When Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) cries, we all cry. And when Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) and Daryl drink moonshine on The Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 12, they fight like a Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? revival, then flip off a burning cabin.
Did you love “Still”? It was certainly a win for anyone who wanted to learn more about Beth and Daryl — their pasts, hopes, regrets, dart-playing abilities, and thoughts on Peach Schnapps and shine. It was also good if you’re just a fan of real character and acting showcases, paired with tense action sequences. That’s something TWD does well. And man, did Norman and Emily do well tonight. (Emmy reel?)
However, “Still” was not-so good if you 1) wanted to see any other characters from Team Prison or 2) wanted the story to move forward even an inch.
So there’s that. There’s no doubt we’ve been waiting anxiously for more time with Daryl and Beth, and it’s not like “Still” didn’t have enough walker action. But plot and character development don’t need to be mutually exclusive. TWD has been focusing on a few characters at a time for a while now, while always advancing the story. When Hershel took over the prison on Episode 5, the hour still ended with the other groups showing up with medicine. When Carl ate his pudding and Michonne had her flashback nightmare, Episode 9 still ended with the two storylines united. Even during last year’s Episode 12 — during the emotionally powerful road trip to Morgan’s place that brought Michonne into the Team Prison fold — the point was to get weapons for the oncoming Woodbury battle, which feels like a more important “mission” than getting Beth drunk.
It’s just surprising that the writers didn’t decide to give Beth and Daryl this great showcase while also finding a way to move them another step forward in the story. Ep 11 already ended with a group finding the Terminus sign, so they didn’t have to do that again, but they could’ve seen new characters, connected with another group or just offered some kind of propulsion. Instead, they just walked away from a giant fire. Middle fingers. End scene. (Smokey the Bear would be furious about the forest fire they just started.)
In that sense, “Still” felt a bit like “Stop” — and even though it's great to slow down and get to know our beloved characters, it’s a strange time for that kind of inertia. There are only four episodes left to the season with so many questions, characters and plot points to juggle.
Anyway, it looks like Beth and Daryl are back next week, but they won't have the only storyline on screen. That's good to see, even if the promo didn’t show Carol, Tyreese and the kids. Don’t hide them from us for another week!
Read on for a full recap of Episode 12:
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT...
At least the insects are doing well in the zombie apocalypse. We hear them in action. It sounds like a storm is coming, which would be about time since it does rain on occasion in Georgia, which you’d never know watching this show. Daryl and Beth emerge from the bushes and Beth tries out a car. It’s dead. Walkers are coming. They run and hide in the trunk. Daryl ties it shut. It’s freaky to see the walkers go by, kind of like when that herd passed the cars on Season 2. This must be some herd. Close-ups of Daryl and Beth’s eyes. We’re probably not supposed to be jealous of her, but … it’s happening.
THE NEXT MORNING
Thank heaven for that trunk. They silently raid the car, taking hub caps and other supplies to use creatively on the road. Daryl puts them in a plastic bag. Beth looks beat, defeated, but she follows Daryl down the street. Intro music and no one has said a word. This show does love a silent intro!
The first scenes are the sneak peeks they already shared last week. Daryl attempts to take down a squirrel but breaks an arrow instead. Stealth squirrel FTW! Beth uses parts of the car to make fire. Love the music at this point. Daryl uses a stick to trap a snake, then stabs it. He skins the thing so they can eat it. Yuck, but … protein! Nine minutes in, and no one has said a thing.
BETH WANTS A DRINK
“I need a drink.” Daryl throws her one. She wants a real drink. “As in alcohol.” She’s never had one, because of her dad. “But he’s not exactly around anymore, so… I thought we could go find some.” Daryl ignores her, so she takes her knife and walks off. This is their pattern, apparently. The last time he ignored her she also semi-stormed off. “Jerk,” she says of Daryl. Why, ‘cause he doesn’t want to get you drunk?
BETH VS WALKERS
This is why you don’t storm off just ‘cause someone doesn’t want to run out and find you booze. She breaks out her knife and prepares to take down walkers, but instead she just lets them pass. Daryl is right behind her. Anti-climactic — Beth needs more walker action!
