Episode Title: Coda
Director: Ernest R. Dickerson
Last week’s episode, Crossed, was the first one in a while in which we were treated to checking in with each character and each group, allowing us knowledge on where they were up to in the story and what was going on with them. We saw Rick, Daryl, Noah, Sasha and Tyreese take three cops from the hospital “hostage” as they attempted to devise a plan to rescue Carol and Beth (Emily Kinney). We saw the aftermath of Eugene’s confession, with Maggie attempting to get through to Abraham while the others scavenged for water and supplies. We also saw Father Gabriel lock himself the church rectory and excape through the floor while Michonne, Carl and Judith remained in the church, unknowing of the Priest’s exit from the safety of the sanctuary. The episode ended with one of the hostages, Bob, attacking Sasha and running from the group, leaving us to ponder what may happen if he got back to the hospital and told them about the proposed plan to rescue Carol and Beth. It was an exciting episode that lined up the stories and brought us into the mid-season finale with plenty to look forward to.
This week’s episode, Coda, begins with Bob (Maximiliano Hernandez), the cop who attacked Sasha, still running from the group, and we see that Rick is hot on his trail. With Bob trying to escape, Rick follows him at high speed in a cop car and pleads with him to stop running, with Bob refusing. Rick, feeling he has no other choice, runs Bob down in the car. Bob asks for help, saying that he thinks his back is broken, but Rick tells him he should have stopped running, and shoots Bob in the head, killing him where he was laying. Rick tells Daryl about what happened, and the two remaining hostages proclaim that they will tell Officer Dawn that they saw Bob get attacked by Walkers (or Rotter’s, as they called them).
Back with Father Gabriel, we see him near a school, looking at the remains of bodies and garbage outside. He appears sad as he finds a bible laying on the ground with a name inside it. Suddenly a horde of walkers bursts from the school and he hobbles back to the church, leading the wandering corpses back with him. He reaches the church but can’t get back inside due to it being boarded up, so he screams for help and Michonne and Carl come to his aid, breaking down the blockade and helping him fight off the walkers and get out of the church through the rectory as the dead pile inside. Michonne and Carl then lock the walkers inside the church from the outside as they try to decide what to do next.
Tyreese tries to have a heart-to-heart with Sasha, reminiscing about their past, but Sasha appears numbed by the experiences she’s been through and says she is no longer the same person that she used to be. Tyreese appears saddened by Sasha’s depression that has been growing since Bob died a few episodes ago. At the church we see the walkers about to escape the church when suddenly the fire truck blocks the door with Abraham behind the wheel, Eugene in the back, and Tara, Rosita, Maggie and Glenn embracing with Carl and Michonne, telling them about Eugene’s confession. Michonne tells Maggie that Beth is alive and that Rick and company are out on a rescue mission to get her, and Carol, back. Maggie breaks down, crying happily at the news that her sister is alive.
At the hospital we see Officer Dawn and Beth speaking, with Beth talking about how she wants to get away like Noah did, but Dawn says, “they always come back”, with Beth getting angry at her words. Officer O’Donnell (Ricky Wayne), a bully cop in the hospital, overhears Dawn speaking to Beth about how nobody knew that Beth killed one of the officers a few episodes ago, and he attacks Dawn, saying her time is up as leader of the group at the hospital. Dawn shoves him away, screaming for Beth to help, and Beth pushes him down an elevator shaft. Dawn thanks Beth for her help, saying she won’t forget what she did to help her. In this time, Dawn also reveals that she knows that Beth has some sort of relationship with Carol, who we see waking up in the background of a scene.
