SEASON 10; EPISODE 21
So the two-handers continue! In fact, that's basically all we have had for a month now, with the show intent to focus in on the dynamics between a particular pairing rather than give us something a bit more ensemble. We've already had a Daryl/Carol episode and yet here we are with another one.
The problem with these types of episode – especially when you get a couple in a row – is that it really does affect the pacing of the series. I get that the characters are fractured and dispersed over a large area, but at the moment there is no real thrust to any of it. If they manage to build up to any sort of tension at the end of one episode, that story thread is invariably revisited a few weeks later, which is just too late. Post whisperers we feel as if we are drifting from one sideshow to another and although there's some level of enjoyment to be had from watching Aaron drunk or Carol make nettle soup, it just feels like it's dragging right now. We know Carol, we know Daryl. They've been in The Walking Dead for ten years and as much as these characters are vital to the show, I'm kind of past character building episodes with these two. In fact, I think I'm getting tired of any of these sorts of episodes where not much really happens. It was frustrating in previous seasons but perhaps even more so now that we know the end is in sight. I appreciate that they are setting up the Carol and Daryl spin-off series but really, we don't need to be given entire episodes that involve just the two of them. We're quite capable of adjusting to that format when the time comes. Can we just focus on The Walking Dead right now?
If you were to sum up what actually happened in episode 21, it wouldn't take long. Daryl and Carol parted ways at the start of the episode with Dog opting to hang out with Carol) as they both made their way back to Alexandria. Daryl's bike broke down and he had to fix it and Carol spent her time at Alexandria attempting to make some godawful soup and trying to catch a rat. There wasn't much else going on quite frankly. We got a little bit of walker action – although even then most of Carol's kill sequences were off screen. By the end of the episode, Daryl had managed to fix his bike and had returned to Alexandria where he and Carol exchanged some brief pleasantries. The end. In terms of plot or how any of this will affect anything going forward, it's hard to see this episode as nothing more than a bit of a distraction. A bit of treading water. The other thing is that we know both of these characters aren't going to be killed off at this point so there is literally no tension whatsoever. It's like the people writing this show have forgotten that people aren't tuning in to see a light-hearted drama. We're here to see action and horror and conflict. And lately we haven't been getting too much of that.
We're also at a point where Carol is no longer really that interesting. And I say that with a heavy heart as she used to be one of the best characters in the show. But the constant flip-flopping between one identity crisis to the next is becoming rather tiresome and boring. It doesn't add depth, it just frustrates. And the fractured nature of the relationship between Daryl and Carol is something that's been covered before in a big way. Surely it isn't anything we need to dwell on is it? Not until their spin-off at least...
Dog was probably the most interesting thing in this episode. I don't care how mundane everything else is, as soon as a big cuddly dog appears, things instantly feel better. Although that's a bit of a damning verdict isn't it? I don't tune in to The Walking Dead to see cute fluffy canines, I watch it in the vain hope that it may recapture something of what it used to have many years ago. But the longer we go on, the more apparent it becomes that those heady days are gone. And all we're now left with is Carol making soup. And disgusting looking soup at that.
Next week is the Negan origin story which may prove a little more interesting. Although I must admit that I quite liked not knowing the exact details of his backstory. It added a sense of intrigue and mystery. But like the show itself, maybe Negan is about to lose the last remaining shred of both of those too...