The structure of The Walking Dead’s sixth season, or at least this first half, has been entirely structured around the day of the big walker march. Throw in interludes like Morgan’s backstory and the flashbacks from the premiere, and even characters who have been core to the story have had to take a back seat as the longest day in walker history plays out.
And so “Always Accountable,” following in that tradition, finally gives Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha the spotlight after spending the last few episodes (which only amount to several hours) as the grand marshals of an undead parade.
Although they’ve been on the road together for the majority of the mission, “Always Accountable” wastes no time in splitting Daryl from the duo. Having met the required distance for drawing the walkers away from Alexandria, they head back home, only to be ambushed by Wolves or otherwise (these assailants come packing plenty of firepower unlike the Wolves that assaulted the Safe Zone).
In the wake of the attack, Daryl continues riding on his bike as a Jeep chases him while Abraham and Sasha’s car is totaled, forcing them to stand and fight. Because both stories largely play out on their own, let’s focus on one at a time:
Rising From the Ashes
Daryl escapes his pursuers by riding into a burned-out section of the forest, where charred trees and ashen zombie bodies seem to be the only remnants of life. He can’t reach anyone on the radio, and for the moment, his injuries are a more pressing concern.
But he is not the only living soul in the forest. He comes across two women who tell him they earn what they took before an unexpected third member of their party knocks Daryl out. The guy ties his hands and threatens him at gunpoint if he continues to speak. Daryl recognizes they think he’s someone else, but with a gun directed at his head he’s not position to argue for the moment.
At least they’re humane captors, giving him some water as they discuss handing Daryl over to “them.” They’re also a particularly chatty group, the man revealing to the younger girl that they caused the fire to the forest. They lit the match toward the beginning of the end, taking out the walkers stumbling throughout the trees and attracting others from nearby. They thought they were fighting, just like everyone else was. But they were wrong, and the guy does not like being wrong.
He doesn’t trust Daryl and “his people,” though he’s clearly not talking about the Alexandrians by this point. That mistrust almost costs Daryl his life, but this group is more concerned with finding a woman named Patty. Unfortunately, they approach a garage where she would have been. It’s been overrun with walkers, and they believe they need a new plan.
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Chaos descends on their regrouping, however, when the younger of the two girls faints. Daryl picks up their pack and flees, escaping gunfire and making a small pit stop in the forest, where a sole walker has never proved more dangerous to Daryl. His arm injured and his crossbow in the bag, he scrambles to grab, aim, and shoot his weapon with enough time to kill the walker. The more troubling surprise is what he finds in the bag — a case full of insulin.
He returns to the group, knowing they need it for the younger woman, but Daryl is not about to hand it over solely out of the goodness of his heart. He takes their gun and wants something else in return, taking a wooden carving the man made as payment.
The reunion is short-lived, though, when a truck comes bulldozing through the treeline.
NEXT: No one comes between a man and his crossbow [pagebreak]
A man whose face is never shown steps out, telling them it’s time to come back and repay what they took and all the time and energy they wasted on the search for them. The defenseless trio tells them they won’t kneel anymore (a phrase Daryl’s captor previously said to him, signifying it as some important part of this group’s code), but these unknown assailants have a job to do. So they continue marching into the forest on their search, Daryl using the brief moment to help the trio flee.
They find a brief respite just as one of these men (under the orders of a leader apparently named Wade), walks close to their hiding spot. Daryl uses a distraction to trick the man into walking right by a walker, which bites him and presumably ends his search.
But it seems this group is no stranger to walker bites, and they’re more than prepared to stay alive. Wade comes to the man’s rescue as he asks for it to be done. Right there on a rock, Wade cuts the man’s infected arm off before it can spread (“Cam got a boo-boo,” he informs them over the radio.)
They call off the hunt, apparently only wanting to scare this trio, leaving them and Daryl free to survive. Daryl’s actions also make the group more inclined to trust him, so they fill him in on the community they left, one that promised safety but offered little of it as people gave their lives over to the cause. They finally grew sick of it and left, but walking through the forest, they’re confronted by their past deeds.
