Last Sunday's episode, titled "Still," featured the duo (not in a romantic way) of Beth and Daryl, and only them. "Still" was masterfully designed to have the two characters deal with the past in order to successfully move forward. We got to see Daryl display his pre-apocalypse self, albeit with more intensity, but also with more emotion. Moreover, we know now that Beth is truly Hershel's daughter, carrying on as the voice of reason and as the ultimate believer in hope and faith, much like her father. We learned by the episode's conclusion that Daryl is very afraid of being out in this zombie apocalyptic world by himself, even though he stated a few times that he is not afraid of anything, and that he can take care of himself (which he has proven capable of). He will need Beth if he wants a good reason to continue surviving. Similarly, Beth also needs Daryl, but do not underestimate how independent and mature she has become. The way she was able to start that fire by magnifying light was outstandingly brilliant. But, she still needs to learn how to combat walkers in a swifter manner; Daryl can certainly help her. Showrunner Scott Gimple is proving to us that having each episode focus on a specific mini-group of survivors is the right strategy for the back half of this season. With all of them being out on the road, it would be quite difficult to incorporate everyone into each episode. While "Still" was generally a dark and emotional episode, it allowed both Beth and Daryl to evolve further without making their respective character developments confusing or redundant. It also allowed both of them to enhance their friendship a bit more, and to learn to believe in each other.
This article, however, is not meant to be a full recap of the episode. Instead, I will talk specifically about the evolution of Beth and Daryl, and what that could mean for them, and for the show as a whole, going forward. Has anyone else noticed that Beth and Daryl are probably the only characters who have yet to come across a sign that offers sanctuary (Terminus) and safety? Could they be leading their own paths? Or, is it inevitable that they will once again reunite with most, if not all, of the other characters at some point?
Despite being very cute (according to myself and many 'TWD' viewers), she has been a wild card, if you will, for the majority of her run on the show thus far. In season two, the only real attention Beth got was during her suicide attempt. At one moment during "Still," a drunken Daryl acted very mean-spirited towards her by claiming that she tried to kill herself only to gain attention; this, however, was not the case. If you remember, she had given up on the world, and had confessed to her own sister, Maggie, that she wanted to die right then and there. Consequently, she locked herself in one of the bathrooms, and began cutting her wrist with a shard of glass. Ultimately, though, she decided not to continue being suicidal, thanks to Maggie and Lori's insistence to stop. Up to that point, Beth could have been killed off without too much resentment from viewers. Many just thought of her as this fragile, weak-minded young girl who was obviously not ready to face the zombie apocalypse head on. By the time season two ended, that suicide attempt was perhaps the only time the character received any extended screen time. The only other thing we learned about her was that she had a boyfriend, Jimmy. Unfortunately, he was killed by walkers when he got stuck in the RV. But, this particular romance was not significant, and so it did little to develop Beth further.
During the first half of season three, it was much of the same. Beth received minimal screen time; the times she did appear were not so meaningful, either. Beth and Maggie were distraught when an unconscious and bloody Hershel was brought back to their cell block amputated. Maggie did not seem overly concerned about the possibility that Hershel could have died from his excruciating injury then; she believed this to be an opportunity for her father to finally rest peacefully. Beth, on the other hand, did not want to give up on her father just yet, and so she continued with the hope that her father would soon awaken. He eventually did. If nothing else, Beth was showing subtle signs of truly believing in hope, and quickly putting any lingering suicidal thoughts to rest. During the second half of season three, her screen time increased very slightly. But again, nothing too meaningful or interesting could be taken away from it. Some viewers (including myself), at this point, started to opine that Beth would be killed off by the time season three concluded. We knew that a battle between Team Prison (led by Rick) and Team Woodbury (led by Philip, a.k.a. The Governor) was vast approaching, but we were not too confident that Beth would survive such a deadly battle. But thanks to a clever defensive strategy by Team Prison, Team Woodbury fled before any major deaths could occur. And so, our prediction that Beth would die was proved incorrect.
At the start of this season, Beth was finally given a specific task to do - take care of baby Judith. Okay, it is not the most interesting of tasks. But, who else was going to properly take care of Judith? Rick was busy battling that flu-like disease, and so for fear of contaminating his baby daughter, he did not want to go anywhere near her. Carl was never exposed to the disease, but he was far too busy trying to prove his worth by doing dangerous things, like helping Hershel gather elderberry on the outskirts of the prison (with walkers lurking nearby), or insisting on helping those that were infected, much to his father's chagrin. As a result, Beth had to protect Judith for the majority of the time, becoming a motherly figure to the baby. Also, remember Zach from the season premiere? He was her second boyfriend, but he too was killed by walkers while on a run for supplies. Surprisingly, she showed almost no emotion when Daryl reported the terrible news to her. Instead, Beth claimed that she does not cry anymore, and that she needs to move on. By this point, it was clear that she was training her mind to become stronger. If that meant that she would no longer react too emotionally to anything, then so be it. It could have also meant that she was gradually losing the ability to feel sympathy for others, which would have been a dark twist to her character development. She continued behaving stoically until her father was unfortunately killed by Philip during the mid-season finale. She was understandably heartbroken and devastated, and it was unclear if she would ever really recover from that.
During "Inmates," Beth decided that she would carry on believing that the best was still to come. She would do so as a tribute to her father, who would have undoubtedly done the same. Daryl seemed unwilling to continue hoping, but Beth insisted he do so. This would foreshadow the confrontation the two had during "Still." Again, she showed just how much she has grown and matured. Gone is the fragile, weak-minded young girl from season two. Now, she is a strong, courageous, independent young woman who understands the rigors of a zombie apocalypse, and that in order to successfully combat such a world, one needs to stay true to himself/herself. And why would she continue to be a beacon of hope? Because without any semblance of hope, there is not much more to live for. That is a lesson Beth taught Daryl during "Still," and I think that Daryl got the message.
