‘The Walking Dead’: Two roads diverged in a wood, and we took the wrong one

The Walking Dead
“Twice as Far”
March 20, 2016

Following their raid on the Sanctuary, Alexandria has fallen into a steady routine:

Pantry Lady takes inventory of the pantry

Gabriel patrols the grounds

Dr. Mullet and Sasha guard the walls, nod at each other knowingly

Morgan practices Jedi-ing with his Jedi stick

Carol prays with her new rosary beads, smokes, hangs out with that Tobin guy

Meanwhile, Morgan has been spending his time building a prison cell, explaining to an incredulous Rick that it will “give [him] choices next time.”

Daryl tinkers with his bike on which he finds a toy soldier — the same toy soldier that D guy was whittling before he betrayed Daryl and stole his bike and crossbow. Daryl and Carol share a smoke and she asks if the people in “the burnt forest” were the ones that took the motorcycle after he saved them. Daryl grunts that he should have killed them. As it will turn out, he’s not wrong. Daryl then asks Carol what the people who took her and Maggie did to them, and Carol tells him “nothing,” but she doesn’t mean it, not really.

Elsewhere, Rosita is sleeping with that worthless Spencer guy, but she’s not into him. He practically begs her to have dinner, and she’s like, “UGH, FINE, WHATEVER, JUST QUIT TALKING TO ME.”

maya-rudolph-versace-get-out

After Spencer goes away, Dr. Denise approaches Rosita and suggests that rather than do their daily training, she has another idea: when she fled D.C., she noticed there was an apothecary in a nearby strip mall and she thinks there might still be drugs there. How about Rosita and Daryl escort her back there, and they can stock up on some  much-needed meds? Rosita and Daryl are skeptical about taking her outside of the walls, but she’s insistent that if they don’t take her, she’ll go alone, so they’re like, “FINE. GET IN THE TRUCK.”

Also out on a little jaunt: Abraham and Dr. Mullet, who has pulled his signature mullet back into a ponytail. EVERYTHING I KNOW IS WRONG. UP IS DOWN. DOWN IS UP. RICK IS EVIL. CAROL DOESN’T WANT TO KILL. DR. MULLET NO LONGER HAS A MULLET. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING.

The change has shaken Abraham, too, who wonders what the hairdo is all about, and Dr. Mullet explains that this is Stage Two: he’s changing, adapting, surviving.

eugene-mullet

R.I.P. mullet.

Dr. Mullet leads Abraham to their destination: a forge where Dr. Mullet plans to create new bullets. Both Alexandria and Hilltop have limited supplies, so why not create new ones? Abraham is duly impressed! However, it doesn’t last long. When Viserys the Walker comes stumbling out from the back of the building…

viserys-death-game-of-thrones

 

… Dr. Mullet calls “dibs,” only to have his machete bounce off of Viserys’ iron helmet. After stumbling around with Viserys for a while, Dr. Mullet very nearly gets his face eaten before Abraham steps in to finish what Khal Drogo started. However, Dr. Mullet is not appreciative of the assist, insisting that HE CALLED DIBS. With that, Dr. Mullet thanks Abraham for his protection, but Abraham’s services are no longer required. Abraham is all, “WELL FINE THEN,” before stomping away.

okay-girl-bye

 

Over on Dr. Denise’s adventure with Daryl and Rosita, they drive along in the truck (whose stick shift proves to be the one thing Daryl can’t handle), until they arrive to a point in the road blocked by a fallen tree. Forced to go on foot, Dr. Denise points out that according to the map, taking the road would be twice as far as following the railroad tracks, but Daryl’s not having it. NO RAILROAD TRACKS. But I guess because she’s all depressed after being dumped by Abraham, Rosita opts to take the tracks alone.

Eventually, the trio meet back up and pry their way into Edison’s apothecary which is filled with reading glasses and clothes and baby pictures under the front counter. When Daryl and Rosita break into the back pharmacy area, something starts thumping in the next room, and Daryl and Rosita dismiss it as a trapped walker.

