Beth and Daryl go on the hunt for spirit(s). Daryl confronts the man he once was.

By Maricela Gonzalez
February 27, 2015 at 05:11 PM EST
Gene Page/AMC
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Remember when I complained that I had reached my limit on character-centric over plot-driving episodes? Never mind. That was before this revelatory Daryl and Beth episode. Beth showcases just how far she’s evolved from the fragile teen we met back in season two. And even more exciting, we finally (finally!) get insight into Daryl’s emotions and internal struggles.

Night falls. Or has fallen. Beth and Daryl are off the tracks and back on the road, still on high alert as they endeavor to survive on their own. I guess they didn’t catch any other billboards for Terminus. Beth attempts to start an abandoned car to no avail. Rather than continuing exposed on the street, Daryl and Beth hurry into the truck of the abandoned car. Something — or some things — lurk in the darkness. They bunker themselves in the trunk just in time as a herd of Walkers pass over them. Now that I mention it, this sequence is like an absurd, horror version of Passover.

Wave after wave of Walkers passes them; Daryl and Beth never leaving sight from the small gap of the truck door. Daylight arrives and with it a reprieve from the onslaught of street Walkers. (Sorry.) Still awake from the previous day, Beth and Daryl emerge from the truck. They gather a few supplies from the wreckage and move on down the street. They don’t speak a word to one another. They don’t have to. This is life now — life in the Zombiepocalypse.

Back in the woods, Daryl hunts for food. He shoots an arrow at a squirrel, his signature game save for Walkers, but misses. His arrow cracks — he’s losing his edge. Beth, on the other hand, does a masterful job of building a fire and setting up a zombie detection device around their camp. Ever the survivalist, Daryl has better luck with a rattlesnake, which serves as the meal for the day. I would say, “Eh, gross” except that watching them eat the rattlesnake jerky reminds me that I really want to try Dornish snake with fiery sauce.

After six-odd minutes of no dialogue, Beth delivers the first line of the episode: “I need a drink.” Who wouldn’t? Beth has never had a real drink as in alcohol before, and given the circumstances, she thinks it’s high time she tried one. Daryl is unresponsive, digging deep into his snake jerky. As such, Beth goes it alone on her mission from the Alcohol God, quickly running into Walkers. She evades them with a simple toss of a rock just as Daryl, unbeknownst to her, is ready in the wings for extra protection. He leads her back to their “suck-ass camp,” but she is undeterred. She even flips him the bird. (Can they do that on TV? Perhaps on cable but apparently not during the Super Bowl.) Unwilling — or unable — to verbalize his objections, Daryl drags his feet and follows Beth as she leads the way to find booze for her first-ever drink.

They happen upon the Zombie-friendly Pine Vista Country Club, which bears a striking resemblance to the infamous country club in The Wolf of Wall Street. Too bad a growing posse of Walkers are on their tails. Daryl hurries them into the back entrance, where they find a temporary shelter. Unfortunately the only remaining members of the club are dead and undead corpses, three of which gurgle and moan as they hang from nooses. Something bad has happened here. Then again, when hasn’t something bad happened to a shelter on this show?

NEXT: Country clubbing, clubbing Walkers

Surveying through the remnants of the makeshift camp, Beth picks up a commemorative Capitol building spoon. Is it a another subtle hint at the show’s impending shift of location to Washington, DC? The normally pragmatic Daryl grabs a backpack full of cash and jewelry. Before he can answer Beth’s question of his strange behavior, their Walker posse catches up with them, knocking on the club’s door.

Leaving the camp and their groupies behind, the duo move on to the kitchen. Most of the wine and liquor bottles are empty, save for a dusty bottle of red wine placed (of course) at the top of a shelf. Beth grabs it, but alerts a nearby Walker who promptly attacks her. The inevitable struggle leaves only a shattered wine bottle and disappointment in its wake. Having dispatched of the Walker and wine, Beth discovers another room full of corpses with the ominous writing “WELCOME TO THE DOGTROT” written on the wall. Is it just me or do people facing impending death by zombies all have the same handwriting?

The scrappy survivors continue their exploration downstairs, passing a trophy case and pair of fancy clocks a.k.a. time bombs. Daryl looks back at the grandfather clock, which reads “Tempus Fugit.” Tempus Fugit is a Latin expression, which translates to “time flies.” Time flies when you’re trying to survive the Zombiepocalypse!

