[NOTE: This review is for The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 13 and contains SPOILERS!]
Imagine a storyteller with a reputation of telling some great stories. One night, they start telling a tale that shows so much promise but after having one too many they proceed down a slippery slope of tangents. Well, that’s basically what you have with last night’s episode of The Walking Dead – “Alone” – which might also represent the number of people who share my opinion, at least after reading some of the other reviews.
The episode starts via flashback, showing Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) surviving on his own before joining the ranks of the prison group. We see him build a makeshift gate in front of a cavern where he can enjoy a bottle of booze safely; he also avoids a herd of walkers by laying on top of an abandoned trailer. He’s clearly survivor through and through, but the pace of the sequence almost glacier-esque emphasizes his hardships. Darryl (Norman Reedus) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) find him walking alone the open road, and the three questions reveal Bob’s willingness to join any group in order to escape being alone. The scene ends with Bob in the back of the pickup truck on his way to join the others at the prison.
The Walking Dead has used this tactic before showing a character’s backstory before the opening credits and spending the remaining time diving in deeper into the character. “Alone” includes Beth (Emily Kinney) and Darryl but the hectic editing job pits the stories against one another instead of blending the two into a cohesive story more on that later.
In the present, Bob, Maggie (Lauren Cohan), and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) talk about whether or not they should go to Terminus. Maggie is convinced that Glenn would head for “sanctuary” if he saw one of the signs. Sasha thinks Glenn is dead and the group is better off camping out in one of the abandoned towns just off the railroad. Bob knows Maggie won’t stop searching, and the answer is simple they go together. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night, Maggie ditches her companions for Terminus, which was foolish, considering Sasha saved her life in the woods. Bob talks Sasha to go after Maggie although when the two of them reach a nearby city Sasha tries to persuade Bob to stay with the possibilities of a “normal” life. Convinced by his own experience Bob won’t let Maggie go it alone, and in a last ditch effort he kisses Sasha hoping that would be enough to get her join him on his quest. Unfortunately the possibility of having a home is too enticing for her, but it isn’t long before Sasha discovers Maggie as the two of them slay a group of walkers. Maggie like her estranged husband knows that she can’t survive or her own, and reveals that she stayed in the city waiting for Bob and Sasha. The both of them decide to catch up with Bob and follow the tracks. Elsewhere Glenn finds one of the many Terminus maps.
Editing is an important part to film and television; it allows for changes in time and space, sets the tone, and determines the story’s pacing. Daryl and Beth’s story is haphazardly peppered throughout the episode as if the story last week wasn’t enough time with the two. Their story would have been better served if it was at the end of the episode because the events that take place undermines the other story. Beth and Daryl find a funeral home and despite its looking abandoned the place has been regularly cared for. Although its owner is nowhere to be found. The duo find walkers in the basement, but they look like they are being prepped for a proper burial. A further search of the house reveals a stash of peanut butter, jelly, and pigs feet. During dinner they hear a dog outside but when Daryl opens the door a crowd of walkers enter the house. Daryl leads the zombies downstairs, and tells Beth to go outside. Once Daryl escapes the house he finds Beth’s bag, while a car with a crucifix in the rear window flees the scene. Tracking the car into the next day Daryl stops at the railroad tracks. He is later surrounded by the group who raided Rick’s house in the episode “Claimed” and the leader Joe (Jeff Kober) offers Daryl a place among the group.
I’ve read that people are happy with the fact that the episode took its time, but if they really wanted to take their time they could have spent more time fleshing out Sasha and Bob’s characters. We know a bit more about them but don’t actually know who they are, which could mean they’re meat for the grinder, but it just seems like a wasted opportunity. Daryl and Beth continue to be an awkward pairing and as they slowly started to introduced a romantic relationship between the two of them, Beth gets kidnapped. Hopefully Daryl will remember he left his old life behind last week instead of regressing back to his old ways. However, his new group is made up of people who have Merle’s mentality so who knows?
Am I “Alone” on tonight’s episode? Tell us what you thought in the comments. Who do you think is responsible for Beth’s disappearance? Whose group do you think Joe’s group will run into next?
The Walking Dead only has three more episodes left, and returns next week with “The Grove”.