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The Walking Dead - Always Accountable - Review

The Walking Dead, “Always Accountable,” was written by Heather Bellson and directed by Jeffrey F January. This episode continues the season’s headlong action, this time picking up the thread of Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). All three give extraordinary performances. The episode also features the careful and thoughtful writing that we’ve come to expect from the show, weaving in threads from earlier seasons.

The episode opens with another terrific long shot of the road as Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham finally leave the herd behind to head back to Alexandria. The episode ends with a shot of the three back on the road and heading once again for Alexandria. At the outset, they are separated when they are suddenly attacked by a group. Daryl ends up going down with his bike and then has to drive through a group of walkers but gets out of the town.

Sasha and Abraham manage to get the upper hand and take out the people in the car following them. Sasha asks Abraham what he’s grinning about and then where he’s going as he makes to approach the car. He tells her that he’s just going to give it a last little polish. He’s still taking unnecessary chances and clearly taking all his pleasure from the adrenaline high. Sasha stops him, telling him there could be more around. She stops him again when he’s going to take out a walker – she has to point out that it will only lead people to their location.

The two go looking for Daryl, but he’s gone. They manage to piece together what happened – his bike went down, but he got away. Abraham immediately assumes that Daryl will have gone back to Alexandria – he tried to leave before after all. Sasha knows that Daryl wouldn’t have left them, knowing they were in danger. He only left before because they were relatively safe, and Alexandria was clearly under attack. Sasha and Abraham also realize that the attack was an ambush, not meant for them, but targeting someone else.

They then hole up in a building because their car is done. Sasha wisely tells him that the best way to re-connect with a tracker – Daryl – is to stay put. And she’s proven right when Daryl comes to pick them up at the end of the episode. It’s interesting to see that Sasha really has gotten her head back on straight and come to terms with the deaths she endured last season. She’s reached a certain level of peace that clearly eludes Abraham for the first part of this episode.

Abraham finds a uniform and a picture of the family man it belonged to. This clearly strikes a chord with him based on what we know of him. He is still struggling with the loss of his family, and the title of this episode reinforces that. He may not wear a uniform now, but he is still accountable, and of course, by the end of the episode, he is wearing the uniform.
It’s a nice basic scare tactic to have the walker jump out at Abraham as he enters the room. Sasha digs in to wait, but Abraham remains restless. She asks him – stand watch or sleep? It’s not surprising that Abraham keeps insisting that he’ll take the watch. When Sasha can’t sleep, Abraham asks her if this is their new home. He wants to know if they are going to name their new pet – the walker locked in the meeting room. It’s utterly ironic that he appears to be a former insurance salesman. I wonder if they had one of those zombie apocalypse riders? But more to the point, there’s a list of various liability categories on the white boards. When you can’t fall back on your insurance company, only you are accountable…

Sasha tells him, he got himself into this situation because he insisted on going along with her. He insists he had no choice. He felt like she wasn’t in control, but it’s been clear all along that she’s more in control than Abraham is at this point. Abraham attributes it to not having had a chance to take a respite of any kind. Sasha points out that they have had respite. There was even a party – the party that Abraham reminds her she had a meltdown at. But Sasha insists when you have food and shelter you do have choices and you’re accountable for them. This episode focuses on those choices, especially in the Daryl storyline. For now, Abraham insists that his choice is to keep watch.

Abraham goes up on the roof and finds a cache of weapons, some cigars, and a soldier impaled on a fence with a rocket launcher on his back. There are more rockets in the truck Abraham finds on the roof. Abraham takes another foolish chance and crawls out onto the fence to try to retrieve the launcher. He ends up in a screaming match with the soldier – coming face to face with his own demons? I loved how this was shot with quick cuts to blur the distinction between them. Abraham seems to come to his senses and slowly and carefully backs off the fence. As Abraham laughs and lights up a cigar, the soldier slowly has the fence slide through his body and he falls away to the ground, leaving the rocket launcher hanging there. It’s a nice symbol for Abraham accepting and letting go of the past.

When he returns to Sasha, he admits that he just engaged in some off the chart stupidity, and Sasha remarks, “Self-awareness is a beautiful thing.” Abraham tells her that he knows that whatever is happening in Alexandria, Rick is handling it. He sees that there is a future. He recognizes that he hasn’t been looking ahead. And then he tells her, “I like the way you call bullshit, Sasha.” And that was something that I totally didn’t expect. He tells her that he’d like to get to know her a whole lot better. Sasha asks if this is one of his plays and what makes him think she’s interested anyway. Abraham tells her that “a man can tell.”

Sasha doesn’t deny it, but does tell him that he’s got some things to take care of. Like Rosita (Christian Serratos)?? Although, I did get the sense that Rosita might be interested in Spencer… Abraham, being a soldier, and Sasha being at the forefront of the fighting so often, would seem to make them a good pair. However, while it’s been a long time for us, chronologically I’m not sure that Tyreese and Bob’s deaths are really that far in the past for her. Maybe it’s just me, but I liked Abraham and Rosita together and this seemed to come a bit out of left field for me.