However, Dr. Dummy decides to go investigate and walks into literally one of the creepiest scenes in The Walking Dead history: a small room littered with children’s books, an empty playpen, a de-jawed walker with a cast on her leg, the words “HUSH HUSH HUSH…” written repeatedly on the walls, and a small tub filled with a viscous red-black liquid and one tiny toddler’s shoe.

tyrese-screaming-internally

Reasonably, Dr. Denise backs out of this nightmare and instead uses her time going through the keychain display until she finds one she likes: Dennis. Later, she explains to Daryl that it was her twin brother’s name: her drunk parents that naming their twins Denise/Dennis would be a hilarious life-long joke. She then goes on to describe her brother as brave and angry, and Daryl can relate.

highknive-twd-daryl-merle

 

And then Daryl decides to take the railroad tracks back.

the-office-no-michale-scott

 

Along the way, Dr. Denise spots in a car  a cooler being ferociously guarded by a walker, but DAMMIT, TARA NEEDS A SODA! and decides to take her chances. She opens the passenger door, the walker lunges and manages to knock her to the ground, but unlike Dr. Mullet, Dr. Denise is successful in stabbing her attacker in the head. Getting up, Dr. Denise throws up her oatmeal breakfast right onto her glasses, but even despite this is all, “THAT WAS AWESOME!” And her take-home prize? One can of orange soda.

Rosita wonders if she’s seriously so stupid as to risk her life for a Fanta, and Dr. Denise begins giving this whole big pep talk about how she needed to face her fears and she should have gone with Tara on her run and she asked Daryl to come with her on this run because he reminds her of her brother, and she asked Rosita to come because she knows Rosita is alone but wants her to know how strong she is. They are strong, smart, good people and if they don’t wake up …

… and that’s when she’s shot through the eye with a crossbow’s arrow. Daryl’s crossbow.

the-office-no-michale-scott

 

Daryl and Rosita quickly realize they are outnumbered by a group led by the guy who stole Daryl’s bike and crossbow, and, even worse, somehow this group has Dr. Mullet. Abraham, meanwhile, is hiding out behind some barrels, being sneaky.

As the crossbow/bike thief (whose face is now half-burnt) orders his men to take Daryl and Rosita’s weapons, he explains to Daryl that he’s still getting used to the crossbow, “she kicks like a bitch,” before adding that he wasn’t actually aiming for Dr. Denise. Daryl mumbles that he should have killed him back in the woods, and Two Face is like, “Yeah, probably,” before introducing himself as Dwight. Dwight then explains that Daryl and Rosita are going to take them back to their community and allow them to take whatever and whomever they’d like, or they are going to start killing them one by one, starting with Dr. Mullet.

Dr. Mullet, however, has different ideas and yells that if they’re going to start killing people, they should start with the guy hiding behind the oil barrels. But when Dwight’s men go to investigate, Dr. Mullet takes the opportunity to bite Dwight’s manbits. NOM NOM NOM, and Daryl and Rosita are able to grab their weapons. Shooting all the Saviors, shooting all the Saviors, shooting all the Saviors. And somewhere in the chaos, Dr. Mullet is shot in the side. Soon, Dwight and what remains of his men decide it’s not worth having their manpieces chomped off and flee back from whence they came, leaving Daryl’s crossbow behind.

run-away-run-away-monty-python

 

Rosita manages to stop Daryl from chasing after them, and instead, he, Abraham and Rosita carry Dr. Mullet back to safety.

Dr. Mullet recovers in the infirmary, in part thanks to the antibiotics Dr. Denise led them to. Once awake, Dr. Mullet tells Abraham that he wasn’t really trying to get him killed, and Abraham congratulates Dr. Mullet on knowing how to “bite a [manpart],” before welcoming him to “Stage Two.”

Abraham then marches outside and heads to Sasha’s, where he declares he’s ready to spend 30 years with her. LOL LOL OK.

Meanwhile, Daryl buries Dr. Denise with her Dennis keychain.

R.I.P. Dr. Denise. Merritt Wever, I knew you wouldn’t be long for this show, you’re too good an actress, but I didn’t expect you to be taken so soon. ~sob~

Merritt Wever as Dr. Denise Cloyd - The Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 14 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
You deserved better, Dr. Denise. (Gene Page/AMC)

And all of this is apparently too much for Carol who leaves a note for Tobin to find reading:

I wish it didn’t have to end, not this way. It was never my intention to hurt you, but it’s how it has to be. We have so much here – people, food, medicine, walls, everything we need to live. But what we have other people want, too – and that will never change. If we survive this threat and it’s not over, another one will be back to take its place, to take what we have. I love you all here. I do. And I’d have to kill for you. And I can’t. I won’t. Rick sent me away and I wasn’t ever gonna come back, but everything happened and I wound up staying. But I can’t anymore. I can’t love anyone because I can’t kill for anyone. So I’m going, like I always should have. Don’t come after me, please.

