The Walking Dead: “Still”- A Night of Reflection
One of the best parts of having the gang of The Walking Dead
split into different factions is getting to spend an entire hour with some of the characters that tend to get left in the background. This week it was time for the Daryl and Beth showcase.
Now, Daryl is certainly one of the most popular characters on The Walking Dead
, but for all his popularity with fans, we almost never get the change to see what makes him tick. In fact, his reputation as a cold badass with a heart of gold is why so many people profess to love him. If he ever succumbs to death, I have a feeling there will be much rioting and gnashing of teeth. We have been given small pieces of Daryl's backstory throughout the series. We know that he had an awful childhood and had to grow up quickly. That his brother Merle pushed him around, but also helped protect him from an alcoholic father. We know that he claims to be a loner, and that he is great with a crossbow. And, as an original character for the television series, not even fans of the comics know where his ultimate destiny lies.
In "Still" we get to see another side of Daryl. He, like so many other stoic men before him, pushes his emotions deep within himself until he explodes. There is a deep pain within him, as witnessed by his blow up at Beth when she accuses him of not caring about everyone who died. Despite his outward appearance, Daryl does feel. He misses Merle, the brother he followed around both before and after the apocalypse. And he thinks of those he has traveled with as his new family, and misses them when they are gone as well.
Similarly, Beth is a character that has been a cypher. We have seen her go from a background character to become someone who also puts on a stoic face, claiming not to cry or feel the loss of those around her. But the loss of her father has forced her to, like Carl, push herself toward adulthood in a way that she's not truly ready for. Her desperate search for her first drink highlights this much in the same way Carl's trip for supplies did for him. But unlike Carl, Beth has an understanding of mortality. She knows that the end is coming for all of them and that risks really don't need to be taken. That doesn't make her an adult, but it makes her more ready to face the inevitable future that is to come.
Put these two characters together, and you have an incredibly enjoyable hour of television. Each has something important to share with the other. In a world where pain and suffering are daily occurrences, having the chance to just sit and talk about past demons and future fears is an incredible luxury. I'll admit that I wasn't quite sure where the episode was heading as the two meandered their way on the "Great Booze Hunt," but I was very glad with the outcome.
The episode perfectly balanced suspense and walkers with excellent character development. In fact, I would be completely willing to sit and watch Beth and Daryl discuss their pasts and their worries for the future as they sit on the porch and drink moonshine every week. I also never expected Beth to have the brilliant drunk insight state that no matter what happens, if she dies, if everyone they know dies, whoever survives must go on. That while it is ok to cry for a moment or two, survival is what matters. Pain and suffering may be all too common in this world, and relationships may feel deeper and more important than ever before, but the survivors cannot let the losses around them stop them from fighting.
As cathartic as sharing a drink and some company may be for a time, what is necessary is to keep moving forward. And, if burning down your past pain and current heartache in the form of a dilapidated old home is possible, it's certainly not a bad idea. I think both Daryl and Beth walk away at the episode's close a bit lighter and with a better idea as to what is left to live for.
That being said, I feel I have to note that it is troubling how little I missed several of the show's central characters this week- particularly Rick and Carl. Knowing that the show is ultimately meant to be their story, I find this particularly troubling. I was also thrilled that there was no Maggie, Glenn, Sasha, or Bob. While we did need to learn more about both Beth and Daryl, I hope we can learn more about all of those I mentioned, so that they may one day be as interesting as both Daryl and Beth have proven to be.
--Best part of the night? Daryl playing "Never Have I Ever."
-- Worst part of the night? Watching Daryl eat the snake. Ew.
-- Poor Beth. She gets some lovely new clothes and Daryl immediately gets it dirty.
-- Now, I'm definitely not a "shipper" of any kind when it comes to The Walking Dead
, but there is some serious chemistry between Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney, which does kind of give me the heebie jeebies, considering Beth is still like 16. Not sure where they're going with it, but I feel compelled to point it out.