|Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page|
6. Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl lead the walker parade....
Once the trio crossed the mileage finish line, successfully leading the quarry walkers away from Alexandria, they were separated by new enemies. Sasha and Abraham veered off the road after strangers in one vehicle shot at them. In retaliation, they managed to kill their assassins while Daryl was chased down on his motorcycle into a nearby forest.
Always Accountable seemed to be a long take on a classic joke or limerick: Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl ride off into the sunset. What they bring back, nobody knows.
It could also be considered a breadcrumbs episode. The writers are leaving pieces around for us to gobble up for the growing conflicts that will come to a head in the season finale. Are they delicious enough for us to be excited about the not-so-distant future? Possibly.
After six years of primarily watching Rick rebound from mental breakdowns, it's true that the series needed revitalizing. A lot of other shows count on their popularity and the rhythm they've established year after year; the showrunners don't take risks, lose their audience, and their content grows boring. The TWD producers and writers' plan to avoiding this pitfall is focusing the current saga on the group as individuals. The storylines are a revolving door of characters thrust to the front of the line; some examinations are in-depth, some just skim the surface, they are all different but also a little stale. The slight fault of the show now is combining the emotional depths of familiar faces as well as introducing outsiders and obstacles.
No doubt I enjoyed watching a story finally centered on Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl. But their time in the spotlight didn't feel like a reward or cathartic release from the group's mission finally being successful. Instead, more conflicts arose and felt a little forced; like they are going out of their way to bring trouble home with them.
To say the least, I don't feel like we've lost the initial show. We've been gaining stride with fresh material, it's just taking a while to organize itself into something more cohesive. Even if we watch television episode-by-episode, and The Walking Dead is known for its slowburning cliffhangers, this time around I feel like we're waiting for something epic and unconscionable to go down. With rekindled responsibilities to the show, there's a lot of balls in the air. We haven't reached any emotional or psychological highs from a solution being resolved yet. It's weird to feel like we are waiting episode to episode for them to be fully juggled.
5. We Need Some Saving
Sasha and Abraham are separated from Daryl when they are shot off the road. They stay behind in a nearby town while Daryl runs off into the woods for cover and away from his assailants. Bloody and injured, he tries to wait out whoever was chasing him or for him to be rescued by his pals.
But the woodlands aren't just a hideaway for him; it's been torched with walker corpses tarred to the ground. Three strangers also camouflage into the woodlands and take Daryl hostage - mistaking him for a Wolf or a member of some other group.
The destruction of the forest is revealed to be done by Daryl's captors. They're hoping to trade Daryl to this unknown group while they are searching for one of their own...To be honest, a lot of this was not interesting. Like I said before, it was the writers laying breadcrumbs on more threats heading our way. The secretly-coded conversations, as slim as they were, between the three strangers, were a little confusing. I didn't know if they were trading Daryl for whoever they lost, if they were using him as bait for walkers, or were just confused lambs lost in the woods.
What was the most brutal of Daryl's encounter was the very quickly established new threat; an unidentified and faceless group of people who bulldozed through the treeline in their monster trucks wanting supplies from Daryl's captors. In helping them hide out, Daryl and company witnessed their enemies' brutality. One member was bit by a walker in the arm, and the leader chopped it off with a sword. Tossing the limb aside, he told the bro to "walk it off". DAMN.
Some intel about these plausible Saviors may have been planted in Season 4 by Joe and his merry band of Claimers. You couldn't lie, and if you were caught, you were beat to death by his cronies. He spoke to Daryl about running into a group knowing they were bad and that their code wasn't something he agreed with. Joe was certainly no angel, so we may have something to worry about, we may need some saving, if these were the people he was eluding to....
Since Eugene's deception about masterminding a cure for the walkers was revealed last season, Abraham has been difficult to gauge. Even though he made up with his mullet brother from another mother, their mission to Washington was semi-successful. After investing two years in saving the whole damn planet, they found a community barely surviving and hiding behind their barriers - there were no fighters with Abraham's similar no non-sense attitude, no cure, no future or mission to keep him going.
The parts focused on Abraham not only brought out more classic one liners such as "loose ends make my ass itch", "dollars to doughnuts", and so on, it also paralleled how other characters' perspective about the walkers transformed them.
