Dale’s Symbolic Watch in TWD Episode 104
BG Blogger breaks down the scene around the campfire in The Walking Dead Episode 104 “Vatos”
A lot of action takes place in “Vatos,” Episode 104 of The Walking Dead, but one part of the episode that always sticks with me is the quietest moment in the entire thing.
I love it partly because it gives us a chance to see some of the fine acting skills of some of the cast members that we didn’t get to enjoy for long like Jeryl Prescott (Jacqui,) Juan Gabriel Pareja (Morales,) Emma Bell (Amy,) and Andrew Rothenberg (Jim). While the dialogue is dominated by Dale, the nonverbal performances of the entire cast in the scene are great.
The other reason I love the scene is that it’s got a powerful message and meaning behind it.
It starts off with Morales bringing up Dale’s watch.
Confused, Dale asks:
Then Morales explains:
Morales chimes in:
No one seems to agree with him, and this is striking.
As the show progresses, Dale is the one character who is determined to maintain his humanity. He is a reminder of the days when wristwatches mattered. He is as much the keeper of morality and decency for the group as he is its timekeeper.
It’s significant to me that the character we see immediately after Dale says this line is Shane:
Shane is the first of the group to let go of who he was, to cross the line and change. He is the polar opposite of Dale, a man focused on the present and what he has to do to survive, not one who wants to keep the light of the past shining.
Next, Dale is reminded of a passage from a book and he starts to recount it.
I love that the camera shifts to Rick’s son at this point.
While Rick doesn’t have much to give to Carl in the way of possessions now, he has handed down lessons of how to survive over the last six seasons and these have affected Carl both for the better and for the worse at various points in the series.
Simply put, the father wants his son to remember to simply live his life every now and then and stop trying to battle on endlessly to accomplish things before his time on Earth comes to an end.
That fits The Walking Dead perfectly.
Life is short. There’s never enough time left for anyone.
Just a few minutes later, Amy who calls Dale “weird” after the story is finished will be fatally bitten.
Life is a struggle for the characters.
They must constantly fight to avoid death, to prolong their lives, to conquer time. Without ever stopping for a moment, it becomes easy to lose one’s humanity, to become little more than the walkers are, moving through life.
At this point, the characters by the fire haven’t reached that point. This world is still new to them. Some will be lost to time. Some will go their separate ways. Some live on but are changed forever.
The father’s well wishes for his son are just that–wishes. The quote comes from “The Sound and the Fury,” a book by William Faulkner that tells the story of the downfall of an entire family. Time has its way with all of them no matter what the father wants.
And time does the same to the members of the group, some sooner than others.
But I always enjoy this moment before we knew what lay ahead, when the group was alive, cozy by a fire, unaware of what time had in store for them.
It was a brief, yet perfect moment, a few ticks on Dale’s watch, but like all of the characters bathed in the orange glow of the firelight, it’s something I’ll remember forever.
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