A quick review of tonight's “The Walking Dead” coming up just as soon as I try on my dress blues…
I'm not fundamentally opposed to quiet episodes of “The Walking Dead.” If anything, some of the show's best episodes have been much more about characters talking and reflecting than they've been about battling zombies and/or other humans. But the show's done three quiet-ish episodes in a row now. One was excellent in a vacuum but poorly-timed given what happened the week before. One was well-intentioned in trying to better establish who the Alexandrians are, but failed at that and then fell back on tired rhetoric about how Rick is the World's Best Boss.
But at least I understood what the show was attempting with “Here's Not Here” and “Now,” where “Always Accountable” felt almost entirely like filler. It was as if the writers realized we had to see what Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham had been up to while Alexandria was falling apart, only nobody bothered to come up with something interesting enough to fill the hour.
If Daryl's storyline was trying to set up some upcoming villains – a group of humans unrelated to the Wolves – then at least there may be some future point to it. But the execution here was very spotty, with his three temporary traveling companions barely registering as characters at all as they discussed people and events we knew nothing about. As a third or fourth subplot that gets a couple of scenes in the middle of a busy ensemble episode, it makes sense; as the lead plot of an hour featuring only three members of the ensemble, it wasn't nearly sturdy enough.
Sasha and Abraham's overnight stay in an office, meanwhile, evoked the Daryl and Carol's trip to Atlanta from last fall, only much thinner. Michael Cudlitz is one of the best actors the show has, and did well with the speech that gives the episode its title. But too much of that story felt like it was simply marking time until Abraham could spot and retrieve the rocket-propelled grenade launcher, which will also no doubt have value in a later episode, but wasn't enough to really justify this one.
Given that the show did such a poor job for so long of servicing most of its supporting cast, the idea of an episode dealing with only three of them (plus a handful of guest stars), particularly one spotlighting Cudlitz and Norman Reedus, seems both logical and appealing. There just wasn't nearly enough substance for it to work. When by far the most potentially interesting thing about the hour is whether the voice on the radio in the last five seconds is Glenn's, something's gone awry.
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.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org