Storytelling 101: Time must always move forward. Even within this episode they break that cardinal rule. The writers constantly fail at this basic storytelling skill. Whenever they realize they’ve forgotten character emotions, they create an awkward lull in the story and cram in as much as they can. It puts two essential fighters in this world on the sidelines simply so the writers can create yet another love story subplot. At least I think that’s what they wanted to do in this episode…
Spoiler warning! If you’re prepared, proceed.
Is there a point to this episode? All it does is establish that Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham cannot return to Alexandria in time to help with the Wolves, walkers, or internal morale troubles. Which we knew because, gasp, we’re stuck in the same two-day timeframe six friggen episodes into the season. If we’re forced to relive the same day over and over, let it at least have a cheeky groundhog with smooth dance moves. I will hazard a guess that with everyone finally accounted for in this time frame, we’ll finally move forward with the plot. Won’t hold my breath, though. The writers have forsaken common sense in storytelling. It’s like the current writing room is populated by teenagers who swear they know what they’re doing, but really all they’re doing is making a huge mess and Mom—the producers—gave up cleaning.
Storytelling 101: Time must always move forward. On cue you say, “But, Groundhog Day. You just mentioned a movie stuck in a time loop.” Now, now. It’s not that easy to dismiss what I’m saying. Time still flows forward for the main character. Each day is different for him, he still has tomorrow and yesterday, they just happen to have the same events. People who work on repetitive production lines still move forward in their personal time line even though they repeat the same thing all day every day. They progress emotionally and physically. It’s an entirely different beast than breaking chronology to backtrack and tell portions from the story we already really know without writers leading us by the nose to figure it out.
Even within this episode they break that cardinal rule. There is no reason for the story to follow Daryl through to the following day, only to wind back the clock for Sasha and Abraham’s scenes. Everything the duo did in the episode could have taken place within the time line set by Daryl’s ordeal, including their initial entrance into the office building where they wait out the night. It would’ve taken no time at all to establish their location and well-being if edited into the episode during a specific moment to ramp up tension for Daryl’s abduction scenes. What they’re doing is stealing time for character building. Something which should flow naturally as each character finds their footing within the plot. The writers constantly fail at this basic storytelling skill. Whenever they realize they’ve forgotten character emotions, they create an awkward lull in the story and cram in as much as they can. It puts two essential fighters in this world on the sidelines simply so the writers can create yet another love story subplot. At least I think that’s what they wanted to do in this episode. Abraham’s dialog is so clunky, I have to watch his scenes three times to figure out what he’s actually saying.
Abraham and Sasha are useless in this episode—except for the missile launcher he recovers near the episode’s end. What about Daryl, does he do anything vital to the plot? Ha. Ha ha ha. Yeah, right.
The episode opens with the trio shaking the walker herd at the twenty-mile mark. When they turn off the parade route, someone shoots at them. Daryl dumps his bike, but recovers enough to ride out into the woods. Yes, more forest scenes. I’ve started naming the trees, because surely every scene in this show is filmed in the same acre of forest and I’ve developed more of a relationship with the foliage than any character since Hershel died.
Daryl isn’t alone in the forest. Burned walkers litter the ground. As he flees further into the trees to hide from whoever attacked them, he stumbles across two women who obviously think he’s one of the shooters. A man knocks him out. There’s weird Daryl POV sight gag taking us into the next day. Fancy another walk in the woods? The strangers bind Daryl and set out to find their friend. No friend at their destination. Daryl escapes when one woman, Tina, faints, stealing their bag containing his crossbow and pack. It also has Tina’s insulin. Yup. He takes it back. Just in time to grab his abductors and hide from the shooters. There’s no interaction between the groups. The search is called off. “We only wanted to take this so far,” one man tells his cohorts over the radio. Essentially, there’s no point to these men other than forcing Daryl to interact with his abductors a little longer.
After the shooters leave there’s, you guessed it, more walking. They find a bunt-out greenhouse where friends of the abductors once lived. The friends burned in the fire the abductors set. They also turned walker and are trapped under a layer of melted glass. Tina is bitten. Driven by who-knows-what, Daryl asks them the standard questions for bringing someone new into the community. They pass with flying colors. For about five minutes. When Daryl recovers his motorcycle, they steal it and the crossbow.
That’s okay. There just happens to be a conveniently placed truck fifty yards away. No spare crossbow, though.
When the two story lines finally hit the same time line, Daryl arrives in the small town to retrieve Abraham and Sasha. They drive toward Alexandria. The only interesting part of the entire episode is a short message over the radio. Is it a distress call from Glenn? Man, I hope so.