This season, am I right guys? It's like "Yo! This episode was good!" And then, "Ick! This episode was bad!" And then nothing happened, and then something happened, and blah blah blah! One person might look at last week's episode and declare it a triumph of the human spirit and then someone else might look at it and call it a flaming turd.
What I'm trying to say is, this half-season has been all over the place! And as a result, fans are restless—even the superfans who love the show unconditionally. Unfortunately, I don't think "Alone" calmed anyone down.
But I think the episode finally made it clear what Season 4B is trying to accomplish. It's an eight-episode bridge to next season, basically, which means there's going to be a lot of walking and not much else as all the survivors slowly make their way to Terminus. At the end of Season 4A, The Walking Dead's producers made a big deal about the survivors getting split up, and they must've also decided that breaking up the main group would be the best way to address one of the show's biggest problems: a lack of character development. So now we're tagging along on The Walking Dead's idea of a road trip, with plenty of scenery to see, plenty of people to get to know, but only one destination. And I know that must piss off those of you who would rather see plot point plot point kill plot point kill kill plot point kill death. And you're not crazy for thinking that way.
But I appreciate what The Walking Dead is going for, even if its effort has been uneven. "Alone" wasn't as compelling of a character examination as "Still," but it wasn't a dry check-in like "Inmates," either. Instead, "Alone" came close to being a good episode but ended up much like Daryl, occupying the middle of the road.
This was Bob and Sasha's turn to introduce themselves to us, and they did so with an assist from some inexplicable character decisions. To kick things off, a difference of opinion left the Maggie-Bob-Sasha group divided: Sasha wanted to stay put in the woods and not go anywhere, yet she also wanted to find a town so she could stay put somewhere? But Maggie and Bob were more interested in Terminus, because they aren't dumb. I'm not quite sure why Maggie decided to go off on her own and leave a Dear John note in the mud, especially since she had Bob on her side. And I'm not quite sure why Sasha and Bob would split up just because they found a building that Sasha saw as a perfect spot to hunker down in. And I'm not quite not sure why Maggie was lying on the ground in the town or why she changed her mind and decided she wanted to regroup.
In fact, it seemed like both Maggie and Sasha eventually changed their minds entirely, and without a satisfactory reason. Girl, if you wanted to get back with Sasha and Bob then why did you leave in the first place? Other girl, you knew you would break down and cry without Bob, so why didn't you go with him? These are some confused people making rash decisions when their lives might depend on it.
In the end, Bob won the battle of wills and got the two ladies to come running after him, so good on you Bob. And if this story gave us anything worthwhile, it was the pair of scenes in which we saw Bob walking alone—first in his flashback at the start the episode, and later when the ladies caught up with him so they could all reunite. But since Bob had been staunchly against splitting up and being alone, why did he willingly leave Sasha to be on his own for a while? I don't know what gives. Unlike last week's lesson about shedding your past to move forward, this week's lesson of it's better to be together than it is to be alone didn't feel earned; it was more "do as we say, not as we do." Were you convinced by their little chit chats? I wasn't.
The other half of the episode belonged to Beth and Daryl (again!?) and provided the plot, sort of. I mean, they rummaged through a building without much incident, which is what they do now. However, I liked the way their story built on the developments of "Still" and transformed their relationship into something more along the lines of two siblings, as opposed to a rebel dude saddled with an optimistic blonde teen. (Or more than siblings for you slashfic writers who swooned when Beth held Daryl's hand or Daryl carried Beth into the kitchen like they were newlyweds. But please don't 'ship this pair because it's inappropriate, okay? Thanks in advance!) Daryl asking Beth to continue singing and playing piano was genuinely sweet, and Daryl half-admitting that there are good people left in this world because of Beth's perspective told us so much about how what an effect Beth has had on him.
That would help fuel Daryl's reaction to what happened next. A whole bunch of walkers poured into their shelter, and in the chaos, Beth was left alone and kidnapped by a mysterious car! Or more likely, the people inside the car. And Daryl ran and he ran and he stopped to take some deep breaths and then he ran some more after that car, and it was pretty heartbreaking to watch. I have zero theories about who took Beth, but I can only guess that it was a pimp and the next time we see Beth she'll look like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. It's pretty rotten of The Walking Dead to let us get to know Beth so well and then immediately take her away from us, but we probably should've expected as much. It's also lame that she was built up to appear much stronger than we thought and then ended up being the damsel in distress. Oh well. Crushed from losing his little sister, Daryl came to a crossroads and sat right in the middle of it, and then the gang of idiots that forced Rick out of the house either took him prisoner or welcomed him into their redneck group. Daryl's looking at some bad times up ahead, because those dolts are awful. There are your plot points, kids.
This is what we're stuck with for the rest of this half-season, everybody. A few stories, some quality time with characters, and one destination that can't get here soon enough. I really do like what The Walking Dead is trying to do, though. Sometimes the character development will work, sometimes it won't. But if you're waiting for something big to happen, you might want to take a nap until next October, because Season 4B is all about about making these characters more than names and faces.
– Bob's flashback wasn't all that illuminating, was it?
– I couldn't identify the song that bookended the episode, but I did get the one that Beth was singing and playing on the piano. It's Waxahathee's "Be Good." Which totally sounds like something Beth would listen to in her bedroom.
– The broken compass sure could serve as a metaphor for this season's lack of direction.
– Was that showrunner Scott Gimple in the coffin in the funeral home? I think it was!
– Come on, Daryl isn't stupid enough to carelessly open the door just because he thinks it's the dog outside.
– Daryl: "Peanut butter and jelly, diet soda, and pigs feet. That's a white trash brunch right there."
AIRED ON 3/30/2014
Season 4 : Episode 16