The concluding passage of a piece or movement.
That’s the definition of the word coda, the title of last night’s episode of The Walking Dead. A fitting name for the midseason finale of a show. The format of having 16 episodes split over two halves has really become useful for storytelling to Scott Gimble and his writing staff. They’ve been able to focus stories much more closely, trimming most of (but not all of) the fat from the stories.
“Coda” starts off immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the last episode. Lamson from the hospital crew had just laid out Sasha and made a break for it. To be honest, not the smartest plan.With no weapons, his hands bound behind his back, and Walkers everywhere, did this guy seriously think he had a chance at survival? I question the logic of the character in this circumstance. And Rick was there, trying to be the nonviolent one, but Lamson really didn’t want to comply. So Rick did what he felt was necessary and Lamson’s body gets to feed the hungry Walkers following the foot/car chase.
Father Gabriel…I enjoy the actor who’s playing the character but I have to say this: I really don’t like this character. He wasn’t one of my favorites from the comic and there hasn’t been a compelling story built around him, save for his placement as the guilt-ridden priest. Gabriel gets the Idiot Ball for the first part of the episode by returning to the school. What did he hope to accomplish? To see first-hand that the people killed in his church were cannibals who couldn’t be allowed to live? And in going to the school, he motivated a small horde of Walkers to break out of the school and follow him, placing himself, Judith, Carl, and Michonne in potential danger. Part of me wishes the Walkers had caught up with him for being such a fucking idiot.
Gabriel finding himself in the exact same circumstances as his former flock, on the outside with the dead and a barred door blocking him from safety, is poetic justice. It also had a poetic ring to it when the church was blockaded and the dead left inside. One could see it as a mausoleum to the old world and old ways of thinking. What I refer to is not religion but Gabriel’s notion that he can be a non-violent man in a violent world, a similar notion that Tyreese has yet to get removed from his head. And just when things looked their bleakest, Abraham shows up with a big fucking truck and says “how do you do” to the church’s porch. The rescue party getting some heavy hitters added to the mix is a nice touch.
Conditions at the hospital are straining to the breaking point. The old man getting accosted for not repairing a hole in a cop’s shirt is trivial in the scheme of things, unless you’re looking to instill fear in a captive population. Fear will drive people to eat shit with a smile and tell you it tastes like filet mignon. But fear also breeds resentment and anger, which when unleashed can be deadly for those instilling the fear. The conversation between Beth and Dawn is a great example of Dawn creating the necessary fear to keep Beth in line. Dawn doesn’t know that Carol and Beth know each other or that Carol can be a deadly Mama Bear when her loved ones are in jeopardy. Dawn thinks she’s still in control of this little hellhole of a hospital and in control of her destiny.
The reveal that Dawn killed Hanson, the original cop in command of the hospital, makes a great amount of sense, story-wise. Dawn has always struck me as someone who does what she thinks is necessary, even though it is slowly killing her. Her speech to the cop who had been beating the old man could be seen as a Heel-Face Turn to some extent but I think it has more to do with saving her own ass.
The tension of the negotiation was handled well. There’s no telling how it could have gone before the reveal that Rick and his group enter the hospital with their hostages in tow. As I watched the scene unfold, a great sense of foreboding hit me. Nothing ever goes according to plan in The Walking Dead. Things usually go from bad to worse to nihilistically terrible. Dawn claiming Noah for herself seemed like move to reestablish her dominance, to regain some measure of control over the situation.
Beth’s death was sudden and not at all what I expected but it’s in keeping with the comics. Of Hershel’s family that went to the prison, only Maggie made it out alive. Beth’s death and her killing of Dawn brought the character to a point I didn’t think she would reach, understanding how cruel some people in the world can be. I don’t think she did it to end her life but I’m more than sure she felt removing Dawn from the world was a good thing. She hurt people and the world is better off without her in it. The moment Maggie sees that Beth isn’t walking is portrayed wonderfully by Lauren Cohan, who has developed Maggie so well over the past three seasons. A crushing weight just falls over her features as she realizes the last remnant of her blood family is gone, taken for no good reason in a world filled with death for no good reason.
Death is so common in this crapsack world of The Walking Dead and no one is safe, not even an innocent like Beth. The group has lost one more of its bright spots of humanity. While I was never a big fan of the character, her death gave me pause and some sadness. After three and a half seasons, Beth finally grasped what this world means and she wanted some small victory over the darkness in this world, the darkness that had claimed her childhood home, her secondary home in the prison, and her father. Fighting the darkness often comes with a price and she paid for it. Her family is left broken by her parting. Her movement has reached its coda and her song comes to an end.
And that wraps up The King’s Crier’s recaps for The Walking Dead for now. The show will return in February and so will my recaps. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.