Always Accountable Plot Summary:
After successfully completing their part of the walker drive, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) attempt to return to Alexandria. They’re quickly ambushed along the way by unknown assailants. Separated, Daryl tries to survive when he comes face-to-face with their new threats, while Sasha and Abraham connect on a deeper level.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be playing The Walking Dead’s next big bad: Negan. This news was very positively received because a) JDM is an incredible actor and b) Negan is an incredible character. Comic fans knew that this foul-mouthed villain would appear at some point in the very near future, and this casting announcement was proof that he’s coming this season (likely in the finale). Now the question became how the show would set up his introduction. Negan is, after all, the leader of a very terrifying group of people. The comics had us aware of his forces well before we actually met the man himself. Would the show follow a similar path, or would it deviate as it so often does?
“Always Accountable” looked to be learning both ways here. Though the group was never name dropped by the people Daryl met, those with knowledge of source material can easily assume these are, in fact, Negan’s crew. This assumption largely stems from the timed release of casting news. AMC choosing now to reveal Negan’s actor and then clearly introducing the next human threat the following weekend looks like a shrewdly planned confirmation. We also know that these people aren’t the Wolves because they have guns, cars, and no forehead Ws. However, for those looking for evidence to stack against the possible introduction, there is the matter that none of this has previously happened. Readers can’t pinpoint an exact moment where a similar event happened, nor can they refute the show’s tendency to just introduce new people without previous connections. It’s still possible that these individuals are something different, lead by a man named Wade, and not what we’d expect.
Daryl’s personal quest was undeniably the highlight here, mostly because it let Norman Reedus cut loose. The ambush that separated him was a great surprise, and him being stuck in the woods is much more dire than Abraham and Sasha in an office building. To make matters worse, he became the product of a terrible misunderstanding, getting bound by three people on the run. This segment was definitely all about how Daryl should view the world. We already know that him and Rick are starting to not see eye to eye on certain matters. Daryl returns to the trio with Tina’s insulin because he’s a good person, and it’s his job to find capable people as Alexandria’s recruiter. For a while it all seems well too. Then he gets his bike and crossbow stolen by the people he did his best to save. It’s a brutal moment that’s punctuated by Daryl promising that those two survivors will pay. Though I’ll miss the Daryl that wants to bring people together, I really can’t wait to see him get revenge. Darn shame that they had to kill Tina too. Didn’t care about her character, but the idea of someone here having a detrimental illness like diabetes is interesting. Oh well, let’s have more biting.
I did really enjoy the focus on Daryl’s unique ability to survive too. All alone in the woods, injured and with very little at his disposal, he still found a way to keep moving. He escaped from his abductors and was able to take off his ropes to kill another impressive looking walker. Then when he’s surrounded by the people hunting the trio, he subverts the threat thanks to an improvised walker attack. He knows he can’t kill everyone so maneuvers a guy into a walker for a nice little bite. One amputation by Wade later, and suddenly staying out there longer is a terrible idea. Somehow, in even the smallest of ways, Daryl gets even cooler. He was also funny too, wanting to take something from the trio out of principle, not necessity.
The Abraham-Sasha story started off fairly weak. It didn’t have the sudden panache and tension of Daryl getting lost in a scary and recently burned forest. They easily eliminate their attackers and then find themselves in a nice little town, waiting for Daryl to track them again. This ultimately meant we’d have yet another “waiting around” story, similar to what we got last week. It actually was that, in a way. They didn’t have any surprising walker attacks and it transpired exactly as Abraham and Sasha predicated. Daryl tracked them down safe and sound. I’d hate to use the word filler, but that’s pretty appropriate in some respects.
Where this story worked though was its focus on Abraham. He bounced back pretty easily from learning that his entire mission was a lie, and most of the focus here was on Sasha asking why he wanted to go with her. Wanting to die, just like she did last season, seemed like the appropriate response. Then Abraham reveals that he does all this because it’s what he’s used to. The nice homes and big walls of Alexandria? He’s lived outside for so long that those things are all foreign. Staring death in the face every day is a life he understands, which prompts him to literally scream at an impaled walker. He wants the thrill. The Abraham we got at the end though has evidently come to terms with these changes, and now he’s going back to Alexandria more comforted than ever. He’s also got some fancy new military clothes and there’s apparently a romance brewing with Sasha. Not a bad way to end that part of the night.
“Always Accountable” ended on quite a cliffhanger. When Daryl tries to radio Rick to see if everything’s okay, he gets in response a very sudden “help.” People online were quick to believe that this voice belongs to Glenn, and the evidence certainly agrees with that. The show has avoided confirming his death very intensely and re-introducing him this way at least works considering where we left him. It is entirely likely though that this is someone different. We literally just spent half an episode introducing a new group of people and any single person could have been on that walkie-talkie asking for help. It might even be those people who stole Daryl’s things! We’ll probably find this out and more, like if Sashbraham is a thing, next week.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.