The Walking Dead Season 4 Review “Still”

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 12 Still (1)

Even with some stiff competition tonight in the form of The Oscars, The Walking Dead returned tonight with the slightly frustrating episode “Still”. With lots of terrible things happening on this show on a weekly basis, and people fighting for their lives to avoid being killed and eaten, a big chunk of this installment revolved around a whiny little teenage girl trying to score some booze. These are high stakes, people!

Of course the peculiar Beth storyline didn’t take up the entire episode, but when the first half of the hour is devoted to a strange detour at a country club, it’s tough not to feel a little disappointed. With the rest of the survivors all making their way to this mysterious community, or on a quest to reunite with their loved ones, it makes it really difficult to care about what’s happening with Beth’s quest for her first drink. I get that she’s just doing this to keep her mind off of what happened to her dad and all of the other horrible things going on around her, but it just makes her seem incredibly immature. She’s supposed to be 18 years old by now, and the first half of the season made it seem like she had really grown up a lot and learned to take care of herself and others. I would buy her saying that she wants to be reunited with Maggie, and have that be her motivation for yelling at Daryl about sitting around eating rattlesnake, but she seems to have given up on that endeavor entirely. Maggie got on the bus, Beth! She has a much better shot at being alive than you do!

Then there’s Daryl, who continued to be a very enigmatic presence for the first part of the episode. I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my review for “Inmates” that I didn’t understand why Daryl was being so prickly towards Beth. He seemed to have been softening up a bit in the first half of the season, so I wasn’t sure if he was just showing some tough love or if he just really disliked Beth for some reason. The reasons for his sour demeanor continued to elude me for the first chunk of this episode, until he finally lets loose to Beth that he feels partially responsible for what happened at the prison.

I’m just not sure if I understand why we needed all of the scenes between these two in the “Inmates” episode a few weeks back. This episode does perfectly well to catch us up with where they are, how they’re doing, and what their relationship is like together. When each half of the season is split into only eight episodes, and there are so many characters to keep track of spread across Georgia, it makes you wonder why they’d choose to spend so much time on these two characters. I was not expecting this entire hour to be all Beth and Daryl, as even “Inmates” eventually cut to Tyreese and the kids.

The first half of “Inmates” combined with the first 45 minutes of this episode and it all acted as a nice crescendo into Daryl’s drunken tirade against Beth. It was a genuinely concerning scene, and a great acting moment from the usually understated Norman Reedus. I was really hoping he wouldn’t hurt himself or Beth, but I’m glad that he finally got everything off of his chest. Hopefully he’s not so moody and grumpy in future episodes.

I was really glad that the relationship between Beth and Daryl didn’t turn romantic. When Beth hugged Daryl, I was half expecting him to turn around and start kissing her or something, but I’m very glad the writers resisted that temptation. It was an even larger possibility considering that Daryl was drunk and belligerent, so he could have gone even further than a kiss, but I’m glad he stayed away. It would have just been a little too obvious and unearned.

Despite a good climax with Daryl’s outburst, and a pretty good performance by Emily Kinney (considering some of her sub-par material), I found tonight’s episode a bit of a disappointment overall. With such precious screentime to keep tabs on all of our survivors, and the mysterious new community and the new character Abraham Ford out there, I’m much more interested in seeing how those storylines develop. I’m glad Daryl and Beth have hashed out their differences, I just wish it didn’t take a whole hour and half of “Inmates” to get it done.

All right, back to the Oscars…

Random Thoughts:

– The opening of the episode made me think if it would be possible for them to have a whole episode of The Walking Dead with no dialogue at all. If the dialogue we do get is going to be Beth complaining, then maybe that wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

– I know this isn’t entirely the fault of the writers, but Beth constantly saying “screwed” or “screw you” really undercut the seriousness of what she’s trying to get across. I get that you aren’t allowed to drop the F bomb on AMC, but saying “screw you!” and flipping somebody off makes you look more like a 12 year old boy having a temper tantrum than an 18-year-old young woman trying to prove how mature and independent she is.

– Great song selection at the end there with “Up The Wolves” by The Mountain Goats. A rather upbeat selection considering the episode we just watched.