The Walking Dead S4 Ep 12: Still

SPOILERS!  YATA YATA, ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

BECAUSE SPOILERS. I MEAN IT.

MOVING ON NOW.

Farewell, dear Whatsherface. We hardly knew ye.

I mean, seriously, we hardly knew ye, which is why I couldn’t remember this character’s name and called her Whatsherface most of the time. So. Farewell, Whatsherface and hello, Beth.

Finally.

And yes, I remember when they were still on the farm and she had her tragic teen moment and threatened to kill herself (and Andrea was all, hey, man, let her go, to Beth’s appropriately freaked and angry family, which really helped solidify Andrea as the character whose behavior you should model the exact opposite of, but I digress).  But for the most part, through this series, Beth was the country mouse who somehow, mysteriously, managed to survive the zombie apocalypse while serving as little more than a human baby sling for much of the past two seasons.

“Still” was the episode in which Beth moves from anonymous, diary-wishing teen to rebellious, moonshine drinking teen ready to give the middle finger to the world around her.  Which was pretty much how I spent most of my teen and young adult years, and I didn’t even have to fight zombies to fuel my inner rage.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to...oh, I see. It's a crate full of moonshine.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to…oh, right, I see. It’s a crate full of moonshine.

Plus you learn stuff about Daryl.

This episode didn’t move the overall narrative of the show along much, since it focused on Beth and Daryl’s character development. A point to remember: neither character is found in the original comic, so their backstories are being written as the TV series’ writers go.  Daryl quickly became a fan favorite, so it’s not surprising they had him do more stuff, more quickly, than Beth did. I mean, how could he not be a great character to develop? {{{Nerd alert}}} This guy’s like a 17th-level ranger with a +5 crossbow. That’s a fun character to write when there’s mayhem all around.  But Beth? Not so much. Hershel did have other children in the original, but none were Beth and so? She is a wide-open character, who has been more or less shuffled to the backburner, until now.

So Beth and Daryl are on the run, and it seems like these two have been running non-stop since the prison went down. And they’re running, and hiding in the trunk of a car, and running. Then Beth decides she’s done running–at least for the time being–and wants a drink.  They come across a country club (“Golfers like to booze it up, right?”) (Yes, Beth. Yes they do.), which turns out to be the scene of a weird and socioeconomically-fueled slaughter.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

Wealthy club members (designated by their clothing, jewelry and signs on their bodies like, “Rich Bitch”) were hung and left to turn zombie in their nooses or, simply, slaughtered in their pearls and golf sweaters.  Why were they gathered in a country club in the first place, its windows shrouded with newspapers to try and shield themselves from the zombies’ notice, decked out in nice clothes and with purses stuffed with money?  It seems they were hiding out. It’s as though they’d gathered for some postmodern Masque of the Red Death to try and wait out the apocalypse. But there’s no hiding and in the end, all their money only made for some great kindling.

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

And if you don’t know Masque of the Red Death, consider yourself culturally illiterate until you’ve read it. I’ll make it easy for you: click here. Read. Get back to me. Moving on.

A word about that “Welcome to the Dogtrot” bit of graffiti…a dogtrot is a type of house found primarily through the eastern and southern US, but has been seen as far west as New Mexico.  It’s generally a cabin with a wide open breezeway through the middle (where the dog can trot through, get it?), and the widely ventilated breezeway allows buildings to stay cooler.  Dogtrots in Georgia are mainly found in forested, rural (read: poorer) areas.  While the graffiti gives us no indication, specifically, who commandeered the country club, writing “Welcome to the Dogtrot” guarantees you that it was a bunch of backwoods Have-Nots who finally saw a chance to get the upper hand on the Haves.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we'll find out more.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we’ll find out more.

After seeing that, I’d want a drink, too.

While Beth deciding she wants a drink seems like a terrible idea, I also get the impulse. Poor kid. She can’t…go out clubbing and be a woo girl and go parking with boys and go to her prom. She can’t do any of the stupid shit we all do along the way to adulthood. She can only keep running from the ravenously undead while getting increasingly proficient with sticking a hunting knife into their skulls so, dammit, she will do at least one stupid, irresponsible, angry teen thing, and get defiantly drunk.  Daryl, of course, knows where he can get some top-quality hooch.  He takes Beth to the ramshackle, standard-issue redneck shack down the road apiece, the one he says is essentially a replica of the house he grew up in, complete with the stash of moonshine and the hot pink lady’s bust ashtray (filled to the cupline with extinguished cigarettes).

Shmexy. Set dressers, note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all cleaned, and they're all evenly stubbed out. Reality: They'd be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

Set dressers, take note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all clean, and they’re all evenly stubbed out an inch or more from the filter. Reality: They’d be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

I’ll spare you the details of the drinking game they played, because of course they played a drinking game, because in a non-apocalyptic world Beth would be a budding college frosh woo girl who does body shots off her roommates.  But we learn this:

We learn that Daryl is a mean drunk, but when he’s mean and lashing out he still manages to be vulnerable. He talks–yells, really–about how he nearly died because of his stupid brother and his stupid brother’s stupid friend, and reflects (angrily) on the pointlessness and casual violence of his former everyday life.  He takes a zombie apart piece by piece while pushing Beth around, “teaching” her to shoot a crossbow.  And he talks about how he feels responsible for Hershel’s head getting cut off, even though that’s silly because it’s not as though anyone could have expected to formulate an anti-tank plan.

Once I stop being an asshole I'll show you my sensitive side. Really.

Once I stop being an asshole I’ll show you my sensitive side. Really.

We learn that before the apocalypse, he was little more than a drifter, tagging along after his brother.  “I was nothing…nobody,” he says, and it was only after the start of the zombie apocalypse that he started to become his own person, choose his own path, and live according to his own set of inner decency, which could only have been trampled on by absolutely total dick brother Merle.

We learn that Beth has a taste for fire.  The episode starts with her building a fire in their makeshift camp in the forest and ends with her helping Daryl burn down the house that symbolized, for him, his empty, pre-apocalyptic life.  Because fire = awesome.  Maybe she’ll team up with Lizzie and start a smoked-meats business.  They can do bunnies, rats, the occasional snake…

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

We learn that Daryl really doesn’t want to be alone. When drunk Beth tells him he’ll be the last one standing, he doesn’t seem to find anything flattering about that idea.

And, of course, there’s the finger scene, which was a strangely heartwarming way to end the show. I’m going to imagine episodes of The Brady Bunch ending with the house on fire, the entire family gathered around to give it the finger. Sigh. Doesn’t it just make you feel good?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I've made. What's wrong with me?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I’ve made. What’s wrong with me?

So. They’re friends and a team and Beth has grown up a little while Daryl has let down his defenses just a smidge around Beth. I’m sure that bets are being made about how quickly the two of them will end up in bed together. I won’t be surprised. The episode I’ll be waiting for after that is when they encounter Carol again, and Carol and her child army purposely hunt down her romantic rival.  Because there’s nothing like hunting human for sport.

Next week:  Foggy zombie thrills in a graveyard!

Let Uncle Dave Macon play you out of this week’s episode, asking you to carve that possum, carve him to the heart.

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