After being shut down by Sasha and told to man up while hiding out in an insurance office, Abraham walked off his frustrations. Atop a bridge he stumbled across some RPGs and cigars. Finding a walker stuck to a broken fence with an RPG ripping through his abdomen, Abraham climbed aboard the fence. But he didn't kill it out right. Like a child using a magnify glass to burn ants, he egged the zombie to bite him before giving up. His high was fulfilled as he lit up a celebratory stogie, but Abraham began seeking something more.
The redhead militant walked away with his life, but Sasha's words start to ring true. The poo may be hitting the fan every day but you're still accountable for what you do, how you handle yourself, what you're going back to Alexandria to fight for.
We're often so focused on Rick or some of the other core characters' losses, we often forget about the supporting characters. While never truly forgotten but perhaps slid into the background, Sasha qualifies for the latter.
She lost her brother and her boyfriend, one right after the other. She turned her back on everyone. She wasn't interested in friendship with anyone, even her extended family like Abraham or Rosita. She barely found comfort with Maggie, who was processing grief from Beth's death. Sasha continued to block everyone out, going off on her own hunting missions in the forest and retreating to a watchtower to kill off zombies. Her PTSD did make her fit into Alexandria's Pleasantville code to say the least.
Last season, when Sasha rested atop a mound of walkers she killed, it was her coming clean mentally and emotionally. Her acceptance of pain and mourning seemed to begin; to blend in with dead.
Jump forward to this season premiere, she selflessly offered to help Rick in his plan. Abraham tagged along to ensure she wouldn't do anything stupid or make this a suicide mission.
But, the psychological tables truly had turned. It was Abraham acting out, jumping out of the car to knife a walker in the head for sport. It was him urging to jump on walkers for no reason. Sasha has a new sense of purpose and accountability. She told Abraham to cut the bullcrap; she told him to start recognizing that no matter how much the crap hits the fan, they are always accountable for what they do.
While hanging out in the insurance office, Sasha was calm, cool, and collected. Unlike season four where she was quick to abandon Glenn and not join Maggie in her search for her husband, Sasha knew Daryl would be back. She's always been a bit stubborn and stern, and wanting to make sure people can play on a team. And, here she was being the leader, locked onto Daryl's instincts as a tracker, knowing that he would come and get them. She was so on point, she could run Alexandria when they got back.
What's interesting about this turn with Sasha is her and Abraham's escalation into friendship or something more. While it might not be known that in the comics that Abraham cheats on Rosita, it was strange how the latter seemed to be out of the picture - or at least, out of Abraham's peripherals. He and Rosita haven't had a prominent scene with each other since Eugene revealed he was not a mad scientist, nor when Eugene and Abraham made up. To me it seemed that Rosita might have an interest in Spencer from what we've seen of them lately, so Abrosita may have been on its way out long before we realized it.
The potential romantic relationship between Sasha and Abraham was a highlight for me. I liked Michael and Sonequea's repartee but also how their characters seemed to read each other. Abraham comes across as this big, macho impatient bear always on a high for the next kill, but he can be easily talked down by a complex and strong enough woman who'll knock his head on straight.
During their time together, Sasha repeats some words of advice from her dearly beloved Bob, "Self-awareness is a beautiful thing.", and after Abe's showdown with the grim reaper, he finally and excitedly agrees. He's ready to sit at the table of life to feast on it, make smarter plays, and he wants to do with it Sasha until his very last breath. He even announces to her that he knows she likes him too: "A man can tell". (This was perhaps my favorite scene of the episode, to be honest).
Unlike many fans or critics, I didn't have a "problem" with the former quip or pick-up line. It was very characteristic of Abraham, but what's even more special about their exchange is that Sasha again puts him in his place. She looks like, "Maybe there is something between us" but her response is, "You got some stuff to take care of." She quite literally scoffs at him, and then keeps the possibility open that if he stays on the straight and narrow, there could be something. Even further Abraham agrees, he does have to clear up his act.
Abraham is a simple man and he likes the way Sasha calls bullshit, of which she has always had the gull and tenacity to do. Their pairing could be true love, for as long as true love lasts in The Walking Dead...but it may also just be the beginning of a very interesting friendship. My only hope is that the writers don't go through with a cheap route of pitting two women together for Abraham's affections.
