One of the most divisive and I will even go as far as to say most “controversial” scenes that emerged out Season 4B, at least in the shipping community, is most definitively the supremely ambiguous Kitchen Scene from “Alone” which is often used by the “other ship” as some irrefutable proof that Daryl Dixon had fallen deeply in love with the youngest Greene. Some had even described this scene as the exact “moment” Daryl realized that he was willing to forget everything else and had decided to settle down to “play house” with Beth and….”live happily ever after”?
Much credence is given to this particular interaction but despite the fact that I too found the scene somewhat confusing and purposely designed as “open-ended” I never once found the Daryl and Beth dynamic romantic or even ambiguously romantic for that matter.
I didn’t understand the implications of the scene and the dialogue to me wasn’t convincing or clear regardless of what emotion the writer was actually aiming for BUT the moment itself did feel emotional and meaningful in a binding kind of way.
That in itself isn’t surprising because everything prior to this scene portrayed the creation of a bond between them very well which is something that would naturally occur between any two people left alone to survive together. The emotional events they shared with each other in Still and Beth’s natural openness and naive compassion are all things Daryl needed to feel centered again after the massive amounts of grief and loss they both witnessed and felt on their own.
The highly exhaustive emotional state caused by their tragedies and the premise of a “safe haven” after the constant retreat from their deadly surroundings, created an influx of euphoric sense of relief, a pause button if you will, intensifying the moment to a level of bonding that connected two people in a way that had them looking for something good in each other…hope, comfort, companionship and kinship.
The script was not meant to convey romantic feelings between Daryl and Beth, instead it was suppose to convey the notion that even in the midst of all that death and pain moments of hope and glimpses of goodness in people were still possible.
Daryl; “Maybe we stick around here for a while. They come back, we’ll just make it work. They may be nuts, but maybe it’ll be all right.”
Beth; “So you do think there are still good people around. What changed your mind?”
Daryl; “You know.”
Beth; “What? I don’t know.”
Daryl: “Hmm hmm”
Beth; “Don’t hmm hmm! What changed your mind?”
Daryl; ..look and silence..
The writers portrayed Beth as somewhat of a symbol of goodness, optimism and sunny disposition in the face of the ugliness and brutality of this new world.
Daryl on the other hand has never been a “picture of positivity” but the loss of the prison and Carols banishments destroyed what little spark of life he’d been holding onto and if it hadn’t been for the fact that Beth ended up separated with him who knows just what kind of darkness he would have opted for. Beth knew she needed Daryl to survive and keep going so she does the only thing she knows to do AND that is try her very best to convince him that life was still possible, that hope still exists and that there are still good people out there.
The Kitchen Scene is Beths triumphant moment and even though Daryl had a hard time articulating an answer to her “What Changed Your Mind?” inquiry it is implied that she is the reason for his moment of “optimism” and that his faith in the “good” just might not be completely gone. This interaction was never about shacking-up and replacing everyone else he loved with Beth BUT this was about Daryl using some of Beth’s organic but sheltered positivity to not shut down completely due to grief and to still be open and willing to give other “good” people a chance.
Unfortunately for Daryl and Beth this was a Walking Dead episode and as expected once the moment of HOPE is recognized and some happiness is within reach, it is also ceremoniously and violently ripped away and dissolved into oblivion once again. This new “relaxed” Daryl lowers his guard, forgets “safety first” and goes to investigate a noise at the door without his crossbow only to be faced with the evil he and Beth were trying to shut themselves away from and ultimately it all ends with the last member of his family being once again “just gone”.
The reason I decided to revisit the Kitchen scene from Alone is because once I watched the deleted scenes from The Grove I was dramatically STRUCK by yet another huge parallel between Carol and Daryl’s experiences with their “mini-groups” in 4B, one that takes place in a Kitchen as well.
The innocent party in this scenario or Carols “Beth” if you will is none other but sweet Mika who like Sophia doesn’t have a “mean bone in her body”, believes that people are inherently good and like Beth is quick to point out the silver lining of every situation they find themselves in.
