The Walking Dead – Still
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.
That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.
“I need a drink.”
“Still” was a return to form for The Walking Dead so to speak, in that it went back to the same tensions that made the first season work so well. The episode kicked off with Daryl and Beth still on the move and struggling to find something to move towards. What really works between the two of them is their differing viewpoints when it comes to survival. Daryl has learned to survive above all, whereas Beth as learned to hope for something. Having a larger goal does make survival more bearable for some, but Daryl is so used to being on his own that he doesn’t necessarily require the goal of something to work towards.
The duo’s reactions to the country club were also pretty powerful. Daryl viewed everything he found there with disdain, as if he was still harboring some resentment to high society and opportunity. The way he snatched up all the money like a thief speaks largely to his status before the end of the world, one that was presumably a little lower in terms of wealth. Daryl’s youth was rife with tweakers, violence, alcoholic family members and daily brushes with death. His upbringing was definitely not easy and he really let it all be known after drinking with Beth, pushing his psyche to the point of tears.
Beth on the other hand views the club as something she couldn’t have either, but for different reasons. It wasn’t exactly like she was prevented from it; rather, her father raised her and her siblings to be much more humble. She grew up on a large farm in a rather protected environment, devoid of any real risk to her safety. Her desperate search for a drink reflected her previously sheltered life preventing her from doing what she perceived as living, mainly because it wasn’t exactly the most exciting life she lived. When she got the drink, she quickly realized that the “grown-up” games she always fancied herself enjoying wasn’t quite the same, as Daryl quickly escalated things to something much more real.
The episode felt like it was a pointless fetch quest, with Beth making some rather reckless decisions in order to get her first taste of alcohol. By the end of the episode though, things really came to a head between the two of them, with Daryl laying most of his past out on the line and Beth countering him. Both characters are dealing with the reality that things aren’t getting any better anytime soon, but they have the chance to make the best of a bad situation. The theme of the episode was primarily that it doesn’t really matter what someone dealt with in their pasts, as the present proved a clean slate for people to redefine themselves by their decisions in the newly trying times.
Daryl, for instance, completely became someone else, emerging from his brother Merle’s shadow to become a survivor with a capacity for caring more often than is probably necessary. He emerged from a hideous upbringing to become a leader among the survivors and trusted consort of Rick, the de facto leader. His harsh ignorance of the world around him has transformed into something more sincere that was best crystallized by Beth’s anger at his seeming indignation. She reminded him that while everything seemed to be completely wrecked, there was still something in the world worth fighting for.
Anyone out there who counts Daryl as one of his or her favorites on The Walking Dead probably loved the episode, as it really opened up a seemingly locked character’s past. Fans may have started to get a little more involved with Beth as well, considering she proved that she’s more than just a naive youth who refuses to recognize the harshness of the world. It also excelled by slowing things down and really ratcheting up the tension that comes with not knowing what will happen next. There was a slight nod to Washington, DC, hinting that the series is likely moving in that direction overall. For the time being though, fans gained a lot more insight into one of their favorite characters and perhaps decided on a new one to be interested in.
Rating: 4 out of 5