Daryl! I’ve missed you! Super glad you’re OK! Sasha! Abraham! Good to see you guys, too! Look! The turn is just ahead, and the herd is following obediently behind. Nice work. You’re almost there. … Oh, wait. This is The Walking Dead.
Bring on some unexpected a-holes with guns.
All seems well, and the almost triumphant trio make the turn into a little burg of sorts. As bullets blast through their rear window, Sasha and Abraham duck. A car speeds up behind them, its occupants firing away. Daryl dumps his bike, but quickly recovers, pulling ahead of two other vehicles. The group is separated. Go figure.
With a tire blown out, Sasha and Abraham smash through a fence. Daryl continues to dodge his pursuers, weaving betwixt large dumpsters and random walkers. One vehicle nails a dumpster, but the other maneuvers its way through. Sasha and Abraham emerge with rifles drawn to wipe out their assailants. “”We won, darlin’ ” grins Abraham at a dubious Sasha.
Daryl is still trying to lose the Jeep on his tail. We see it speed down the road, then Daryl cross after they’ve passed. Success! He takes a path into the woods.
When he feels safe, he drops his motorcycle and falls to the ground, exhausted. Wherever he is, the surroundings are soot-covered and charred … including the incapacitated walker beside him. The crispy critter is wearing a helmet — ah, life’s little ironies. Before the opening credits roll, an aerial view shows a drained Daryl and a blackened biker lying on the ground. They are so close, they could hold hands … but stuff like that only happens in my head movies.
We’re not even five minutes in.
After resting long enough for the opening credits and commercials (ugh), Daryl regains the energy to push his bike down the path a spell. At first I think, “Aw hell! Is he out of gas?” Then I remember being quiet is important during a zombie apocalypse. He gets a look at the burned out mess – scorched bodies and trees. He walkies Sasha and Abraham, but gets nothing. Drops of blood fall from his fingertips, and he tears off his leather. Blood! Oh no! Bullet wound? Walker bite? Of course not! It’s Daryl. It’s merely some road rash.
As he removes a satchel from his cycle, he hears a noise that I don’t, because I’m not Daryl. He moves toward the sound, trusty crossbow engaged. He spots two helpless looking ladies. “You found us, ’K? We earned what we took!” Daryl has no idea what the hell they are talking about – and then some blonde guy blindsides him. Lights out.
Fading in and out of consciousness, he catches glimpses of the people who nabbed him. They’re chatting around a fire, but their conversation is muffled, so I’m sure it isn’t important. The important thing is Daryl sees them shove his crossbow into a duffle bag.
When he does wake all the way up, his hands are tied (poorly) and there’s a gun pointed at his head. The blonde asshat breaks it all down, “Here’s the deal. You don’t say s-t, I don’t kill you.” I want Daryl to say, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” Instead he says, “I ain’t who you think.” He’s yanked to his feet and told to follow the girls. His only option is to oblige, but karma’s a beyatch.
As they walk, they’re nice enough to share the little bit of water they have with Daryl. They still think he’s some other guy. They’re reasonable people. Blah, blah, blah, “If they find us, maybe we’ll give you to them.” Blah, “Everybody’s got their code.” Blah, blah, “You feel you gotta kneel, fair enough. We don’t.” What?
I really want to punch these people. I get it. They ran away from some jerks. There are plenty of jerks. I’ve watched six seasons of jerks. These three are flipping jerks. And now they’re on their way to find Patty, who is probably also a jerk.
We find out about the forest fire. When it all started — the apocalypse and whatnot — the walkers showed up, and this group’s group was apparently holed up in the Patrick Fuel Company. Blondie and some others drove one of the trucks into the trees, opened the valve, backed off a bit, dropped a match and ran for the car. Ka-BOOM! The whole crap went up in flames, barbequing the walkers in the woods and attracting the others … sizzle-fry. They figured everyone everywhere was doing the same — fighting the inhumanity that was taking over — and that humankind would win. Blondie admits, “We were stupid.”
Daryl says, “Y’all don’t think you’re being stupid right now?” Gun back in the face and more blah, blah, blah, including, but not limited to, some crap about Daryl killing for food and shelter and being one of “them.” I’m probably wrong, but with all the recent hype, I can’t help but think this paranoid bunch of post apocalyptic hipsters is trying to ditch Negan and his minions.
When they make it to Patrick Fuel, there’s some chatter about Patty’s whereabouts and whether or not to go back from where they came. Tina (only name I caught) has a fainting spell. During the distraction, Daryl grabs the duffel bag and bolts. Blondie fires into the trees, but Daryl gets away because that’s what Daryl does.
BTW … anyone else wants to snuggle Greg Nicotero so damn hard for this season’s walkers? After a couple seasons of nearly being an afterthought, these things are nothing short of art.
After a successful escape, Daryl yanks the rope from his wrists just in time to wrestle his crossbow from the duffel bag and shoot an approaching walker. He walkies Sasha and Abraham – still no luck. Then he sees it. Insulin. In the damn duffel bag. We all know he’s going back.
Sasha and Abraham look for Daryl. His motorcycle is gone, and they know he got away. He’s Daryl. They figure the ambuscade was looking for someone else (the three stooges that nabbed Daryl). They try him on the walkie to no avail. Note to self : Walkie-talkies are useless in the zombie apocolypse.
Abraham bets “dollars to donuts” that Daryl is headed back to Alexandria; he did try pulling that one before. Sasha reminds him that Daryl came back. Should they look for him or wait? Neither. He’ll find them, because he’s DARYL! And there’s no use taking out lonesome walkers just to leave “breadcrumbs” They take cover in an office building. Sasha writes “Dixon” on the door — brilliant!