Meanwhile, Daryl makes it out of town and into a barren, burnt out forest. He falls off his bike right next to the burnt out shell of another biker. It is possible that this burnt forest is the result of the fire that Carol (Melissa McBride) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) see way back in season four’s “The Grove”? While we’ve seen that walkers can come through fire without dying, it was also a relatively effective way to clear for the three people Daryl ends up encountering.

Daryl tries the radio and gets only silence. I loved the shot of blood dripping off of his hand onto the blackened skull. The show really does manage to have beautiful and meaningful shots. Daryl leaves both his coat and the bike hidden, taking his crossbow and pack. It’s interesting how a few of the characters like Daryl – or Carl (Chandler Riggs) and the hat – have these iconic possessions. As the episode progresses, however, Daryl loses his. His accounting for the choices he makes? And given the cost, how will he make similar choices going forward?

He realizes he’s being followed and manages – seemingly – to get the upper hand on the two girls – Sherry (Christine Evangelista) and Tina (Liz E Morgan). Until Dwight (Austin Amelio) gets the drop on him and knocks him out. Once he comes to, they make Daryl come with them. He tries to tell them he isn’t who they think he is. Daryl has clearly figured out that the ambush was for these two and want them to know he’s not with that group.

We learn that the three were with this other group from the beginning. Much like the hospital forced people to pay for whatever help they got, it seems like this group is the same. They continually maintain that they “earned what they took.” They also mention kneeling a lot. This could mean being accountable to someone in power – or is there a religious connotation? Is this a religious cult that demands accountability and devotion to God?

Dwight tells Daryl, “Everybody’s got their code. You feel you got to kneel, that’s fine. We don’t.” The theme of having a code to live by also resonates with the show. Daryl continues to try to convince them that he’s not the person they have to worry about. It becomes clear that the three are trying to find and rescue someone called Patty. When Tina collapses, Daryl takes his opportunity to grab the bag and make his escape. There’s a terrific scene in which Daryl is trying to get the crossbow out of the bag as a walker gets closer and closer. Naturally, when Daryl sees that there is insulin for diabetes in the bag, he goes back.

This time he is able to get the drop on the three. He tells them he won’t just give the bag back. They have to trade for it. He takes the carving that Dwight was working on. I loved that the instinctively knew that he’d have to work it that way with these three. The exchange is interrupted when the ambushers arrive. Sherry tries to tell them they earned what they took. Wade (Darin Cooper) appears to be their leader and reminds them that they know the rules. Sherry replies, “Your rules are batshit!” All four run and hide, with Daryl supporting Tina.

When Daryl lures Cam (Matt Lowe) close enough to a walker to get bitten, he calls for Wade. Wade comes to his rescue – not without mocking him, of course. They also clearly know that if you chop off a limb, you can potentially avoid turning, so Cam gives up his arm. It’s enough to get them to turn back, at least for the time being.

Dwight asks Daryl why he came back after they treated him so badly. Daryl tells him, “Maybe I’m just stupid too.” But Daryl has a code of his own and he’s also seen how these three have been brutalized. However, they are risking themselves to find and rescue a friend. Daryl is a bit confused that they’d been with this group since the beginning and still thought he was one of them. Dwight indicates that the group is so big, they didn’t know everyone – that could be a problem going forward if this group assaults Alexandria.

Dwight tells Daryl that as things got harder, people did too. Sherry says that people will trade anything to be safe. Certainly, that played out with the Governor and the Hospital. The group comes on the corpses of two friends and through basic stupidity, Tina is bitten and killed. It’s clear that these three really aren’t smart enough to survive out there on their own.

As Dwight and Daryl bury Tina and the other two corpses, Daryl asks the three questions. It was great to see him return to this tool. Dwight says he’s killed at least a couple dozen walkers – which isn’t a lot, so clearly he is inexperienced and has been sheltered. But he also says he hasn’t killed any humans because “if I did, there’d be no going back to the way things were.” Daryl tells him that he’s from a place where people are still essentially the way they used to be, and tries to recruit them.

However, when Daryl insists they have to go back to get Sasha and Abraham before going on, Sherry and Dwight bolt. I loved the shot of Daryl pushing the bike and the moment in which he realizes they are about to screw him and he says, “Dammit” under his breath. Dwight pulls the gun that Daryl gave back to him on Daryl and Sherry takes his crossbow. Sherry apologizes. Daryl tells them that they will be sorry. You are accountable for your choices and the consequences that stem from those choices are the accounting – whether Daryl or someone else collects. Daryl takes it in stride as the result of his own choice to trust them.

Daryl finds the hidden Pattrick Fuel truck and heads off to rescue Abraham and Sasha. I loved the look on her face when she looks out and sees him coming. The final shot is of the three riding in the front of the truck. Is there fuel still in the truck? Is that going to be important? We see Abraham smiling and seemingly at peace. Daryl tries the radio again for Rick and someone answers “Help!” this time. It didn’t sound like Rick, but was it? Reedus has said in several interviews that it’s not Glenn (Steven Yuen), but could it also be Dwight? Is Daryl using Sasha’s radio and was his in the pack?

What did you think of the episode? I loved the theme of accountability that runs throughout the episode, and it was terrific to see Daryl using the three questions. However, maybe things have gotten too complicated in the world now for them to be entirely effective. Did you have a favorite scene? Line? Who do you think is on the radio? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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