BETH GETS BRATTY
“I’m not staying in this suck-ass camp.” She even flips him off. GIRL, YOU DID NOT. She doesn’t want to sit around eating mud snakes. She wants to do something. OK, that’s valid but why does her “something” have to be finding a drink? Why is that the big mission? And shouldn’t it be Bob’s mission instead, since he’s our resident guy with a drinking issue? Her quest should be to find Bob. Bob will know where to find the good stuff.
Beth and Daryl end up at a golf course. Beth wisely figures golfers like booze. She should’ve been there for Martinez and “Brian’s” impromptu golf game on the trailer roof. They break into the country club as a herd of walkers follows them, like their own groupies.
IT’S UGLY INSIDE
Walkers hanging from the ceiling. People who opted out, then turned? (On Talking Dead, they said it was a class struggle inside the country club. They should show that in a webisode of its own!) Daryl shines his flashlight on the ground, it’s a gruesome scene with bodies everywhere. Beth finds a Washington, D.C. spoon. Foreshadowing? Daryl grabs stuff to fill his bag. Walkers bang on the door to get in. If they’re not members, it’s not gonna happen. They go further into the clubhouse. It’s still very dark. Beth whips out her knife but when is she going to use it? Lizzie’s knife gets more action.
BETH FINDS A BOTTLE
She steps over a corpse to get it, that’s how desperate she is for a buzz. A walker attacks her and she uses the bottle to take it down, stabbing it over and over. But she has to break out her knife. Finally! “Thanks for the help,” she says to Daryl. His wise reply: “You said you could take care of yourself. You did.” Truth. And that’s the most that’s been said all night. “Welcome to the Dogtrot” - is that what’s on the wall? What does that mean?
OK, so maybe the mission won’t be totally futile. Beth finds the yellow collared shirt she’s wearing in some other scenes in the promos. She also grabs a cardigan. Daryl loots some stuff.
We also see the walker with the “Rich Bitch” sign. People are forever leaving signs on things in the zombie apocalypse. Why? The camera lingers on the “Rich Bitch.” Just as an interesting image or will we learn more about her and whoever is leaving these signs? (On Talking Dead they said there was a class struggle, so maybe that's supposed to explain that.) Beth wants help taking the “rich bitch” down. Daryl says it doesn’t matter, she’s dead. Beth says it does matter. He just covers her up. What about all the hanging people who were still zombies? Why not take them down?
MAYBE JUST LEAVE THIS PLACE?
The clock chimes, which has to draw more walkers …. and it does. Daryl goes to town on the walkers with a golf club. Man! You do not want to get his score wrong on the course! Nice little fight scene that Beth kinda sits out. It’s all that pent-up sexual frustration. Just sayin’. Trunk time.
Beth says this may be stupid, but she’s going to do it anyway. If beating up on walkers makes Daryl feel better, he can do it. She just wanted to lay down and cry that day, but she can’t. We all have jobs to do, and Beth’s is to get drunk, apparently. She finds Peach Schnapps. “Is it good?” “Nah.” Truth. Crazy Cheese > Peach Schnapps. But Chocolate Pudding > Crazy Cheese. #TopZombieApocalypseChef
OK, but Peach Schnapps isn’t THAT bad, Beth. Daryl throws darts, Beth drinks. Then cries. This is probably a normal day at this country club. Daryl stops his angry dart-throwing to growl that her first drink ain’t gonna be no Peach Schnapps. Ugh. This mission is lame, guys. They leave to find booze elsewhere, apparently.
WHAT DID DARYL DO BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE?
Beth guesses motorcycle mechanic. Good guess. Daryl isn’t much for conversation, though. He’s like Michonne. Speaking of Michonne, he takes them to a cabin he found with Michonne. Oh, REALLY? Now that’s interesting. He says this is better than a liquor store.
Seriously, though. What’s the story of Daryl and Michonne finding this place? Did they do the mini family thing here before Michonne started doing the mini family thing with Rick and Carl?
