The Walking Dead Review: “Coda”

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In an interview with E! Online, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd promised that the Season 5 Mid-Season Finale of The Walking Dead – Coda would be “Kickass, but totally heartbreaking.” So, was it?

Before we get into the meaty human flesh of the episode, I put out the call to our readers for their best theories on what the most “Kickass but heartbreaking” ending could be.  I’d postulated a few of my own: Sasha dies – it’s reasonable since Sonequa Martin-Green is VERY pregnant in real life.  The rigors of shooting a zombie apocalypse tv show might be more than an expectant/new mother would want to deal with. My personal favorite – Zombie Carol eats Beth – this would throw a huge wrench into Daryl’s world, one from which it might be difficult for him to return (so it probably isn’t going to happen). My second favorite – Our merry band of misfits break into the hospital only to find Beth, soaked in blood and standing in a pile of corpses, Dawn’s head on spike behind her (that fits kickass, probably not so heartbreaking though).

My wife came up with what is probably the most likely scenario – Noah sacrifices himself to save Beth, or something similar.  Noah is a cool character, but he hasn’t been around long enough for anybody to really care about him all that much so it would be a very “safe” ending.  The producers could say that they killed a main character, and fans of the show would throw up a collective “Meh!”   Holy crap, I’m starting to sound like Matt here!  This paragraph was obviously written before the episode aired.  Everything following this sentence will relate specifically to S05:E08 – Coda.

Well crap… Not entirely unexpected, but we’ll come back to that later.

Coda opens the way that Crossed ended – namely with Officer Lamson running away.  Does he get away?  Can he ruin our heroes’ plans?  Well, no.  He doesn’t get particularly far.  Rick spouts some  Terminian logic, even parroting a formerly-living Gareth in saying “you can’t go back, Bob.”  From what I’ve gathered this season, it’s really bad news to be named Bob.  This part was pretty kickass.

There’s a lot of scene shifting in this episode, so I’ll try to be clear about where everything is happening.  After our foray into vehicular manslaughter (well, nearly), we’re returned to the bumbling, fumbling Father Gabriel, who has made his way to the former camp of Gareth and friends.  After looking through some of their former reading materials (including Mary’s Bible), he finally notices the remnants of Roast Bob, Bob-B-Q, whichever you prefer. Gabriel freaks out a bit, and the zombies waiting behind the precariously un-broken glass conveniently choose this moment to break the aforementioned glass.  Gabriel hobbles away, but not quickly enough that a giant group of walkers can’t keep up with him.  Naturally, he can’t crawl back up under the church quickly enough so he instead pounds on the door until Carl and Michonne rescue him, losing the church in the process.  They trap the remaining walkers in the church, all before going back to…

Atlanta!  Our group continues to plot, Dawn continues to exercise, there’s some heavy foreshadowing before we go back to…

The Church! Right as the inside-the-church walkers start to think they could instead be outside-the-church walkers, Team GREATM returns!  Abraham blocks the doors, people are hugged, plans explained, Maggie is happy to hear that her sister is still alive, all is right in the world!  Well, aside from everything that is horribly horribly wrong in the world, you know, like zombies. Team GREATM + CMGJ decide to go help out the team at the hospital.  We’re then taken back to…

the-walking-dead-episode-508-carl-riggs-935

This image has very little to do with the episode, but it’s what AMC provided.

Atlanta!  Beth witnesses Officer O’Donnell pushing the Santa Claus ward over for neglecting his tailoring duties before she has a bit of a heart-to-heart with Dawn by the elevator shaft.  Dawn apparently knows what Beth did last summer (or, several episodes ago) when Officer Gorman was conveniently eaten, and maybe tries to blackmail Beth just a bit, calling her a cop-killer.  Officer O’Donnell interrupts, and starts an ill-timed coup, which also ends especially quickly.  We’re then whisked away to…

A few feet away!  Well, still in the hospital at any rate.  Beth is sitting in Carol’s room, probably going through recent events in her mind, when Dawn stops by for some more heart-to-heart.  She breaks the ice by telling Beth that she knows that she and Carol know each other.  Dawn tries to patch things up, explaining that they both could have a place in her little group.  Behind them on the bed, Carol starts to stir ever so slightly  before the scene shifts to…

Outside of the hospital! Tyrese and Sasha discuss the jerk-face Terminian that Sasha brutally murdered in the church.  Tyrese explained that he had the opportunity to handle that business, but he didn’t.  He realizes that maybe he should have, and the two of them have a touching sibling moment overlooking the parking lot where Rick starts some diplomacy.  Rick talks with the two arriving officers and lays out his terms for exchange.  Fast-forward to a short time later, where everybody is getting ready to make the exchange. Beth has put on her normal-people-clothes, and slips a pair of scissors into her cast, Rick & team head upstairs with their two hostages and two responding officers, and everybody meets in a hallway.

There’s some initial tension, sure… but Dawn asks her officers to holster their weapons, and Rick asks his group to do the same.  They start their exchange – first Officer Licari for Carol, followed by Officer Shepherd for Beth.  All seems well and good until Dawn says she needs Noah back to complete the trade.  Rick et al. take offense, words are exchanged, but Noah decides to play along.  He hands his gun back to Rick and starts to walk back to Dawn.  Beth voices her opinion and confronts Dawn, and then everything was totally OK and everybody roasted marshmallows!

Sadly not so much…Two shots were fired, Beth and Dawn will no longer be on The Walking Dead.

It would have been bad enough to end the episode right there, but instead we cut to the rest of our survivors pulling up in front of the hospital.  They walk through the parking lot just in time to see Rick walk out, giving a brief shake of his head, which is of course the universal sign for “bad news.”  We get into truly heartbreaking territory when Maggie sees Daryl carrying the lifeless body of her sister out of the hospital.  Daryl is crying, Maggie collapses, the mid-season finale is over.

Or is it?  There’s a Morgan sighting!

This episode was kind of all over the place (literally!) though most scenes were aimed at the same end. I’d definitely agree that this episode was equally kickass and heartbreaking. Beth had really come into her own as a character, and she will be missed. This episode has the potential to complicate matters for not only Maggie (and by extension, Glenn), but also Daryl, who had grown close to Beth this season.

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