WELL, JUST SUPER. SOMEONE GO GET HER, PLEASE.

carol-community-shirley-the-walking-dead

 

I don’t have a whole heck of a lot to add about this particular episode, in part because it really is just another piece amping up the escalating tensions between Team Rick and the Saviors. That said, so far? The Saviors don’t seem like much of threat. Consider: according to The Walking Dead wikia, Daryl, Rosita and Abraham killed at least 7 Saviors in this episode; Maggie and Carol killed 8 Saviors in the previous episode, and Rick killed 1; Team Rick killed at least 24 Saviors in the raid on the Sanctuary; and Daryl, Abraham and Sasha killed 6 Saviors in their first run-in with them. This is a lot of Saviors! How big can this group be? And considering the Saviors have killed one Dr. Lady to Team Rick’s 46 (!!!!) Saviors it hardly seems like a fair fight. I understand that Negan is supposed to be “the greatest TV villain ever” and perhaps the writers are lulling us and Team Rick into a false sense of superiority and security. But they are really going to have to do something spectacular to make Negan and the Saviors be scarier than the likes of Rick and Carol right about now.

A quick note: though it might be obvious, even though they didn’t identify themselves as such, yes, those guys who killed Dr. Denise were most likely Saviors. For one, the writers have not to this point given us multiple enemies at once. But more importantly, Dwight follows the same pattern as all the other Saviors we’ve met and heard about: they kill one person to make their point, demand to know where Team Rick is living, and announce that they are going to take what they want from them. (They also follow the same pattern as the other Saviors in being easily killed by Team Rick, but I digress.)

So, what’s the deal with Dwight? Wasn’t he running away from someone when we first met him, maybe the Saviors? And why is his face now burnt? Good questions! And the answers come from the comics, so scroll over if you don’t mind being spoiled (and I actually discussed some of this before we knew Dwight was Dwight, so apologies if it feels repetitive):

As you probably know, Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics, so the whole scene where the bike and crossbow are stolen in the burnt woods never happened. We don’t actually meet Dwight in the comics until the equivalent of this episode;, except there, he kills Abraham with the crossbow (that is actually his), and he captures Dr. Mullet who takes him to the Alexandria gates. There, Dr. Mullet bites Dwight, and Team Rick is able to fire upon the Saviors and drive them away. This point is interesting, mostly because as of this point on the show the Saviors still have no idea where Alexandria is. But we know that Negan’s coming, which means on the show the Saviors probably end up capturing someone — or following someone — who leads them back to Alexandria. Carol? Daryl?

In the comics, Dwight eventually turns against Negan, and reveals to Team Rick that when he and his wife, Sherry, joined the Saviors, Sherry volunteered to become one of Negan’s “wives” to better Dwight’s position in the group. However, one night she snuck back to Dwight and slept with him. When Negan learned of this, he burned Dwight’s face with an iron. This is one of the reasons Dwight eventually betrays Negan, and takes over the leadership of the Saviors. In the show, we meet Dwight when he and two women are running from a group who appear to be Saviors. The assumption by the comic readers who recognized him as Dwight was that he was trying to run away with two of Negan’s wives. If that’s the case, we can fill in some of the blanks: after he leaves with Daryl’s stuff he was caught by the Saviors, they took the bike, let him keep the crossbow and burned his face — but didn’t kill him — as punishment. Which, to be fair, does provide some interesting insight into Negan and how he deals with his followers. As for the rest, we’ll have to wait and see where Dwight goes from here. 

The only other thing I would point out about this episode was the abundance of child and childhood imagery in this episode: Daryl discovers that toy soldier on his bike; Rosita complains about having to “babysit” Denise; obviously all the pictures of the child, the children’s books, the playpen, and the toddler’s shoe in that nightmare room; and Dr. Mullet’s exchange with Abraham was very much like a petulant toddler who WANTS TO DO IT HIMSELF — which was similar to Dr. Denise’s own journey to prove that she is also capable of defending herself.

I don’t know that there is anything particularly significant about all the childhood symbolism other than to be unsettling. Children represent innocence, hope, vulnerability, and in this world those things are in short supply. Particularly in the apothecary, the remnants of childhood reflect a world gone horribly, horribly wrong. It could be argued that the childhood motif is meant to underscore Dr. Mullet and Dr. Denise’s desires to be active rather than passive: to be able to defend themselves rather than always need to be protected, like a child. But other than that? I think it was intended just to set the mood. One creepy, creepy mood.

the-walking-dead-hush

 

Only two episodes left!

The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sunday at 8/9 p.m.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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