Talking Out The Dead: “Coda”

Kelen Conley: All good things must come to an end I suppose as “Coda” is proof that nothing is sacred other than Rick, Judith, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, and at this point, Carol.

So Beth Greene is no longer with the group or with us… because Dawn had her gun in her hand and she instinctively pulled the trigger when Beth stabbed her with a pair of scissors. Didn’t everyone holster their weapons when they met up in the hallway? Wasn’t there shots just to show that no one had a weapon raised? Did I miss Dawn not putting her sidearm away?

I just went back and rewatched the scene. Dawn’s right hand is blocked in most of it but you can see where her gun is in its holster just seconds before Beth stabs her. So as her “I didn’t mean to” implied, when Beth went to stab her, she instinctively drew her weapon and made a smooth motion to Beth’s head, where she squeezed the trigger. Wouldn’t her first reaction be to disarm Beth or to stop her attack? Has being in charge had such an effect on her that she immediately went to her weapon rather than defend herself in other ways? Not that she didn’t seem on edge the whole time we’ve seen her but what a reaction. And didn’t her gun fall down the elevator shaft during the fight with O’Donnell? Do they have a small weapons cache at Grady Memorial?

And Beth. Poor, sweet, sad, brilliant, hopeful, crush o’ mine Beth. The scissors made sense in “Slabtown”. You’d rather die than live another moment in that hospital and you were ready to take some people with you, until you saw Carol. The scissors even made sense here, just in case things went bad, you’d have a weapon to fight back with. But I know the exact moment you went wrong with them. You wanted to hurt Dawn, especially after she took that dig at Noah. Especially after you helped her kill O’Donnell. Especially after she gave you the keys to the drug locker so you could save Carol? Wait, what? Instead of the eyes, instead of the throat, you Dawn, I’ll stab you in the shoulder?

Daryl steps up and finishes off Dawn. Rick declines Shepherd and Edwards’ offer to stay at the hospital, which I don’t blame him for. Grady Memorial walls make you crazy it seems. Cue crying scene where Daryl carries Beth’s body out just like Superman did Supergirl’s on the cover of Crisis #7.

So we have Rick, Carl, Judith, Daryl, Carol, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, Tyreese, Sasha, Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Tara, Father Gabriel heading into the second part of season 5. That’s way too many characters if you ask me. I might only feel this way because I rewatched “Killer Within” last night and marveled and how much better a small group works.

I think the show’s opening with Rick chasing down Bob should give you some sign that Rick isn’t as far off the deep end as you think. He warns Bob several times about stopping and Bob doesn’t do it, so Rick hits him with the car. Would Rick have killed Bob for tricking Sasha? I’m going to say no. The plan was to trade the officers for Beth and Carol and if he could have avoiding killing him, he would have. Letting Bob get back to the hospital ruins the element of surprise for the group, he had to be eliminated after he wouldn’t stop running. Rick could have saved his warnings and just killed Bob with the car if he’s as bloodthirsty as you think.

Father Gabriel finally figures out why the group killed the Terminites so brutally once he sees Bob’s leg for himself. But then he ruins St. Sarah’s for everyone by leading a bunch of walkers back to it so it could be overrun. Abraham didn’t help matters by slamming the fire truck into either (he did save them from having to fight off more walkers, I’ll give him credit). But the group is once again homeless other than the fire truck. Shout out to Eugene for soundly sleeping since the end of “Self Help” by the way. I really hope that Father Gabriel has seen enough to realize he wants to live and he’s going to have to fight for that right, religion or no religion.

Maybe it’s just me but Dawn didn’t speak a lick of sense this entire episode and the writers proved me right that she was a throwaway “bad guy” just to hold down the fort and pick off Beth. I just have to again say that I wish the entire hospital arc was done better.

