The Walking Dead S06E14 “Twice As Far” REVIEW

The Walking Dead S06E14 “Twice As Far” REVIEW

The Walking Dead Twice As Far

stars 4

Airing in the UK on: FOX, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Matthew Negrete
Director: Alrick Riley

 

Essential Plot Points:

• Morgan Kata

  • It’s handover in Alexandria. The store is opened, the watch is changed, Morgan does his kata. Life isn’t normal and never will be again but it’s at least peaceful.
  • Morgan finishes the cell he’s been building and Rick asks why he did it. Morgan responds, “It’ll give you some choices next time.”

• the cell

  • Rosita gets dressed for work, and leaves Spencer in bed behind her. Except, sitting right on the line between adorable and creepy, he follows her and badgers her into having dinner with him.
  • Abe and Eugene head out on a run. Not long after, Doc, Daryl and Rosita do the same. Doc saw an apothecary on her way into Alexandria and, if it’s a pharmacy, it has the exact drugs she needs.
  • The first of this episode’s wonderfully nasty Walkers appears, impaled by the cheek on the Alexandria barricade.

• Abe and Eugene 2

  • Eugene and Abe are talking, and Abe points out Eugene’s training, changing his style and trying to be different. Abe wants to know why. Eugene gives him the single most nerdy explanation this show has ever had about being an RPG character and the best way to max his stats. It’s flat out magnificent. Abe shoots him down anyway.
  • The other group sets off in a rickety pick-up that, adorably, Daryl is bad at driving. They find a downed tree and decide to go in on foot. Daryl and Rosita argue over the best route and Doc sides with Daryl.
  • Eugene and Abe arrive at their destination: a factory. One that Eugene is convinced he can use to manufacture bullets. Abe, a man who uses bullets the way a chef uses salt, is very very pleased. He offers to kill the Walker who’s found them but Eugene calls dibs.

• lead zombie

  • What Eugene doesn’t see is that the Walker is covered in solidified metal. He’s in serious trouble before Abe steps in and demands the soldier apologise. When he doesn’t, Eugene “fires” him and Abe leaves him alone to find his own way back.

• Clearing the Apothecary

  • The Doc, Daryl and Rosita find the apothecary and the pharmacy behind it. There’s at least one Walker there but, as Daryl points out, it’s trapped. Doc, grumpy at being patronised by the two veterans, goes exploring and finds the Walker. It died with its leg in a cast and is essentially immobile, locked in the back of the store in a room where “Hush” is written on the walls over and over.

• Drowned

  • The Walker drowned its child in there too, before it turned.
  • Doc loses it and runs out. Daryl and Rosita finish emptying the pharmacy and follow her out.
  • Daryl, not unkindly, tries to make her feel better. Rosita is perhaps a little harsher. As they head back the way they came, the argument about what route to take comes up again and this time, Doc sides with Rosita. On the way she tells Daryl about her brother, Dennis. She describes him as brave and angry and Daryl, in the sweetest moment of the episode replies, “Sounds like we had the same brother.”

• Denise v Walker

  • On the way, they pass a car with a cooler in it. Doc suggests they take it in case it’s got medical supplies inside. Daryl and Rosita aren’t interested. So, the Doc goes anyway and gets into a desperate scrappy fight with a Walker which ends with Doc killing it, puking on her glasses and taking a single can of Soda from the cooler in victory.

• puked on my glasses

  • Daryl and Rosita both cook off at her about her stupidity and she pushes right back. She screams at them for just surviving, for not taking the chances they need to make to live. She admits that Daryl makes her feel safe, she says she brought Rosita because she’s alone and she wants them to face up to…
  • And that’s when a bolt from Daryl’s crossbow is fired through her skull.

• Doc dies

  • The Doc dies.
  • Dwight and the Saviours ambush Rosita and Daryl. They have Eugene held hostage.

• Dwight

  • Dwight gloats about getting the drop on them. Daryl, seething with rage, says he should have killed him and Dwight agrees. Eugene spots Abe hiding nearby. Dwight tells them that they’re going to let the Saviours into Alexandria or Eugene, then Rosita, then Daryl will die.

• Eugene bites a dick

  • Eugene calls Dwight’s attention to where Abe was hiding. The Saviours peel off to surround him but of course Abe’s gone. He ambushes them, Eugene bites Dwight’s dick and the two drop, the Saviour screaming in agony. There’s an ugly, frantic fight which finishes with the Saviours fleeing, Eugene injured and Daryl, Abe and Rosita carrying him back to Alexandria.
  • Later, Daryl and Carol are burying the Doc. Eugene was wounded but not badly and he and Abe make up in a weird, slightly hilarious way. Abe visits Sasha and points out that they have lives now and he wants to be with her. She lets him in.