Rick, Daryl, Noah, Sasha and Tyreese show up at the hospital with their hostages, Officer Shepherd (Teri Wyble) and Licari (Christopher Matthew Cook) in tow. Officer Dawn, along with Dr. Edwards (Erik Jensen) and other hospital cops and workers, are there to meet them along with Beth and a wheelchair-bound Carol. The two groups agree to holster their weapons as they meet in a hospital hallway. They trade Carol for Licari, and Beth for Shepherd, and the trade appears to be done, with Rick and company embracing with Carol and Beth and walking away. Suddenly Officer Dawn says that the deal is done once they hand over Noah. Rick angrily says that such a thing wasn’t part of their deal and that Noah was leaving with them, but Dawn says that the deal is no longer on if they don’t leave Noah behind. Noah agrees to stay, but Beth tearfully holds onto him. Beth confronts Dawn and says that she “finally understands” what “it’s all about”. Beth then attacks Dawn, stabbing her in the shoulder with a pair of scissors, but immediately Dawn pulls her gun and shoots Beth in the head, killing her, before backing off and saying it was an accident. A shocked and weeping Daryl steps forward, shooting Officer Dawn in the forehead, and both groups draw their weapons on each other, with Daryl, Carol, Sasha, Noah and Tyreese beside themselves at what has happened, and Rick looking furious. Before further shots could be fired, Officer Shepherd shouts for everyone to stop, saying that what happened had nothing to do with anyone except for Beth and Dawn. Rick tells the hospital group that if any of them want to leave then they can join them, but none of them do.
We head outside and see Michonne, Carl, Abraham, Maggie, Father Gabriel, Glenn, Rosita and Tara approaching the hospital, killing walkers as they approached, and Rick and company are leaving the hospital. Daryl, sobbing, is carrying the body of the deceased Beth which Maggie sees and falls to her knees, uncontrollably crying. The camera pans out as we look down on the whole group and we fade to black, ending an emotional and intense mid-season finale.
There were many similarities with this mid-season finale as there was with the mid-season finale last year, especially in the sense of Maggie losing a member of her family due to human hand. The Governor killed Herschel last year, and now Officer Dawn killed Beth, with both killers also being put down after their actions. The similarities are also there with the stand-off element that ended the episode, which occurred last year as well as this year. We now have the whole group back together and going forward we will see how they handle the loss of Beth, a youthful and well-loved member of the group. They will also now have to find somewhere to hold-up, with the church over-run with walkers and Eugene’s admittance that he doesn’t know anything about saving the world or helping stop the situation that they are all in. It was a very good episode and it had moments of being both shocking and heartfelt.
Will we see the group at the hospital anymore, or will that be walked away from now? It’s something that we can also ponder. Father Gabriel is still a mysterious presence in the show, not telling his story and obviously holding on to some sort of emotional baggage that is causing him to act erratically and carelessly, something the group surely won’t tolerate for long. Rick appears to be losing more of his humanity and with his shooting of Bob in this episode, it appears that the decision to kill human beings is becoming an easier one to make for Officer Rick Grimes, and that may also be something we delve into at some point in the future. How will Maggie deal with the loss of her sister and the fact that she now only has Glenn, with the rest of her family now gone? Similarly, how will Daryl handle Beth’s death after the bond the two had? There are so many questions going forward that it leaves it wide open.
I thought everyone did a wonderful job, acting-wise, in this episode, as with the rest of the season so far. For me, here, the standout performance had to go to Christine Woods as Officer Dawn. She was a character that I would have liked to have seen more of, and had layers to her that made her interesting. Her work in the role was excellent and her scenes with Beth have been a joy to watch. I also thought everyone did a great job at the end of the episode following Beth being shot, especially Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan. Excellent stuff.
So, in only eight episodes of season five, so much has happened. We have lost Beth and Bob, as well as some side characters including Officer Dawn, other hospital characters, and the cannibal-psychopaths from Terminus. We’ve had a bomb-shell dropped by Eugene, the reuniting of the group as a whole, Beth’s experiences in the Atlanta hospital, Noah and Father Gabriel joining the main survivors, and so much more. It’s been a fantastic season so far, and we’re only half way through, so the sky is the limit for where the show goes next. I will be very interested to see where the next port of call is for our group, and whether they will stick together or split off into smaller groups again. Unpredictable, exciting and brilliantly-written, I can’t wait for Season 5 of The Walking Dead to return to our screens in 2015. Hurry up!