TV Review: The Walking Dead – Season 4 Episode 13 “Alone” (USA, 2014)

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So Maggie wants to go one way; Sasha wants to go the other way; and Bob is just happy that he isn’t left alone – as he has been two times prior to joining the group. ‘Alone’ presents us with a group that has less ties to each other than the other groups; splintered together simply because they ran in the same direction.

The episode starts brilliantly with a wordless sequence of Bob – goatee and all – limbering around the forest, alone and dejected. He barricades himself in a small tunnel with sticks (seriously, walkers have brought down sturdier barricades) and indulges in his love of alcohol. As viewers, we are kept guessing what happened to Maggie and Sasha until it’s revealed that this is but a flashback when Daryl and Glenn set upon him on the road.

Bob’s agreeableness here is highlighted as he doesn’t care who Daryl or Glenn are, he just doesn’t want to be alone. In just a few minutes the writers have developed Bob far better than this season’s first block; this can only mean one thing: poor Bob Stookey is walker-bait. Right?

Maybe I’m biased because Larry Gilliard Jr played one of my favourite characters on The Wire, but Bob is one character who I hope is given a much more prominent role than we first expected. Gilliard put on one very impressive performance throughout ‘Alone,’ even if his main job was just smile a lot and refuse to let Sasha’s gloominess bring him down.

That’s another theme this show does very well: connection. Sasha needed that connection with Bob to bring herself out of her gloom; just like Daryl needed his connection with Beth last week. In the shit-storm that is a zombie apocalypse, this show realistically portrays human connection as one of the most important elements of survival. This was further emphasised by just how much of an aimless wreck Bob was when he was alone at the beginning of the episode.

Beth and Daryl (I’m just going to call them Baryl, okay) benefited from a few hours of relaxation, good food, good drink, and will-they-or-won’t-they looks, but ultimately the duo met a tragic end with Beth seemingly being kidnapped by whoever owned the scarily pristine funeral home they happened to stumble into.

It seems cruel to give Daryl’s character another layer, only to peel it straight off by taking away poor Beth. At least this gives Daryl a purpose; which he needs now that he’s been found by the unkempt marauders from ‘Claimed.’

Maggie and Sasha had the corniest scene together so far, in which Maggie admits that she can’t find Glenn on her own, and Sasha overacted more than she should have.

It added a nice depth to Sasha’s character, having her rather cling to uncertainty than head along to terminus and risk the possibility of finding out her brother’s fate. The theme of hope vesus hopelessness was done very well here, remaining the strongest element of the episode.

I liked how the episode ended with Glenn finding the terminus sign; though we know now that it might even be 2 or 3 episodes before we find out what our favourite casonova will do about it. Checking in with Tyreese, Carol, and the kids next episode continues the clever process of breaking the group into splinters and developing them as small units before inevitably putting them back together to create some brand new character dynamics; though I’m not sure this format can stay fresh for much longer.

The writers really need to bring them all together BEFORE the finale.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Walking Dead screens on FX in Australia.