• carol leaves

  • The next morning, it’s handover again. But this time things are different. Eugene’s guard shift is taken by Rosita and Carol, as we find out in narration, leaves. She can’t, and won’t kill and she knows that’s what the community needs. She leaves, and the last thing we hear is the swing on her house creaking in the wind…

 

Review:

“Years from now he’ll just be a name in a long list of names.”

Everything old is new again. There’s a normalcy to Alexandria; the shift handovers, the quiet personal improvement both Gabriel and Eugene are embarking on, the human moments. The apocalypse is background noise and the miniature disasters of life come to the fore: Morgan’s sadly pragmatic prison cell; Eugene’s magnificently awful new hair; Rosita wanting to not be alone but not sure if she wants Spence; Carol smoking on her porch trying not to realise she’s already made her decision.

The small stuff is being sweated, because the big stuff is, at last, on the other side of a wall. It’s a gutsy way to start an episode and it keys you in to the sense this can’t last. And worse, that there’s a reckoning coming.

“It’s simple really, as with any rpg, tabletop, electronic or otherwise, the key to survival is allowing oneself to be shaped by the assigned environment. In doing so a broad range of capabilities are acquired allowing one to flip the script and use said capabilities to shape said environment for maximum longevity. I’m saying I’m in the process of said stage two.”

Eugene and Abe are the first ones to not only find what they’re looking for but express the point of the episode: this is the way the world is now and there are members of the cast who have to catch up. Eugene, who’s been dead weight arguably up until the liberation of Alexandria, is the first one we see doing something about this. He knows they’re in a stable community. He knows that they have to grow if they’re going to survive.

He knows he’s a liability.

And he’s working on it.

That’s why this line is so great. Not just because Eugene’s a nerd but because it shows what he’s doing. Coping with the world he has through a framing mechanism he understands. He’s munchkinning himself, maxing his stats to win. And winning here means surviving.

“Per the law of supply and demand a spent cartridge is now the law of the land.”

And survival means weapons. The consequences of the deal with Hilltop, and that catastrophic first meeting with the Saviours, keeps rolling out through this show and it’s one of the smartest narrative choices we’ve ever seen. Eugene’s approach to it is simple; he’s learning to fight and he knows his biggest weapon is his brain. The smelting factory is a genuine masterstroke on his part and it’s especially interesting that Abe is the first one he trusts with it. That need to belong, and the fact he wants Abe to respect him, explains a lot about their blow up. Eugene knows Abe and Rosita are the two he’s let down worst of all. He plans to make that up but on his terms.

• Dennis

“I threw up on my glasses.”

And that’s the point of the episode: the fact that it all happens on Doc and Eugene’s terms. Because they aren’t the lean, chiselled death machines of the rest of Team Alexandria; they’re us. Normal people, with bad eyesight and a body shape that says something other than, “actor who hits the gym regularly”. It would have been so easy to make them the butt of jokes and to their credit the show hasn’t done that. Eugene is mocked for his cowardice and pomposity not his size. Doc has never, once, been mocked for being physically larger than most of the other female cast. That normalcy, and the way it’s dealt with, has been very important. Not everyone looks like a quarterback. Not everyone looks like a model. People other than models and quarterbacks will survive the apocalypse.

That’s why the Doc’s final scene works. She’s not trained, she’s not prepared but she is going to get that damn cooler and she doesn’t care what she has to do. It’s the equivalent of Deanna facing down the Walkers that kill her. The outcome isn’t important. Fighting, pushing, testing your limits and winning is the only thing that matters. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to nail it without trying. You just have to try.

“I asked you to come with me because you’re brave like my brother and sometimes you actually make me feel safe. And I wanted you here because you’re alone. Probably for the first time in your life and you’re stronger than you think you are which gives me hope that maybe I can be too.”

She’s us and we’re her. Looking at these people who can do incredible and awful things. These people who have survived so much and for so long who have forgotten how to do anything else. That’s why she bonds with Daryl, not just because he reminds her of Dennis but because unlike Dennis she can help him. That’s why she reaches out to Rosita; because she can and because she’s the only person who sees that Rosita needs company.

That’s why the Doc dies like she lived: heroically.

