At this point, it’s becoming clear that we are not going to find out for sure what happened to Glenn until the other characters do. It’s also becoming clear that this season – or half-season, since AMC splits them into eight-episode halves – has been structured to take place entirely in the space of a single day, the day of Rick’s harebrained plan to move thousands of walkers 20 miles up the road, with each episode following a different part of that plan. This week, we followed Daryl, Sasha and Abraham on their two-pronged mission to lead the walkers along the highway.
It didn’t go so well: coming under an ambush of automatic gunfire, the team split up, with Daryl heading into the woods on his motorcycle while Sasha and Abraham holed up in an open building. Daryl’s plot was interesting and pointed to a potentially interesting new storyline; Sasha and Abraham, not so much.
It was a rough afternoon for Daryl. He laid his bike down, got a road rash nasty enough to wreck his beloved leather jacket, and that was only the beginning of his troubles; captured by a man and two women apparently in the midst of escaping from yet another cult situation – and who thought Daryl was one of their captors – our circumspect hero found a way to escape. But when the duffel bag the trio had stuffed his trusty crossbow also turned out to contain insulin, Daryl’s oversized conscience led him to return the medicine at just the moment the Bad Guys, who I’ll call the Accountants for their fixation on being made whole for stolen supplies, found everyone and opened fire. After helping the three escape and inviting them to Alexandria, they stole his bike and his crossbow anyway. Well, two of them did. Annie Insulin got eaten by a walker, because apparently she never figured out that treading upon dead bodies is a bad plan.
Meanwhile, Sasha and Abraham hid out and Abraham learned a little Zen Buddhism. Scolded by Sasha for his urge to kill any walker he sees, whether or not it presents a danger, he spent the afternoon trying not to kill a walker on the other side of a plate-glass window, proclaiming a romantic interest in Sasha (“I like the way you call bulls–t”) and longing for a rocket launcher that a dangling reanimated soldier, impaled on a downed piece of chain-link fence, has around his neck. After tempting fate by crawling out on the fence and trying to get the weapon but ultimately deciding against it, the soldier decomposes enough to fall, leaving the launcher hanging by itself. Some problems solve themselves if you’re patient enough to let them.
After losing his bike, Daryl finds an oil truck, picks up Sasha and Abraham, and picks up a transmission on the radio asking for help. Is it Glenn? Is it the pair that stole his bike and crossbow and walkie? Typically for this season, we won’t find out until next week – and maybe not even then.
One question: one of the Accountants got bitten on the arm while Daryl and his new friends were briefly in their custody, and they immediately amputated the arm. Does that work?
Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club likes the way the episode introduced this new plot:
There’s a story here, and everything that happens to Daryl in the woods feeds into that story. This episode is meant to tell us why it’s taken Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl to get back to Alexandria, but if it that was the only thing it accomplished, it would be wasted time. So we get some character building for Abraham, a potential new romance between him and Sasha, and, perhaps most importantly, we get an introduction to what’s sure to be a major foe in the weeks ahead. That introduction is a fascinating exercise in limited information. The show passed my limited knowledge of the comics ages ago, so I have no real context to draw on to try and piece this all together; instead of being frustrating, though, that made Daryl’s encounter with the Earners (sorry, best name I could come up with) all the more compelling. In general, The Walking Dead tends to spell out its story beats, often to the point of redundancy. Here, though, while it’s not impossible to figure out what happened, you have to work a little to figure it out. This mimics Daryl’s own position in the narrative. He’s stumbled into someone else’s plotline, and he’s as lost as the rest of us.I’m not fundamentally opposed to quiet episodes of The Walking Dead. If anything, some of the show’s best episodes have been much more about characters talking and reflecting than they’ve been about battling zombies and/or other humans. But the show’s done three quiet-ish episodes in a row now. One was excellent in a vacuum but poorly-timed given what happened the week before. One was well-intentioned in trying to better establish who the Alexandrians are, but failed at that and then fell back on tired rhetoric about how Rick is the World’s Best Boss. But at least I understood what the show was attempting with “Here’s Not Here” and “Now,” where “Always Accountable” felt almost entirely like filler. It was as if the writers realized we had to see what Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham had been up to while Alexandria was falling apart, only nobody bothered to come up with something interesting enough to fill the hour.
Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff still has faith in this storyline:
One of the nice things about this half-season of The Walking Dead is that it’s slowly but surely shifted the focus of the show from the endless movement among various doomed locations to one where it seems like the characters are really intent on making this Alexandria thing work. I outlined last week why this hasn’t worked as well in practice as it might have, but in theory it’s one of the single biggest shifts to The Walking Dead’s status quo ever. Of course, if Alexandria is going to be a community worth saving, there are probably other communities around as well, ones that will play by different rules and have different codes entirely. I don’t really think Daryl is likely to play by the brutal rules of the group in the woods — he’s too compassionate for that — but this season’s open questioning of just what the best method for living in this world might be has upped those stakes substantially. Maybe open brutality really is the best method. Maybe we just don’t know it yet.
Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson thinks the episode’s end points to a certain maybe-dead character’s fate:
The only thing that most Walking Dead fans want to know at this point is whether or not Glenn is alive. We still don’t know for certain, but the episode did end with Daryl getting a faint “help!” on the other end of his walkie talkie. That could be any number of people, but there’s some pretty strong evidence that it might be our favorite pizza delivery boy. When asked if it was Glenn on the other end of Daryl’s radio, Norman Reedus said, “It’s not Glenn! Don’t ask me! It’s not Glenn!” But any Game of Thrones fan can tell you to be skeptical of the post-episode interview. A quick revisit to earlier in the season shows that Glenn had a walkie clipped firmly to his hip as he and Nicholas entered the alleyway back in Episode 3. You can even see it in the official promo photo from AMC at the top of this post. That’s not quite enough evidence to draw any conclusion, but if you watch that harrowing dumpster scene again, you’ll see that the show went to great lengths to make Glenn’s walkie visible to the audience as he bent over to pick his gun back up.
And Rolling Stone’s Noel Murray thinks we’ve not seen the last of the Accountants:
So is there any real point to “Always Accountable,” given that it ends with the characters just a little bit further down the road, and not much worse for wear, minus the loss of one motorcycle and one crossbow? For one, the episode brings Abraham and Sasha closer together. More importantly, it introduces the idea that there’s a much meaner version of the Alexandria Safe Zone not too far away… and one so well-populated that even its own residents don’t know everyone by sight. That’s bound to be a relevant piece of information very soon. Also, mirror imagery abounds this week — some of it involving literal mirrors. Sgt. Abraham finds a zombie in a military uniform. Daryl tumbles past a walker in a motorcycle helmet. A young woman named Tina discovers the burned-out shelter of some old friends, who rise from their plastic suicide-bags and eat her. There’s a lot of “there but for the grace of God”-ing going on, including the brief, none-too-warm relationship Daryl and Dwight, the dude who steals his stuff. The thief keeps trying to lecture our guy about the core values of independence and honor. (Cue hilarious irony.) Daryl counters by asking for a tally of how many zombies Dwight has killed, and how many humans. What’s becoming increasingly clear this season is that merely clearing out walkers isn’t enough. Rick’s team can’t afford to passively react to threats from other survivors any more, because it’s been costing them too much personnel. We may be gearing up for a war against Evil Alexandria. Thank god Abraham scored some rockets.