It does make sense for Beth’s story to end here though. We saw her at her lowest in season 2, we saw her at her best in the latter half of season 4 and this season. There truly weren’t any more Beth Greene stories to tell. I still feel the same way about Carol but considering she got to lie in a bed and rest until she felt good enough to walk out of there with the group, there must still be a few more things we’ll get to explore with her (probably you’re burning Harlequin Romance questions about her and Daryl!).

My gut reaction was to blame Noah for Beth dying but it really was on Beth for wanting to get the “last word” in on Dawn and Dawn for having to get the “last word” in on the exchange. Beth lets Noah walk across that hallway, I don’t have to worry about seeing him for a while and she gets to see Maggie again. But I guess she had enough of Dawn’s mouth when she took that snide shot at Noah and wanted to finally get to address it. Good intentions, bad results.

And I will give Tyreese his propers: his plan was better than Rick’s plan. Other than Lamson attacking Sasha and Licari almost taking out Daryl, his plan was almost bump free. He didn’t make Beth head back down that hallway. He didn’t make Sasha go all soft for the first semi-dark complected dude named Bob she met after her Bob. He also didn’t teach Daryl Dixon how to fight, but I digress. Rick’s plan would’ve been a lot bloodier for both sides; instead the hospital seems ready to get their collective shit together and start fresh.

Speaking of starting fresh, that’s exactly what the group has to do now. They lost Terminus, they lost DC, they lost St. Sarah’s, they lost Bob and Beth. They are lost figuratively and literally. We talked a lot about the group having a voice of reason, whether that be Glenn or Daryl or Tyreese. Well, turns out the group just lost its heart and soul. Losing Herschel was akin to losing a father and a grandfather but to lose the one person who brought light to TWD world, it’s going to have some lasting effects, the rest of season 5 and beyond.

Thomas Crawford: We both know nothing is sacred in the The Walking Dead world.  It also looks like we were both wrong.  How is it that neither of us saw the end of Beth?  I would like to point out that you are taking it better than I thought you would be.  I thought you would be blaming Noah and Tyreese.  Alas, the blame does fall on two people, Beth and Dawn.

I was thinking the same thing by the way, didn’t everyone have their guns holstered?  Dawn sure did draw and fire pretty damn fast.  I would like to point out that it was a police issued holster not an old time western quick draw holster… so the whole pull fire and perfect shot to the head seems a little unbelievable.

I am not going to pick apart and over criticize the scene though.  The fact that Dawn didn’t punch or grab Beth seemed off.  The fact that she drew and fired that fast was off.  The fact it was a perfect head shot when Dawn was aiming from the hip also seemed very off.  The fact is, I think I’m glad that it was a head shot.  I’m not sure I could handle a Walker Beth at the start of the second half of the season.  Anyone remember the Hershel head?  That was pretty tough to watch and stomach for a lot of fans.  I think the writers wanted to make sure that Beth was dead, gone and not making a surprise reappearance.  Small comforts I guess.

I guess I have to agree as well.  Beth’s story ending here did make sense.  The fact is that she wasn’t a major character really ever since her first appearance.  Then all of a sudden she begins to get more of a story.  She went through some big changes.  As you said we have seen her low points as well as her high points.  In a way it was very similar to the demise of Bob.  Could there be a pattern here you think?  Neither were main characters, got to do some cool stuff, suddenly become very important at least to some of the main characters or the fans, and then both suddenly offed?  Maybe I am over analyzing.  I will say I was sad to see her go when it looked like we were going to get a somewhat happy ending.

Rick running down officer Bob was a cool way to start the show.  Does it prove he isn’t going off the deep end?  I don’t think so.  I think that there are still questions about Rick and his frame of mind at this point.  I can see this is something me and you are going to continue to argue about.  I’m just saying that I’m not sure at this point.  It just seems like the writers have been dropping hints since the end of the prison that Rick is changing.  Again, I’m not saying he is going off the deep end for certain, just it’s getting to be a lot easier for him to do some awful things.

