Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead hit the airwaves and it did not hold back any punches. Before continuing, it has to be stated that there will be major spoilers discussed. Watch the episode before you continue reading… “Coda” was a coming together of all of the separated groups that viewers have followed from the beginning of season 5. Carol (Melissa McBride) had been captured by the hospital group where Beth (Emily Kinney) was also being held, prompting Daryl (Norman Reedus) to return to Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of the group. Rick and Daryl decide to band together to rescue Carol and Beth from their captors.
The group going to rescue had already captured three officers from the hospital crew from where the show left off last week. Sergeant Lamson (Maximiliano Hernández) seemed to be cooperating with Sasha (Sonequa Martin Green) but he was really tricking her in order to escape. Unfortunately for him, Rick tracks him down and ends his life. It’s amazing to see how far Rick has come as a character since the beginning of the show. He has gone through trails of moral questioning several times, but seems settled in a comfortable gray area. He clearly wants to save others and believes in helping, but he does not hesitate to dispatch anyone that crosses him or seems to be a threat. It’s a nice change of pace from the contemplative character fans had in season 2.
From this, the group devises a trade with Dawn (Christine Woods) to give the officers back for Carol and Beth. Before the trade goes down, there is a scene where Dawn and Beth discuss Beth’s change from being in the hospital. Dawn explains that her methods, what she is doing for everyone, is life saving and imperative. Beth of course questions her methods, calling her out on using others to do the dirty work, and like clock work, that situation arises. Officer O’Donnell (Ricky Wayne) confronts Dawn, and after a tussle, Dawn overpowers him, and Beth deals the final blow by pushing him into the open elevator shaft. Since the beginning of Beth’s time on the show, she hasn’t really served a higher purpose or narrative. To put it simply, she was just helpful. This season, she has grown tremendously as a character. The writers gave her the opportunity to confront authority in a way that she never had before, creating this tough but respectable young woman. She has many traits that her father also possessed and they were finally manifested with her time in the hospital.
Now, the climax of this episode is difficult. Once again, major spoilers here, so beware. Rick and the group do make contact with Dawn to where they begin the trade. After both officers, as well as Carol and Beth, are traded successfully, all seems well. Dawn demands Noah (Tyler James Williams) return to her though which sends everything into a spiral downward. Dawn states to Beth that she knew he would come back, and Beth responds by expressing her understanding and plunging scissors into Dawn’s arm. Dawn reacts by shooting Beth in the head. It is done so suddenly that it almost doesn’t register to the viewer. The camera pans to everyone’s shocked faces, notably Daryl’s who then shoots Dawn in the head as well. Carrying her body outside, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) breaks down in the realization of her sisters passing.
As upsetting and brutal as this scene was, the writers and director executed it beautifully. As stated earlier, Beth has grown to be a smart and tough young woman. Up until her last moments, she opposed Dawn’s intimidating motives. This was very reminiscent of Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) death. It was sudden, brutal and heartbreaking. But he stood up for his beliefs and strength of character until the very end and his daughter followed suit. What’s brilliant too is that the writer’s don’t just make decisions on the show purely for shock value. Choosing to kill Beth here is pivotal for her character arc, and for the other characters around her. Her purpose has always been to protect, and that was seen in her helping Noah escape. Dawn tries to twist that freedom into fear and Beth reaches the peak where her character needed to go. She was a domino, that now being knocked over, will change the outcome of events that seemed obvious for characters. High marks for Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan on their ability to convey the shock and heartbreak of this scene. It’s unclear where the season will go from here, but it was left on a note of grief that will definitely last for the rest of the season.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday’s at 9/8c on AMC. Returning February 9th.
Overall Episode Grade: A+