This was a very cool episode!  I don’t really consider it to be a filler episode because it was driving the story towards our main group moving towards the hospital for a rescue attempt.  So I really feel like we’re going somewhere!  This episode was full of flashbacks and callbacks which I really enjoyed.  In spite of one scene which was hugely disappointing, this was an excellent episode.

This episode had several Carol flashbacks that showed some of her journey since being banished by Rick.  Nothing in these flashbacks was groundbreaking but still cool to see.  An observation on Talking Dead pointed out that this episode contained many instances of fire and Carol started all of the fires in the flashback and Daryl started all the fires in the present.  Perhaps there is some significance given the name of the episode and also the conversation had between Daryl and Carol regarding their past lives being “burned up” and Daryl’s point that “we ain’t ashes”.  Props to Gimple for the clever writing and position of fire throughout the episode.

There were also a handful of callbacks in this episode that referenced or paid homage to things that have occurred in season’s past.  For example, we see a Tom Sawyer book in Carol’s bag.  Remember that Herschel gave this book to Lizzie back in Season 4.  Both of those characters are now gone but it’s very interesting to see Carol’s attachment to the book.  Clearly she’s keeping it as a memento to Lizzie who she really cared about (and not for light reading during some zombie downtime).

This episode also makes at least three callbacks to the pilot.  An obvious one would be the fact that we  see (what we can assume to be) Rick’s tank in downtown Atlanta.  Then in the “raining walkers” scene, we see the top half of a severed walker crawling in the grass which is eerily similar to bicycle girl in the pilot.  In case you missed it, here’s a picture.


Possibly the most iconic call back was when Carol and Daryl drove into Atlanta on I-85 with the same scenery that we saw in the pilot when Rick rode into Atlanta on his poor, unfortunate horse.  I’ve stitched together the two shots for comparison.


So let’s get to my one disappointment of the episode.  The van/bridge scene.  Ug…  Not really sure why this entire sequence is in the show other than to give us some sense of action or to try and remind us that walkers are dangerous in groups.  Oh yah… and teetering vans on bridges are also dangerous.   So this scene annoys for two reasons.  One reason is an “in-show” reason and the other is a production reason.

First annoyance.  From a story standpoint, why did Daryl, the survivalist juggernaut, run up onto that bridge with no clear exit strategy (other than riding the van off the side)?  It seems hard to believe that after all this time, the two of them made such a careless move.  I realize that they wanted to get to the van to look for clues and clearly there are walkers all of the place in Atlanta.  But they could have at least use the walker guts camo before walking up onto a bridge with no exit.  C’mon man!!!

Second annoyance.  How in the world did the production team think that they could push a van off a bridge and it land wheels down?  Watch the behind the scenes feature by AMC and you’ll see that they loaded down the back of the van hoping it would land wheels down so the characters would believably survive.  Much to their surprise, the van flipped and landed on the roof which crushed the vehicle.  Since this would likely kill the characters, they rigged up a second van to drop from a crane so that it would land wheels down.  Not only am I surprised that the set engineers didn’t realize the van would flip, but the editors chose to show the van going off the side of the bridge nose first and an inside view showing the ground through the window and then cutting to a shot of the van landing wheels down.  I would vent more about how silly and lazy the production team was on this one but I get that they are on a budget and they just had to go with it.  So once again, we’re left with another piece of unexplainable magic that we’ll just have to accept and move on with.  So yah… I accept it.  But I don’t have to like it.  I guess Daryl Dixon really is untouchable.

So I’ll leave you with some questions to ponder.  Will Carol or Beth survive this ordeal?  Will they both die?  Or will they both survive and someone else from the group die?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Hacksaw Jack

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