Beth’s ‘Coda’ has come to a literal end in the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.
Following the events of “Crossed”, I was expecting the death of a major character as per the usual arc of each finale. Maybe Carol (Melissa McBride), a vulnerable character at the present, or Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who has done very little to contribute to the group anyway (apart from offering the church as a safe-haven).
Instead, in an attempt to gain the upper hand over the two conflicting groups, Beth (Emma Kinney) overextends herself and consequently seals her own tomb.
But let’s start at the beginning. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) reaches a settlement between two police officer representatives from the church, agreeing to a “trade off”. In the midst of it all, Officer Bob (who had appealed to Sasha’s emotional side and attempted to escape) is run over and gets shot in the head by Rick. Good on you, Rick.
Over at the church, for no apparent reason, the Father has escaped and goes over to the school where the Termites had captured Bob and were eating his leg. He stares over at a couple of magazines, looks over at the school, and fully allows the idea that he’s incompetent in the apocalypse setting to settle in.
He ends up leading a group of zombies back to the church, and a Trading Spaces scene occurs. Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carl (Chandler Riggs), and Judith escape through the portal the Father carved out, while they simultaneously lock the zombies into the church.
At that moment, a firetruck arrives on the scene, bearing Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Tara (Alanna Masterson), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who I’m surprised hasn’t turned yet. Michonne informs Maggie that Beth has been found in a city-hospital and is being rescued at the current moment. Maggie breaks down into happy tears, which honestly should have been our first warning sign.
Over at the hospital, Beth tries to identify the motives behind the officers at the hospital, i.e. why their current system exists and she tries to find reason behind their actions. She specifically questions Officer Dawn (Christine Woods) about the idea of “using people”, and how she herself was used by multiple people in the hospital, including Dawn for their own selfish gains – to ensure the hierarchy still stood. Dawn denies this.
At one point there is showdown between Dawn and another cop near the elevator shaft. Dawn shouts at the officer, saying how wrong it was that he and the other male officers laughed at the multiple rapings of Joan and how unjustly they carried their service. The male cop insists that it’s Dawn who is at fault, and needs to be removed from the order. A fist fight embroils, and ultimately, Beth helps Dawn by pushing the cop down the elevator shaft.
Inside Carol’s room, Dawn talks to Beth about her earlier suggestions about the motives of the hospital and denies the accusations, insisting that she never once “used” Beth. She knows Beth is smarter than this, pointing out that Beth definitely knew Carol before the hospital.
Finally, the trade-off is set to take place. Both sides exchange two-for-two: the two officers for Beth and Carol. Just as everything seems to be going okay, Dawn brings them to a halt: she wants Noah (Tyler James Williams) as well. Though this blatantly wasn’t part of the deal and Rick and Daryl do not want to let this happen, Noah turns himself in.
As a result of this turn of events, Beth once more antagonizes Dawn and the police officers. She hugs Noah and then turns over to Dawn. She mutters that she finally understands what her motives are and that all she really does is use people. Nothing’s changed. Beth takes out a pair of scissors out and stabs Dawn in the chest. Acting on impulse, Dawn shoots Beth right in the head.
Time seems to stand still as everyone tries to wrap their minds over what happens. Immediately Daryl goes on the offensive and shoots Dawn in the head, and it seems as though full on warfare is about to occur when the female hostage cop calls it to an end. Dawn’s death is exactly what they wanted, though not necessarily in the scene that played out. Rick rejects the officers’ invitation to stay in the hospital, and offers a new invitation to anyone who wants to leave and join their group. All the while, Beth lays in the middle, soaking in her own blood.
Outside the hospital, Eugene’s group including Maggie and Glenn reunite with the others. Everyone seems happy as one by one, people pile out of the hospital. It isn’t until Daryl comes out carrying Beth that Maggie sees that she is the only living Greene and breaks down. End scene.
Well, this certainly was a lot to take in. And certainly extremely unexpected. Dawn’s death was not too surprising; the lady had it coming after making multiple orders and expecting too much out of everyone else. Beth’s moment of overconfidence and consequent death seemed a little too rushed for my liking. Then again, I would have preferred for her not to have died. While watching Daryl carry Beth out, it immediately reminded me of the scenes the two shared after the prison burned down, when Daryl gives Beth a drink and shares fond memories. “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone, Daryl Dixon.” As if my heart couldn’t torn apart even more.
As for next season, there’s not much too expect now. While the writers seemed to completely ignore Beth in Maggie’s life over the course of the past season, all the pent up emotions must surely be released, so I’m assuming a definite change in dynamic between Maggie and Daryl and the rest of the group. It feels strange thinking about Terminus and how everyone thought Gareth was going to be the main villain of the season.
However relatively dispensable her character was, and however bitter her death carried out, Beth ensured that her legacy on the show wasn’t going to end easy. It’s just sad to know that her (once) bubbly presence, just as a Coda signifies the end of a musical piece, has come to an extremely abrupt and heartbreaking end, affecting pretty much everyone who knew her. While the good may not necessarily die young (see: Hershel’s death), the good always seem to die sooner. My message to Gimple: please don’t touch anyone else in the second half (well, maybe Eugene. And Carl, but that probably will never happen).
Morgan’s (Lennie James) post-credit scene, though a bit enigmatic, is a shimmer of light into the next half. His arrival to the church definitely takes place a long while after Rick’s group had settled into it, thus suggesting a flashback series for the next half of the season. If anything, Morgan picking up the map Abraham gave to Rick and seeing his face light up at the mention of Rick’s name on the page verifies a reunion in the near future, and something very much to look forward to going into the new episodes.