BETH GETS HER DRINK
Moonshine. Hershel told Beth bad moonshine can make you go blind. Beggers can’t be choosers, Beth. She says it’s the most disgusting thing she’s ever tasted. Then she tastes more. Daryl won’t even drink. He’s her “chaperone.” He tells her to drink lots of water. “Yes, Mr. Dixon.” Hey, that's Patrick's line.
HOME SWEET HOME
Daryl talks about his dad. His dad had a place just like this, with a bra planter thing. There’s a walker outside. Beth wants to make the best of it. So she tries to get Daryl drunk? We’re onto you. “Home sweet home,” he says, sitting in the chair. Just like Dad?
They play, although Daryl’s never played before ‘cause he’s never needed a game to get “lit.” He’s never been out of Georgia. Take him to D.C.! She’s never been drunk and did something she regretted. He has. He’s never been on vacation. She’s never been in jail … as a prisoner. She did live in a prison for a while. Daryl doesn’t drink. Was he a prison guard? “No.”
BETH VS. DARYL
He gets up to take a piss. She yells at him to be quiet. “Are you my chaperone now?” Did he piss in the cabin? He never had a pet pony. Never did all the stuff Beth did. “Never relied on anybody for protection before.” Never relied on anyone for anything. He goes OFF on her, for her more privileged upbringing, singing, and la-la-la attitude. “Sure as hell never cut my wrists looking for attention.” He grabs her, drags her outside to teach her how to use a crossbow. He wasn’t this tough on Carol. Beth goes off on him. She’s not like Michonne, or Carol. (Actually she is like Carol. Carol was pretty useless for three seasons. Sorry, but it’s only recently that she didn’t need to be saved.) Beth brings up Sophia coming out of the barn. And now God forbid he let anybody get too close. He brings up how she lost two boyfriends and can’t even shed a tear. She lost her whole family and all she wants is to drink like “some dumb college bitch.” Beth says he doesn’t get it. Daryl says everyone is dead. Rick. She’ll never see Maggie again. They came right up to the gates. He feels guilty. “Your dad. Maybe I could’ve done something.” She hugs him from behind. He cries. Ugly cry! Powerful, powerful scene.
Daryl admits he’s a dick when he’s drunk. (A son of a dick?) Beth is a happy drunk. Daryl talks about Merle’s friend. A tweaker. They were wasted before noon, Merle was high. The tweaker punched Merle in the face for insulting his kid’s favorite TV show. Daryl fought him, tweaker pulled a gun. Redneck rodeo! The fight ended when the tweaker punched Daryl, he puked, they both started laughing and forgot about it. “You wanna know where I was before all this? I was just drifting around with Merle, doing whatever he said we were gonna be doing that day.” He was nobody. Nothing. “Some redneck a**hole with an even bigger a**hole for a brother.” But they’re lovable a**holes. Beth knows Daryl misses Merle. She misses Maggie bossing her around. She misses her big brother Shawn. He was annoying and over-protective. And her dad. She wanted him to live the rest of his life in peace. She thought Maggie and Glenn would have a baby and Hershel could be a grandpa. That is sad.
DARYL WAS MADE FOR THIS WORLD
Beth wishes she could just change. Daryl says she did. Not enough, she says. Not like Daryl. Daryl is made for this world. Daryl said he’s just used to things being ugly. Beth said he got away from it. Beth says she’ll be gone someday but Daryl will be “the last man standing.” (Nope, that's Bob's job! Twice now.) “You’re gonna miss me so bad when I’m gone, Daryl Dixon.” Foreshadowing? You’ve got to save who you are, not who you were.
THEY BURN THE CABIN
Why? That’s Michonne’s cabin too, you know. They also flip it off. Classic Norman move. But really, why burn the cabin? Won’t that draw walkers, or human attention? Couldn’t they have made it a safe place? Weird. Yeah, they're burning down their pasts, but they didn't need to literally burn the cabin to play out that metaphor.
We see Maggie, Bob and Sasha fighting in a fog. Only six bullets left! More from Beth and Daryl, too. Holding hands (!) in the cemetery, then running. Are those our two groups?
Read more about Episode 13 right over here. Will Daryl end up alone next week, as Beth foreshadowed?