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REVIEW: The Walking Dead 5×08 “Coda”

Written by Alex Reale

And so we reach yet another mid-season finale in The Walking Dead saga. Tonight’s episode, “Coda”, may not have have been the most thrilling of Season 5, but it did an exceptional job providing us with a cliffhanger that is already making me anxious for the show to return in February. (spoilers ahead!)

“Coda” hit the ground running with its opening scene. Last week, the episode ended with Officer Bob Lamson knocking Sasha out and making a break for it. This week, Rick catches up to him after stealing a police vehicle, and actually hits Lamson with the car, possibly breaking his back. As Lamson is writhing on the ground and trying to reach a compromise, Rick shoots him in the head in cold blood.

Over the course of this season (and actually the past few seasons), we’ve seen a huge change in Rick Grimes. He’s always been the calm, level-headed leader of the group who deeply cares for the people around him. Even though he still has that heart of gold, it’s buried deep, deep, deep within an active volcano that can blow at any second. Rick is transforming into a ruthless soldier who will stop at almost nothing to protect his loved ones.

I didn’t start recognizing the change until Season 4’s finale when he ripped a man’s throat out with his bare teeth. It became even more apparent in the Season 5 premiere when Rick wanted to go back to Terminus and kill the rest of the inhabitants. Then, in the episode, “Four Walls and a Roof”, Rick ordered the merciless slaughter of the rest of the Hunters (yeah, they deserved it, but still). Tonight, we see more of Rick’s barbaric nature. I could write an entire article about the character and his transformation in the past season, but I think you get the picture by now; Rick is not a man to be trifled with.

Last week, I posted my theory about how Eugene possibly died from Abraham’s beating and turned into a walker. Well, tonight’s episode MIGHT have squashed that assumption. I emphasize the “might” because all we see is a shot of Eugene “unconscious” in the back of the firetruck. Maybe he has a hidden bullet-wound in the side of his head that we don’t know about? It’s a huge stretch, but what if…?

Father Gabriel went and screwed things up again this week. Although I still love Seth Gilliam and his performance, he’s almost becoming a sort of Gilligan to the group. This time, after attempting to abandon Michonne, Judith, and Carl at the church, he encounters a horde of walkers and accidentally lures them back to the shelter. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the group just kills Gabriel out of frustration for doing something stupid later on this season.

I never liked anything going on with Beth’s story at Grady Memorial Hospital, and from what I’ve gathered from other people, they haven’t enjoyed it either. It seems to slow down the pacing of the entire season and not really contribute anything to the story. I consider it little more than Woodbury 2.0, with Beth acting as Andrea, and Dawn acting as the Governor. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the last few minutes of the episode.

The whole situation of Rick negotiating with the police at the hospital was very reminiscent of the scene from Season 4 when the Governor was about to assault the prison. Remember when Rick tried to negotiate with the Governor but he ends up just turning Hershel into a human Pez dispenser? In this instance, Rick offers to trade his two police prisoners for Carol and Beth. Dawn could have taken the trade and that would’ve been the end of it, but she asks for Noah as well. Frankly, I would’ve been fine with the hospital taking Noah back because I can’t stand the character. But Rick, being the stubborn guy that he is, says that wasn’t part of the deal. Daryl jumps in and agrees with him, which is a little odd seeing as he wasn’t on the best terms with Noah just a few episodes ago and probably would’ve been happy to let Noah go back. Regardless, this was the trigger for one of the most heart-breaking events in the entire show: Beth’s murder.

I knew it was coming. Ever since the beginning of the hospital arc, I figured that Beth would bite it. My thoughts were only further motivated by an article that explained how Norman Reedus actually cried when filming the episode. That goes to show just how attached the actors become to their roles. Daryl and Beth were like brother and sister. Reedus must have felt like his sibling sister had been killed in front of him during that scene. Absolutely tragic, yet excellently depicted on the show.

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One of the last shots of the episode is Maggie breaking down at the sight of her sister, which was even harder to watch because you realize that Maggie had not seen her sister since the assault on the prison, and a few minutes prior, she was told that Beth was still alive. Lauren Cohan‘s performance is only second to Reedus’s in this episode.

Mid-season breaks are tough but necessary. I think this was a satisfying conclusion to the first half of Season 5. My guess is that one of the major plots of the second half of the season will involve Maggie and Daryl trying to overcome their grief. Meanwhile, the rest of the group has to find new shelter now that the church is overrun. Will they continue on to Washington even though Eugene was lying about a potential solution to the outbreak? Or will they have to find a new alternative for the time being? Unfortunately, we won’t find out anything until February.

Final Grade: A –
+ Reedus and Cohan both gave amazing performances.+ Beth’s death, although devastating, was perfectly filmed and executed, and ended up being one of the most emotionally taxing moments on the show.

+ I’m glad we won’t have to deal with the hospital or its annoying staff anymore.

 

– The ending negotiation reminded me too much of Rick and the Governor’s confrontation from the Season 4 mid-season finale.

– I’m not too happy about Noah joining the main group.

– I thought Carol would have a larger role in this episode. All we see is her waking up and then being traded along with Beth during the negotiations. But I’m willing to let this slide since there was already so much going on.

Extra Thought:

– Morgan makes yet another appearance at the end of the episode, just like he did in the season premiere. He stumbles upon the church and finds a map with Rick’s name on it. It looks like he’s getting closer to meeting up with the group. The question still stands: who has been leaving him the carved symbols on the trees?

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Were you saddened by the loss of Beth? What are your thoughts on what will happen in the second half of Season 5? Sound off in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!

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