The Walking Dead’s ‘Still’ was a beautiful folk-style duet of an episode, focusing on Daryl and Beth – two characters that have been short-changed on the show lately.
It was quieter and more intimate than last week’s white-knuckle home intrusion ep, but no less dramatic. Instead, the tension was more of the sexual sort, as squirrel-turned-snake hunter Daryl kept saving the day with a scowl on his face until Beth decides she’s had enough of stoicism and demands they go in search of her first alcoholic beverage.
But Daryl will be damned if it’s going to be peach schnapps.
There were dark themes at work: guilt, remorse, regret, but the lighter moments where they raided a golf course clubhouse (“Golfers like to booze it up, right?”), before finding a beat-up old shack to enjoy a round of ‘I’ve never’ meant we weren’t going anywhere (much like the Walker Daryl later pins to a tree for drunken target practice).
The drinking game was a genius way of letting us find out more about our favourite character, as Beth poked and prodded at Daryl’s past. And we finally know the answer to what he was doing before the zombie apocalypse: riding around with Merle and doing whatever his redneck brother decided they were going to do that day. Now he’s come out and said it, it seems so obvious.
This trip down memory lane is spurred on by the surroundings, which Daryl says is just like the depressing home he grew up in. There’s the dumpster chair that his father would sit in all summer, and the buckets that he’d spit in. Beth opens up a little too, confessing her dream of the future where Maggie and Glenn had a baby and Hershel grew old and died surrounded by his loved ones.
Happy hour quickly turns unhappy, however, especially as the two start arguing. “I know you look at me, and you just see another dead girl,” Beth shouts. “I’m not Michonne. I’m not Carol. I’m not Maggie… but I made it!” And by the end of the episode, we gain some respect for a character we honestly thought might have kicked it by now, like a variation on Season 2’s Amy; only there to make the older sister stronger.
By the fiery finale, we’re left in awe of this two-man play – the smallest cast in an episode so far. ‘Still’ was also the first to feature no characters with comic-book counterparts, as Beth and Daryl were both created for TV. It seems that splitting up the group in the Season 4 mid-season finale ‘Too Far Gone’ was one of the best decisions showrunner Scott Gimple has made so far, giving us the opportunity to spend more time with the individual characters that make this show such compulsive viewing.
We’ll raise a glass to that.
The Walking Dead Season 4 is currently airing on FOX on Mondays at 9pm.