The fact is that up to the end of season 4, Rick was still questioning his actions.  He may have been more questioning what kind of person he was becoming after tearing out Joe’s throat and stabbing the guy who was going to rape Carl.  I will say at that point, I wasn’t questioning Rick’s frame of mind.  At least I don’t think I was.

This season so far, I conceded that the killing of the Terminites needed to be done.  They were animals that would have killed the entire group.  They needed to be dealt with and Rick was right to kill them.  The way he did it, the way the scene played out, is what gave me pause.  It was pretty dramatic and brutal.  It made for a good scene.  However, why not just stand behind them and shoot them in the back of the head after they have given up and are kneeling.  Rick went to the machete pretty easy and pretty quick.  I’m just saying, a touch of revenge, a little bloodthirsty, perhaps a touch of rage?  The actions weren’t necessarily wrong in the context, Rick and the group had just escaped cannibals and were protecting themselves.  The way it played out made it seem like Rick’s group were the bloodthirsty barbarians, not the kneeling Terminites.

I know you are going to disagree.  I just have one last thing to say about this.  Put yourself in Gabriel’s shoes.  This group saves you from walkers, asks you some questions, then just comes into your church, your home, without so much as being invited.  You know them for a day or two, they save your life again, and you have a meal.  Then you see this scene.  You see how easy Rick, Michonne, Sasha, and Abraham slaughter kneeling prisoners.  Even if you don’t have anything against killing walkers, or have killed them yourself, wouldn’t THIS scene worry you?

The reason I am bringing this up because we have been with this group from the first day.  In the end, we trust Rick and Michonne.  We trust Tyreese and Daryl, and we still love Carol though she is a bit crazy at times.  Gabriel doesn’t have this knowledge.  This is where our bias comes in, we judge new characters harshly due to being fans.  I have to give it to the writers, they are sticking to their guns though.  Someone knew who witnessed what Gabriel did, would definitely want to bolt at the first chance.  He even had a young kid, Carl, trying to teach him how to fight.  How would that make you feel, a kid wearing a gun, obviously comfortable with it on, telling you how to fight and kill?

I’m not saying this because I think Gabriel is long for the show.  I’m not saying this because I think he will become a fan favorite.  I am simply saying I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.  Is he doing stupid things?  Yes he is.  Will he screw up and probably lead someone else to death in the second half of the season?  At this point I am counting on it.  However, I don’t like dropping judgement on a new character who has only been in at most a handful of episodes.  He needed to get out of the church.  He needed to get away from people he had seen do some terrible things.  He had to know why they had done those terrible things.  I can’t blame him for it.

I will say Beth had sort of become a light in the first half of season 5.  I hate losing her.  I will point out  again that we both should have seen something like this coming.  I feel dumb for falling into the idea that she was going to be around for the entire fifth season.  If there is a formula for dropping characters, I certainly haven’t found it yet.  I will point out one thing that a lot of characters who are killed have in common.  Let me throw out some names: Beth, Hershel, Bob, Dale, and T-Dog.  I’ll let you remember and think about what all those characters have in common.  Perhaps we should be looking towards Tyreese or Tara as next on the chopping block.  Just some thoughts.  I’ll throw it back to you, what do you think?

KC: I definitely think Tyreese is safe at this point. The first half of season 5 brought about the deaths of two characters who we didn’t care for at first and then they were killed after they redeemed themselves in our eyes. I don’t see what they would gain from killing Tyreese unless they resolve the issues he’s been having since Carol killed Karen and since “The Grove”. Tara also wouldn’t strike me as killable since she still hasn’t done anything other than help Glenn find Maggie and befriend Eugene. Out of that group you named, only T-Dog didn’t get much of a story. Season 1, he dropped the key to Merle’s handcuffs. Season 2, he hurt himself on the road and went a little crazy before he got some medicine. Season 3, he sacrificed himself for Carol and the rest of the group when Andrew let the walkers back into the prison. If the pattern holds of trying to give each character’s death meaning, something will be done with Tara before it’s all said and done for her.

