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About three-quarters of the way through this episode, I wasn't feeling it. Vague symbolism, another supply run, so many bad decisions — even Sarge and Eugene's impossibly colorful dialogue was beginning to wear thin. But just when it looked like things were plodding along to an unremarkable end, Daryl's crossbow returned in a most horrible way and Carol wrote the mother of all breakup letters.
The opener to "Twice As Far" is a particularly artsy one, with a Groundhog's Day setup that cycles through a few scenes: The pantry's garage door opens, Gabe takes a stroll, Eugene takes his post, Morgan twirls his staff, Carol smokes and clutches that rosary. In the middle of all this, we see Daryl has found that trinket given to him by the traitorous duo in the "burnt forest." You knew that would come back somehow, and here we are. Turns out it's a harbinger of things to come, particularly when Daryl tells Carol he should have killed those two ungrateful sumbitches. These vignettes end with a fade that's blurry around the edges; seems to be a clue that these are flashbacks of sorts. The third and final sequence is the same scene, but without the people — only a shot of Carol's hands, her cigarette, the rosary. It's a foreshadowing of the crisis to come, as well as Carol's dramatic decision.
We also see Rosita trying unsuccessfully to move on from getting dumped by the Sarge. Her rebound plan? Shack up with Spencer. No idea how the sex was, but their day-after banter is awkward: Spence invites her over to beef Stroganoff and chill, and she's all like, "Um, yeah, I'm good," and he's all, "We can keep it casual or we could be a thing," and she's all, "Okay," and he's all, "Okay?" and she's all, "Okay, fine, dinner," and he's all, "Cool." But duty calls: Rosita and Daryl agree to bring Denise along for a supply run, the first of multiple baffling decisions. Why do they need her to inspect the meds at the apothecary, since they're obviously going to just take everything? Would she really go there alone if they didn't chaperone her? Why hasn't Denise caught on that they're "walkers," not "roamers"? Dumb idea No. 2 arrives when Rosita decides to follow the train tracks, alone, rather than stick with Daryl. Splitting up should not be an option anymore. And the Daryl I know wouldn't let her walk off on her own.
Meanwhile, Eugene and Sarge have teamed up like old times. Again, I doubt the Sarge would follow Eugene into the wild without an idea why. More entertaining than Eugene's theory of life as a role-playing game (tabletop or otherwise) is the zombie he calls dibs on — a most unfortunate fellow with a metal-covered lid. Eugene's machete clangs off his helmet, and it's finally Sarge who takes out Lead Head. The hissy fit that follows is another head-scratcher. Sarge is an emotional guy, but no way he'd leave Eugene to fend for himself. (Though one could argue he actually didn't split, given the way he resurfaces later.)
In a cruel twist, Denise is at her most likable in this episode. There's the cute moment when she coaches Daryl on driving stick, the revealing moment when she bonds with him over their dead brothers, and the tender moment when she sits outside the apothecary and has a quick cry. But yet again, more frustrating decisions. Loved the nightmarish backroom with the bum-leg zombie, "Hush" scrawled on the wall, and a tiny shoe sticking out of the sink full of blood. But why leave Denise to fend for herself? And why would she decide to check out that thumping sound alone? Or go after that tiny cooler in the car alone?
We get an answer of sorts after Rosita and Daryl lecture her on being dumb (ironic, given nearly everyone acts like a dope in this episode). Denise responds that it's all a psych game for her — she picked Daryl for his strength and Rosita since she was alone for the first time and it's time to face their bullshit head-on and … THWACK! Poor Denise keeps talking with one of Daryl's unmistakable crossbow bolts where her eyeball used to be. Out comes a gang of dudes led by Dwight, the guy who double-crossed Daryl and stole his bike. (That figurine!) Looks like something pretty nasty happened to Dwight since we last saw him, given the vicious burn marks across his face. When he first appeared, he was running from the Saviors. Perhaps he's back in their crew again, after Negan taught him a lesson?
Dwight certainly subscribes to the Saviors' negotiation playbook, given his demands: Bring us to that cushy fortress of yours and we take whatever, and whomever, we want. Seems like Eugene rats out the Sarge, but he's just planning the ultimate diversion. I didn't think we'd see a more desperate act of oral violence than Rick biting through the neck of that redneck rapist back in season four. But then Eugene chomps down on Dwight's dangle like a Doberman on a milk bone. Well played, sir. Well played.
Back at A-town, Eugene's gunshot was just a flesh wound, and we're treated to this exchange with Sarge:
Eugene: I was not trying to kill you. I was looking for our moment.
Sarge: You found it.
Eugene: Do you apologize for questioning my skills?
Sarge: I apologize for questioning your skills. You know how to bite a dick, Eugene. I mean that with the utmost of respect. Welcome to stage two.
Eugene: Don't need to welcome me. I've been here awhile.
The dirt on Denise's grave is still fresh when the next shocker drops. Carol leaves a note for Tobin, which at first seems like a breakup letter, then takes a dramatic turn. Earlier, she had this response for Daryl when he asked what the Saviors did to her and Maggie: "To us? They didn't do anything." Between her body count and what she saw herself become on the kill floor, Carol has reached her breaking point. Rick had the right idea when he banished her, she writes: "I can't love anyone because I can't kill for anyone. So I'm going like I always should have. Don't come after me, please."
Whoa. The episode's end echoes the beginning, with another sequence of those scenes — but now guns are in the pantry and Carol's swing is empty. Morgan sees two carts filled with weapons, likely on Rick's orders, then stares hard at the vacant porch as the swing creaks like a grim metronome. He knows that jail he built isn't really an option now.
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