‘The Walking Dead’ Episode 6.6 “Always Accountable” (8.5 out of 10) Created by Frank Darabont; Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Chandler Riggs, Lennie James, Lauren Cohan; Sundays on AMC.

Last week showed us that there are wrong ways to do transitional episodes, but tonight showed us that there are also right ways to do them. It was a welcome departure from the main storyline, and the ambiguity surrounding Glenn’s (Steven Yeun) possible death. Plus, we got to see a whole lot of Daryl (Norman Reedus) doing his tough guy with a heart of gold thing, which is always good TV. Spoilers ahoy!

Less Is More

While I like it when TWD gets heavy and complicated, it’s also nice to have occasional breathers from the impending doom that is constantly at the doorstep. Tonight’s episode caught up with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Daryl after they were tasked with luring a zombie horde away from Alexandria. It starts off hot—a carload of unfamiliar people open fire on the trio, causing Daryl to get separated from Abraham and Sasha. While the episode doesn’t reveal who these people are, it’s not hard to speculate that it belongs to a group of dicks with W’s drawn on their foreheads. Regardless of the car’s ownership, it’s not super important—it merely serves as the catalyst for TWD’s penchant for juggling multiple plotlines. Tonight’s perspective shifting was comparatively more toned down than earlier episodes this season, but that was why it worked so well.

Daryl

After a particularly surreal moment featuring Daryl lying symmetrically with a charred zombie in a motorcycle helmet, we find our grizzled hero in the middle of a cremated forest. This chilling backdrop is one of the creepiest settings thus far in the show. Jammed in between the burnt skeletons of trees are heaps of incinerated dead, some of which are still undead enough to be writhing around despite being fused to the ground. Truly haunting stuff. While trying to find his way back to Sasha and Abraham, he encounters two women who mention earning what they took right before Daryl takes a bat to the back of the head. What ensues is a familiar case of mistaken identities—the three strangers that Daryl meet think that he is part of a group that has been dispatched to bring them somewhere that they really don’t want to be. It’s true that all Daryl would really need to do is say, “Wait—you’re running from who now?” to give himself an opportunity to explain himself, but this is TV after all. People seldom take the easy way out.

On paper, this is a pretty predictable scenario. It doesn’t take long to figure out that our strangers are running from some dangerous people, and that they’ll inevitably refuse Daryl’s attempt to recruit them—the show can’t really accommodate any more long-term newcomers. All the same, it’s a welcome piece of predictability that happens to unfold with some solid acting against the haunting backdrop of a scorched, corpse-filled forest.

Sasha & Abraham

In what felt like a hastily assembled selection of scenes, Sasha and Abraham’s little evening together actually yielded some interesting results. Essentially, Sasha used her own bout with zombie-kill fever to help Abraham with his current addiction to busting open the undead. It may have been slightly cheesy—culminating with Abraham’s dangerously cheesy declaration of his intentions to pursue Sasha romantically—but occasional cheesy bits are nice in a show that spends so much time in the grit. I particularly liked the concept that good karma is still a thing in TWD—something that Abraham learns as he chooses to enjoy a cigar instead of chopping up a zombie, which unexpectedly wins him an RPG launcher.

Verdict

It was definitely not the season’s strongest episode, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch. I’ve been itching for some more Daryl-centric episodes. Plus, it wrapped up with a pretty tasty cliffhanger—exactly who was that calling for help on Daryl’s walkie talkie? I am reaching the point in the season where I just want them to speed things up, but I’m fully expecting all of this buildup to culminate with something properly epic. 

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Tags: Zombies , Norman Reedus , AMC , The Walking Dead