The Walking Dead recap: Tempus Fugit

Beth and Daryl go on the hunt for spirit(s). Daryl confronts the man he once was.
Ep. 12 | Aired Mar 2, 2014

ZERO TO HERO | Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) reflects on his past as a drifter who followed his brother's lead. With Beth's support, he finds the strength to continue his evolution into leader and genuine hero. Booze helped, too.

Gene Page/AMC

Norman Reedus and Emily Kinney rock it out in this scene, really this entire episode. It’s wrought with tension as this scene shows a new, undiscovered side to Daryl. Who knows what he’ll do. Despite his tendency to be a "d—" when he drinks, Daryl remains likable and relatable because he never crosses lines that he could easily cross. Hell, on a different show or with a different character, he might have come onto Beth or threatened her with real violence.

Imagine if this situation played out between Merle and Beth rather than Daryl and Beth. Lines would be crossed. Untoward actions would be attempted. Daryl never goes there. At least, we haven’t seen him go there yet; I have a feeling he won’t. Beth is now his support system, his reminder to “stay who you are, not who you were.” Drunk Daryl insists that he’s never relied on anyone for anything. We all know that isn’t true. While quite competent to physically care for himself, he constantly relies on others for emotional and moral support. Before the turn, it was Merle. Afterwards, it was Rick and Carol. Now, it has to be Beth.

Beth, in turn, has evolved into a competent and independent survivor. She’s also carried forth the hope and faith in humanity exhibited by her father. Beth displays that she truly is her father’s daughter, taking up the mantle as the voice of reason and beacon for hope. It’s a moving development for her character and a refreshing shift for the series. The voice of reason and moral core of the show often relied on older men: first Dale, then Hershel. Both are dead, but their spirits remain alive.

That night, Beth and Daryl relax outside of the shack, calm, composed, and still buzzed after their intense outburst. After much speculation and guessing games, Daryl finally opens up about who he was “before the turn.” He tells the story of getting drunk with Merle and his tweaker friend. Merle and the tweaker get into a dumb argument about a cartoon and start fighting. Coming to the defense of his brother, Daryl starts to beat up the tweaker. The tweaker pulls a gun but before he shoots, he punches Daryl in the gut, making him vomit. Merle and the tweaker laugh and forget the whole argument.

He takes a moment and confesses, “You wanna know where I was before all this? I was just drifting around with Merle. Doing whatever he said we’d be doing that day. Nobody. Nothing. Some redneck asshole with an even bigger asshole for a brother.” Beth reminds him to "stay who you are, not who you were. Places like this, you have to put it away....or it kills you."

Is Daryl better off that the Zombiepocalypse has happened? Is Beth better off? There’s a strength and sense of self that Daryl and Beth have developed as a result of the horrors they’ve endured. Who knows if their capacity for hope, their will to survive would have developed without a devastating apocalyptic event. Objectively, we can agree that the Zombiepocalypse, any apocalypse is terrible. That doesn’t mean, however, that everything that results from devastation is bad.

With a wide, genuine smile, Beth suggests that they burn down the shack. Striking a match, Beth sets a stack of Daryl’s cash aflame, and he throws it onto the booze-soaked porch. The fire instantly engulfs the structure. With a middle finger to the burning building and the past and their pain, Beth and Daryl turn their backs to the flames and move on into the woods, a hint of a smile on each of their faces.

Walker of the week: This doesn’t necessarily count as a full-fledged Walker or Walkers, but the sounds of a Walker herd roaming the streets during a thunderstorm is a vivid, terrifying image (that doesn't even involve any images).

Questions to consider:

Do all roads lead to Terminus? Washington DC? Or will Daryl and Beth make their own path for the foreseeable future?

What’s next for Daryl and Beth? Will they continue on adventures to fulfill small goals, or will they come up with a more long-term plan?

When will we reach Terminus? What can we expect when we get there?

Will any of the issues hinted at earlier in the season — Walker Feeder, Rat Vivisector, Walker Super Herd — ever be addressed?

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