an outburst.  Wanting to have a drink seems like it should be way down the list of priorities.  However, maybe she just wants to forget all she has been through.  Is it healthy?  I’d say no, it isn’t.  Is it understandable?  Yes.  Considering all of this, sitting and watching Daryl eat a snake, or go have a drink or two and try to forget, I can say go have a drink Beth. I will forgive you.

The scene of her flipping out on Daryl in the woods was a big contrast with her finally getting a drink in the country club.  She found a quiet spot and a bottle of Peach Schnapps.  Daryl seemed uninterested as he started throwing some darts at various portraits on the wall.  It was actually comical, in the ruined bar of the country club, Beth was trying to find a clean glass to drink her booze out of, and everything was bloody.  Beth finally said who needs a glass, and was ready for her first ever drink.

Instead of taking a drink, she just broke down.  I think it is obvious at this point that the mission to get some booze was really just a cover.  She was starting to come unglued from all the events that had happened to her.  Daryl handled it in his usual gentleman like fashion, smashing the bottle of Schnapps on the floor.  Then he told her if she was going to have a real drink it wasn’t going to be Peach Schnapps.

We find Daryl and Beth heading to a broken down shed in the woods.  It is dirty, filled with broken furniture, and of course, moonshine.  At first Daryl just wants to stay on the lookout while Beth can have her drink.  Eventually she gets him to let down his guard and drink with her.  This led to some of the most interesting character developments we have seen in the entire season.

First off, Daryl is an angry drunk.  Who could have guessed that?  He is always so happy and carefree, right?  While this was not a surprise, the depth his character showed in this episode was shocking.  Daryl is not alright.  He is not handling things with cool detached pragmatism because he doesn’t care.  It is his feelings and guilt that have forced him into the shell we have seen.

In a scene of flipping out that seemed to borderline crazy, Daryl finally broke down.  He blames himself for Hershel’s death.  He even blames himself for the prison being overrun.  He feels as if he had done something more, then none of this would have happened.  He let out all of this guilt and anguish in one of the most emotional moments Daryl has had for the entire show.

In the final moments of the episode, we have Beth and Daryl, sitting down and just talking.  Beth says something that resonates, that Daryl will have to bury her.  This is a paraphrase, but Beth says point blank that Daryl will eventually have to go on without her.  She basically admits that she will not survive while Daryl will.  This is a heartbreaking moment, because it led me to believe some crazy things were happening during the entire show that we were about to find out.  In the end, they both burn down the shed, sort of a fire to burn away all the guilt and anguish that they have dredged up in the episode.  It also seemed eerily like a funeral pyre, which hinted to me that death is around the corner.  Am I looking too deep into the story?

Kelen Conley: Hoo boy. Where to begin?

I liked this episode a lot, but not as much as “Claimed”. Loved that character development was again king, but it just didn’t speak to me in the same way. I actually do love the pairing of Beth and Daryl now, something I thought impossible from their brief scenes in “Inmates”. Putting the beloved bad ass with the whiny, singing, Greene kid was a bold move but this episode pays out their union in spades.

The trunk scene has to be one of the scariest scenes in the entire series. From just a few walkers going by to what sounded like 50 during the thunderstorm and then back to just a few as Beth and Daryl wait for morning, I had chills. And I really think you need to explain your full theory that you had for this episode, as you could still be right.

So Beth wants to get drunk? I love that the plot begins with this. I feel like TWD sometimes forgets that the characters are allowed to miss everyday items they once had. The scenes with Morgan and Duane showering in “Days Gone Bye” and the group partying on their first night in the CDC are among some of my favorite because they seem so real. While Daryl is dealing with the prison attack in his own way, I applaud the fact that Beth wants to drown her sorrows in a bottle like a real adult!

The country club. I would love to read/see the back story that goes with this place. They said on TD that the hung walkers were killed by the staff and there seems to have been a mini war that took place there. I feel like the true point of the country club here was as a red herring and as a site to fit in some walker killing action and both needs were ultimately met before Daryl whisked Beth away to the promise of better alcohol.

Angry, drunk Daryl had me worried though. I thought he was going to lose control and smack Beth or something. And can I just say that Beth is the dirtiest “I Never” player ever? Sure, she was playing with one other person but did it really benefit her to get Daryl smacked with all her obvious statements? Daryl’s breaking down was hard to watch too. So much guilt for one man to bear. In fact, I don’t even feel like Rick feels this guilty currently.

