Published on November 17th, 2015 | by Bean0
The Walking Dead Review – Season 6 Episode 6 “Always Accountable”
Let me get straight down to brass tacks and assert that season 6’s sixth episode, “Always Accountable” is a bit of a fumbler. Following the travails of Daryl, Sasha and Abraham as their group fractures while they try to get home to Alexandria, the episode suffers from choosing far-fetched character responses to drive the narrative forward. There is still plenty to enjoy about “Always Accountable” – new enemies in the form of a marauding group with no moral compass, and some interesting developments in the Sasha/Abraham camp – but overall it feels like a partially wasted opportunity, partly due to some random interlopers eating a third of the airtime, but mostly because of the frustrating, unnatural actions that occur from usually reliable characters.
Naturally, with our heroes divided and exposed, vulnerability becomes a theme. For Sasha and Abraham, the quiet and relative safety of the hideout they find themselves in lays bare the tattered condition of their emotional states. They are a good pairing, willing to speak the truth, calling each other out and copping to their own failings or issues. Abraham cloaks his mania and desire for both carnage and order under the endless shit-storms their group endures.
Sasha is adjusting to the aftermath of PTSD and the grief-laden breakdown she experienced in season 5. That this all leads to an amusing come-on from Abraham is a nice choice, a scene to undercut the gloom, while laying the foundations for a potential romance; something The Walking Dead seems increasingly interested in doing. Choosing to share your vulnerabilities with someone, as both Tara/Denise and Rick/Jessie did last episode, serves to create a bond if explored further. And it keeps you accountable.
It’s perfectly acceptable to magnify the jeopardy of a character when they are lost and alone in the woods, being hunted by numerous foes. But doing so at the cost of Daryl’s notable skills and ability to handle himself in a perilous situation feels cheap. I’ve been going on about my Zombie Apocalypse Values (be useful, get it done, move on), but let me add to that a pre-cursor. Always be armed. This is basic, day-one stuff, and something a series regular would be adept at maintaining. The first thing Daryl does when he pauses during flight from the nasties isn’t arm himself, and that just isn’t credible. We’re then treated to a daft ‘can’t get my crossbow out of this sack’ scenario to create tension, and it smacks of narrative desperation, which is ridiculous as stakes are already high.
Daryl’s vulnerability appears to be more physical than emotional to begin with, but as the episode progresses and his choices become increasingly dubious, one wonders if perhaps his faith in the kindness of strangers is his real vulnerability. He fails to protect himself again by trusting a couple of sketchy newcomers, giving one his only handgun, and walking ahead of them, just asking to be hijacked.
His character has long been one to give people chances, to look for the good in others; a tendency newborn of his association with Rick’s group after years of neglect and suffering in his upbringing. But fool he is not. These actions, and the sequence in the third episode where he abandons Sasha and Abraham to dither about on his bike driving back and forth between their mission and Alexandria, feel like the writers are flailing about, unsure of what to do with Daryl, giving the character no solid motivations.
Which brings us to the newer elements, messing up Daryl’s mojo. Do we to assume that if the three strangers who mistake Daryl for a member of the group they’ve recently escaped from do so because said group is so large they don’t know everybody in it? It would seem, from the blonde man’s conversation with Daryl that they’d been part of that band for long enough to see it go from something resembling a community to just another violent hierarchy.
Something doesn’t add up about that, particularly their choice to return to the company they tried so hard to break away from. Having briefly encountered members of this unpleasant company, mostly from the waist down to up the suspense, they appear relatively organised and battle-worn. If they operate without the kind of generally-sane leadership the likes of Rick provide, then anything goes, and that anything will likely be bloody. One thing is for sure, we’ll be seeing more of them; Daryl needs his sodding kit back.
Review by Nina Clark
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