The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 13 recap

I’ve been re-watching Game of Thrones season 3, getting ready for the new season, as well as True Detective, which is just flat-out one of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV. As I’ve been watching these other shows, I’ve been thinking about The Walking Dead, which, along with Thrones, is one of the most successful shows on TV. These three shows have a lot in common—they’re all highly cinematic, have complex plots, feature violence and disturbing imagery, and large casts spread throughout differing storylines—but there’s one difference that consistently helps the other two while hindering Dead: The length of the season. Thrones is a 10 episode season, True Detective only 8, but Dead is 16 episodes, and it’s too many.

The first half of this episode was boring filler, but the second half was actually interesting and exciting, which is pretty much standard. Most episodes are a mixed bag, and if you cut the filler, you’d be left with probably 12 tight episodes. But that is not what’s happening here, and we have hit the part of the season where it’s starting to feel stretched out, even though there’s only three episodes left and we should be feeling like we’re driving toward the climactic moment.

Speaking of climactic moments, Daryl and Beth. Several people emailed after last week’s episode about the nature of their relationship and this episode pushes it further in a romantical direction. Which is fine, whatever, but more importantly, through bonding with Daryl and getting pro-active about taking care of herself, Beth has shed her “Luna Lovegood” persona and become an actual person. In just this back half of the season, they’ve made me care enough about Beth that I felt my stomach drop when she was kidnapped. The moment was telegraphed by Beth being caught in an animal trap earlier in the episode (SYMBOLISM), but it was still a legit “oh sh*t” moment.

Daryl and Beth’s predicament echoes something Sasha says in her segment of the episode: If it seems too good to be true… They stumble upon a beautiful house overlooking a cemetery (now my third-ranked cinema dream home, behind Sirius Black’s house and Whipstaff Manor), which turns out to be a well-maintained, fully stocked funeral home. Someone has been minding the property (and preparing zombies for burial, which is nice to an optimist like Beth but creepy to everyone else), and Daryl is excited by the prospect of a white trash brunch (peanut butter, jelly and pig’s feet in a jar).

But it’s too good to be true and ends up being another trap as zombies are set upon the house—that big of a horde did not materialize out of nowhere—and Beth is kidnapped while trying to flee. Who took her? 1) Strangers or 2) The marauding biker gang earlier encountered by Rick and now taking in Daryl. My money is on door #2.

I liked the episode’s opening showing us Bob before Glenn and Daryl found him—seeing him alone and despondently chugging cough syrup helps us appreciate why his character is so excited to not be alone now. But I could have disposed with almost every other part of his, Sasha and Maggie’s plotline. The fight in the fog was great—it’s cool to see the environment having a real impact on characters—but really Maggie could have gone off on her own right when she saw the first sign for Terminus. It was immediately clear that’s what she was going to do anyway.

Since that doesn’t happen, we spend this portion of the episode with everyone arguing about sticking together, then not sticking together, then getting together again. Yes, Sasha and Maggie fighting together is cool. Yes, Sasha pulling herself together in the warehouse is a superior bit of acting. But all that actually mattered from this plotline is that the three of them decided to stick together and go to Terminus. That could have been accomplished in two scenes, tops. Imagine if Thrones dedicated half an episode to Robb Stark just staring at his chess pieces before doing the exact thing he said he would do at the beginning of the episode. That’s exactly what Dead did this week.

At least Glenn found a sign for Terminus.

Status Check:
Daryl – Trapped by the marauding biker gang.
Beth – Hopefully her situation isn’t rapey.
Maggie, Sasha, Bob – Going to Terminus.
Glenn – Going to Terminus, too!
Joe – Leader of the marauding biker gang, all-around creepster.

Worst thing seen/heard this week: White trash brunch.

Zombie kill of the week: Maggie to the head with a traffic sign.