Other candidates though could be Sasha, Carol, Glenn, Eugene or Abraham. I think Carol or Abraham are who they go with if they want to they want to take out a huge contributor. Glenn is also a major contributor as he’s been around as long as Carol but the writers would have to be major dicks to kill Maggie’s family and then her husband. Or the other hand, killing off Maggie would be the last of the Greene clan, so I almost feel she’s moving into the unkillable category. Sasha is the most vulnerable right now (next to Maggie and Daryl over Beth) and we’ve already seen she’s prone to mistakes. Killing her could be used to further Tyreese’s character arc. And Eugene is pretty expendable right now since his secret is out. It would be interesting if they went with an angle of Eugene getting killed by Abraham and Abraham would spend the next episodes trying to cover it up. But then that devalues Abraham completely, whether Eugene deserved it or not.

I’m willing to give Father Gabe a fresh start at this point. While I think his tactics of seeing the truth for himself were a bit extreme, with his limited exposure to the world outside of the church up until a few days ago, I can see why he would have doubts. He’s only been out to find food and I doubt he ran into any one, let alone a bad ass walker killing outfit like Rick and the Daryls. Your point about how the group appears to others is something I didn’t consider since we’re with them all the time. The last mention of something like this is when Tyreese’s group made their way into the prison, right when Rick has completely lost it. That initial introduction was enough to drive Tyreese’s group to Woodbury. And with no Dale or Herschel, no one in the group have particularly friendly faces. So while still stupid, I have to agree that Gabriel’s actions were justified.

And looking at Rick again… if anything, I think they may be setting something up with his actions as of late. Let’s think about it: when’s the last time Rick had something bad happen to him? And not to someone in the group that affected him, but directly to him? I’d have to say it was that beatdown he took from The Governor , you remember, the one it took him days to recover from after he and Carl found safety in “After”. Since then, minus that little scuffle with Joe and the Claimers, Rick has repeatedly gained the upperhand convincingly in any encounters we’ve seen since. I’m thinking all these outcomes falling into Rick’s favor are going to give him a false sense of security when it comes to defending himself.

There’s a quick scene that’s in the preview for the second half of season 5, where Rick is surrounded by walkers. One of them has a firm hold of his right arm and is looking to take a chunk out of it. Is season 5 going to be the one where Rick loses his right hand like his comic counterpart? Is this why Rick is acting so violently? Has he become so confident since he ripped out Joe’s throat that he feels untouchable, even after the outbreak? If you want to reel in a man who’s acting a little crazy without having him suffer a second nervous breakdown, losing a hand (or most of the arm) would do it.

And as for my poor, sweet Beth, I don’t think we wanted her to die, at least not now. We’ve had many conversations about how easy it would have been to kill her prior to season 4, and how she wasn’t more than a background player to the main story. I have to commend the writers on what they did with her and for not taking the easy route and killing her just to drive up the body count. We didn’t see it coming because she was interesting now. We wanted to see her reunited with the group and with her sister and see her becoming a bigger contributor to the group. It’s really sad that we won’t get that now.

I’ll leave you with this question: what will Beth’s death do to the group, mainly Daryl and Maggie? While Carol & Daryl getting together may be on every fan of the show’s wish list, there were definitely sparks between Daryl and Beth. If that funeral home hadn’t had been invaded by walkers (still no answers on who did that one), he would’ve been more than happy to settle down with a cute, spunky, optimistic blonde. Isn’t that the dream in TWD? Safety and a cute woman to lay in bed next to at night? Didn’t Glenn have this in the prison for a while between seasons 3 and 4? At this point, I think Daryl did have more feelings for Beth than he does Carol, so seeing how he responds will be something to watch.

