The Walking Dead Season 4 - "Still" Review *contains spoilers*
Another week and another change of pace for The Walking Dead. Gone are the multiple narratives and tonal shifts. Instead we have a character piece that focuses solely on Daryl and Beth. It is an episode full of snake eating, moonshine and arson.
This is a well acted episode that is crippled by its pacing. Writer Angela Kang and director Julius Ramsay do a lot of good here, with their crowning achievement being the development of Beth. She has finally become a three dimensional character. It doesn't matter that her actual character is full of cliché and annoying teenage tendencies, it is just nice to see that the show has finally bothered to develop her. Emily Kinney's performance also improves due to the wealth of material she is given. Kinney may not be the best actress on the show, but her warm nature really helps sell Beth as a character. Aside from Beth the episode also delves deeper into Daryl.
Daryl has become the action man of the group and this is an episode that manages to show his more vulnerable side. Norman Reedus finally acts for the first time since the show came back after the winter break. Watching Daryl go through some actual emotions goes a long way to humanising him again. He no longer seems like the groups personal terminator and is now a character once more. His drunken breakdown is the highlight of the episode with Reedus on fine form.
This episode's character work is so strong that it is a shame that it is let down by pacing and content issues. The actual structure of the show is merely a series of scenes where Daryl and Beth talk about their feelings. Yes, the episode succeeds in delivering a wealth of character work, but the dialogue is often clunky and unnecessarily descriptive. This is combated by Reedus and Kinney's strong performances, but the show has shown that it can be more sophisticated than this in its dialogue.
However it is the staggeringly slow pace that makes this episode a little tiresome in places. Scenes last longer than they should and certain elements could be cut. The zombies are obviously there to deliver the required gore, but they could be omitted and the episode wouldn't really change. However it must be said that the zombies look great as always and the haunting image of a few hanging corpses moaning was a nice touch.
So it would seem that since its return The Walking Dead has been content with slowing down the pace and attempting to explore its characters more. But after watching "Still" there is a sense that the show is just treading water until the season finale. We shall see if it changes gear next time.
7 tasty rattlesnakes out of 10
Review by @gizmo151183