When Carol tries to teach Mika that the world today requires for her to fight and learn how to kill to defend herself, she is obviously hesitant to accept those terms and while remaining realistic keeps her sunny disposition and unfaltering goodness. Just as Beth believes that there are still “good people” in the world and wants to “change” Daryl’s mind about his stance on it, Mika too desperately wants for Carol to see that “everything works out like it’s suppose to”, and their life doesn’t have to be all bad like Carol seems to think.
Both girls want to inspire light into an otherwise dark world and for a brief moment they are both successful in their endeavors - Daryl almost admits to Beth that he was starting to see hope because of the way she was and Carol happy after Tyreese informs her the kitchen pantry was stocked with food and that there is gas, tells him “everything always works out like it’s suppose to” as if she had just had an epiphany…in HER kitchen…much like Daryl’s own realization in HIS kitchen!
Unfortunately just like for Daryl, Carols new-found “content” and drop in guard ends in tragedy the very next day when Lizzie brutally kills Mika and almost kills Judith in order to prove her “re-animation isn’t bad - walkers are our friends” theory.
Lizzie’s madness and her behavior patterns force Carol and Tyreese to make the painful decision to end Lizzie’s own mental suffering as well and ultimately it is Carol that puts the little girl down as she looks at the flowers.
Crippled with unimaginable pain and understandable emotional exhaustion Carol almost collapses in the meadow which is similarly paralleled by Daryl’s physical exhaustion after trying to chase down Beth’s kidnappers.
Both Carol and Daryl had glimpses of hope offered to them by the ones they least expected to get anything from BUT that light at the end of dark tunnel was violently torn away from them just as they were starting to believe in it…
Beth and Mika were un-categorically “too good” for the world outside the prison walls and it is exactly that naïveté and sheltered un-preparedness for its reality that ultimately caused them both to be just “gone”.
Carol tried to teach the kids to use weapons and protect themselves - in fact we saw her give Mika several “tough love” lessons in her attempt to convince her that she will need to “kill” to survive out there.
We saw Daryl try and teach Beth how to use a crossbow and track in the woods and we even saw him not help her kill a walker because she needed to be able to do it on her own too.
Both Daryl and Carol failed in their attempts to change the fate that will eventually get even the strongest of them all - Mika was dead, Beth was gone…
Daryl and Carol remain separated and even more broken than they were before!
The question that remains is WHY?
Why would the writers create yet another HUGE parallel for CARYL and why design it in a way that implies such HUGE emotional reprocussions in dealing with the fallout of 4B for them both?
Carol and Daryl already have HUGE commonality when it comes to their abusive pasts and the complications that stem from that kind of background are the things that brought them together in the first place.
We are constantly hearing the argument “damaged people gravitate towards damaged people” and seeing how Season 4 essentially “damaged” them both in jarringly similar ways almost guarantees that the resolution of that “damage” will most likely connect them once again, creating even more depth to an already intense emotional bond.
Daryl lost Beth and he naturally feels guilty about that because he was not just responsible for her safety but her kidnapping was also indirectly related to his own complacency and lowered guard at the funeral home that night.
He will feel he failed Beth, Maggie and Hershel and the road back from that will likely be quite rocky and volatile.
Carol lost both Lizzie and Mika at The Grove, girls she took in as her own and she too will feel the burden of guilt for not seeing things as they really were with Lizzie’s mental state. The night before the tragedy her exchange with Lizzie appeared to have calmed her and she looked relieved, almost relaxed in a way because she was starting to think that things would be OK and that just maybe “everything will work out like its suppose to” for them.
That night will haunt Carol no matter how strong and resilient she may appear to others and the pain in her eyes will reflect the same storm brewing in Daryl’s gaze.
Why create the potential for all that shared emotional unraveling and put two people who have danced around their feelings, who have walked the fine line between wonder and certainty for so long and whose hearts have already shown understanding of the others pain?
Why take two people who only need a push, a small nudge even into clinging to one another AND set it up so they end up alone…together?
Nicely Played Is All I Have to Say….