They reach a gift shop, filled with clean, untouched golf clothes. Daryl doesn’t take anything because Daryl in a polo shirt and golf pants would be way too weird. Fan art of Daryl Dixon in traditional golf attire, however, would be much appreciated. Beth dons a lovely white sweater and yellow polo ensemble, which just screams “Try not to get me dirty! JUST TRY!” Meanwhile, Daryl is still on the hunt for cash and expensive trinkets, pocketing whatever he can find. Displayed in the store, they find a piece of post-apocalyptic mixed media art: the top half of a woman’s corpse impaled onto the bottom half of a mannequin, dressed in a bra, sweater, and pearls labelled with a sign written in lipstick reading “RICH BITCH.” Seeing Beth struggle to take it down, Daryl eventually helps her and covers the corpse display with a blue sheet.

The ticking time bomb/clock goes off, attracting the attention of the no longer dormant Walkers residing in the country club. Daryl fends off a bevy of them, pummeling the last Walker, who was once a white-haired man with an affinity for Kelly green, to a bloody pulp. (FORE!) The bloody pulp sprays all over Beth’s new outfit. That didn’t take long.

At last, they reach the club bar, ransacked but Walker-free. The only alcohol left is peach schnapps because even at the end the club members didn’t want to inflict more torture onto themselves by drinking peach schnapps. Daryl continues his pillaging, taking a random framed document, and then proceeds to play darts, using the photo of former club presidents as his targets. Having maintained her resolve throughout their journey, Beth finally breaks down, leaving the peach schnapps untouched. Daryl throws the bottle on the ground because he ain’t gonna let Beth be a part of your system, maaaan! He doesn’t say that exactly; nevertheless, he has a much better option for Beth’s first drink. Plus, peach schnapps is gross unless there’s about a pound of sugar mixed with it. Onward to the next alcoholic adventure!

NEXT: Never have I ever wanted to hug Daryl more

En route to Daryl’s boozy hideaway, Beth takes up Zach’s guessing game in determining Daryl’s occupation “before the turn.” She guesses motorcycle mechanic, which he denies. For Daryl, it doesn’t matter anyway; it “don’t matter for a long time.” They arrive at a large shack, which Daryl found with Michonne before the Prison’s fall. Better than a liquor store (according to Daryl), the shack contains a secret horde of homemade moonshine, kept in Mason jars and all.

Daryl and Beth take the moonshine to the main room of the shack. It’s run-down and ransacked like most places nowadays; although it’s unclear whether it looked that much different before the turn. Beth has her very first drink and does what most do during their very first drink. She says, “That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tasted.” She takes another sip, downing the remainder, and states, “Second round’s better.” Oh, alcohol. How disgusting you taste until you’re inevitably delicious.

The two hunker down in the main room of the shack for the rest of the day. Beth finds a bra-shaped planter/ashtray, astonished that someone would ever buy and use such a thing. Daryl says that his father, the “dumb ass” that he was, would. He immediately recognized the shack as it resembled his father’s place. This shack with its newspaper “Internet,” fancy buckets to spit chaw, and junk is Daryl’s milieu. This is the environment that bore Daryl, or at least, the Daryl that existed before the Zombiepocalypse.

Later, Daryl and Beth play “Never Have I Ever,” a popular college drinking game that always, always gets uncomfortable. It starts off innocent enough, with Beth offering that she’s never shot a crossbow and Daryl sharing that he’s never left Georgia. But as many drinking games go, it soon turns personal and ugly. After one too many guesses on Daryl’s past (Beth insinuates that he may have gone to jail or was a prison guard), Daryl snaps.

Drunk and despondent, he smashes his jar of moonshine and pees in the corner of the shack. He shouts never-have-I-evers at Beth including an especially mean-spirited “never cut my wrist looking for attention.” (In season two, Beth attempted to commit suicide, ultimately deciding against it after cutting her wrist with a shard of broken mirror.) His tirade attracts a nearby Walker, so Daryl grabs his crossbow and Beth on the auspices to teach her how to use a crossbow. Drunk Daryl is loud, abrasive Daryl. He manhandles Beth as he shoots from the crossbow, pinning the Walker to a tree but not killing it. Unwilling to take Daryl’s bullsh— any longer, Beth stabs the Walker in the head and calls him out for being a “jacka—.” We have never seen Daryl like this before — not even at his introduction as Merle’s sidekick.

