Sunday, November 15, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Walking Dead' - Daryl, Abraham and Sasha are Attacked by a New Group in 'Always Accountable'

AMC's The Walking Dead - Episode 6.06 "Always Accountable"

Getting back to Alexandria proves hard for Daryl, Sasha and Abraham.

"Always Accountable" shows what has happened to Daryl, Sasha and Abraham on the road as they led the herd of walkers away from Alexandria. It's a more quiet, character-based episode that also comes on the heels of two other quiet episodes that were much more effective at balancing story and stakes. It may still be very hard to care about the various residents of Alexandria. But at least last week's episode was attempting to do something with their characters. It didn't completely work but the effort was there. "Always Accountable" just feels like an excuse to give these three characters some drama in their lives even though it doesn't amount to much in terms of advancing both the story and the character beats forward.

The episode moves back-and-forth between Daryl's adventures with three strangers being hunted after being kidnapped by them and Abraham and Sasha waiting in an abandoned building for Daryl to return. It's all a result of the three of them being ambushed when they reach the end of their journey with the walkers. The threat that the herd poises has no bearing whatsoever on this episode even though they would still likely be in the same vicinity. It's uncertain if these new bad guys are wolves or some other group entirely. All that is clear is that they shot at Daryl, Abraham and Sasha. The two vehicles were separated and the rest of the episode toggled back-and-forth in focus with each act break.

Everything that happened with Daryl seemed pretty inconsequential. It felt like it was building to some big confrontation. And yet, the actual resolution was pretty lame. In fact, the only way this story works at all is if it serves as the introduction of the next big bad the group has to face this season. The three strangers Daryl meets on the road come from a community where anything and everything is traded for safety. It's a life they've lived since the very beginning. And yet, they don't even know everyone from their community. They left and took what they had earned and now they are being hunt. That's why they wanted to trade Daryl to get another one of their friends back. But none of it was particularly gripping. These three characters started talking about their own histories and how this area is important to them. But everything they had to say about themselves was so boring. None of them seemed to have much of a personality at all. In fact, the best part about the diabetic girl being bitten was how the walkers that did it looked.

However, the show wouldn't waste introducing these characters and having them talk so much about their backstories if they weren't going to be seen again. The face off with their former group of survivors was lame because they easily escaped. One guy came close to finding them but Daryl tricked him into getting bitten. It was important in showing how bluntly the leader of this group cut the man's arm off and then just threw it away. But that didn't effectively add tension to this situation. The only exciting prospect of seeing these characters again would be in Daryl getting his motorcycle and cross bow back after they take them instead of going back to safety with him in Alexandria. Considering how important those two things are to him, it's basically guaranteed that they will pop up again. Daryl can't be without his signature weapon for very long.

Meanwhile, Sasha and Abraham waiting for Daryl to find them by hiding out in a building felt very similar to Daryl's own shacking up in a building with Carol from last season. It's the stronger of the two stories in this episode. But that's only because it's about these characters dealing with their own emotional issues. It's not about the set up of future characters and stories that might be important. It's about where these characters are at right now and how that may be affecting their judgment when it comes to their survival. That's enticing because it focuses on the human aspect of these characters as they can't blame the apocalypse and the need to survive at all cost for their own psychological problems.

Sasha spent the second half of the fifth season in a very self-destructive mood after the deaths of Bob and Tyreese. It was a tailspin she was able to pull herself out of by the end of the year. She no longer has a death wish even though she committed to this very dangerous job in Rick's big plan to deal with the herd of walkers. Instead Abraham seems to be the one tempting fate. He got a taste of what normalcy was like inside the walls of Alexandria and hopes that the need to constantly kill walkers is enough to distract others from his own problems. Sasha sees right through that because she went through something similar. It's exciting placing the two of them in a situation where all they have to do is talk. Abraham doesn't have to kill in order to survive. He wants to and that urge highlights his own problems right now. Sure, this story basically boils down to Abraham finding a rocket launcher and then trying to romance Sasha. But it also comes with the promise of him trying to do better for himself and the community moving forward.

For all the problems that Daryl, Sasha and Abraham deal with in "Always Accountable," they still end the hour reunited. Even though Daryl lost his motorcycle, he quickly found a new vehicle that could transport all of them back to Alexandria safely. That was a stroke of pure luck. But still, they are together again. They know that the rest of the group is experiencing problems back in Alexandria. But the radio is dead silent. That is until the very end when they get a message proclaiming "Help!" That message could be coming from anyone with a radio. Hopefully it won't be long into the next episode before the audience learns what that is all about. Has something more happened in Alexandria? Or is it actually Glenn somehow who is still miraculously alive? It's an exciting note to end on in an episode that wasn't all that great.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Always Accountable" was written by Heather Bellson and directed by Jeffrey F. January.
  • The strangers get the drop on Daryl a handful of times. First they knock him out by using the two girls as bait and then they steal the motorcycle by gunpoint when he turns their back. The only rational explanation is his injury making him a little more gullible.
  • That being said Daryl has failed at his first solo attempt to recruit people to join Alexandria. That should be a crushing defeat for him after he pushed so hard to do it in the first place.
  • It's also easy to understand why the two strangers choose the motorcycle and cross bow over the safety Daryl promises. Like they say, safe is never really safe and people only promise things expecting to get something in return.
  • Daryl struggling to get his cross bow out of the bag in time to kill a walker coming straight to him was a pretty lame excuse to ramp up the tension for a few seconds.
  • Conversely, Abraham shaking on that bridge with the stuck walker was a pretty thrilling and haunting experience. It really could have gone a number of ways. Of course, Abraham is safe but that moment could have led to his own demise as well.
  • Isn't Abraham still with Rosita in a romantic way? Or did that end?