The Walking Dead - Season 4, Episode 12: "Still" TV Episode Review
Written by Steve Pattee and Daniel Benson
Directed by Julius Ramsey
Written by Angela Kang
2014, Rated TV-14
Episode premiered on March 2nd, 2014
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
In this episode of The Walking Dead, we find that only one thing is important to teenagers in a zombie apocalypse: alcohol.
Warning! This discussion contains spoilers!
Steve: Well, all I can say is after watching this episode my first thought was, “It took them long enough.” As you know (and I think you can agree for the most part), The Walking Dead has left a lot to be desired post-mid-season break. While I don’t think you have been quite as disappointed as I have with the three episodes that led up to this one, entitled Still, I think we both are on the same page on how tedious it has been watching this at points. However, I was exceptionally pleased with this entry in the season. First, we finally get to see what Daryl and Beth – two of my favorite characters on the show – are up to. It was well worth the wait.
I’ve mentioned before how much I like the big-brother-little-sister relationship Daryl and Beth have, and it’s on full display here. Beth’s main goal in Still is finding a bottle of hooch so we can have her first alcoholic drink and Daryl, rather than preach about the dangers of underage drinking, silently goes along for the ride. And, ironically, while he seemingly has no intentions of being a parent to her, that’s exactly what he ends up doing. He teaches her tough love lessons throughout the episode.
Dan: I’m torn if I’m honest; on the one hand it was quite a sweet episode that showed the blossoming relationship between the two – not sure if there was sexual tension, or just a brother/sister thing going on, although Daryl’s a redneck so the two aren’t mutually exclusive – but on the other hand it has done absolutely zero to advance the story arc of the season which is going to leave us with a very poor finale that’s going to rely on a cliffhanger of some sort to hook us in for season five.
Steve: It’s hard for me to argue that logic. I think the writers blew their load at the prison showdown (something you mentioned a few recaps back, if I’m not mistaken). That should have been the season finale and all of these filler episodes we’ve been dealing with since could have been thrown in the mix throughout the season. However, while I do completely agree with you that it does nothing for the story arc (and, to be honest, not many this season have), I liked it because we finally got a glimpse of the man behind Daryl Dixon. And this wasn’t a cheat told via a flashback like Michonne’s story, this was told with Daryl’s own voice. If you had told me prior to this episode that I would see Daryl mentally break down and not only have no problem with it, but actually like the character more, I would have scoffed. But Norman Reedus’ performance took me aback, and I have even more respect and awe for Mr. Dixon than I did before – if that’s even possible. This man has had a really harsh life, and he seems to lose the people closest to him on a consistent basis. In Still you see...well, shit. It’s just not fair. He’s a good guy and he doesn’t deserve the hand he’s dealt, and it finally got to him.
Dan: I agree on Reedus’ performance, it brought out a lot more in the character than we’ve been allowed to see so far. This will be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never been a massive fan of Dixon. Sure, he’s badass (point to note: Rick has killed way more walkers than Daryl) and a dependable soldier, but he’s been so emotionally closed up to the point of being two-dimensional. I mean, a crossbow and monosyllabic grunts have been his mainstays for longer than I care to remember. And yet, in Still, he manages to pull one hell of an emotional performance out of the bag. Something that will be a big bonus for both character and actor. As an aside, when he told Beth that story about Merle’s “janky white kid” dealer, who threatened “I’ll kill you, bitch” do you think it was a nod to Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad? Links in the AMC universe?
Steve: I couldn’t tell you as I’ve only watched the first season of Bad. (I know, I know, blasphemy). I will say that of all the things Daryl said, up to and including this episode, the most damning thing to come out of his mouth was when Beth said, “I’ve never been to prison”, and he paused, thought, then replied, “Is that what you think of me?” I felt for the man because after all he’s done for the group, crossbow and monosyllabic grunts and all, he did not deserve that.
Dan: Oh I don’t know, 10 minutes earlier he was eating a snake. And he can hotwire a car. I’m with Beth.
Dan: And cranking it right back to the beginning of this one, is it just me or was the trunk of a car the single most idiotic place they could’ve picked to hide from the walkers? If we’re to believe what we’ve learned so far, the walkers can smell the living and are more than happy to stand around for long periods of time so I’m not buying it that they would have just wandered off by dawn and left their tasty snack in the wreck.
Steve: I don’t even know what the zombies can and can’t do at this point as the writers play fast and loose with the rules depending on what is needed for that week. Two weeks ago, Glenn and Tara were on the menu for the walkers until Glenn tossed a Molotov cocktail at a car, then the biters went off in that direction as if fire is more important than food. And hasn’t Michonne taught us that if you have two zombies close, you’re safe? Maybe there was some rotting flesh in the front of the car. I don’t know. The scene didn’t bother me so much because I happened to both really like how it was shot and the tension that came with it. Plus, I didn’t see anywhere else for them to hide. It seems like they were in a tough spot to begin with.
Dan: That’s what irritates me. In season one Rick and Glenn had to smear themselves head to toe with minced zombie to walk among the dead. Heavy rain was enough to wash them sufficiently clean that the walkers could smell them. When Michonne was introduced, she passed comment that her mules tended to keep the walkers disinterested (which I can sort of understand, maybe from a distance all they see is a group of three that’s at least 66% walkers and it’s not worth their shuffling time to investigate), but then a couple of weeks ago she’s walking with the herd undetected, just because she has a couple on a leash. If the show has rules regarding the dead, then they need to stick to them instead of taking liberties to create set pieces. I’ll stop there, I could pick holes in these things forever.
Steve: On a related note (connected only by the mention of walkers), how awesome was that scene with the hanging zombies?. Those moving, lifeless bodies left me unsettled. I tried to remember the last time The Walking Dead disturbed me outside of that scene, and the only thing I could come up with was the reveal of Sophia’s fate at the end of the second season.
Dan: That whole golf clubhouse was creepy as hell. It makes you realise the harshness of their world when they are duty bound to go scavenging in places like that as a means to survival. The hanging zombies though, they’re just one of a many similar glimpses into other survivors’ lives that we’ve seen along the way. When you stop and think about scenes like this, and Michonne’s discover of the family last week, you can create your own scenario for how they lived and died. You normally dismiss them quickly as they’re usually plot devices to move the heroes’ stories along, but I think they’re often unappreciated as snippets of information about the world outside the core group.
Steve: There is so much despair found in the clubhouse. Aside from the hanging walkers, there was also that corpse with the “Rich Bitch” signage. Could that have been a zombie that someone killed and placed the sign on? Or worse yet, was that person alive when she was killed by an angry member of the 99%? And if the latter, what did she go through before she reached her final fate? The entire time at the country club is so damning, yet ironically also had the funniest moments in the episode when Daryl told Beth that her first drink, “...ain’t going to be no damn peach schnapps.”
I really liked this episode, from the suspenseful beginning of the two hiding in the trunk to the drama Daryl’s brutally honest childhood history to the middle finger salute Daryl and Beth gave to the burning house at the end. It’s a solid episode from start to finish. Here’s to hoping they can keep it at this level until at least the end of the season.
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