Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Abraham Ford and Eugene Porter. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford and Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Tragedy strikes the characters of “The Walking Dead” in a completely shocking and devastating, yet problematic episode. As the season finale nears, certain characters are put in the spotlight to develop the story. While it does have problems, this episode stands strong with the others of this half-season.

The opening sequence shows several days passing in Alexandria through the activities of several characters. Olivia opens the fully stocked pantry, while Eugene and Sasha stand guard at the gate. Morgan finishes building a jail cell, which Rick curiously inspects. Morgan explains to Rick that this jail cell provides the group a place to put enemies rather than killing them. Rosita and Spencer are shown to be having a romantic fling that Rosita appears to immediately regret. Carol asks Daryl about his newly returned motorcycle and his encounter with the mysterious couple that he met in “Always Accountable.” Daryl tells Carol “I should’ve killed them.” This opening sequence fully displays what life is like during times of peace; each character has their own task.

The primary focus of this episode is on two separate groups that leave Alexandria on very specific missions. The first group consists of Abraham and Eugene, who head out in search of an industrial workshop. While walking to the workshop, Abraham humorously jokes about Eugene’s mullet, which has been refashioned into a ponytail. Eugene then begins listing off his various contributions to the community before telling Abraham “I’m a survivor.” They find the workshop and Eugene explains that he plans on using the machinery to produce bullets. This is an incredibly important development and task for Eugene’s character as ammunition will surely be running low on supply soon. As the two talk, a walker coated in dried liquid metal approaches and Eugene decides to prove his survival skills by attempting to kill the walker himself. Unfortunately, the liquid metal on the walker makes it incredibly difficult for Eugene to kill. Abraham steps in and stabs the walker with a piece of rebar, prompting Eugene to lash out in anger. Eugene furiously tells Abraham that he can survive on his own and doesn’t need Abraham’s assistance anymore. Abraham tells Eugene to find his own way home and exits the building. This conflict is one of the problems with this episode. Eugene understandably wants to prove his strength as a survivor, but his anger towards Abraham feels very unusual coming his character. The relationship between these two has always been rocky, but they have recently been on very good terms. Regardless, the humorous dynamic between Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt provides some of the greatest lines dialogue in the series.

The other group consists of Daryl, Denise and Rosita, who head out in search of medicine from a local apothecary that Denise believes may be fully stocked. Before leaving, Daryl and Rosita attempt to persuade Denise to stay in Alexandria for the simple fact that Denise is the community’s only doctor. Denise refuses to stay behind and the three leave in an old pickup truck. These three characters have only interacted briefly, so this supply run creates another interesting dynamic. While driving, Daryl struggles with the gear shift as Denise provides some truly humorous commentary. They are forced to stop at a fallen tree blocking the road, which Rosita and Daryl decide to investigate and discover a few bottles of liquor. Rosita proposes that the group take a shortcut by walking down nearby railroad tracks, but Daryl refuses and leads Denise down a different path while Rosita heads down the tracks alone. This moment is incredibly poignant for Daryl’s character due to the horrific circumstances surrounding his journey to Terminus on train tracks in Season 4.

Later, Rosita is shown waiting for Daryl and Denise after taking her shortcut. Denise asks Rosita about her weapons training and Rosita explains that a long list of people helped get her to where she is now. The group arrives at apothecary and begin searching for supplies. They discover a fully-stocked pharmacy that Daryl and Rosita immediately begin clearing out. Denise hears a noise from another room and walks over, armed with her machete, to inspect. She finds a trapped walker, as well as a child’s shoe in a blood-filled sink. The scene absolutely horrifies Denise, who rushes out of the building in disgust. Her reaction is completely understandable as Denise has very limited experience being outside of Alexandria. They leave the apothecary and Daryl strikes up a conversation with Denise. They discuss Denise’s twin brother, Dennis, who was both brave and angry. Daryl responds by telling Denise “sounds like we had the same brother.” referring to his late brother, Merle. They take the railroad tracks back and Denise notices a cooler in a nearby car. She opens the car door and is quickly caught in an intense struggle with a hidden walker; she manages to kill the walker herself. She opens the cooler and discovers a can of orange soda, which she proudly keeps for Tara. This scene displays Denise’s potential to become strong survivor. That is until, the next few moments dramatically change everything.

