Last week’s episode “Home” of the hit series, “The Walking Dead” proved once again why the show has remained a success. Just when it seemed that the show had come to a plateau with its lukewarm return after a two month hiatus, the episode ended on an edge of your seat climax.
To start, the title of the episode, “Home,” raised question in the viewer’s mind of the title’s significance. The evolution of Daryl’s character seemed to be the title focal point.
Last week Daryl finally reunited with his brother Merle, although it wasn’t the happy reunion one would hope to see between two battle worn brothers. After spending one afternoon hiking through the woods Daryl immediately started questioning where his loyalty lied. Despite his rough and tumble upbringing he is a good man with a rugged exterior but growing moral fiber, unlike his simple minded brother Merle who seems to take sadistic pleasure in creating suffering for others.
The underlying animosity finally came to a head between the brothers after Daryl stopped Merle from robbing a family they saved on the road. Merle started his cycle of abuse by belittling Daryl’s admirable behavior of selfless kindness towards the family they saved. Daryl finally stood up to his brother’s long history of abuse and made the point that Merle needed to stop being so angry and blaming everyone for his problems. He then pointed out that Merle, and Merle alone, was responsible for losing his hand and ending up without anyone on his side.
Daryl said, “You weren’t there when I was a kid.” Merle replied angrily, “Is that why I lost my hand?” Daryl retorts, “You lost your hand because you’re a simple minded piece of shit.” In anger Merle starts using the only other weapon he has ever known besides his acrimonious voice, and tries to physically beat down his brother. Merle discovers scars on Daryl’s back from when his father beat them as children. Merle claimed he didn’t realize, but Daryl fires back that of course he knew because their father did it to him first and that’s why Merle abandoned him.
After all the old scars, physical and mental, have been exposed Daryl final comes to the realization that the family you are born with isn’t always the family you end up with. Sometimes in life we are born into situations not of our choosing, but part of growing up and becoming an individual is learning that you don’t have to stay in a bad situation; you can choose to be happy and with people that love and protect you, as a real family should.
Daryl realizes that his true “home” is where his heart is. Daryl’s heart truly lies with his apocalyptic group of survivors that have bound together in the midst of tragedy and created love and loyalty toward each other. Daryl finally becomes his own man and escapes his lifelong demons that have followed him since childhood.
As Daryl starts to walk away from Merle he demands to know where he’s going. Daryl replies, “Back where I belong.” Merle pleads that he tried to kill “the black bitch” (Michonne) and “the Chinese kid” (Glen) and he can’t go with him. Daryl corrects him and says Glen is Korean, which is a breakthrough that he defends Glen against his brother’s shared hatred for other races. On one final moment of clarity Daryl stops and says, “I may be the one walking away, but you’re the one leaving…again.”
Daryl isn’t the only one struggling to find a home or peace in this episode. Rick starts hallucinating that he sees his dead wife Lori in a white dress wandering around various parts of the prison. It is clear that he is having a mental breakdown of some kind and perhaps his psyche is trying to use Lori as a tool for him to figure out what his next move should be.
Although it is open to interpretation, one could argue that Lori’s image is leading him away from the prison and that is what he needs to do. However, when Hershel confronts him attempting to get Rick to rejoin the group physically and mentally Rick says, he “just can’t.” Since it seems pretty evident that Rick feels an immense amount of remorse and guilt for treating Lori so coldly before she died, perhaps manifesting her into a visual tool is his subconscious trying to not only find a way to forgive himself by having one last interaction with Lori, but sending an important message as well.
Despite the fact that Rick claims he is unable to leave the prison yet it is imperative that he leave his guilt and Lori behind and move on to find a suitable home for Carl and his new baby. Rick finally snaps back into reality though when The Governor attacks the prison killing Axel and shooting a barrage of bullets around the rest of the group. Just when it seems the attack can’t get any worse, a truck full of zombies smashes through the protective gates of the prison and the group must scurry around the yard trying to collect its members before the zombies catch their dinner.
The intense and surprising climax of the episode was a breath of fresh air compared to the predeceasing stale episode that viewers had waited so long for. Along with emotional catharsis and intense action scenes it is safe to say viewers will remain on the edge of their seats waiting to be entertained and stimulated emotionally and intellectually next week.