A week or so ago, Norman alerted us that Always Accountable would feature a nice Darol moment (Daryl + Carol). For those who missed it, the Cherokee Rose made a prominent cameo. From season two, Daryl broke all of our hearts when he shared the history of the Cherokee Rose to Carol while the group struggled to locate her daughter Sophia. This wasn't an obvious in-your-face parallel, and I liked the subtlety. It's a throwback to their relationship for shippers but also like a calling of deaths and rebirths.
At this point, Carol can pretty much handle anything that comes her way but that's beginning to take its toll. She and Daryl have a shared history of being abused, and in trying to stay alive, Carol feels like parts of her has been burned away; as Ed's wife, as Sophia's mother, as a council leader at the prison, and her pretend role as a homemaker in Alexandria.
Something from the past is always at work in The Walking Dead, and as Daryl proved his humane side this week, his different tactics can also be attributed to Beth's impact on him. Not only is there a visual parallel, he falls down in the woods right next to a walker just like he and Beth did to gain cover from walkers in season four, but his approach to his captors is different. He's not a savage right away to gain the upperhand, nor does he leave bodies in his wake to ensure his own survival.
Daryl is in a much different place now than in the beginning of the show. He doesn't agree with Rick that they don't need to recruit people anymore. Here he is kidnapped and tried to get away with a supply bag. When he discovers an insulin kit inside, he returns it. After one of his captors are bit by a walker, he helps bury her. Once thinking they can be trusted into Grimes' group, he aids the remaining two, who end up stealing his crossbow and motorcycle, and leave him for dead. The only real threat Daryl shows to his captors is telling them that they are going to be sorry for what they've done. He even gave them second and third chances, similar to what Beth might have done.
I think in some ways Daryl is trying to shed that mistaken identity people put on him throughout the beginning of the series as a no-good redneck racist hick like his brother Merl. Similarly, Carol knows she's capable and strong, and she's still trying to shed the abusive weight Ed held over her, convincing her she was weak and helpless. What keeps them bound is that there just ain't nowhere safe anymore, no matter how you approach your threats, except maybe the home you find in another person whose similar to yourself.
Their methods for surviving right now are at the opposite ends of the spectrum but they always seem to meet right in the middle. Daryl tried to reason with his captors while Carol kills anyone that moves and shows as a threat. Each way has nearly gotten them both killed anyways. And, neither limitation put on them is fully behind them. Both of them feel like ashes but they aren't dead yet.
1. Glenn or Not Glenn, that is the question
In continuing our search for Glenn, the episode had to leave us off with some sort of cliffhanger. Sasha was right: Daryl would come back for her and Abraham. And, he did - with a huge fuel tanker left behind in the forest by his former kidnappers.
They started heading back to Alexandria, and with a walkie, tried to check back in with Rick. Instead another voice came through saying, "Help"
Fans and critics were quick to jump on the Glenn train. Call me a skeptic, but I just don't think that voice was Steven's. If Nicholas' is lying on top of Glenn, and he is being devoured by walkers, and Glenn somehow manages to escape, would he even have all of his gear in tact? There's a chance he may not even have his walkie or a knife or a gun (which the last time we saw didn't have a lot of bullets remaining). Whether Norman is playing with everyone's emotions or not, even he revealed in Entertainment Weekly that it's not Glenn on the other end of the walkie.
The mystery voice could be our much-missed pizza boy or not. But what are the other possibilities?
Whose walkie is Daryl using - because when he was stripped clean of his crossbow, leather jacket, and motorcycle - did he somehow keep his? Did Sasha and Abraham keep their walkie on them after abandoning their shot-up car?
Where did Rick leave his walkie? Did he bring it back to camp with him or was it lost in the RV?
Next week's preview looks like Rick is confronting Morgan about staying in the community, and hopefully most of the band band gets back together. We'll find out about Glenn or who is on the other end of the Walkie (maybe) in one of the two episode left before the winter finale.
- Did the tanker Daryl found belong to the Saviors and he ended up stealing something they are going to come after? Is this one move towards survival going to bring more mayhem to their gates?
- The soundtrack was really menacing this week. Kudos to Bear McCreary once again.
- What's interesting about one of the three questions Rick asks (how many people have you killed?), we used to think that if a stranger said no, it was a good thing. Daryl asked his captors this, and their answer being "No, because there is just no coming back from that", we assumed that was a good sign. However, now we have to consider if someone hasn't killed other people, what else have they done to survive?
- Daryl: "I'm from a place where people are still like they used to be..." *thinks of Rick* "More or less..."