Spoiler-Free Recap, “Alone” – B-
Following up a bit on the theme of last week’s episode, this week of The Walking Dead saw Daryl and Beth continuing to bond while they attempt to survive on their own. We also get a brief glimpse of Bob’s life before he met the group, but after he lost his other two groups; and Sasha and Maggie butt heads over what their game plan should be. It’s not a particularly compelling episode of the series, but because “Alone” does end on a half-way decent high note, I’m giving it a half-way decent grade.
Although the episode splits time equally between the two groups, “Alone” is more about Bob, Maggie, and Sasha’s journey than it is about Beth and Daryl. Opening on a long, quiet sequence following Bob, we finally get a closer look at who he was before he met Rick and the others. Wandering the woods completely alone, he was barely more than a walker himself, doing the bare minimum to survive until Glenn and Daryl happened upon him.
I really enjoyed the call back to “30 Days Without an Accident,” when Daryl asks Bob the three questions (How many walkers have you killed? How many people have you killed? Why?), and it’s very clear in this first interaction why the answers to those questions are so important. We immediately know that Bob can take care of himself, but that he also hasn’t lost touch with his humanity since the only person he ever killed specifically asked him to end her life, presumably because she wasn’t able to do so herself. No doubt that part of his past will eventually catch up with him at some point in the series.
Now that we have a better idea of who Bob is, his presence in the group makes a little more sense. At the beginning of the season, he just seemed like a weak link who would eventually cause big trouble for the group. With this greater understanding of what he went through when he was completely on his own, his attitude towards life finally has context, and he doesn’t seem quite as weird as before. Still a little weird, but no longer in a threatening way.
In addition to this insight on Bob, we also get to know Sasha and Maggie better. “Alone” really pits the two of them against each other, not in a struggle for power sort of way, but in an ideological context. Both women are very independent with strong ties to their family because they managed to survive this long with close family members at hand. However, they’ve both just experienced huge losses, and they’re dealing with it in completely different ways. Where Maggie holds on tightly to hope and the determination to find Glenn, Sasha sees the whole exercise as futile and thinks that they should hole up somewhere safe.
Both reactions are understandable, and it goes back to their core belief systems. Maggie learned from her father that hope is always an option, that she should never give it up. Even when they saw incredible horrors, Herschel continued to teach his daughters that they had to hold on faith in the goodness in the world. We see that reflected in both Maggie and Beth this episode, and it’s that faith that ends up inspiring the people around them.
Sasha, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have ever had that kind of hope. She and Tyreese endured just as much horror in their time on the road, and though they never gave up the goal to survive, they also had to learn a cold practicality in order to protect themselves every time they lost a member of their group (and they’ve lost a LOT of people). While she doesn’t want to believe that her brother is dead, Sasha doesn’t hold out the same kind of hope that Maggie does, instead letting her fear take over because she thinks it will protect her from being hurt. It takes both Maggie and Bob to tell Sasha that she can’t let her fear control her before she finally agrees that they should travel to Terminus.
Last but not least, Beth and Daryl’s budding relationship. Going back to hope as a driving force, we see how important it is to Beth, and also its effects on Daryl. Where last week he lashed out at her for acting like a “child,” this week he lets the walls come down even further and starts to acknowledge that Beth’s way of looking at the world is valid. They have a surprisingly tender moment when she realizes that everything she’s ever said actually got through to him, but it’s quickly shattered by a walker attack, and the two get separated.
Looks like the rest of the season is going to be increasingly frustrating as all the members of the group attempt to find each other. I think there’s little doubt that they’re all going to make it to Terminus eventually, but I have a feeling that the journey itself is going to be an annoyingly long one. What did you think of last night’s episode? What happened to Beth? Who’s that weird gang that found Daryl, and will he end up reverting to his old ways? Let us know what you thought!
“Alone” – B-
The Walking Dead: Season 4 Episode 13, “Alone” aired March 9th, 2014 on AMC.