Back by popular demand, Ms. Hillary Bauer will once again be offering Episode-by-Episode reviews and recaps for TV’s most beloved Zombie Apocalypse Thriller: The Walking Dead. So hold on to your butts folks, there are walkers abound!
Here’s Review #12:
This week on The Walking Dead, nobody said anything and nothing happened. Recap over. Alright, there wasn’t a lot of action, but there were plenty of feelings to talk about so I guess I’ll keep going. I’m gonna be honest with you guys; I was not crazy about this week’s episode when I was watching it. I did, however, start to appreciate it a little bit more when I considered it from a more analytical perspective. If nothing else, the episode was kind of a walk down memory lane. I don’t know about you, but trying to get my hands on alcohol in high school certainly felt this dramatic. So, let’s go get a teenage girl wasted!
It didn’t occur to me when I was watching it, but last week may have been the most well lit episode of The Walking Dead in the whole series. But never fear! This week we open on a road at night and we’re back to squinting at the screen right out of the gate. Daryl and Beth frantically stumble out of the woods and check the car to see if it starts. Seriously? That car has one door and looks like it rolled off a cliff. It’s dead, Jim. Luckily, the trunk still mostly works so they close themselves in it when they hear a pack of walkers approaching. Whatever model this rust bucket is, they should use this as a commercial because it has impressive cargo space. Daryl and Beth are barely even touching.
They peak through an itty bitty crack at some very loud shadows; some of which are actually bumping into the vehicle. One of my major pet peeves with The Walking Dead is that they fly fast and loose with how well the zombies can actually smell humans. Sometimes the writers insist that scent is how the zombies track humans, so we end up with situations like the hoard of zombies at the prison fence. But here, apparently the walkers are literally running into Daryl and Beth without realizing that they’re there. Regardless, the duo wake up the next morning and collect a bizarre assortment of hubcaps and broken glass before taking off down the road headed for God knows what. This is the problem with there being no dialogue. I need exposition, dammit!
We find Daryl out hunting some squirrel for redneck stew when he hits a tree and splits one of his arrows before snapping it in half. Now, I shot Olympic archery for a decade and there is nothing more frustrating than cracking an arrow. But even if I wouldn’t use a split arrow in competition, I sure as hell wouldn’t be intentionally destroying it if it had any zombie killing value left. Sidenote: Doesn’t the fact that I know my way around a bow make me 75% more valuable as a survival buddy? I’ll begin accepting applications now.
Beth is back at their makeshift camp implementing their busted car security system. Gotchya, side mirrors can start fires and hubcaps make quality security systems. We waste money on the silliest things in the pre-apocalypse. Daryl uses the car fire to cook a rattlesnake that he just killed and skinned in the most disgusting way possible. Then he buries his face in it like a bear eating a salmon which really just seems unnecessary. This whole sequence literally made me wince more than the most brutal zombie death. Plus, it’s too bad they didn’t know that Lil’ Ass Kicker is alive or Daryl could have given her a new rattle. Missed opportunity.
Beth looks as disturbed as I am and takes a break from eating her snake like a normal human being (oxymoronic?) to announce that she needs a drink. Not a dirty Mountain Dew bottle filled with lukewarm water, but a drink. Predictably, Hershel wasn’t big on the idea of his little girl partying hard, so Beth admits that it would be her first. Daryl doesn’t even respond, which already got old two weeks ago. If I were Beth, I would rather be eaten by a zombie than deal with silent Daryl. Congratulations, writers. Daryl has been my favorite character since season two and you have made me actively resent him.
Beth decides she’s sick of him too and goes off to get herself killed. She’s actually going to find herself some booze, but Beth going off alone can only mean she has a death wish. Beth tromps loudly through the woods and comes across four walkers who she redirects away from her by hiding behind a tree and throwing a rock. Yeah, that would probably be my best play too. She realizes that Daryl is standing behind her, crossbow in hand in case Beth had gotten herself into trouble. This is getting really old, Daryl. Say if you’re coming. It’s not that hard a concept.
The duo walks through the woods with Beth using her expert tracking skills to figure out which direction they should go in to find some liquor. And by expert I mean shit, because she didn’t even realize that Daryl was just taking her back to camp awful which she literally just came from. Beth goes on a tirade about Daryl being dead inside and how she doesn’t plan on sitting around in the woods for the rest of her life (at least not sober). She flips him the bird and goes to storm off, but Daryl grabs her arms and reluctantly agrees to go with her.
Beth takes the lead (for God knows what reason) and conveniently finds a golf club. I wanna know the property values of wherever they are in Georgia that a prison and a country club are within walking distance of each other. I am very confused about the economic status of the area. In any case, a pack of walkers is working its way across the course and everyone knows that 78% of golfers are middle aged alcoholics so the club is worth a shot in the booze quest.