These include a burned-out building with two bodies lying dead in the ashes. Tina, the younger of the two women, used to babysit the now-dead occupants. She wants to honor their memory, and so she goes to put flowers by their heads. Unfortunately, her disturbing their resting places causes the walkers to spring to life and bite her to death. (ASIDE: I can maybe understand this girl not having tons of experience battling walkers, but how Daryl doesn’t check the bodies to make sure they’re 100 percent dead is such a bizarre rookie mistake. Even out of wanting to be reverent to this girl’s wishes, it seems odd neither he nor the other two considered they might not be fully dead. END ASIDE)
The man digs a grave for her as Daryl asks him Rick’s three questions. (Yes, he has killed walkers. No, he hasn’t killed humans, and it’s because there’s no coming back from that.) Daryl has come to trust these two and offers them a chance to come back to Alexandria with him as he searches for his friends.
Unfortunately, they’re not willing to go along with that plan, and so they hold Daryl at gunpoint for all he has, including his crossbow. Daryl tries to talk them down by pointing out that going back, that kneeling, won’t really bring them safety. They rob him of his bike, as well, leaving him with some supplies to patch himself up and an empty apology. “You’re gonna be,” is all Daryl has to say in response, and with his crossbow in their hands (and the man’s carving in Daryl’s), we likely haven’t seen the last of this duo.
But without a ride or a weapon, Daryl needs a way back home. So he scavenges around and finds something a little more heavy duty than a motorcycle. He comes across a fuel depot emblem on the ground and a truck hidden not too far away that he uses to find Abraham and Sasha.
An Awkward First Date?
And where have they been during Daryl’s jaunt through the forest? Well, after realizing that Daryl escaped, the two head into a more suburban area, hunkering down in a building as they wait for Daryl to find them. For them, the situation is less about action or running from it in the moment and more about being accountable for all of your actions.
NEXT: Christmas comes early for Abraham. [pagebreak]
As they find shelter, Abraham wants to take out every walker he can find, his gleeful attitude to the whole ordeal disconcerting to Sasha. She’s more worried about letting Daryl find them and staying out of trouble. Extra dead walkers only signifies to non-Dixons that there are warm bodies around.
The two find relative solace in an office, a walker trapped behind locked glass doors their only company. Sasha chooses to rest, even with the walker still moving beyond the glass, while Abraham decides to stand watch and scavenge.
But choices and decisions are the entire reason they’re in this position in the first place. When Abraham returns from his first hunt, the two begin debating their current predicament. Sasha wants to know why he chose to came along, and though he tells her it was no choice, she cuts him down. She promises she’s in control now because she’s realized you’re always accountable for your choices, even with the way the world works these days. She wonders why he wants to unnecessarily cut down every walker in their path even if he claims to be in control, and he blames the s— hitting the fan “without respite” for quite a while.
Sasha doesn’t let him off easy, though. So long as he has food, a place to rest his head, and the basic necessities, he has choices. And he also has to be responsible for whatever choices he makes.
So he chooses to stand watch through the night. He heads out on patrol, coming across a military Jeep with a few rounds of RPG ammo, some cigars, and a walker hanging off a falling chain-link fence off the side of a bridge.
The walker happens to have the RPG slung to its back, so Abraham attempts to grab for it while not killing the walker. He struggles, climbing out onto the fence and avoiding bites at every turn, but he can’t grab the RPG without killing the walker.
In the end, he doesn’t have to, though. The fence carves its way through the walker’s torso, causing to to fall to the ground as the RPG remains slung on the fence. (ASIDE: For as well shot and edited as the season has been, so many of the shots in Abraham’s tussle with the walker feel surprisingly shoddy. Whether some of it was re-shot on a soundstage with backgrounds put in during post-production or the lighting was simply so strong outside it made the shots look fake, there’s an odd and disappointing quality to the moment that robs it of much of its tension. END ASIDE)
Abraham returns with the RPGs and explains to Sasha that he’s been living his life “paycheck to paycheck” recently. But now he sees a long and fruitful life ahead of him, and he’s been itching to make some plays before he dies. Among his plays is wanting to get to know Sasha better, and he believes she wants that, too. He has some stuff to take care of, she tells him (Rosita presumably chief among them, right?), but at least he immediately he takes care of his ripped wardrobe, donning a suit jacket he found in the building.
Luckily the building no longer has to keep them safe, as Daryl rolls into town with his truck and drives all three of them back home. Well, that was the plan at least, but a distress call on the radio, a voice croaking out “Help,” (A recapper can hope it’s Glenn, right? Even if Daryl Dixon himself says otherwise, though I think it’s safe to rely on him.) may throw one hell of a monkey wrench into that plan.