The Walking Dead, Season 4, Episode 12: “Still”
Directed by Julius Ramsay
Written by Angela Kang
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on AMC
The 12th episode of The Walking Dead season 4 titled “Still,” spends all of its running time with Beth and Darryl. The two bond over all they’ve lost before and after the apocalypse, while Beth and Daryl try to find a new save haven, and some booze to drown away their sorrow.
Julius Ramsay (usually the show’s go-to editor) does an excellent job directing “Still,” ratcheting up the tension in the episode’s fantastic cold opener, while delivering several striking images throughout Beth and Darryl’s struggle with overwhelming odds. Particularly effective is the golf club sequence in which Darryl makes out with a bag of loot, and the opening sequence with him and Beth finding shelter overnight in in the trunk of a car, while dozens, if not hundreds of walkers pass them by.
As discussed in previous reviews, The Walking Dead is never as strong when servicing a lot of characters and subplots all at once. It seems to do a better job when stripping itself down as much as possible. Much like “Clear” the critically acclaimed twelfth episode from season three, “Still” focuses on one simple story, one simple goal, a limited amount of characters (in this case, two) and a clear direction. It makes perfect sense that when the gang is separated after the destruction of the prison, the writers purposely paired up the fan favourites with unpopular/underdeveloped characters. The most notable of the bunch is the odd couple of Darryl and Beth. It isn’t a big secret that Emily Kinney’s Beth is one of the least likeable characters in the series so far. Her most memorable moments to date have included attempting suicide, mourning over the loss of her boyfriends (who we never get to know), and spending an entire season babysitting baby Judith. Up until now, she’s mostly served as a plot function, or worse, constantly put in danger to achieve a cheap jump scare. With “Still” Beth is given plenty of time to shine, more importantly she carries her own weight. While Darryl, is usually the strong, emotionally in control, cool headed hero, here he slowly loses hope, while Beth pushes forward, despite admitting she won’t survive for much longer.
“Still” gives Daryl and Beth plenty of breathing room and Norman Reedus and Kinney deliver some of the most grounded and engaging character beats of season four. It just goes to show that when the writers do a good job in sketching our their characters, the actors respond big. “Still” boasts the strongest acting we’ve seen from Kinney yet, particularly in that final sequence. The ‘burning down the house’ sequence was beautifully shot, and kudos to the soundtrack mixer for selecting The Mountain Goats’ “Up the Wolves”.
“Still” is about nothing more than two friends traveling across the forests and desperatey trying to let go of their pasts. Kudos to Angela Kang and Julius Ramsay for presenting a decidedly different take on the zombie apocalypse. The episodes no-frills approach to storytelling will prove divisive with fans, but as a two-person character study, this legitimately novel slant on the series is extremely welcome. Hopefully this is the start of a strong character arc for Beth, and who knows, in hindsight, Beth’s prophetic words about Daryl ending up the last man standing, may just make this one of the strongest episodes in the series.
– Ricky D
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