“The Walking Dead” episode “Still” followed Daryl [Norman Reedus] and Beth [Emily Kinney] as they struggled with their separation from the rest of the group.
Overall, the episode was pretty weak — in the first 40 minutes, there was little dialogue, even less action and virtually no plot. However, in the last 20 minutes of the show, we saw changes in Beth and Daryl that almost made the episode worth watching.
Most of the hour was spent with Beth trying to find alcohol because she had never had a drink before. Without her father around to tell her she can’t have a drink, Beth decides now is the time to have one. After getting to know Beth’s personality a little more this season, it is clear that Beth’s character represents hope. Despite all of the loss and pain going on around her, Beth maintains a hopeful, almost naïve attitude about the apocalypse.
During their hunt for alcohol, the tension between her and Daryl is at an all-time high. The pair is on opposite ends of the spectrum: Beth being overly optimistic and Daryl being oddly pessimistic. Though this is the first time we see a different side of Beth — for once, she shows her emotional vulnerability. She admits she misses her dad and sister. She cries. Her optimism is still there, but reality is also there. With this attitude, she is able to learn more about Daryl than we have throughout the entire series.
Basically, Daryl has a breakthrough in this episode. Until now, we’ve seen Daryl as almost a robot with a hint of emotion mixed in. More than anything, he’s a survivor. But in this instance, Daryl is a human. He is able to let go of the idea that no one is there to protect him or love him, the mentality he’s carried for most of his life. He admits to Beth that he carries a lot of guilt about Hershel’s death and the deaths of other group members. He shows us that he is much more than just a redneck hunter with a crossbow.
The symbolism behind the house he and Beth find is the most important part of Daryl’s transition. Daryl tells Beth that the house reminds him of his own house he lived in with his father. At the end of the episode, they burn down the house, symbolizing Daryl letting go of his past. Moving forward, it is likely the pair will stop just trying to survive and start trying to actually live.
The setup of this half of the season has been crucial to character development. Though the episodes tend to have less action, they are digging deep into the personalities and emotions of the characters, forcing us to connect with them. This character development will likely change the dynamic of the group members if and when they finally reunite.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC at 9 p.m.
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