Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Always Accountable opts to continue the less is more approach to storytelling The Walking Dead has run with ever since Here’s Not Here. Finally shifting focus to Daryl, Sasha and Abraham, new threats present themselves while the less than sane members of the group reflect on their current situation. It all culminates to form an episode that teases a number of developments down the road but leaves the story at hand a tad underwhelming.
Always Accountable splits its focus between a lone Daryl and a stranded Sasha and Abraham. After leading the zombie horde 20 miles out the trio are attacked by a mysterious group of scavengers. The ensuing skirmish sees Daryl chased off into the woods while Abraham and Sasha hide out in an abandoned building in hopes that Daryl can find his way back to them. The opening few minutes imply a return to the high-octane narrative season 6 began with but it soon slows things down considerably in favor of teasing new players and delving into the minds of Sasha and Abraham.
As has been the case for a while now, Sasha and Abraham haven’t been the most levelheaded of the group. So pairing them together presents opportunities for heedless zombie slaying mayhem other characters can’t afford. Instead Sasha seems to be over her insatiable bloodlust and the woman who recently slept in a hole full of corpses views Abraham as “on the edge”. It was great to see what some of the members of the core cast have been up to but to gloss over Sasha’s return to normalcy seems like something that should have been addressed. The same goes for Abraham’s sudden turn to insanity. He has always been quick to anger but he never seemed reckless to the point of hurting himself (which was absolutely the case with Sasha). Sure, stepping onto a less than stable fence to scream into the face of death itself was a touch over the edge but Sasha didn’t see that. Heck I probably would have done the same if it meant nabbing myself an RPG in the middle of the apocalypse. Instead she was concerned that he wanted to kill a lone walker that was a few feet away from him.
Their dynamic this episode seemed disingenuous to me, and not from an acting standpoint, but from a writing standpoint. If Sasha is going to be the voice of reason make it clear why she can suddenly be trusted and make her doubt Abraham’s intentions when he is actually doing something stupid (like the RPG zombie), not just performing a routine action.
Speaking of which, you don’t just happen upon (at least) 5 rockets and forget about them. Expect those to play a big role in the near future.
Moving on to Daryl’s side of the episode. Always Accountable was truly Daryl’s story. It’s no surprise to anyone that Daryl is the ultimate survivor; this episode gives us more of that. Unfortunately, we are introduced to a trio of newcomers that bog down the potential with their old world naiveté. During Daryl’s trek back to Sasha and Abraham he comes across two girls attempting to sneak behind him. While dealing with them a third stranger slugs him from behind and he is taken captive. When he awakens we learn that the three would be kidnappers are about as green as the Alexandrians, untested by the world despite surviving for so long. This in itself wouldn’t pose much of an issue but when you add in the fact that we learn next to nothing about whom these three are (I don’t blame you for forgetting their names) and where they came from the bulk of the episode loses impact.
Refusing to let Daryl go because he is, “one of them” further adds to the frustration of the episode. Having just seen the raid on Alexandria, I assumed “them” was referring to the group of Wolves. Only later on we witness these “them” have guns, the Wolves don’t. Typically The Walking Dead isn’t hesitant when introducing new factions to the world but for some reason that tune has changed. This mysterious third group looks threatening enough, lopping off bitten limbs with no remorse, tearing down scorched forest in their massive trucks. However, it begs the question, if this is the group that housed these three people, why do these three people suck?
Watching Tina (I believe that’s what they called her) walk up to a covered body without a second thought was the final straw for these people. If you’re that dumb at this point in the apocalypse, I’m glad you’re gone.
Daryl being Daryl was awesome, escaping the incoming wave of mysterious strangers with nothing but his trusty crossbow and a bleeding arm. Classic TWD. If only his new companions were even remotely competent. Which brings us to the final point. How in the world did Daryl not see their betrayal coming? His ominous last words, “I’m sorry” “you’re gonna be”, imply that these characters are far from one-offs and has me excited to see what kind of punishment Daryl has in store for them when he finally gets his crossbow back. But the fact that these people were so inept leaves a sour taste in my mouth, when it comes to Daryl being duped and the episode in general.
Forgetting about those three, the potential plot points this episode teases, as well as the beautiful and grisly atmosphere surrounding the events are definite pluses. The dreary color palate of the flame-touched forest really added to the dismal feel of the episode. Not to mention the fact that barbecued bodies littered the forest floor everywhere they went (that zombie baby in the motor cycle helmet tells you just how crazy things have gotten without uttering a single word).
And to end things off, Daryl reunites with Sasha and Abraham in his newfound fuel truck making their way back to town. Driving down the road, taking in the day’s events, a single word can be heard over the radio, “help”. Glenn fans the world over will no doubt cling to this as evidence of his survival. I immediately thought of Rick due to the deeper tone. The identity of the speaker is ultimately a mystery and contributes yet another intriguing potential plot point that will have fans salivating over for the next little while.
While the mysteries hinted at in Always Accountable provide more than enough to look forward to, they did little in terms of making the episode at hand one worth remembering. I will always remember when Daryl had to fight for his life impaled by an arrow while seeing hallucinations of his brother, Merle (season 2, episode 5 Chupacabra). I hope to forget his misadventures with the bungling triplets.
This mixed nature earns Always Accountable a 6/10.
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