Plot: After bonding over their pasts, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Beth (Emily Kinney) are now closer than ever. Daryl even wonders if they’d be better off staying together in well kept shelter for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is adamant that she will find Glenn (Steven Yeun) again, but Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) isn’t so sure.
Last week’s “Still” was an incredibly focused episode on the current and previous lives of Daryl and Beth. While the season’s main story didn’t get a lot of progress, I still loved the episode for its emotional core. It was funny, sad, scary, and heartwarming all at the same time. The duo of Daryl and Beth came back once again in “Alone” except this time we got some more attention paid to Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), Maggie, and Sasha. This trio especially has been very absent as of late so it was nice to give them focus. Unfortunately, that attention was best served in terms of action and not exactly new ground, whereas Daryl and Beth brought this season to an entirely new level.
Let’s focus on Daryl and Beth right now since their story was definitely my favorite of the night. After the events of last week’s episode, it’s clear that these two are in a new level of their relationship. Not exactly the romance many people have theorized but one of mutual respect. Daryl is now teaching Beth how to both track and shoot a crossbow while Beth is teaching Daryl how to look on the brighter side of life. Gee, I wonder what would be more valuable right now? I digress, it was nice watching these two finally connect on a much more personal level. Their discovery of a well kept church by a graveyard lead to some surprisingly touching and humorous moments, like Beth playing the piano for Daryl and Daryl proclaiming that a casket was “the comfiest bed he’s slept on in a while.” Could that be foreshadowing or just another classic Daryl moment? I’m inclined to believe the latter.
Of course, everything about Daryl and Beth reeked of being too good to be true. A well kept and protected building, stacked with enough fresh food for a “white trash brunch?” It all seemed very suspicious. Daryl was initially skeptical of it all but eventually warmed up to Beth’s idea that good people are still out there. This all blows up in their faces in a big way though when the house is attacked by a ton of walkers. Daryl’s near-death escape from the very cramped morgue was really exciting and it only got more intense when Beth is kidnapped shortly after. Beth’s kidnapping especially makes me believe that the walker attack was the previous owner’s sick way of getting revenge. That dog Daryl saw very likely existed to draw walkers’ attention from all around the area. So much for good people still existing in the world.
The end of Daryl and Beth’s plot was by far the big highlight of the night though. After chasing the car Beth was likely taken in, Daryl collapses from exhaustion. His rest ends prematurely when a man named Joe (Jeff Kober) and his group surrounds our hero. Joe is actually the very same man who ransacked Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) house back in “Claimed” so now his group of marauders has officially entered the fray. Very little about these characters is revealed but it’s likely that these guys could be filling the roles of the Hunters that terrorized Rick’s group in the comics as they all moved on from The Prison. The implications for who these characters are within the show are immense too. Could they have kidnapped Beth? Is Terminus their safe haven and is the idea of a sanctuary a complete lie? Could these men bring Daryl back into the fold of a renegade? All of these could prove true and I’m both afraid and excited to see what comes of it.
The other half of the episode focused on Maggie, Bob, and Sasha. Bob actually opened the episode with a great flashback to before he joined The Prison. He was alone, barely surviving, and had witnessed the downfall of two different groups. When Glenn and Daryl found him in the street and asked the Three Questions, Bob was so eager to go he didn’t care who they were. This flashback gave off the impression that “Alone” was going to give is more insight into who exactly Bob Stookey is. We know very little about him other than he was a former medic and an alcoholic. He was in dire need of some more dimensions. Thankfully we got that with last night’s portrayal of Bob as a hopeful man despite all the shit he went through. Three group collapses and he’s still smiling because he has someone with him. Now that’s someone I can support.
Unfortunately the rest of their plot felt mighty constructed. I’m a fan of Sasha playing the devil’s advocate and asking the tough but reasonable questions of “What if Terminus is a trap?” and “What if Glenn actually is dead?” Maintaining hope is all well and good but we needed someone to vocalize the other options to keep a balance. I mean, just because Terminus signs claim safety doesn’t make it the truth. Once all this was initially said and done though, the rest of their plot is what felt tacked on to fill up time. Did anyone really think that this rift was anything but a short-lived diversion? It’s totally believable that Maggie would want to keep soldiering to find Glenn again but I just didn’t buy Sasha not willing to support a close ally. Fear is one thing, actually choosing to separate yourself from the rest is another. If Maggie didn’t just happen to be within sight of that building, would Sasha really have stayed there permanently? I’m glad that’s not a question we have to answer but I’m disappointed that it was actually presented to begin with.
The same can be said about a budding romance between Bob and Sasha. I personally didn’t see this coming and was more taken aback by how much of it felt like a manufactured plot device. Yet looking back on past events involving Bob, you could make the case that he might of had feelings for Sasha. She was one of those who got sick and Bob could have gone on the medicine run for the purpose of getting her better, along with going on raids to be with her. This is where another Bob focused flashback would have worked, possibly showing their first meeting and having it be love at first sight for Bob. A flashback can give us a confirmation that Bob always had feelings instead questioning if their kiss was something built up or unnecessarily thrown in for this episode. I am however happy that someone else is open to the idea of romance. It’s refreshing to see Bob actually take a stand instead of dancing around the concept.
With only three episodes left this season, it’s looking like this back half will be all about focusing on these separate groups. Currently I’m a big fan of this as it gives us excellent opportunities to look deeply at people like Daryl and Beth and introducing new, probably evil characters like Joe. Yet sometimes you can also get the feeling that certain character stories will mainly exist to fill up time, like last night’s rift between Sasha and Maggie/Bob. I loved their walker ambush in the fog (Bob barely escaping death in the luckiest way possible was cool) and the arena-like fight with Sasha and Maggie, but I just didn’t buy their entire conflict. At the very least, Glenn saw a sign for Terminus and is heading there now too. I can’t wait until the big reunion.