I’m not surprised by the revelation of Daryl’s pre-apocalypse occupation being Merle’s wingman of sorts. Watching how Daryl acted whenever the subject of Merle came up through the seasons always seemed like he viewed Daryl more as his boss than his brother to me, at least until last season when Daryl stood up to him. It just shows how much he has truly blossomed in this new world and how right Beth’s prophecy of his surviving might prove to be.

I loved the burning of the house and consequently, the burning of both Daryl and Beth’s past failures. It signified a new lease on life in the apocalypse, something that a lot of the survivors have been wishing for since this whole mess began. Both of them were weak at episode start and were stronger by it’s end, so I think the journey here was well worth it.

Having Beth and Daryl be the only two characters was a nice touch in giving the episode a true, one-shot feel. I hope that future episodes are brave enough to explore this method of storytelling with other characters.

One of the things that I didn’t take away from this episode that I haven’t already stated: Questions. Since everything was so self contained, the only one I’m left with is where do these two characters go from here?

Oh, and do walkers like thunderstorms? Does all the lightning attract more of them at once?

Oh, and could Daryl and Beth be a thing? Or have a thing? Or do the thing?

TC: I think you are right about the scene of them in the trunk.  It was scary and definitely a great way to start the episode.  It through me a little as you know because it seemed like at one point it was a flashback or a flash forward.  This sort of tied into my overall theory about the episode that I was trying to explain to you right after it was over.

Before I get into my theory, I want to touch on something you said.  I am not sure that Daryl and Beth will have a thing, or do a thing.  There was a hint of flirtatious behavior from Beth, especially after she got into the ‘shine.  However, it didn’t seem like outright seduction, more like just a drunken girl who was having some bad thoughts about being alone with a man.

Many people forget Beth is still a really sheltered young woman.  This seems laughable as you watch where she stabbed a broken wine bottle into the head of a walker repeatedly.  That was the number two zombie kill of the episode for me by the way.  The number one was Daryl showing a strong golf swing on a walker’s face.  However, she spent her time on the farm, on the run, and in the prison.  The entire time she had her father watching out for her and protecting her.  What were the values of Hershel?  Well Maggie and Glenn had to be officially married to share a room if that is any indication.

I am not saying this is wrong by the way.  I am trying to explain the context.  It is quite obvious that Beth has limited experience when it comes to men.  There was the scene where she lost her boyfriend, however the depth of that relationship on a physical sense was never really shown.  I’m not sure there is going to be a thing developed at this point and under these circumstances.

I should also point out I don’t think Daryl sees Beth in that way at all.  If anything, this episode shows that he feels responsible for her safety, and doesn’t see her as a love interest.  I’m not going to say he sees her as a friend or even a little sister, but the relationship he has with her doesn’t scream love to me.  Daryl letting out all his guilt over what happened really reinforced this idea for me.  I think you are right as well, even Rick doesn’t feel the guilt that Daryl is at this point.

Could I be wrong?  It has been known to happen from time to time.  Seriously, I am wrong a lot, which is why this is just a guess and I’m not saying this will definitely not happen.  However, if my theory is correct there may have been more to the story than meets the eye.

The theory I had at the end of the show was a little out there.  The more I think about it, the more it probably is not the case, but still something that makes me wonder about it.  What if Beth is already dead?  The trunk scene seemed to make me think about it as well.  At one point, there didn’t seem to be walkers just walking by, but trying to open the door.  I mentioned the scene seemed surreal at one point because it appeared to be jumping from time frame to time frame. You mentioned you thought it was just Beth flipping out.  This could very well be the case, but what if it was jumping around to throw us off as fans?

The actual quest of finding hooch.  Many people have pointed out this was Beth trying to find something normal from her old life to grab onto.  This is a theory that makes sense to me.  However, doesn’t it seem possible that Daryl may want to have a drink after all that has happened?  I am just saying isn’t there a possibility?

The exchanges between Beth and Daryl were interesting as well.  Daryl just seemed to follow Beth through most the episode up until the end.  He didn’t hardly speak to her until the final 20 minutes.  He just followed.  This could be just a case of him trying to protect her and keep her out of trouble.  Yet it did seem out of character, especially when she had her outbursts on him.  Perhaps he was really just so caught up dealing with his own guilt that he didn’t know what else to do.