Inside the club is, you guessed it, super dark. After pausing for a second to change the display settings on my TV, I can make out… a mess. It looks like there are makeshift beds and a clothesline, so people definitely tried to make a go of it playing house here. I’ll tell you what I can see, dangling noose zombies. Three club members evidently decided to throw in the towel and hang themselves, probably not realizing that they were consigning their corpses to an eternity of wiggling around on a string in the least attractive way possible. At least one of the women thought to wear her pearls.
“This is much less comfortable than we anticipated!”
Beth and Daryl look through the wreckage and both pick up weird swag. Beth finds a souvenir spoon and Daryl finds a bag full of money. The spoon is from Washington D.C., so it might be a nod to the other plotline of trying to get the doctor to the capital, but the cash is a less obvious. My best guess until otherwise explained is that Daryl saves it because it was hard for him to come by his entire life, so the idea of leaving free money behind seems unnatural. The important question here is, do rich people bring bags of money with them golfing?! Rich people are weird.
The walkers from the course have made their way to the door and are pushing to get in which forces our heroes (using the term loosely this week) further into the club. All natural light is gone now, but luckily both Beth and Daryl found magical TV flashlights so we can see well enough to know that we’re in kitchen. Beth breaks off from Daryl and gingerly steps over a nasty corpse into a pantry where she spies some cooking sherry. At least if cooking cherry is Beth’s first drink, we won’t have to worry about her ever wanting another.
Unfortunately, getting to the sherry is an awkward process and involves a lot of clanking around. The hubbub attracts Daryl’s attention, as well as the attention of a sizable walker who comes out of nowhere and attacks Beth. She sacrifices her cooking wine and breaks the bottle over his head, which gives her a nice stabby weapon. Beth pokes him in the face a few times before realizing that a knife might be even better for stabbing and takes him out with one jab to the head.
Beth looks over and guess who’s standing ten feet away: Jackass Daryl. This whole “Daryl quietly standing just off screen” thing has gone from old to creepy. Beth is equally put out, but Daryl reminds Beth that she said that she could take care of herself, adding that she did. The last part is interesting, because rather than sounding snarky, he almost sounds like he’s giving her credit. Daryl is obviously being a little glib, but it’s hard to tell if he’s just being a jerk or if there’s a little bit of tough love in there too. In any case, Beth could use some practice re-killing zombies.
(Sidenote: For anyone keeping track, this is the first time that Daryl has had a line other than “Come on” in the entire episode. We only have two characters this week and 50% of them just spent a third of the episode not speaking. That math does not add up to compelling dialogue.)
Before the pair moves further into the club, Beth looks into the kitchen and sees a pile of bodies with the phrase “Welcome to the Dogtrot” written on the wall above them. Add that to the corpse of an eviscerated woman with a sign that says “Rich Bitch” on it and it’s starting to become clear that some sort of class war took down this fine establishment. Didn’t have to worry about the recession after all… I know it works better thematically if we assume that the disgruntled bourgeoisie strung her up there, but I wanna pretend that it was a fellow bitchy housewife getting back at the dead lady for always showing her up in front of the girls.
Beth takes objection to the fact that the corpse’s shirt is open exposing her bra and abdomen. She puts the shirt on as best as she can and then tells Daryl to help get the woman down. He initially dismisses the request saying that it doesn’t matter because she’s dead, but Beth insists that it does. I’m with Beth on this one. There is a definite difference between respect for a corpse that died at the hand of humans rather than zombies. The result is the same, but the zombies don’t have intention behind their kills; just instinct. This woman died out of hate. Daryl compromises and covers the woman with a sheet. Beth grabs herself some new threads and transforms into a little ball of sunshine in a yellow polo and white cardigan.
“This never happens at the Gap…”
As Beth and Daryl backtrack a little bit, they come across a grandfather clock that Daryl had stood up earlier and caused to start working again. Turns out that wasn’t the smartest play, because the clock strikes on the hour and all the walkers come arunnin’ like it was a dinner bell. They lure the walkers into a well lit room where he easily takes them out one at a time with a combination of his crossbow, knife, and a handily accessible golf club. Well, he takes them out pretty easily until the last one. This old fart is going to feel the fury of Daryl’s feelings! Daryl really goes to town on the walker with a golf club, hitting him over and over again pretty much anywhere other than the head. He finally delivers the fatal blow and takes out the walker and Beth’s shiny new cardi with one fell swoop. Not gonna lie, I rewatched Beth get hit with zombie brain a few times while writing this and laughed every. single. time.
After all of this wandering around in the dark, the booze quest finally takes us to the club bar! Beth rushes over and steps over a dead guy to get a teensie little bit of peach schnapps because that’s all that’s left. Beth asks Daryl if it’s any good to which Daryl obviously gives her a flat out “No.” In actuality, peach schnapps is probably among the best things that a teenage girl could find to have as her first drink. Unfortunately, Beth gets cold feet and Daryl gets bored waiting for her to drink away her sad, so he breaks the bottle and restarts the booze quest. Let’s go find some redneck approved liquor!
