The Walking Dead: "Alone" (Season 4: Episode 13) Recap/Analysis | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Walking Dead: “Alone” (Season 4: Episode 13) Recap/Analysis

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Mar 15, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Perhaps more than any other show, The Walking Dead is burdened with the unenviable task of satisfying viewers who want nonstop zombie-stomping action and those who want the character development that makes the storytelling meaningful. For the second half of season four, the writers have moved definitively toward the latter, taking an existential turn by putting their characters through an emotional wringer. To that end, “Alone” pushes even further in that direction, this time forcing them consider just how much survival depends on their ability to stay together.

In the first moments of “Alone,” we’re given a rare flashback, this one showing us the backstory of Army medic and resident recovering alcoholic Bob. Throughout the season, he has been presented as a shady, potentially untrustworthy character, someone who maybe wasn’t entirely committed to his membership in the prison group. Now, watching him meet Daryl and Glenn for the first time, we see why. It turns out that Bob, having become the last survivor of two consecutive groups, had simply given up hope. Why get attached to people if you’re just going to lose them and end up alone again when death comes back around? And we also now understand why he has been so happy since the prison group collapse - he has broken his last-man-standing streak. For Bob, surviving is secondary to having someone with whom to stay alive.

That should be cold comfort for someone in his positionwandering the wilderness with Sasha and Maggie with six bullets between thembut he’s taking it all in stride. After stumbling across a sign for Terminus along the railroad tracks, Maggie is determined to head there in hopes of reuniting with Glenn, sneaking away in the night after overhearing Sasha express doubt over the wisdom of her plan. To her credit, Sasha is the first character we’ve seen express any sort of suspicion over the offer of free sanctuary, proposing instead to grab an abandoned house and wait for their luck to change. Bob, however, wants them to catch up to Maggie and push forward, planting a kiss on Sasha in hopes of convincing her. It doesn’t work, but Sasha comes around later, admitting that her doubts about Terminus are rooted in her fear that if she goes there she’ll find definitive proof that Tyreese is dead. Back together, the trio eventually moves on down the line, right as we see that Glenn is moving in the same direction.

After their moment of cabin-burning catharsis, Daryl and Beth seem to be in better spirits. Beth, in particular, has given up her despair in favor of learning the art of tracking walkers and shooting Daryl’s crossbow. “Pretty soon I won’t need you at all,” Beth says to him, tempting fate to spring a bear trap on her foot a moment later. But, temporary setback aside, Beth is limping on sunshine. Walking up to a funeral parlor, Daryl is preparing for battle, but Beth is certain that any people they meet will be decent folks. “I don’t think the good ones survive,” Daryl counters.

Inside the house, they find it meticulously maintained and stocked with food and promptly chow down. Whoever lives there is also collecting bodies and preparing them for viewing. “Whoever did this cared,” Beth says. “Don’t you think it’s beautiful?” Beth, it seems, is almost giddy about her luck, and it’s easy to speculate that she has begun to see Daryl as less of a big brother and more of a potential partner. Though Daryl mocked her penchant for singing her way through end of the world, she still plants herself at the house’s piano to plink out Waxahatchee’s “Be Good” (thereby proving that indie rock will not only survive the zombie apocalypse, but that there will be a market for songs that are recorded after the outbreak). But instead of complaining, Daryl comes by to listen and lounge in a casket. He’s not exactly ready to endorse her view that humanity might be salvageable, but he’s softening a bit.

In fact, Daryl is ready to consider making the house into a home, saying that if the owners come back to discover them they’ll “just make it work.” Beth feels validated. Making doe eyes at him, she goads Daryl into admitting that he is starting to see the good in people, leading to a long awkward moment where he seems to be on the verge of confessing his affection for her. Of course, this being the zombie apocalypse, that moment is rudely interrupted by a wave of zombies crashing through the front door. After narrowly escaping the house with his life, Daryl arrives outside just in time to see a car drive off with Beth inside, either kidnapped or rescued. So much for romance.

Daryl is in hot pursuit, working himself into a lather until he collapses at a crossroads, both literally and figuratively. And as anyone with a passing familiarity with the blues knows, if you hang around at the crossroads you’re eventually going to meet the devil. Sure enough, Daryl’s nap is interrupted by the bandits that overran the house where Rick was staying two episodes ago. After bloodying their leader, a long standoff follows with guns and crossbows aimed. “Suicide is stupid,” the leader says by way of introduction. “Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people?” And, with no other options and plenty of new evidence that people are, in fact, just as bad as he thought, Daryl accepts a deal with the devil. His name is Joe, and he offers Daryl mutual respect, if nothing else. For the moment at least, surviving with monsters is better than dying alone.

What this means for the future: Daryl is now surrounded by a group of antisocial roughnecks - the sort of people one assumes he associated with before the world went to hell. Will he be accepted by them? Will he see himself as one of them? Sooner or later, it seems that he’ll be forced to prove his loyalty to them by doing something reprehensible. What will he choose?

Additionally, with Bob and Sasha having confirmed their romantic interest in each other, will their relationship be given more space to grow, thereby increasing their investment in each other? With everyone except Beth and Daryl now definitely heading toward Terminus (and only three episodes left), how long will it be before the former prison group members all meet up?

What you might have missed: When Daryl is approached by the group of bandits, we clearly see the man who locked eyes with Rick before passing out as Joe choked him. It’s hard to imagine that this won’t lead to a future confrontation where the man recognizes Rick and identifies him to the rest of the bandits.

Questions: Who kidnapped Beth? Was it even a kidnapping? Perhaps the driver was simply offering her an escape from the zombie swarm and means her no harm. Online sleuths noticed that the car had a cross in the back window. Could this indicate that the driver was Gabriel, a priest who appears in the comic book?

Are the writers trying to tell us that Daryl’s death is imminent? Beth jokes that she isn’t going to need him; Daryl says that the good don’t survivethe clues certainly seem to be lining up for Daryl to sacrifice himself so someone else can live. To have him lounging in a casket appears to be some none-too-subtle foreshadowing, so much so that it almost seems like intentional misdirection. Either Daryl is going to die or the writers badly want us to think he will.


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