And Maggie? I feel so bad for her. First her family and neighbors get bitten, then Otis, then her family and neighbors (walker versions) in the barn, then Jimmy and Patricia, then Herschel thanks to the Governor, and finally Beth because of Dawn. She’s going to shut down and Glenn shouldn’t be able to pull her out of her funk easily. All of her immediate family and friends are dead. There’s a lot that could be done with this angle, I just hope it doesn’t get glossed over in favor of a bigger story. They diverted any damage the Governor did to her when he damn near raped her to her being mad at Glenn for his assumptions; she definitely has to be at her breaking point now.

Whatever the case, I think we’re in for more character driven episodes in season 5’s second half, especially following all the action we’ve just gone through.

TC: Very good thoughts about who is up on the chopping block.  The ones I put up are, again, just guesses.  I think we all can say this show can surprise any fan with who it decides to axe and when.  Every person you mentioned would have serious affects on the characters and the storyline.  That being said, I think you are right that we are looking at a more character driven second half of the season.

Is Rick too confident?  I think it might be looking that way.  I didn’t notice that arm bite in the trailer, but the idea of him being infected and losing his arm is interesting.  Anyone who has read any of the earlier comics knows that Rick loses his hand and has to deal with that.  Are the writers thinking about staying closer to the comics this season?  It is possible, but I would be surprised if they went through with it.  The show is slated for a sixth season, and truthfully I’m not sure I see a one arm Rick taking charge and doing what he has been doing as of late.  Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

Daryl and Maggie are in a dark place right now.  I guess it is true that there could have been some romantic build between Daryl and Beth.  I’m not completely sure that is how they are going to play it out.  When it was just Daryl and Beth, he was blaming himself for the prison being overrun.  He came to terms with it with Beth’s help it seemed.  Then, he lost Beth.

I think that has seriously been an underlying strain on him that hasn’t been highlighted in the show.  He had brought it up to Rick before.  He also ran off with Carol as soon as he saw the white cross on the car with no hesitation.  In the end, there was hope.  I think Daryl needed to save Beth, as much for himself and his psyche as for her own good.  Watching her die, knowing he had failed, I think that is going to be a big theme in the upcoming second half of the season.

Maggie, well, she is in a dark place obviously.  Like Daryl, she was filled with hope when she found out that Beth was still alive.  There have been some criticisms about her lack of caring for her sister since the prison got overrun. I may have even pointed this out. On the other hand, she has been trying to survive and dealing with the whole cannibals situation, the loss of her home, the loss of her mother, and watching her father Herschel beheaded.  I think its safe to say she has had a lot to deal with in a short period of time.  She has grabbed onto any and everything she has to keep her sanity.

I wonder if this, watching her sister being carried out by Daryl, will be a breaking point?  Will she go over the edge, spend most the second half of the season a wreck?  Will she seek out revenge, look for dangerous situations, perhaps lead others in the group into danger in her distressed state?  I am actually really curious as to how the character will develop over the second half of the season.  I am thinking that she may play a pivotal role or at least get some major onscreen time with how the first half of the season ended.

Where do they go from here?  There is no DC.  There is no cure.  There is no real hope for sanctuary.  The one trailer I watched had Rick claiming that is what they have to do to survive.  Is this what the second half of the season is going to be about?  It seems like they are going to be spending a lot of time wandering, searching, and questioning each other.  With all the stress, all the ups and downs, will the group start to implode a little?  I am also wondering how the rest of the group will react when it gets around that Eugene lied the entire time?  What role is Gabriel going to play?  How will Abraham and Rick mesh again, even though they seem past their initial differences?

This was hard to write because it seemed like all I am doing is asking questions.  There just seems to be more questions than answers with this show at this point.  It is something that drives a lot of people crazy.  People watch shows a lot of times to see resolution and final answers.  At this point The Walking Dead is doing an amazing job of keeping those answers out of reach, and making more questions than answers.  There doesn’t seen to be a final resolution to any of the questions in sight.  That is also one of the best things about the show.  Even though I may not get all the answers, I will be tuning in for some during the second half of the season.  Overall, it was a hell of a way to end the first half of the season.

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