This episode of The Walking Dead brings some much-needed, if not always popular, character development. Ever since the action-packed attack on the prison in Season 4’s mid-season finale, the show’s episodes have been picking things up each week with the small pockets of survivors that are going their own ways, complete with their own agendas. Whereas we’ve seen how Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are searching for each other, other members of the larger group once led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) seem content to just stand still, make a stand and fight their corner, with no real sense of moving on or trying to find a way out of the hell-holes that their lives have become. Enter Darryl (Norman Reedus), whose story we pick up this week as he shares this episode with the young Beth (Emily Kinney).
Whilst Rick, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Glenn have had their fair share of coverage since Season 4 returned, Darryl and Beth have seemingly been left in the shadows a lot of the time. When we pick things up here, Darryl has seemingly given up, content to just spend his life fighting his corner against walkers, whereas Beth believes that there is a better world, a solution to the walker problem out there. The ever-hopeful Beth and the angsty, pissed-off-at-the-world Darryl make for quite the interesting dynamic.
Still does eventually end up with Darryl peeling back some of that tough exterior, but the character of Beth is likely better served by this episode than her crossbow-wielding travel partner. Up until this point, we’ve not really seen much of Beth the actual person. She’s always been there in the background, as the daughter of Hershel (Scott Green) and the sister of Maggie, and has even had a few memorable, such as when she was contemplating suicide, but we still never really got to see the personality of the character. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that her previous actions and appearances have just simply been as plot points rather than getting her character actually developed.
As Darryl and Beth end up having an explosive, emotionally-charged heart-to-heart, complete with some good ol’ moonshine, the characters seem to leave Still with a new optimism for the future. Beth has some of her character come through, whilst Darryl appears to have a renewed sense of purpose and, dare we say it, optimism. Sure, the world has gone to shit and there are walkers at every turn, but maybe that won’t last forever.
For the action fans out there, Still will feel like fodder, and it is to some extent, but it’s fodder that was well needed for the progression of the characters of Darryl and Beth.
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