The ending scenes were fascinating from a storytelling standpoint.  Daryl flips out on Beth, especially when she mentioned she had never been to jail.  Daryl was offended by that statement in the game, and even asked her if that is what she thought of him.  The scene of him yelling and firing the bolts into the walker, it could have been the angry Daryl just letting it all out.  The breakdown though, he barely looked at Beth.  For an instant, it seemed like Beth just disappeared in the background and he was just blaming himself out loud for what happened.

The final scenes, them talking really made a strong statement.  Even if my theory is all wrong, this scene was powerful.  Beth said Daryl was going to survive, and as I mentioned earlier he would have to go on without her.  Was this foreshadowing?  It would be a strange twist for TWD writers to give such blatant foreshadowing in the show.  The burning of the shed did resemble a funeral pyre to me, another surreal scene that many have taken as both of them burning away their old lives.  What if it was Daryl, burning away his guilt for losing Beth?  Again, it could be another foreshadowing of death on the horizon.

The entire theory, though strange and out there, does make sense to me.  At some point, Daryl lost Beth.  The character in the episode was not Beth, more of a personification of his own guilty subconscious and trying to deal with the loss.  This is a technique that has been used in storytelling before to throw the fans for a loop.  Obviously this wouldn’t be the first time something like this had been done.

I’m not saying that this is the case, trailers showing Daryl and Beth together in another episode really puts a huge hole in my theory.  However, right after watching, this was the theory that I had in my mind of what was really going on.  Everything I have mentioned could be explained in a completely different way and still make sense.  Overall, it was a strong episode, theory or no, and definitely going to be one of my favorites for the rest of the season.

KC: I don’t want them to be a thing. One thing the show has had to do from the comics is tone down the sex greatly. Quick count: Shane/Lori, Rick/Lori, Shane/Andrea, Glenn/Maggie, Governor/Andrea, Gov/Lilly with Tyreese/Karen implied. That’s it. The comic dwarfs the show in sex within the first 15 issues. I’ll be okay if they stay platonic forever.

But the more I’ve thought about it, I really hate that the writers have made me like Daryl and Beth together since the prison. It’s going to make it that much more emotional when Beth does die.

Your theory isn’t a bad one, I just feel it’s too big of an idea for TWD, especially over multiple episodes. If Beth had already died and Daryl was imagining her, they should’ve revealed it at this episode’s end. Dragging it out might cause a few people to get lost.

Do I think it would be ballsy if your theory is true? Absolutely. To have Beth with him every step of the way since the prison and to have him reunite with another group by himself? It would blow my mind. Well, would’ve. You’ve spoiled something for me now.

Heather thinks your theory would just be a repeat of Rick talking on the phone in the prison and seeing Lori everywhere.  I personally didn’t like the way the show went to portray that Rick was having a mental breakdown, and to see it happen to Daryl just a season later would be a little soon for me. I do think that the idea is much better than what Rick had to go through though.

She also mentioned that Daryl already hallucinated way back in Season 2 when a vision of Merle helped him get out of that riverbed near Herschel’s farm. And she mentioned that they spent half of Season 2 looking for Sophia only to have her emerge from the barn as a walker. And I quote: “That’s just weak and lazy storytelling.”

And really, what do we gain from this episode if your theory was true? Instead of a snapshot of two people bonding in this crazy, new world, we get “Daryl’s lost his rocker and is swilling moonshine, peeing in houses, and talking to a dead friend”. Sounds like a Springer episode and I don’t buy it.

My initial response was that TWD didn’t have the time or the audience for this theory as well. People cry enough about there not being enough walker killing on every episode. Asking them to think? Asinine.

On another note, if your theory was true, then that ultimately leads to people asking what is true on TWD? Is Rick still in the hospital and all of this a dream? Was there ever a Governor or was he a figment of Rick’s imagination after he failed to protect the prison from walkers? Was there ever a barn full of walkers or is that just how everyone coped when they could never find Sophia?

That whole paragraph makes my brain hurt.

We’re in the home stretch of Season 4. Four episodes to go. The sneak previews suggest that we’ll at least see Daryl/Beth/Maggie/Sasha/Bob this Sunday. Kill Watch!

  • Beth – After giving her a moment to shine last episode, killing her this week would give her death the most impact it could’ve ever had.
  • Sasha – She seems expendable but I think Tyreese has been through enough this season.
  • Bob – He’s been on a redemption arc since he almost got killed in “Indifference”. Could be his moment to save the ladies he’s with. But he is the only doctor around too. Hmm…

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