Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) confronts his past in "Still." Credit: AMC Networks
Continuing in the vein of more sedate “The Walking Dead” episodes in the second half of season 4, episode 12, “Still,” focuses entirely on wide-eyed teen Beth (Emily Kinney) and everybody’s favorite redneck Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), as they navigate the treacherous walker-filled world and the demons of their past.
The episode begins horrifically with the two on the run after the fall of the prison, hiding inside the trunk of a car as walkers pry at the lid trying to get at them. The scene is as scary as anything from this season with the two’s bobbing flashlights, intermingling with the decaying hands trying to force their way in and the two sweating it out for long hours until they can escape.
Each pairings of survivors on the run this season has brought into stark relief the differing personalities of the characters. None is as blatant as the odd couple pairing of Daryl and Beth. He is one of the only characters thriving in the post-apocalyptic world where tracking and hunting are as important skills as making money was in the old world (a point that is hammered home later in the episode). While Beth, still has the last of her moon-eyed innocence and hope that her sister and the others are alive somewhere.
The two are living a subsistence existence in the Georgia woods (thanks to Daryl), where they survive off of snakes (thanks to Daryl) and whatever they can manage to strip from cars. Daryl has withdrawn into himself while Beth grows impatient at the squalid camp living and decides that what she really wants more than anything is to get drunk for the first time.
They set off to find her a stiff drink and come across a golf course/country club which much like everything else is overrun with walkers. Bodies hang from the ceiling and are piled on the floor while one particularly gruesome corpse has a sign that reads “Rich Bitch” around her neck.
Daryl begins to grab money and jewelry while Beth searches for the bar. He is full of disdain for the wealthy people who have been killed inside. At one point his anger bubbles to the surface and he loses it beating the brains out of several walkers with a golf club and splattering Beth’s new shirt and sweater with blood in the process.
Beth finally discovers the bar but the only alcohol left is a bottle of peach schnapps. “I ain’t gonna let your first drink be no damn peach schnapps,” Daryl says, dragging her to a shack he found in the past where a moonshiner lived. “That’s a real first drink,” he says as Beth takes a drink of the white lightning.
As they proceed to get lit, Daryl tells her about his abusive father, horrid upbringing and domineering brother Merle.
“You want to know where I was before,” he says at one point, telling Beth how he drifted along doing whatever Merle said. “I was just some redneck asshole with a bigger asshole for a brother.”
Once they are drunk, the two get into an epic yelling match, about each other’s faults.
All of Daryl’s emotion pours out as he tells Beth that he holds himself responsible for what happened at the prison and at the deaths that occurred (or he thinks occurred there).
When he’s finished Beth tells him that he has to let the past go or that it’s going to kill him. She suggests that they burn the moonshiner shack to the ground and along with it those painful past memories.
The episode ends on a high note for “The Walking Dead” with the two splashing alcohol across the house and watching it go up in flames, both giving it the royal middle finger before they set off into the dark woods towards a new beginning.