He has always been, and will continue to be, my favorite character on 'TWD.' The guy is an expert hunter, an avid crossbow wielder, a very good leader, and someone who is willing and able to trust and care for other people. He has become a beloved character, so much so that if he were to be killed off anytime soon, all hell would most certainly break loose. Daryl, though, has had quite the journey, both from an internal and external standpoint. Externally, he has been by the group's side since day one, albeit reluctantly at first. He has been willing to do whatever it takes to help the group survive, even if it meant dealing with Rick when he was on a path of dictatorship back in season three. Daryl has been the bread and butter of the group (so to speak) - someone who can be relied on for anything. Internally, however, he has changed quite a bit.
During the show's inaugural season, we only knew Daryl as a hothead who did not trust anyone. He was always by his brother's side, and refused to deal with anyone else. As Daryl himself stated during "Still," he always drifted around with Merle before and during the early stages of the apocalypse, following his every order. When Rick and co. left Merle handcuffed to a pipe on top of a building in Atlanta, Daryl became even more frustrated and loathing. On their journey to find Merle, Daryl constantly blamed Rick for anything that could indicate Merle was hurting, like his blood on the floor or his severed hand. Eventually, they found out that Merle had left in their vehicle, to which Daryl predicted that his brother would try to enact vengeance on the rest of the group. By this time, Daryl began to realize that Merle may have deserved to be punished for his violent acts, although he may not have deserved abandonment with a herd of walkers lurking in the midst. Having been merely a pawn at Merle's side all his life, Daryl saw this as an opportunity to become more independent. There is no doubt he was not at all pleased that Rick and co. left Merle by himself; Daryl even broke down emotionally when arguing profusely with Rick and Shane. But because Daryl understood that Merle hardly ever treated him like a brother, Daryl was ready to be a part of a group that would treat him more respectfully. By the time season one ended, Daryl was gradually becoming a bit more amicable and trusting.
Throughout season two, Daryl was on edge. He was helpful at times, but at other times, he refused to help. His friendly relationship with Carol prompted him to help look for her missing daughter, Sophia. But when Carol started to give up hope of ever finding her daughter alive, Daryl became very disappointed with her. His disappointment over the whole situation worsened when Sophia emerged from the barn zombified. After this, he became so upset by that terrible revelation that he tried to distance himself from everyone else. The unfortunate death of Dale brought him closer to everyone, and perhaps as a tribute to Dale himself, Daryl decided to be more helpful and more engaging. From this point on, he became the Daryl we have all come to know and like. During season three, he was firmly by the group's side, doing anything necessary to help. He was instrumental in the many brawls Team Prison had with Team Woodbury, and he got through it all virtually unscathed, save for the return and demise of Merle. Despite that, his trust for Rick, especially, never wavered. He began to see him and the rest of the group as family, realizing that to continue beating the apocalypse, he would need people by his side.
Fast forward to "Still," and we got to see both sides of Daryl. At this point, he was giving up on hope, refusing to believe that anyone else besides Beth could have made it out of the prison alive. He became a hothead again when he got drunk and began accusing Beth of horrible things like being practically useless, or trying to kill herself back in season two only for attention, like I stated before. He was treating her in a manner similar to how Merle treated him. However, he could not bring himself to admit what was truly bothering him until the episode's closing moments. At the center of his pain and grief was guilt over what had happened during the mid-season finale. Daryl felt guilty for not being able to adequately combat Philip and his henchmen, and therefore not being able to save Hershel, or everyone else from separating. This was when Daryl turned back to his recent self again, as in the guy who does care for others. He let all the emotion he had stored deep inside him come out in full force, with Beth being there to provide him with much needed support. During the last scene of "Still," Daryl reveals how he was always his brother's shadow, if you will. He would do whatever Merle decided would be done. After telling Beth that he was always an a**hole, Beth advised him to stay true to himself, and to be the person he is now, not the guy he once was. After burning the club down, Daryl and Beth both had slight grins on their faces, signifying that they may have moved one step closer to putting the past behind them.
What does this all mean for Beth and Daryl going forward?
Well, to be honest, it's hard to predict with any certainty what will transpire with these two beloved characters in the near future. As I stated above, they have not come across anything that could lead them to Terminus, the "sanctuary" everyone else seems to be trying to locate. However, while checking out the club, Beth found a silver spoon that had engraved on it, "The Capitol, Washington D.C." Could it be possible that the aforementioned "sanctuary" is located somewhere in the U.S. capital? Beth did keep the spoon, so maybe she and Daryl will discuss the depiction engraved on it. For now, though, it seems more like they are traveling along their own path. I have predicted before that most of the characters will meet again, so I do think there will come a time in which Beth and Daryl will not have to be by themselves any longer. Finally, the evolution and development of both characters has conditioned them to confront whatever obstacles may lay ahead. Because of that, I think that both may be safer than some of the other characters in the show. I would not be surprised if they make it to season five; in fact, I will predict that this is a likely scenario. Now, what about the possibility of them hooking up? I know many viewers want them to, and usually when two characters in any show or movie find themselves stuck together, they tend to develop romantic feelings for one another. So, my guess is that it is only a matter of time before Beryl happens. But, I would not mind it if their relationship stays friendly and platonic for now.