Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead started with Princess, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Eugene in the custody of the Commonwealth soldiers. After re-establishing that Princess has serious mental health issues, the episode ended with her, Yumiko, Ezekiel, and Eugene in the custody of the Commonwealth soldiers.
This week brings us a second Daryl/Carol-centric episode, which will hopefully include plenty of screen time for Dog. As always, the following recap will contain plenty of spoilers.
The episode opens with Daryl, Carol, and Dog walking in silence together through the woods. Daryl eventually gives Carol his pocket knife to help her open a stubborn canteen cap. This unfreezes things between them enough to discuss the challenges facing Alexandria with Maggie’s people coming in. Daryl also informs her that he won’t be coming back so he can “stay and look” a while longer.
Before parting ways, things get painfully awkward when Carol tells Daryl he doesn’t need to apologize to her. He responds by claiming that all he wanted to say was “good luck.” Oof.
It’s at this point that the pair diverge at a literal fork in the road, which damn near made my eyes roll out of my head. Surprisingly, Dog decides to hang with Carol instead of Daryl. He’s clearly hurt by the decision, but still accepts it.
Later, Carol arrives back at Alexandria and takes Dog back to Daryl’s house. She also finds a scarf in the middle of the road. I wish that wasn’t important enough to point out, but it ends up playing a significant part in the very small amount of story that there is in this episode.
But I digress…after giving Dog some water, Carol talks to her canine companion about how she didn’t really need a legit apology from Daryl; just one that signaled a truce. After giving Dog some well-deserved belly rubs, Carol goes to find Jerry and asks what she can do to help. Despite the entire town being razed by the Whisperer’s final attack, he’s unable to provide her with a task. After resigning herself to fixing the bloody scarf for all of five seconds (because Carol likes to fix things), she begs Jerry to find something for her to do.
They eventually settle on her making some food (seriously), which leads to Carol retelling the Stone Soup fairytale and how important it is for people to share things. Despite having a heart of gold, Jerry totally misses the point of the story.
Rat Trap Fever
Carol heads back to Daryl’s place and gets to work finding ingredients for her soup. This leads to the most boring montage in Walking Dead history, which is mercifully interrupted when Dog goes crazy over a rat running around the house and knocks everything over, including the soup ingredients. Instead of observing the 10-second rule (which is totally a thing if you’re boiling something), Carol temporarily abandons the soup and decides to make her own rat trap, leading to the second most boring montage in Walking Dead history.
After setting the trap, Carol heads out beyond Alexandria’s walls to find more ingredients. She’s eventually surrounded by walkers, which she kills with ease (and mostly off camera). She then heads back home, passes Jerry along the way (who’s somehow shocked to see a person covered in walker guts), and gets to work with Daryl’s pocket knife fixing one of the town’s solar panels.
*Side Note: This would have been a great time for her to point out how badly Jerry whiffed when trying to think of stuff she could help with.
Carol uses the resulting electricity to get a hot pot going. She then calls Dog into the room with her, who doesn’t react at all for some reason when the rat escapes from Carol’s trap. Instead, he simply watches as Carol chases the rodent in a time padding sequence that made me actually root for its survival.
Sure enough, the rat makes it back into its hole in the wall, which Carol covers with the scarf before the power goes out due to the sun going down.
Once night falls, she lays in bed and asks Dog if she should just leave and “get out of everybody’s hair.” Dog doesn’t answer, but even a creature as sweet and loyal as him has got to be tired of Carol asking this question.
No Ride with Norman Reedus
Elsewhere, Daryl is somehow surprised when his malfunctioning motorcycle breaks down, leaving him stranded in the woods. While searching through abandoned cars for a part replacement, he makes the genius decision to get under a vehicle with a walker inside of it. The undead creature causes the sedan to nearly crush him, but Daryl makes it out so that he can still star in the upcoming spinoff series.
He also manages to get the part needed to fix his bike. Unfortunately, he gave his pocket knife to Carol (who at this point was playing Chopped back in Alexandria) and never got it back. He tries using his giant bowie knife for the repairs, but to no avail.
This leads to Daryl wheeling is bike back toward town, which ends up with him crossing paths with a bunch of walkers. He spots one in an army uniform, which OF COURSE means the undead serviceman must have a pocket knife and/or multi-tool on him.
Daryl begins walking toward the soldier zombie, but steps on a tree branch and causes the other walkers to notice him. Thanks to his main character shield, he’s still able to walk by the entire horde and reach the ditch where the solder zombie is impaled on a tree branch.
Unfortunately, Daryl’s incident with the car and stepping on the loudest twig in history were just precursors to him losing all tracking/survival skills. After climbing down into the ditch, he trips and falls in. Sensing a delicious main character meal, Soldier Zombie breaks free of the branch and attacks. Thankfully, Daryl still manages to stab the zombie in the head and get its multi-tool. He also easily escapes the horde of walkers that was following him and makes it back to his bike…where another uniformed walker is literally army-crawling toward him.
Daryl kills the second uniformed walker, takes its supplies, and gets to work. By the time night falls, his bike is working again and he’s headed back to Alexandria.
That night, Dog awakens Carol when he hears the rat scurrying in the walls. She chases the rodent and ends up tearing out huge sections of the wall in an unsuccessful attempt to kill it. I’m sure this was supposed to be a symbolic metaphor for Carol’s frustrations, but it actually spoke to me on a much deeper level about having to sit through this entire episode twice.
The next day, Jerry comes over to check on Carol. She admits that she isn’t doing well, (a constant and tiring theme for the last several seasons). After expressing concern that her best friend has finally figured out that she’s too broken to care about (ugh), Jerry gives her a hug and comes inside for some soup. She also decides to throw out the scarf.
Later, Daryl returns and tells Carol she can keep his pocket knife. The two part ways and close their respective doors behind each other in yet another visual metaphor with all the subtlety of a jackhammer.
Maybe these bridge episodes leading into Season 11 weren’t a good idea.
I was tough on the previous Carol/Daryl episode of The Walking Dead, but that was a masterpiece compared to this one. You’d think a narrative featuring three of the of the show’s best characters and Dog would be great. Instead, we got a retread of everything we already knew about Carol and Daryl packaged in hamfisted bottle story.
- Carol is upset with herself and thinks she’s a broken person who no one can love.
- Daryl feels like he has to do everything himself.
- Daryl is mad at Carol for the decisions she’s made and constantly having to reassure her that she’s not a bad person.
We get it. The first two items have been explored ad nauseam and the last was firmly established.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s fine to use baked in themes and character traits as a way to explore an interesting story. It’s even better when those things get put to the test like what we saw in “One More.”
Unfortunately, “Diverged” decided that the best way to do this was via two of the most uninteresting plotlines imaginable. Melissa McBride and Norman Reedus are more than capable of solo acting a story, but it’s hard to make the hunt for soup ingredients and car parts interesting — especially when almost all the action takes place off screen or occurs due to Daryl suddenly losing his survival instincts.
And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous visual metaphors. The fork in the road at the beginning of the episode was cheesy, but also beautifully shot, so it can can be forgiven. But the doors closing at the end was just too much.
Add in the fact that both Jerry and Daryl had to say the exact same “You’ll figure it out…you always do” line to Carol, and I’m about at my breaking point with this episode. The only thing enjoyable about it was the extended screen time for Dog — and even then his selective reactions to the rat was irksome.
Let’s hope next week’s episode about Negan makes us forget this one ever happened.
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