Arguing back and forth with Beth, Daryl eventually gets to the heart of his pain: “Governor rolled right up to our gates. Maybe if I wouldn’t have stopped looking, maybe because I have. That’s on me. Your dad. Maybe, maybe I could’ve done somethin’.” Beth hugs him, allowing him to finally sob and let out his guilt and despair.

NEXT: The roof is on fire! Let that shack of bad memories burn!

Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney rock it out in this scene, really this entire episode. It’s wrought with tension as this scene shows a new, undiscovered side to Daryl. Who knows what he’ll do. Despite his tendency to be a “d—” when he drinks, Daryl remains likable and relatable because he never crosses lines that he could easily cross. Hell, on a different show or with a different character, he might have come onto Beth or threatened her with real violence.

Imagine if this situation played out between Merle and Beth rather than Daryl and Beth. Lines would be crossed. Untoward actions would be attempted. Daryl never goes there. At least, we haven’t seen him go there yet; I have a feeling he won’t. Beth is now his support system, his reminder to “stay who you are, not who you were.” Drunk Daryl insists that he’s never relied on anyone for anything. We all know that isn’t true. While quite competent to physically care for himself, he constantly relies on others for emotional and moral support. Before the turn, it was Merle. Afterwards, it was Rick and Carol. Now, it has to be Beth.

Beth, in turn, has evolved into a competent and independent survivor. She’s also carried forth the hope and faith in humanity exhibited by her father. Beth displays that she truly is her father’s daughter, taking up the mantle as the voice of reason and beacon for hope. It’s a moving development for her character and a refreshing shift for the series. The voice of reason and moral core of the show often relied on older men: first Dale, then Hershel. Both are dead, but their spirits remain alive.

That night, Beth and Daryl relax outside of the shack, calm, composed, and still buzzed after their intense outburst. After much speculation and guessing games, Daryl finally opens up about who he was “before the turn.” He tells the story of getting drunk with Merle and his tweaker friend. Merle and the tweaker get into a dumb argument about a cartoon and start fighting. Coming to the defense of his brother, Daryl starts to beat up the tweaker. The tweaker pulls a gun but before he shoots, he punches Daryl in the gut, making him vomit. Merle and the tweaker laugh and forget the whole argument.

He takes a moment and confesses, “You wanna know where I was before all this? I was just drifting around with Merle. Doing whatever he said we’d be doing that day. Nobody. Nothing. Some redneck asshole with an even bigger asshole for a brother.” Beth reminds him to “stay who you are, not who you were. Places like this, you have to put it away….or it kills you.”

Is Daryl better off that the Zombiepocalypse has happened? Is Beth better off? There’s a strength and sense of self that Daryl and Beth have developed as a result of the horrors they’ve endured. Who knows if their capacity for hope, their will to survive would have developed without a devastating apocalyptic event. Objectively, we can agree that the Zombiepocalypse, any apocalypse is terrible. That doesn’t mean, however, that everything that results from devastation is bad.

With a wide, genuine smile, Beth suggests that they burn down the shack. Striking a match, Beth sets a stack of Daryl’s cash aflame, and he throws it onto the booze-soaked porch. The fire instantly engulfs the structure. With a middle finger to the burning building and the past and their pain, Beth and Daryl turn their backs to the flames and move on into the woods, a hint of a smile on each of their faces.

Walker of the week: This doesn’t necessarily count as a full-fledged Walker or Walkers, but the sounds of a Walker herd roaming the streets during a thunderstorm is a vivid, terrifying image (that doesn’t even involve any images).

Questions to consider:

Do all roads lead to Terminus? Washington DC? Or will Daryl and Beth make their own path for the foreseeable future?

What’s next for Daryl and Beth? Will they continue on adventures to fulfill small goals, or will they come up with a more long-term plan?

When will we reach Terminus? What can we expect when we get there?

Will any of the issues hinted at earlier in the season — Walker Feeder, Rat Vivisector, Walker Super Herd — ever be addressed?

Episode Recaps

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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