The preview for tonight’s The Walking Dead was quite misleading, was it not? No one of any consequence has died since the mid-season finale, which I think may be a record for The Walking Dead, and I’m sure those who favor action-packed, zombie-attacking sequences may be getting tired of this pattern. “Alone” basically continued its character development spree, but focusing on two other characters, Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) and Sasha (Sonoqua Martin-Green), and adding a very unexpected twist for one particular character at the end.
If you read my preview, you’ll recall that I mentioned Bob Stookey and how we know virtually nothing about him, even though he’s been there since the beginning of the season (well, we know he’s an army medic and a closet drunk, but that’s about it). The episode opened with a wonderful series of scenes depicting Bob’s life before he joined the prison group. He had originally been a part of not one, but two, other groups, and ultimately, he ended up being the only surviving member of both groups (i.e. “alone,” thus the title of the episode). Bob could barely keep himself going and constantly looked like someone in dire need of some Xanax — or possibly a pistol to blow his head off. But, that all changed as soon as Daryl and Glenn found him and invited him into their group. We see a faint smile appear on Bob’s face, and we know he has found happiness again simply because he is no longer alone.
Given that backstory, Bob quickly became my favorite in this episode, and honestly, was the only one who acted with even a least bit of sense. Ever since the fall of the prison, Sasha has constantly been rocking the boat, pleading with Bob that they need to abandon trying to find Glenn (Steven Yeun) and instead, look for another place where they can start over again. Given the fact that they are almost out of ammunition (and that Bob had a close call with a walker, being saved only by the bandage on his shoulder), it does make some sense. But, at the same time, you are asking a woman to give up on her husband, and we all know Maggie (Lauren Cohan) well enough to know that she’ll die before doing that.
Leaving a note reading “Don’t risk your lives for me. Good luck,” Maggie goes on her own, but Bob quickly decides to go after her. Even after planting a pretty steamy kiss on Sasha (all the Bob and Sasha shippers out there can now rejoice!), Sasha decides to leave the group. This is where things get a little ridiculous. Sasha stops at an abandoned building and finds what appear to be a very nice loft (hey, it had wooden floors, exposed brick and everything!). That is very short-lived because when she looks out the window, the first thing she sees is Maggie coming under attack by a group of walkers. Working together they are able to fight off the mini-herd, and at that point, Sasha (magically) realizes her place is with Maggie and with this group. Pretty convenient that Sasha stopped at the exact same place that Maggie had stopped, right? Yeah, it was a very far-fetched scenario with nothing more than a bunch of sap and hugging in the end. But, it did make Bob Stookey shine, and it showed us all he’s the level-headed one and much more than the borderline alcoholic that we saw in the season 4 premiere.
Now, with the second storyline in the episode — the continuation of the Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) arc from last week’s episode. After Beth injures her ankle, the twosome ends up at a funeral parlor, a place that they are surprised to find very well-kept. Not a bit of dust is even on the food in the pantry, which indicates it probably was just put there in the last day. The two decide to take a much-needed break, and during this time, we see just how close they have become. Daryl relaxes, and yes in a coffin, while listening to Beth’s music. And, when Beth asks Daryl who has shown him there is still good people in the world, his (very uncomfortable) silence indicates the answer is her (Norman Reedus has said that there is no romantic feelings between Daryl and Beth, but this scene certainly raises the question). All of this abruptly ends when the funeral parlour is overrun by walkers, and during the chaos, Beth is taken in a mysterious black car with a white cross on the rear window. WTF?!
And, poor Daryl. He runs and runs and runs, trying to catch up with the car. Then, he stops, huffs and puffs. And, he runs and runs some more. Finally, he just collapses in the middle of the road and sits there, reminding us of the old Daryl who felt so defeated after the fall of the prison. This is reinforced when after Beth is gone for just a short while, a bunch of ill-behaved hooligans (yes, it’s the same group of dumb-asses that Rick met in that house in “Inmates”) swoop down and convince Daryl to join them. With his greasy hair, arms full of tattoos, and skulls on his leather vest, the leader’s name is Joe (Jeff Kober, Sons of Anarchy), but I swear, it could have been Daryl’s brother, Merle (Michael Rooker), re-incarnated.
Why hurt each other, when you can hurt other people — Joe to Daryl
If Beth were there, she’d remind him: That is all in your past. And, you should put it away. But, Beth is gone, and old habits kick back in.
So, what now? We see Glenn (finally!) seeing the Terminus sign at the end of the episode, and so, now, most of the survivors from the prison group are on the same path. But, what about Beth? Who took her and why? In the comics, Dale was “taken” by “The Hunters” and died after being cannibalized by the group. Gulp. I’m not going to even think about Beth meeting a similar fate. But, I worry more about Daryl. He’s with this really bad group of people now, and he’s nowhere near where the rest of the group is heading.
All in all, I thought this was a good episode but it fell a little short of last week’s stellar “Still.” Lawrence Gilliard Jr. certainly stole the show in his portrayal of Bob Stookey, with Lauren Cohan and Sonoqua Martin-Green just lingering in his shadow. However, with the last five episodes devoted almost entirely to character development, I think it’s time to get back to moving the plot forward. And, with most of the characters finally seeing the sanctuary sign and going in that direction, it’s hopeful we are now close to that goal.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights at 9/8c on AMC.