Dwight and the Saviors in a standoff with Rosita and Daryl. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)
Dwight and the Saviors in a standoff with Rosita and Daryl. (Photo courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.)

Rosita and Daryl scold Denise for risking her life over something so unimportant. Denise explains that she wanted to go on the supply run to confront her fears. This greatly parallels Eugene and his reasoning for leaving Alexandria this episode. Denise tells Daryl that she asked him to come along because he makes her feel safe; she asked Rosita to join to help her get over the breakup with Abraham; Denise fully pours her heart out to Rosita and Daryl. Suddenly, in mid-sentence, a bolt from a crossbow passes through Denise’s head and out her eye, killing her, but not before she is able to utter a few final words. Rosita watches in complete horror as Daryl catches Denise’s falling body. The camera turns revealing a large group of Saviors, including Dwight (The man who stole Daryl’s crossbow and motorcycle in “Always Accountable”) and Eugene as a hostage. Half of Dwight’s face has been burned; this will likely be explained later. Dwight orders Daryl and Rosita to turn over their weapons and lead him to Alexandria. Eugene spots Abraham hiding nearby and alerts Dwight. Eugene takes advantage of Dwight’s momentary lack of attention and bites him on the crotch. Abraham begins shooting at the Saviors, allowing Rosita and Daryl to recollect their weapons and kill a handful of the aggressors. Eugene is hit by a stray bullet and Dwight flees with his men, leaving behind Daryl’s crossbow. This entire fight sequence was frightening and fast-paced.

The death of Denise is the major problem that I have with this episode. Denise is a character that was introduced at the beginning of this season, but has gone through an extensive arc in her short time. This episode proved her potential strength, not only physically, but also mentally. The death itself feels like its sole purpose was to shock the audience and further other characters rather than Denise herself. Tara, who is currently on an extended supply run with Heath, will feel the full brunt of this loss, however, we will likely not see Tara’s reaction until next season, because Alanna Masterson was nine months pregnant during filming for the final episodes of this season. Daryl will also likely feel guilty as his crossbow was used to kill Denise. Yes, characters need to die in this series, but Denise’s death feels like a waste one of the most promising characters. Death is sometimes handled extremely well as seen with Hershel and Deanna, but also poorly as seen with Andrea, Beth and now Denise. The show also loses Merritt Wever, who gave remarkable performances throughout her run on the show as Denise.

The episode continues in Alexandria as Rosita tends to Eugene in the infirmary. Abraham arrives as Eugene wakes up. Rosita explains that the bullet simply grazed Eugene and that he will be okay. Abraham apologizes for questioning Eugene’s ability to survive and adapt. Abraham leaves and visits with Sasha, who invites him inside; this solidifies the fact that Abraham and Sasha will have a romantic relationship. Daryl and Carol bury Denise in Alexandria’s cemetery and Carol affirms Daryl’s regret about not killing Dwight the first chance he had. Tobin discovers a note from Carol, which is read to viewers by Carol as daily life is once again shown in Alexandria. Carol’s letter reveals that she has left Alexandria, citing her fear of killing to protect the people that she loves. She also references the time that Rick banished her from the Prison. She ends the letter by telling everyone to not come after her. With the looming threat of Dwight and the Saviors, as well as Negan, Carol’s departure from Alexandria comes at the worst time. Where did Carol go? Who will go looking for her?

“Twice as Far” is far from a bad episode, however, the death of Denise brings to light the recurring problem that this show has of killing off characters at odd times. Now that Alexandria has lost their doctor, how will the community treat those that are injured and sick? This episode does positively develop several characters and further the plot. The perfect pacing of this half season is present in this episode. With Alexandria now vulnerable to an attack, will the survivors be able to join together once again to protect their home? Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

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