Well, we all know we’re not getting to Terminus until the last episode, right? Terminus will obviously be next year’s plotline, so Walking Dead can’t get too close to it. Remember the prison didn’t come into view until the very last moments of season 2’s finale. I’m guessing we won’t get that exact same set up. I’ll go with “some groups converging on the town at the end” and pick Glenn/Tara/Trio, Maggie/Bob/Sasha, and Rick/Michonne/Carl. They’ve got to reunite someone and having both Glenn and Maggie back together and Rick and Carl finding out Judith is alive seems a bit too much happiness for the show. So, that’s my bet, friends. Make your own in the comment.
In the meantime, the show is slugging out one character-driven episode after another, postponing the actual movement towards Terminus. This week, we get to know Bob and Sasha a little bit better, which hopefully means that both of them are sticking around for a while. But given that we finally got to know what makes Beth tick last week and she got kidnapped/rescued this week, their safety is not secured.
I suppose that there’s only so many ways to shoot a scene about a man wandering around in post-apocalyptic isolation, but I couldn’t help but notice that Bob’s opening felt a lot like our visit with Brian/Philip/The Governor earlier this year. It’s an effective mood setter, music playing over men trudging dead-eyed through the Georgia countryside, but there seems little real intention behind trying to echo the earlier scene. It’s not like Bob is the invert of The Gov (that’s Rick) – this isn’t a tale of the other road being taken.
We knew a lot of the information that came up in Bob’s montage, but it’s always more effective to see how devastating this reality can be. Bob had earlier told Daryl that he was the sole survivor of two different refugee groups. We catch up with him after the second loss, as Bob trudges from hidey-hole to hidey-hole, getting drunk on whatever he can find (in this case, cough syrup). His eyes are haunted. Glenn and Daryl come across him in the middle of a nowhere road. He’s so happy to be with other people he doesn’t care who they are or where they’re going, as long as they take him along. We can assume from this that Bob hasn’t really had to fear other survivors yet. That changes with the events at the prison.
Despite losing almost everyone for a third time, he didn’t lose everyone a third time. To Bob, that’s enough to keep smiling about. It also explains why he’s willing to stick with Maggie on her quest to find Glenn. There’s hope in the search.
Sasha isn’t so sure about it. What if she gets to Terminus and Tyreese isn’t there? As far as she’s thinking, he won’t be there because he’s probably already dead, and Glenn too. She’s not as far gone into nihilism as Daryl was last week, but she’s not far off. Maggie, like her sister, fiercely clings to the possibility that their friends are still out there and that they can find each other, if they only try to. (It does seem worth noting that again Maggie doesn’t mention looking for Beth, only Glenn.)
After overhearing Sasha arguing with Bob about the pointlessness and dangerousness of their search, Maggie takes off by herself in the middle of the night leaving a message in the dirt that no one should put themselves at risk for her. Bob basically forces Sasha into following Maggie’s trail down the track.
And what a trail Maggie is leaving. She’s gutting walkers and leaving messages in their blood on the Terminus signs for Glenn to follow. She’s tough, she’s brutal, and she’s resourceful.
Sasha and Bob eventually catch up (unknowingly) to Maggie at a crossroads. Sasha decides to set up shop in one of the buildings near the tracks and not even a kiss from Bob can sway her decision. To be fair, she hardly knows the guy, so it’s not like he’s been her one true love or anything. He’s just trying to show her that there’s value in sticking with other people. He goes on down the tracks. Sasha stays. And then inadvertently triggers a walker attack on Maggie after Superman-shoving a window out of its casement in surprise at seeing Maggie sleeping between two walkers.
The two women make short work of the attacking zombies and then tearfully reunite. Maggie is someone Sasha has a strong emotional connection with (sorry, Bob), so she’s convinced to keep heading towards Terminus. The smile on Bob’s face as the two women catch up with him is priceless.
Since they have some free time on their hands and no actual direction to head in, Daryl is teaching Beth to track. This is actual good thinking! Daryl and his magnificent arms is not going to live forever and the group is one bad break away from having no trackers at all. Beth stumbles into an animal trap while stalking a walker, injuring her foot and forcing her into damsel in distress mode.
Also, it means Daryl gives her a piggy back ride. Which is just this thing that happens.
While on said piggy back ride, which happens on their way through a graveyard, Beth makes him stop near a “beloved father” gravestone. You’d have to be completely new to the show to not realize that Beth is thinking about her dad. As they stand there, Beth takes Daryl’s hand and he allows it. Some people seem intent on reading the hand-holding as romantic. To these people I say, shut your dirty mouths. She’s 17 to his 40-something. It was basic human kindness, connectedness, which has been the whole subtext of Beth’s little story arc.
The pair shelter in a well-tended funeral parlor. Someone has been keeping the place up and dressing walkers for burial. Beth is touched by the kindness of the gesture, that someone remembers that these things were once human beings. Daryl isn’t convinced that it’s not more “weird” than “kind,” but he’s also not willing to decimate the larder they find carefully stocked in the kitchen. Beth is delighted to see Daryl still acting like a decent person, moving away from the fatalism he was exhibiting last week.
The funeral parlor seems like a safe place for them. There’s a piano for Beth to play on, coffins to sleep in, and pickled pig’s feet in the larder. In fact, the place seems so comforting and safe that Daryl makes a rare error in judgment by opening the front door to a random horde of zombies that showed up out of nowhere. He yells at Beth to get out and then fights his way free of the house with a mostly empty crossbow and some handy embalming tools. But when he does get outside, it’s just in time to see Beth spirited away in a hearse. Is this the owner of the funeral parlor? Is he kidnapping her or rescuing her?
Daryl runs after the car until he can’t run anymore. He’s lost the trail. Whatever hope he had, whatever newfound attitude on life is gone now that Beth is. Can you blame him? Even by these standards, Daryl’s had a really shitty life. Everything he’s opened himself up to is gone.
So it’s not really a surprise when the Rack-lead bunch of shitheels that Rick faced off against shows up, Daryl accepts their invitation to join their group. Why not? They look familiar, and maybe it’s better than being alone.