On tonight’s episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we got everything that fans have never asked for: car chases, Bizarro characters, and “Daryl Peril.” While that’s not to say that “Always Accountable”, the sixth episode in the series’ sixth season, was a bad hour by any means, it is a reminder that the show’s writers seem more than willing to pretend Glenn’s story is all wrapped up. Fans will certainly continue to tune in each and every week anyway, but their patience is just as certainly wearing thin by this point. And even though tonight’s episode didn’t center on the Replacement Players in Alexandria, it did focus on the persons of Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl.
At the outset of “Always Accountable”, this trio is still together; Daryl’s leading the convoy on his Frankenstein bike while Abraham and Sasha are in the station wagon. Everything’s going to plan until they’re ambushed by armed gunmen in multiple vehicles. It was such a jarring change to the usual action scenes in this show that I had to stop and think about the last time we saw any semblance of a car chase. Inevitably, the two vehicles are forced to split up, so we’ll split up the recap as well.
Thanks to Sasha’s driving and her and Abraham’s willingness to throw dozens of bullets into the attacking car with their high-powered assault rifles, they’re still alive after the attack. Abraham wants to finish the job up close and personal with his blade, but Sasha warns him that more attackers might be nearby. Instead of “putting a polish on it”, they find temporary shelter and decide to wait for Daryl.
What follows is one of the stranger episodes in recent memory as far as dialogue goes. Abraham takes turns waxing poetic and growling savagely while Sonequa Martin-Green delivers Sasha’s lines in an almost detached air that is caught somewhere between the patient wisdom of a mentor and the boredom of someone who’s seen too many nights on the road. So while Sasha keeps one eye on Abraham as he stands guard, Abraham seems hellbent on throwing himself into trouble. She knows he’s been out of control since his mission to get Eugene to D.C. turned out to be a fabrication, so she reminds him that he’s still accountable for his actions despite the rest of the world going to shit. It’s a good reminder of a central question of this show: How far are you willing to go to protect your life and the lives of others at the risk of losing your humanity?
With that moral quandary on Abraham’s mind, he happens upon a military Humvee which is loaded with RPGs and Cuban cigars, almost as if it was meant for Abraham. But RPGs aren’t much use without a launcher, which happens to be hanging around the shoulders of an undead soldier who’s impaled on a fence post suspended over the edge of an overpass. Though Abraham tries to get the launcher, he’s forced to keep his distance because of the Walker’s attempts to eat him. This frustrates him to the point of literally getting face to face with the dead man – staring death in the face – and screaming with rage. Instead of forcing the issue, he merely sits back on the edge of the Humvee, smokes a cigar, and watches the Walker continue to struggle in its mindless pursuit of him.
Abraham’s action not only signals that he’s listening to Sasha (she advises that he just sit and watch the Walker that’s trapped in a glass office in their temporary hideout) but that he sees his own former behavior as mindless, self-destructive, and without a worthwhile purpose. His new-found perspective is rewarded when the Walker’s body gives way and the rocket launcher is left hanging on the fence post, relatively safely.
He returns to Sasha (new toys included) in order to tell her that he has faith that Rick and the group will manage whatever was going on in Alexandria. And then proceeds to hit on her! It’s not really a surprise considering Abraham’s wandering eye, but it’s concerning for another reason. I get nervous when a major character starts monologuing and developing feelings for another major character; nothing good ever comes of these attachments. But for the meantime, Abraham and Sasha are safe; it’s Daryl we should be concerned about.
After taking a spill on his bike, Daryl gathers his wits in a burned-out section of forest where a motorcycle-helmeted walker stirs in the scorched earth – shades of Abraham looking into the deathly visage of the military man. He’s wounded and bleeding, but not badly enough to prevent him from pushing his bike through the forest, though he’s looking a little more skittish than you’d expect the experienced woodsman to be. With good reason, as it turns out, since he soon happens upon two young women who distract him long enough for a man to knock him out.