We’ll miss her. The show will miss her more.

“Don’t come after me, please.”

Especially as the consequences just keep coming. The worst thing that could happen to the Alexandrians has happened; they’ve found a home and realised what it will cost to keep. They’ve murdered people, they’ve lost their Doctor and there is only worse to come. Carol isn’t leaving because she’s scared. She’s leaving because she can’t bring herself to do what she knows she’ll have to do. The war is here. And the casualties it claims in this fantastic episode are only the first of many.

The Good:

• Denise

  • Merritt Wever. Denise has been one of the best parts of every episode we’ve seen her in and here she’s on blistering form. Compassionate and driven and brave and stupid in exactly the way people need to be to survive. We’re gutted she’s gone but the Doc had a hell of a last ride.

• Eugene

  • Josh McDermitt. Like Wever he’s one of the show’s MVPs and, like Wever, he’s given top stuff here. His “Post Apocalyptic Dukes Of Hazzard” routine with Michael Cudlitz is a joy.
  • The structure. The use of the bookend scenes is great and really highlights both the confined nature of Alexandria and the awful changes the group have suffered. The image of Morgan doing his kata near Carol’s abandoned swing is haunting. The image of Rosita and Sasha cautiously not looking at each other is, somehow, worse.
  • The payoff. Doc does nothing wrong, she’s in the middle of the exact sort of impassioned speech the grumpy twins need and… dead. Also good to see that Walkers really aren’t a problem for people in this show anymore.
  • LEAD ZOMBIE! What a gloriously horrid idea!
  • The single shoe in the sink. As horror goes, The Walking Dead likes to go for goo. That image, stark and simple, may be the most horrifying thing the show has ever done.
  • Daryl with the “Dennis” name tag Doc picked out because it reminded her of her brother is quiet and sweet and heartbreaking.
  • “You wanna live, you take chances – THAT’S how it works!” I love that this episode is about the consequences of both the Saviour cull and the Alexandrians finally unifying. Doc sees what the others do and decide to step up, knowing full well what it may cost her. Alexandria is an idea worth fighting for. That fight is more than butchering terrifying sociopaths in their sleep. Doc died both defending and embodying that.

 

• Eugene and Abe make up

  • “You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with utmost of respect. Welcome to stage two.”
    “No need to welcome me, I been here a while.” So much of this dialogue would be awful in other actor’s mouths. But McDermitt and Cudlitz are wonderful as this unusually serious, endlessly goofy odd couple.

 

The Bad:

  • Not “bad” so much an observation that needs to be made. We, while gutted to see Denise die, view it as a logical extension of where the Saviours and Alexandria plots have been going for some time. That’s a valid interpretation, but it’s by no means the only one. There’s a very strong case for this episode coming in for the same kind of criticism The 100 recently received for a similar plot turn. Those responses, if they come, are going to be both valid and we would imagine extremely angry. If they do come, read them, especially if you don’t identify on the LGBT spectrum. Different perspectives aren’t just valuable, they’re a necessity if we want to both learn empathy and how to read the popular culture of our times better.
  • Doc’s irresponsibility at the Apothecary is a little annoying. She basically goes looking for a Walker to prod after all. That being said, it’s a nice triple blind and understandable given her inexperience and enthusiasm.
  • Eugene and Abe’s interactions are going to be marmite for a lot of people. We loved hearing these two Southern gentlemen manage to be tersely verbose at one another but your mileage is almost certain to vary.
  • Likewise, some people will have a problem with Doc running headlong at dangerous situations and the fact that, in retrospect, this pretty clearly sets her up to die. That’s a legitimate response but in the bigger narrative of the show, the way Denise and Eugene both push past their comfort zones is thematically spot on. As is the price Denise pays.
  • Eugene biting Dwight’s dick runs JUST up to comedy before backing away. Again, we can see how this is going to be a ludicrous deal breaker for some but for us it worked. Eugene was in a terrible spot and this was his only play.
  • Carol’s newfound pacifism could be read as having come on very quickly. It could have been given a little more room but the set up here, with it being a direct function of their cull of the Saviours, works pretty well.
  • No Jesus! Boo!

 

The Random:

  • We managed to forget that Dwight is in the comics. If they follow the path he had there, then there are more surprises coming down the line than you might think…

• Dennis 2

  • Shot of the week this episode is Daryl holding the Dennis nametag. So gentle and so well done.

Review by Alasdair Stuart


 

Read more reviews of The Walking Dead season six

 

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