Life looks mundane through the opening moments of episode 14 of The Walking Dead. Morgan is still on his life over death business, working at getting a cell up and functioning. Strange call, but could prove useful down the line. Rick doesn’t see much point in, but these two haven’t seen eye to eye on a great number of different topics, so no big shocker there.
Carol has a strange, distant look in her eyes. It’s almost as though she’s not even present in Alexandria. It looks like she’s somewhere else entirely.
Things really get moving and we see that it’s not necessarily Carol, Morgan or Rick that we’ll be focusing on this week. Eugene and Abraham are on the move together, and it seems the focus will rest more on their heads than any others’. Well, scratch that, Denise will also be a big factor in this episode, as she comes to Daryl and Rosita and expresses an interest in visiting a nearby apothecary she saw some time back; the group is in need of more pharmaceuticals, and that’s the place that holds the most promise for an untapped stock.
Daryl doesn’t like the idea of taking Denise out there. She’s admittedly spent next to no time outside the walls of Alexandria since the apocalypse hit. But they all need her, as she can identify proper medications. Just like that they’re on the road. They don’t make it too far before they come to a fallen branch that blocks the roadway. There’s no getting the tree moved, so it’s all footwork from this point forward, but Denise ensures them it isn’t too far of a journey.
We cut back to Abraham and Eugene and we learn that Eugene’s got his wheels spinning in the right direction. He leads them to a small factory where Eugene tells Abraham that they’re going to utilize the place to manufacture bullets from spent casings. While they’re checking the place out a walker comes stumbling along and Eugene calls dibs on the walker. He wants to show Abraham that he’s evolving and learning to be a survivor. But the walker proves difficult to kill and Abraham is forced to intervene and kill the beast. It doesn’t sit well with Eugene, who feels robbed by the chance to show Abraham what he’s capable of. Eugene is so frustrated he tells Abraham that his services are no longer required and that he’s capable of keeping himself alive. It’s a strange moment, proving humorous and melancholy in equal measure.
Back at the apothecary Daryl, Denise and Rosita find and acquire the medicine. We learn that Denise had a twin brother, Dennis. We also learn that Denise isn’t all that prepared to deal with the harsh realities of this world. But we continue on all the same. When they head back they take the tracks in an attempt to trim a few minutes from their journey. It proves to be a bad idea. They spot some broken down vehicles. Denise sees a cooler in one of them and decides to be a little more independent and get the cooler, despite the presence of a walker in the car. It just about gets her killed. But she manages to do something Eugene failed to do, as she plunges a blade into the walker’s brain. There’s some pride on Daryl’s face, but he isn’t happy at the unnecessary risk.
Denise jumps into a heated speech, telling both Daryl and Rosita that stopping for that cooler wasn’t a mistake. She wants them to understand she needed that. She needed to know she’s capable of killing a walker if a walker attacks. It’s a valid point from Denise, and she’s arguing her stance with some very serious fire. It’s a touching little moment, and Denise is no doubt winning fans over with her gusto. It’s a great little monologue, until our hearts take an unnecessary thump: an arrow cuts Denise’s speech short, puncturing her skull, the head protruding from her right eye. Bye, bye, Denise. You were really beginning to stand out as something special.
That’s the nature of this show. Once a character starts to gain steam with fans, they get their spark extinguished. Oddly enough, this death hurts a hell of a lot more than some of the others we’ve seen in the past. It’s shitty, plain and simple.
A group comes spilling from the woods. Daryl’s had a run in with the leader in the past, in fact, he’s the scumbag who stole Daryl’s crossbow. The crossbow that was just used to kill Denise. An interesting thing about this encounter is that those who came from the foliage have Eugene with them, a hostage for the time being. Dwight, as the leader is known, gets thrown a curveball after making some serious demands. Eugene tells him they have another man hidden nearby. Naturally, they look into that, and it turns out to be true. Abraham’s lying low until the time is right, and the time is right when Eugene surprises everyone by taking a bite out of Dwight’s manhood. Abraham is on the move, gunning folks down. A good number of this opposing group are chopped down, yet somehow Dwight survives and orders the others to fall back. What remain of these clowns disappear back into the woods.
Daryl’s got his crossbow back, but it comes with the price of Denise’s life, which is a mean exchange. She was a sweetheart and she certainly didn’t deserve to die on this particular journey. Out on that journey, Eugene also took a bullet, though Daryl, Abraham and Rosita make a safe return to Alexandria where Eugene and Abraham patch their relationship up. All of this unravels in a strangely beautiful sequence as the criminally underrated song “Chapel” from Nicole Dollanganger, plays in the background, the final somber touch to a riveting exchange.
After burying Denise we get one more shocker: Carol leaves. She completely departs the group, only a note left behind to, explain – to some degree – her decision to move onward on her own. It’s an awkward decision, no doubt. She’s been a pivotal piece of the puzzle from the beginning, and this call right here, feels like the wrong call from showrunners. We’ll see how it all plays out in future episodes.