A review of tonight's “The Walking Dead” coming up just as soon as I offer you a serious piggyback…
Last week, I suggested that Scott Gimple would do well to follow a Keep It Simple, Stupid mantra whenever possible. “Alone,” unfortunately, suggests that approach is not infallible, as it was only slightly more complicated than “Still” – following the Maggie, Bob and Sasha trio in addition to more adventures of Daryl and Beth – without being nearly as effective.
I appreciate what the Bob and Sasha end of the episode was trying to do in taking two relatively new and largely underserved (Sasha more than Bob) characters and let us get to know them better in the same way we did with Beth last week. And Larry Gilliard Jr. continues to work wonders with what little he's given at Bob; there's an ease and self-assurance to his performance that the show very badly needs after the loss of Scott Wilson as Hershel. The idea that Bob the alcoholic is temporarily at peace because he's found a group that didn't die on him en masse was conveyed neatly in the bookending of the episode with the story of what he was up to before Daryl and Glenn found him, and then his reunion with Maggie and Sasha en route to Terminus. So that was fine.
I even liked his kiss of Sasha, mainly because it didn't work and he just shrugged it off. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but it's not the end of the world for him. That's a nice contrast to Glenn and Maggie, who were never all that well-defined to begin with and are now defined entirely by being each other's One True Pairing, unable to so much as discuss anything else until they're reunited. Separating them hasn't done much for either, nor did tonight's spotlight do a lot for Sasha. The idea that she's trying to be stoic in front of Bob but can break down and cry and admit to being scared when she's away from him (and especially after she finds Maggie and they survive a zombie attack) played out like an obvious character beat that was being treated as a mystery, or at least dragged out long past the point of interest. Among the prison survivors characters, Sasha's had perhaps the least screen time to date other than the little girls; this was an opportunity to make her into a person the way the show did with Beth last week, but nobody had an idea of what to do with her.
The Daryl and Beth scenes played off of the bonding moment they had when they burned down the shack – at the cemetery, they even held hands in a way that I imagine would seriously displease Carol if she learned about it when they're all inevitably reunited in Terminus – but were ultimately a placeholder to get them separated, and to put Daryl in among Joe's groop of looters, whom Rick narrowly escaped a couple of episodes ago. Having seen Jeff Kober's name in the guest credits, I initially assumed that his gang kidnapped Beth in the car, and that may still be what happened, but they seemed to be a bunch moving on foot when they came across Daryl by the train tracks. I like Kober, and because Joe appears to be a relatively small-scale menace, he doesn't have to overplay the way David Morrissey so often did as the Governor. So that's somewhat promising.
We've now gone couple of episodes in a row without Rick or Michonne, and without finding out more about Abraham and Eugene. I like what the idea of what the creative team is trying to do in this half season by focusing on character more than plot, but the execution's been spotty. Last week worked very well; this one mostly dragged.
Before we go to the comments, it's time once again to explain how this blog's No Spoiler rule applies to this show:
1. No talking about the previews for the next episode.
2. No talking about anything else you know about upcoming episodes from other sources – and, yes, that includes anything Gimple and Kirkman have said in interviews.
3. No talking about anything that's happened in the comic that hasn't happened in the TV show yet. (Or anything that's been revealed, like character backstory and motivation.) As with “Game of Thrones,” the goal is to treat “The Walking Dead” TV show as exactly that, and not as an excuse for endless comparisons with the comics. If you want to talk about the comics, feel free to start up a discussion thread on our message boards.
With that in mind, what did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org