When he regains consciousness, he finds himself tied up and being led through the woods. The trio is quite mysterious, dropping hints about who they’re running from, where they’re running to, and who (or what) they’re looking for. For the sake of clarity: they’re running from a group of survivors who deal brutally enough with their own followers let alone deserters, and they plan on heading home with the help of “Patty”, a fuel truck from the nearby Pattrick Fuel Company. Complicating plans is the fact that the woman’s sister, Tina, is diabetic. Making things more difficult for them is the arrival of Daryl.
Let me get this out of the way: Is it just me or do the unnamed man and woman look like a Bizarro version of Rick and Lori? It’s almost like we’re seeing a version of Rick and Lori who were never separated, but rather than ending up with a group of mostly benevolent survivors, they shacked up with a bunch of militaristic types who demanded more and more tribute in exchange for providing relative safety from the Hellish world outside. They assumed that everyone left in the world was fighting against the dead, not amongst each other. They also assumed that Daryl was part of this cultish group of survivors they attempted to flee. They were wrong on both counts.
Though Daryl briefly manages to escape, he doubles back when he finds out that the trio was carrying insulin for Tina. He returns it in exchange for the man’s gun and a wooden carving. All well and good except that a man named Wade and a sizable force of armed men show up looking for the three of them. With Daryl’s help (and the help of a Walker biting henchman Cam’s arm), they manage to outsmart the men, who return to their own camp. (“He” only wants those who are willing.)
Remember that Daryl had previously been keen on recruiting new members to come live in Alexandria; it’s a tactic he attempts with this trio. It seems like it’s working, at least until Tina gets bitten by some Walkers in a greenhouse who break through their glass death shrouds. Things get worse when Bizarro Rick and Lori turn on Daryl once again and steal his motorcycle and crossbow. (I’m really going to miss that bike.)
Left on his own and without a ride, Daryl takes a look at the wood carving again. He goes back to the corpse in the motorcycle helmet that’s just barely moving and nearby he finds a sign for Pattrick Fuel Company. Close to that he finds Patty, the fuel truck that’s hidden in the brush. He hops aboard, after dispatching the Walker behind the wheel of course, and heads to pick up Abraham in his fancy new military uniform. As they drive back to Alexandria, they get a radio transmission saying simply, ‘Help.’ (It’s probably not who you hope it is.)
I’m honestly at a loss as to what we’re supposed to take away from this episode. Abraham seems to be coming out on the other side of his PTSD episodes with a new-found sense of self-awareness, but is now in danger of being eliminated from the show altogether because he’s become emotionally involved. And while it may have helped matters thematically that both he and Daryl looked into the eyes (or sockets, or melted visor) of a Walker version of themselves, it’s certainly a concerning development for the longevity of each of their characters as the show continues on. Will one (or both) meet their end before Season 6 is over? Perhaps the new casting addition will have something to say about that…
Rating: ★★★ Good
Bizarro Lori: “You found us, okay? Here we are. We earned what we took.”
Bizarro Rick: “Everybody’s got a code.”
Message Board: “Proud to have provided value. I pray for the world. Keep going. Stay cheerful. … The bites kill.”
Abraham: “You have no idea how much I want to release that thing from this plane of existence.”
Abraham: “Loose ends make my ass itch.”
Bizarro Lori: “It’s ours. We earn what we took.”
Wade (after chopping Cam’s arm off): “Let’s walk it off.”
Abraham: “We got beer and air conditioning and walls. The table is set for the rest of our lives, and I hope those years to be long and fruitful. I see that time before me and I’ve been feeling the urge to make some plays before the great cosmic Pete comes to cut my throat unceremoniously and I gurgle my last breath. Things are gonna go on for a while before that. That hadn’t occurred to me before; been kinda living check to check on that point.”
Abraham: “I like the way you call bullshit, Sasha.”
See how many Walkers were toasted thanks to a little arson/forest fire? I wonder if that would have worked in the quarry…
Daryl: “How many Walkers you killed? How many people you killed? Why?” – It looks like the three questions don’t work as well as they used to.
I’d watch a spin-off just about Daryl’s recruiting efforts.
Bizarro Lori: “I’m sorry.” Daryl: “You’re gonna be.” I have a feeling we’ll be seeing them again real soon, in one form or another.
RIP Daryl’s bike. That was a sweet Frankenstein ride.