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Go about 30 seconds in, you’ll see.
Clearly, Grand Hotel is not a safe house in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, because ain’t nobody wants to be alone in this world.
Again, this episode focuses on only two story arcs; that of Bob/Sasha/Maggie, and of Beth/Daryl, as the split group struggles to survive and/or reassemble in their flight post-prison. A few things: 1) I understand the desire viewers have expressed to the show getting back to the show, especially since there are only a few episodes left in this season. And 2) To those of you still bitching about them not deciding upon a pre-arranged meeting spot…they didn’t, OK? They just didn’t. I get mad that they don’t kill every zombie they come across (or every person they know will become a zombie), because it doesn’t make any sense to me, but they just don’t, and I know I have to get over it. So I get over it.
The show opens with a flashback montage of Bob, walking…walking…walking. Trudging, really, since he’s really only walking through the woods with no real sense of purpose, and I love when the show parallels people with zombies. What is he really, in this sequence, other than an overeducated zombie with a developed concept of “I”? He doesn’t talk, and when he does eventually use his voice it sounds painful to him, like he barely remembers it. He doesn’t have real emotions. He just…shambles, holing himself up in caves, or hiding out on top of trailers, drinking cough medicine and marking time until he dies.
Until he encounters Daryl and Glenn, who give him the zombie apocalypse version of the “What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color?” quiz, then invite him to come back to the prison with them. He happily agrees. Because if he’s with them then he’s no longer alone, and his voice doesn’t sound like a stranger’s.
The Bob/Sasha/Maggie combined story arc begins with the visually terrific battle in the fog, as the three of them group together and fight zombies back to back to back. It’s effective at showing how survival chances rise when you’ve got a team effort going.
The impulse to split comes first from Maggie, and then from Sasha, both of whom choose to be alone for different reasons. Maggie wants to find Glenn, becomes convinced she can find him at Terminus, gets a dissenting opinion from Sasha about going there and doesn’t want to ask her friends to do something they don’t want to do. So, she takes off on her own. Which, OK, whatever, and she quickly realizes she doesn’t want to and/or can’t do it alone, so she waits for Bob and Sasha to catch up. Bob wants to find Maggie; Sasha wants to find a nice spot and start a new homestead. In an attempt to manipulate Sasha, Bob actually says, “I’m gonna try something here” and leans in to give Sasha a “If you stick around, you get some more of this sugar” kiss. Which Sasha returns in exactly the same manner. Neither of them stay with the other.
Romance is dead in the zombie apocalypse. OR, Bob’s got absolutely no game.
Sasha starts to set up house in an abandoned building, but–in a beautifully filmed moment, in a stark and cavernous apartment that’s silent but for the sound of the wind–realizes she doesn’t want to be alone, either.
So she meets up with Maggie, they do some more back-to-back killing to emphasize how much they need one another to survive, and head off down the tracks to find Bob and then Terminus. Yay, happy family!
A note to filmmakers: when Sasha was alone in that room and there was no sound except for the wind…it frigging worked. Stop bombarding us with extraneous sound! Explore the profound ability of silence to convey setting and emotion. It doesn’t all have to be moody chicks with acoustic guitars playing along in the background.
Now. Beth and Daryl.
Once upon a time,
Hansel and Gretel Beth and Daryl were walking through the woods, and they came upon a funeral parlor in the middle of nowhere.
The funeral parlor looked nice and clean, and they even remarked that someone had been caring for it. There was food in the pantry, nicely stacked by someone who clearly has OCD and aligned the labels. Peanut butter, pig’s knuckles, all things that can stay for weeks/months/years. These items are probably alphabetized by shelf, too. Everything is clean and sealed, without a crack or dent or a speck of dust.
Seriously? You thought this was OK? Here are the problems I see with this, in no particular order:
- You’ve already acknowledged that someone has taken care of this place; why wouldn’t you think they’d come back?
- If they did come back, what makes you think they’d be open to sharing space?
- It’s a funeral home! When does anything good ever happen in a funeral home? Did you never watch TV pre-apocalypse?
- They went to the house because Beth turned her heel in an animal trap set nearby. Is it realistic to think that with zombies shambling all over the Georgia woods for the past year, no member of the wretched undead would have already triggered that trap?
To sum up: Oh, hey, it’s too bad that you’ve been hobbled in an animal trap. Boy, you sure would have been stuck if you’d been out here alone. Look! There’s a nearby house we can stay in! And it’s got food inside! And it’s nice and tidy, except for the lovingly, slightly fetishized embalmed zombie bodies! Let’s. Just. Stay.
The only thing that would have been more obvious that this was a bad setup would be if the house were made out of candy.
Since I’m rocking the Hansel and Gretel parallel, my bet is that Daryl and Beth have just encountered The Hunters, a group of cannibals that have been trolling around the comic book and are, apparently, exceptionally evil. The people who took Beth drove off in a pimped out Cadillac with a crucifix on the back window, so maybe they’re some weird religious group instead of cannibals. Or maybe it’s cannibals simply using the car that came with their commandeered funeral home. We have yet to see.
(For the people who have said that Beth drove herself off in the car–no. Analysis fail. She dropped all her stuff, there was no reason for that.) But I feel like Daryl and Beth were led to the house thanks to the trap (not even metaphorically; I mean really, it was a trap) and then lulled into a false sense of security. I also think the mangy dog that visited the door, and then then subsequent zombies Daryl thought were the dog, were deployed by the same people who took Beth. I’ll explain.
The first time the dog showed up, the alarm cans clanked together, so Daryl went to see what it was. Oh, look, it’s a harmless mangy dog! Later, we heard the cans tinkle together and the dog bark, so Daryl assumed it was mangy dog again. Only no. Zombies! These events happen too close together; coincidence? I think not. Besides, if you’re going to set up a non-candy cannibal meat ensnarement house in the woods, why would you be above using mangy dogs and zombies to your nefarious advantage?
Daryl tries to track Beth in the car for as long as possible but falls down at the crossroads, alone and in despair.
That’s where he meets “Joe” and Co., the very same folks who invaded Rick’s nice home and took it over. You can see the man who was nearly choked to death for the privilege of sleeping in the bed, right here.
Remember: this guy saw Rick hiding under the bed and can ID him (speculation about the brain’s capacity to form memories under traumatic conditions–like nearly being choked to death by your gang leader–aside), and Rick has made enemies of these people since he killed a fellow gang member in the bathroom and let him go all zombie in the house. I don’t think they’re the same people who took Beth. I don’t think they have such a swank car. That’s why they’re walking. Daryl–because he is a badass–badasses himself into the gang, because it’s better than being killed by them. With a group like this (i.e., the kind of group who would strangle one another nearly to death for the right to nap in one specific bed, whose leader would say, “Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people?”), he’s going to have to kill his way out. It’s not as though they’ll be willing to just let Daryl go. As though they’d say, Oh, OK, 17th-level ranger with a +5 vorpal crossbow of bludgeoning, you want us to let you wander off into the woods where we can’t keep an eye on you? And possibly alert your own people to us, causing us strife and mayhem that we haven’t planned? No problem!
Oh, and Glenn has seen signs for Terminus and it looks like he’s heading that way. Finally.
Of course, I have a head cold so I may be completely out of my mind. I’m going back to bed.
Next week: Tyreese hands baby Judith back to Lizzie, and we all know how that’s gone before, and creepy yet nostalgic scratchy old-timey music plays on a Victrola while someone (I hate to harp on Lizzie, but she is our resident psycho) plays Keep Away from the Zombie. Like, someone took the movie Fido a little too seriously.
Here’s a dedication to Daryl and his new-found crew.