Daryl takes Beth to a still house that he and Michonne had found on a previous supply run. At least that explains the title of the episode. So now Beth is apparently going to go from arguably the most girly liquor to arguably the least. Beth is barely fazed by her first drink though. This is ain’t my first time at the rodeo, but I feel like if I was drinking hooch for the first time, there would still be some gagging or coughing and whatnot. She’s downing it like it’s water. Beth takes offense when Mr. Dixon doesn’t take the first drink she offers him because he has to play chaperone. Daryl nails up a plank to cover a broken window, which means now he has officially done more to fortify this house than literally anyone in the world we’ve ever seen. After reminiscing about long summers of watching his dad drink in his undies and shoot thing indoors from his dumpster chair, Daryl caves and grabs a mason jar of moonshine.
Beth teaches Daryl how to play a stripped down version of never have I ever, which is pretty weak when there are only two people playing. Then it’s just an awkwardly paced conversation. After a couple of inconsequential questions, Beth pushes Daryl’s bitch button by assuming that he has probably been arrested for something and sends him off on a tirade. This scene is actually really uncomfortable to watch. Daryl takes the loudest indoor pee of all time and then starts yelling about all of the things that he never had as a kid that Beth took for granted. He goes on about never having anything from the ability to rely on others for protection to a pet pony (which Beth may actually have had).
All the hubbub has a lone walker outside excited and his groany noises catch Daryl’s attention. He runs outside yelling in his best hick voice that he’s going to teach Beth how to shoot a crossbow. The sequence is already uncomfortable, but when Daryl actually grabs Beth around the throat to try and force her to shoot the bow, it makes my insides crawl. Once he lets her go, Beth runs ahead of him and stabs the walker in the head, insisting that killing them shouldn’t be fun.
Beth finally calls Daryl on his BS and tells him that he’s not allowed to treat her like crap just because she isn’t one of the women who were “supposed” to survive. But when Beth says that Daryl is acting like he didn’t care about anyone that they lost, Daryl has a couple of decent slams to get in on Beth too. He’s not wrong about the fact that even if Maggie is alive, they probably won’t ever see each other again (in real life that would be true, but this is The Walking Dead) and the rest of her family, including two boyfriends, are all definitely dead. The yelling turns into Daryl self blaming for the Governor’s attack and a teary hug from behind from Beth. God bless Beth right here, because as much as I love Daryl, he’s not looking so fresh and I don’t know how I would feel about sticking my hands in those pits.
Good thing that guy is dead, otherwise he would totally feel like a third wheel right now.
The run down cabin and bootleg liquor are obviously the exact opposites of the peach schnapps and the country club. Daryl obviously identifies with the still house and the redneck lifestyle he grew up with in a way that dumbfounds Beth. And even though Beth probably wasn’t a member of any country clubs, Daryl equates her sheltered upbringing with the level of comfort that the hoity toity rich people at the club enjoyed. Beth and Daryl try out something as basic as having a drink in both worlds and find that neither scenario plays out well. This could be a great example of how those worlds don’t exist anymore. The “have and the have-nots” as they existed before have been dissolved and replaced by the “alive and the dead.” All you can really have any more is your life.
Later that night, Daryl has sobered up enough to admit that he is a violent, destructive dick when he drinks. There’s not so much an “I’m sorry” in there, but Beth is evidently letting it go because she’s still supposed to be a little out of it. I say “supposed to” because Beth has not acted even a little bit drunk since they started in on the moonshine. Has that actress ever had a drink in her life? Maybe she should have prepared for the episode in a bar.
Daryl finally opens up to Beth about what he did pre-Zombieland and the answer to the season long mystery: nothing. He literally did nothing. Daryl and Merle just roamed around on their motorcycles getting trashed in different flop houses and picking fights with tweekers over cartoons. Beth responds to Daryl’s recount of the past with her broken image of what she thought the future might have looked like. Hershel won’t be growing old playing with his grandbaby, no more birthday parties, and summer picnics are a no-go. Then in a depressing moment of clarity, Beth admits that she isn’t built for Zombieland so her days are probably numbered. I’m not saying she’s wrong, but that’s the kind of stuff you keep in your head if you don’t wanna be sent to the Zombieland psych ward.
The culmination of this cheery chat is Beth saying with a grin and a giggle that they should burn the still house down to remind Daryl to let go of his past. Seems like a totally logical thing to do. Destroy a structurally sound cabin in the middle of the night with fire, which is apparently like walker catnip now. Not to mention, Smokey the Bear just threw his remote at the TV out there someplace.
Until next week!