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The Walking Dead: “Alone”

(Episode 3.13)

TV Reviews The Walking Dead
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The Walking Dead: “Alone”

Happy abbreviated SXSW/Travel Day/Aftermath of the True Detective Finale Day. Usually, our recap of the latest episode of The Walking Dead is a back-and-forth e-mail conversation between myself and Paste Editor-in-Chief Josh Jackson. But Josh is busy navigating the non-zombie hordes of SXSW, so I’ll be handling this episode solo. Frankly, I’m grown accustomed to having Josh as my sounding board, so if no one minds, I’m going to continue to address you, Josh-stand-in readers, throughout. (You can even uphold your side of the discussion in our comments section!) We’ll be back next week with our regular brand of hard-hitting, lengthy, witty, and dare I say ESSENTIAL exchanges. This week, accept our regrets and know that, like Maggie, we’re on a mission.

So, last night. I’m starting to believe that the quality of shows in the second half of season four are almost entirely dependent on the strength of the actors features. In “Alone,” we got a heavy dose of Lawrence Gilliard Jr., and I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that any day of the week and twice on Sunday. (Not literally—I did not watch this show twice yesterday.) As Bob Stookey, he’s got the same heart-of-gold-beneath-a-troubled-demeanor style we saw from DeAngelo Barskdale in The Wire, and there’s something refreshing about a guy who can’t stop smiling simply because he’s not alone. In the cold open, the writers threw us a bit of a curveball, revisiting the time when Stookey first got picked up by the prison gang. We didn’t know that, of course, and had to assume we were dealing in the present tense. So when Daryl drove up on him, it seemed like a moment of reunion. But wait—why is Glen with Daryl? Where’s Beth? Why aren’t they greeting each other like old friends.

GAH. Classic rug-pulling, Walking Dead. Classic. It’s an important scene because it demonstrates Stookey’s curse; wherever he goes, he’s the last man standing. It leaves him alive, but it also leaves him alone. And deep down, as we know, there’s a suffering alcoholic with a fair amount of low self-esteem buried beneath the surface, and it raises issues within him about whether he truly deserves to outlast every group he’s ever joined. Either way, in the aftermath of the prison’s destruction, he’s pleased as peach to have broken his solitary curse and be in league with two lovely ladies on the road. He even tried to kiss one of them! I was appalled. What happened to morality on television?

(In all honesty, though, to digress for a moment, that kissing scene was a long time coming, but still way too tame for me. There are all these men and women alone together with almost nothing left to lose, BUT WE GET NO HOOKING UP. I WANT HOOK-UPS! I know it’s a family show, sort of, but come on, can’t we at least allude to the sexual tension once in a while? I would take a kiss and a pan-away to a blazing fireplace scored by violin music like they used to do in old movies, or even the Indian cinema thing where they look at each other suggestively and take a bite from the same apple. ANYTHING. On the other hand, it’s probably good that this show isn’t on HBO or Showtime, because with so many scenes of men and women alone together, it’d probably be all sex, all the time, to the point that we’d be clamoring for zombie fighting.)

Anyway, digression over, I just naturally like Stookey, and so I liked last night’s episode. Maggie is hellbound for Terminus, her southern accent getting more atrocious in each passing moment, while Sasha wants to settle down somewhere and, what, wait to die? That’s the central conflict of the episode, and our man Stookey falls on Maggie’s side, despite the fact that Terminus is a super creepy name for a town and sounds like somewhere you go to die. But ol’ Maggie has a misguided bout of selflessness, leaves them in the night so they don’t have to risk their lives in her personal hunt for Glenn, and takes off on her own. A pursuit happens, a big zombie fight with a parking sign happens, and a reunion happens. Not bad.

I could even handle the occasional Beth-and-Daryl scenes, which were pretty much intolerable last week. Apparently, he sees her as a reminder of all the good that’s left in the world, rather than an annoying simpleton, and though we might have to agree to disagree, the scene at the dinner table was sweet. Then she gets kidnapped—I haven’t read the comics, but I’m praying she got nabbed by the undertaker coming home … is there an undertaker character? Please tell me there is—and Daryl is cast out back into the wilderness. There he encounters the man I’m going to call the King of the Roses due to the pattern on the black shirt that you rarely see outside of poker tables in our non-zombie-occupied world. This is the same man Rick nearly offed a couple weeks ago, but he’s back and cocky as ever, despite the fact that at least three or four of his men got killed in the Rick episode.

We end with emotional Glenn, and a wide-open future, and lots of possibilities for the final three episodes of the season. So what do you think, Josh—I mean, reader? Are you, like me, reasonably satisfied? Semi-excited about the King of the Roses and/or the kidnapping undertaker? In agreement that this show needs a lot more sex? Take us home on this abbreviated recap, and then go out and raise hell like you’re Bob Stookey before the apocalypse.