The title’s right. This one was still, too much so. It’s the first episode of this half-season that fell kind of flat for me. Part of the problem is that it focused on Darryl and Beth, two characters who bring issues to the table for what the script was trying to do. Having Darryl be ornery doesn’t work anymore because we already know that deep down he isn’t. Having Beth do much of anything doesn’t work because they’ve yet to make her interesting. This episode included.
It starts out strong enough. Darryl and Beth are on the run at night. They find a dead car that won’t start. Hearing Walkers snarl in the distance, Darryl drags Beth into the trunk and pulls the lid down, tying it shut. We then watch an interesting shadow play as snarling walkers pass by while our two protagonists hunker down.
“Game of Arms.” Really, AMC? That’s the next big thing—a show about arm wrestling? If I have to watch one of the new shows they’re advertising, I guess I’d go with “Turn,” something about spies in the American Revolution. Who hopefully don’t arm wrestle.
The follow on scene is neat, too. The next morning, Darryl and Beth scavenge the car for parts. They take broken glass, a rear view mirror and hubcaps, leaving us to guess what they’ll do with them. The post-Apocalyptic scavenging mystery is answered when Beth uses the rear view mirror to focus sunlight through glass to start a fire. The hubcaps are strung up as an approach warning in the event of Walkers. I suppose you could cook on a hub cap, too. Post-Apocalyptic Scout merit badges must be very different.
A quick aside on that hiding in the trunk scene: snoring. I bet snorers don’t last long on the run. They attract Walkers without even knowing it.
Next up comes man versus squirrel. Darryl fails to bag it, but gets the consolation prize of a snake. That one actually takes me back. I haven’t seen a snake peeled for eating since I was a teenager. As you would expect, Darryl’s good at it.
It’s such a nice setup to an episode. Things start to go south for me, however, with Beth’s main motivation for tonight—she wants to drink alcohol. Seems Hershel never let her. Since he’s dead, and the world has gone to hell, what’s there to lose? Maybe a cute idea, but the execution didn’t work for me because her quest involves no particular interaction with Darryl for a good chunk of the episode, then a clichéd one thereafter. The point of this episode is to have Darryl acting surly again for most of it. That’s no longer a good idea. It lacks dramatic tension because we know that redneck heart of gold is just waiting to surface. This gives the episode, and Beth’s quest, an air of just marking time.
Beth goes to look for alcohol and dodges some Walkers. Darryl follows and drags her back to camp. She’s pissed because she wants alcohol: “I’m not staying in a suck ass camp staring into a fire and eating mud snakes!” That’s a good line. And honestly, with their limited cooking apparatus and total lack of ingredients, that snake would have pretty bland. Bland and chewy.
They find a country club. Inside are lots of people who killed themselves when things went south. Okay. What’s the point of belonging to a country club if it can’t manage to host a simple mass suicide when the future of golf comes to an end?
Lots of wandering around in the dark ensues. Beth finds a wine bottle only to have to break it to skewer a stray Walker. She and Darryl find the gift shop. Beth puts on a new shirt and sweater. A grandfather clock starts chiming and attracts other Walkers whom Darryl beats to final death with a golf club. He also splatters Beth’s new clothes. It’s a fairly unmemorable sequence.
They find the bar. Everything is gone but one bottle of Peach Schnapps. Darryl throws darts against the wall, which seems a dumb thing to do since they make a loud noise on impact, while Beth cries over the fact that her first drink is going to be Peach Schnapps. A woman crying over crappy liquor tugs at Darryl’s heartstrings. He smashes the crappy Schnapps and promises to get her something better for that first drink.
I’m losing interest.
Something better is a beat-up old shack with moonshine from a still. Darryl saw it while scouting months ago. Beth has her first drink. Then her second. Then they do some drinking game where Beth pisses off Darryl by assuming he’d been in prison. This leads to another Walker slaying, which leads to Darryl breaking down over the fact that he quit looking for the Governor to enjoy prison life and maybe could have saved everyone if he hadn’t. Heart of gold. We could see that coming from a mile away.
They spend the rest of the episode talking. Darryl talks about his crappy home life growing up. We already knew that and have seen it alluded at obliquely much quicker and in much sharper relief with clever asides. Not to mention that episode where he hallucinated Merle. Beth just talks about boring Beth stuff.
She tells Darryl he should burn this shack down to exorcise the demons of his childhood. The Darryl we’ve known until now, the one not being forcibly overwritten by a script, wouldn’t buy that for a second. This Darryl does. He and Beth pour moonshine all over the place and light it up.
The burning cabin is a nice visual. Both of them giving it the finger is also kind of neat. The next moment, however, we’re reminded of what an idiotic thing it is to do, especially at night. Walkers converge on the light. So Beth and Darryl are on the run in the dark again.
Not awful. Not all that engaging, either. Hey, if you have to produce a weekly show, not every at bat is going to be a home run. Call this a single where you then got careless and the pitcher picked you off.