Inside, Abraham checks the rooms. One contains the decorated suit of a soldier and a family picture. We all know how military stuff gets to him. When he’s done, he finds Sasha sitting in a chair, intently watching a walker trapped within the glass confines of an office. She reminds me of myself every Sunday night, and the walker reminds to be nice so I don’t end up in hell.
Sasha gives Abraham the choice to sleep or keep watch. Of course he chooses to keep watch, and try as she might, Sasha can’t sleep. They talk instead.
Before this, I see a whiteboard locked in the room with the walker. It reads, proud to have provided value – I pray for the world – keep going – stay cheerful – the bites kill. I notice weird stuff, and I like this, so now it’s in my recap.
Back to the chat, which gets serious after Abraham suggests they name the walker. Sasha wants to know why he chose to join her on the mission. He tells her she’s a tad bats-t. She reminds him that he’s a few cards short, himself. He claims it’s because “the s-t’s been hitting the fan, without respite.”
Then she says something that changes him. I’ll be anxious to see if it sticks. She returns to choices: He’s accountable for the ones he makes – always accountable. Even in an apocalypse, with the mayhem of zombies and a-holes, accountability exists. Most especially without the chaos. If all of this upheaval does go away, will he be at home in his own skin?
Abraham says he’ll stand watch all night, and they’ll reassess why they’re there in the morning. I think this means a thousand different things.
Daryl returns the insulin, his crossbow aimed at Blondie. After taking the gun, he wishes them good luck. He’s about to leave when a truck barrels through the trees. Two men get out. One of them, Wade, wants the escapees to return the stuff they took (earned), and compensation for both the gas and time wasted to find them. “You know the rules.” They say they’re done kneeling.
Daryl, who could have easily ditched the whole situation, helps them get away. They hide behind a deadfall, and he returns the gun to Blondie.
Close by, there’s a walker pinned to a tree by a boulder. When Cam (Wade’s companion) approaches, Daryl rattles some brush as distraction. Cam falls for it and suffers a bite. He hollers for Wade, who comes to his aid and is also nice enough to salvage Cam’s watch from the limb he loses. He tells Cam to “walk it off,” and they leave. It seems the Hershel technique has become commonplace. Going into shock ( or, you know, epic blood loss), not so much.
Blondie is shocked. “We thought you were with them.” He wants to know why Daryl came back after having his life threatened. Daryl says, “Maybe I’m stupid, too.”
Back at the office, Abraham peers out a window and spots something smile-worthy. On a bridge, he approaches a Humvee and an impaled walker. He also finds rockets and cigars. One problem –the rocket launcher is strapped to the walker dangling just out of reach. Determined (and dotty), Abraham sets his gun aside and attempts to retrieve the launcher.
For too long, he wrestles with the walker … two soldiers of unimaginable misfortunate. It’s a breathtaking scene. Can anyone “win” here? I’m waiting for the bite to come to answer that question. Finally, Abraham recoups his wits, bellows into the walker’s face and returns to the Humvee for a cigar. The walker wriggles its way off the fencepost and falls … but the launcher remains. SCORE!
When Abraham returns, he’s a new man. He explains his loot is the “fruit of some off-the-chart stupidity.” He’s certain Rick and the others have the situation handled back in Alexandria, and that he’s been living “check to check” to this point. Now, he wants to live the “long and fruitful” life he sees in front of him. He’s hitting on Sasha! They have everything they need right where they are, and he’s got stuff to do before “the great cosmic Pete” shows up to cut his throat. Even though she plays coy, Sasha doesn’t seem totally opposed to his advances.
Daryl’s captors-turned-companions explain that the group they fled seemed as good as any other at first. More importantly, we find out the group is so large, the trio doesn’t even know everyone — thus the accusations toward Daryl. After some time, “human nature” kicked in, and the group began to trade “anyone and anything” for safety. Daryl says nothing is safe anymore.
They find a burned-out house. Two bodies lay inside. The girls recognize them and realize the fire caused their deaths … and that they started the fire. Tina makes the poor decision to place flowers on the undead. Daryl helps bury three bodies, instead of two.
He then asks The Questions: “How many walkers you kill?” Blondie says several dozen. People? None. Why? Killing people means no going back to how it was. Daryl offers up Alexandria. They thank him by stealing his crossbow and bike. I knew returning the gun was a terrible idea. Daryl eyeballs Blondie. “So you’re going back … you’ll kneel.” He shoots, barely missing Daryl’s head. Daryl doesn’t flinch. They say, “Sorry.” He replies, “You’re gonna be.”
I have a feeling it won’t be long before he reclaims his belongings.
Once the two idiots depart, Daryl finds a fuel truck camouflaged with branches. He rids it of the driver, hops in and speeds off to find Abraham and Sasha. Heading back, Abraham — wearing the soldier’s uniform — observes the road behind him in the side-view mirror. And he smiles.
I love this episode! I love Daryl! What did you think? Tell me! I crave discussion! Let’s start here:
- Will this new group lead to the introduction of Negan, or are they just another obstacle along the way?
- Will Sasha and Abraham become Sashraham?
- Do Daryl’s captors foreshadow more unwelcome visitors to Alexandria?
- How long before Daryl reunites with his stuff?
- Where the f–k is Glenn?!
New episodes of The Walking Dead premiere Sunday nightst at 9/8CT on AMC.