When you introduce a The Walking Dead episode by suggesting that a character is at his worst when he’s alone, as they did in flashing back to Bob Stookey’s introduction to Glenn and Daryl, conventional storytelling suggests one of two possible buttons to the end of that episode. I’m relieved that, in “Alone,” Scott Gimple and the episode’s writer, Curtis Gwinn, chose the more hopeful conclusion.
It wasn’t the way I expected “Alone” to end. After Bob spent much of the episode making eyes and bonding with Sasha, the toughest and sweetest woman he’s ever known, I figured that Bob’s decision to go it alone and search for Maggie would be his undoing, that Maggie and Sasha would find his bag on down the tracks, and Walker Bob lurching toward them. It would’ve been a devastating conclusion, but it also would’ve been one that worked. Bob, after all, narrowly missed zombie infection earlier in the episode when his bandage blocked a walker bite, and later on — with the satisfied grin etched across his face — he had kissed Sasha and came to a moment of contentedness. This is where, in a show like Lost, the characters were most likely to pass on through to the other side, and given the Lost-like structure of this half of the season, it would’ve been a fitting end.
Instead, Gimple and company spared us for one more week, at least, from having the rug pulled out from under us. Perhaps, they thought, after such good character work, it’d be a shame to kill off a Bob. But in a season where several other one-dimensional characters — Sasha, Beth, and even Daryl — have been given more rounded personalities with definition, it only seems inevitable that one or more will meet their demise. When it happens, it’s going to hurt.
I also appreciate that they kept Bob around a little longer for another reason, and that’s because I’m not sure the episode could contain a blow like that and the abduction of Beth. Beth and Daryl continued to build upon the the bond they created in last week’s episode, and with that foundation, Daryl’s crush on Beth — something that’s been hinted at since the two were paired off after the destruction of the prison — finally felt realistic. He’s sweet on her, not just in a protective way, but perhaps in a romantic one as well.
That, of course, made it all the more painful to see Beth picked up and driven away in a car while Daryl was tending to a zombie horde. Daryl’s efforts to track her down, however, came to an end when Joe (Jeff Kober) and his gang came up on Daryl and threatened his life. They ultimately let him survive, but it’s obvious from the mid-season premiere that Joe’s crew are not good people. The thing that might have ultimately saved Daryl, however, is that he looks the part of the kind of redneck white trash that might fit into Joe’s gang.
The important thing, however, is that Daryl is on the tracks, the same tracks that Bob, Maggie, and Sasha are on toward Terminus, and the ones that Glenn plans to follow, as well, in search of Maggie. The various factions of Rick’s group are beginning to converge, and while the title of the episode was “Alone,” the theme was the importance of togetherness. Sasha, Maggie, and Bob have each other for now, while Beth has a guardian in Daryl, who has an uneasy alliance with Joe. Let’s just hope Daryl can save her before it’s too late.