Everything in these last few episodes have been leading up to a final showdown between Rick and the police officers at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA. The conclusion to this mid-season was more heartbroken than a warfare, which was instated in last year’s mid-season finale after The Governor charged the gates at the prison. This time, Rick was following his allies’ plan to exchange the kidnapped cops for Beth and Carol. A beloved character was killed off, but I won’t reveal who until the end of this review.
“Coda” opens up to Officer Lamson escaping the clutches of Sasha, after he pushed her against the window glass. Lamson is by a cop car as he attempts to loosen the restraints on his bind. Meanwhile, we see someone running with heavy boots, chasing after the cop as the person slices the guts of a nearby walker. Lamson is soon enough surrounded by the undead as he starts running away, still with his hands bound behind his back. The man in boots turns out to be Rick as he quickly gets into the cop car and drives down the narrow alleyway city street. Just up ahead Rick sees Lamson running. Rick gets on the CB radio announcer and tells Lamson to “stop” three times. After Lamson does not listen, Rick accelerates and slams the car into Lamson’s back. This catapults him about ten feet forward. I thought that was a cool effect. Lamson is alive but seemingly paralyzed on the ground. As Rick slowly gets out, Lamson calls for help and tells Rick “I think my back is broken, you’re crazy.” “You just had to stop,” Rick says to Lamson as he kneels by his side. Rick never looked closer to Clint Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy than he does now. Rick is covered in dirt, has a thick gray beard, and long unkempt hair. Rick soon after stands up and gives Lamson the horrifying glare. Lamson begins pleading for his life to say that he didn’t know what they were capable of. Rick points his Colt Python at Lamson’s head and pulls the trigger. “Shut up,” Rick tells the corpse. Has Rick gone full Shane? Rick has certainly lost his tolerance over the years.
When Rick returns to the warehouse, everyone quickly finds out that Rick neutralized Lamson. Sasha has a face of guilt since she was tricked by Lamson. Daryl and Rick talk on the side. “This changes everything,” Rick says to Daryl. Daryl has a more positive outlook and says they can still work it out with the two surviving officers that they still have captured. “Lamson was a good man,” female Officer Shepherd blurts out. Shepherd then says that Lamson was found dead by rotters. Both Officers are tied with rope and on their knees as Tyreese and Noah aim their guns at their heads. “You’re a good liar,” Rick tells the female cop. Daryl doesn’t buy it. When Rick asks the other cop, he says it would be better if they lie to Dawn and say Lamson was eaten by walkers. So they will exchange the two cops for Beth and Carol.
Miles away, Gabriel is limping around the Elementary School, the same place where Gareth and the Hunters were once stationed. On the school yard, Gabriel observes a horde of walkers still trapped inside the school as he browses through the chronicles section of The Bible. Immediately after, Gabriel notices a burnt foot over a barbecue tray. Gabriel pushes it away as he realizes it is Bob’s foot! Suddenly, the walkers break through the glass and begin chasing after him. Gabriel stumbles in fear back to the church, as he idiotically brings the walkers to the church doors.
Gabriel screams for help as he squeezes through the pipe organ barricade and pounds on the locked church doors. Michonne with Judith on her back and Carl react quickly. Michonne takes apart the pew barricades with an axe as Gabriel fends himself off outside. My heart rate was at a new high during this whole scene. Carl and Michonne bust open the doors and grab Gabriel as the walkers follow behind. Carl shoots a few in the head, while Michonne slices several heads with her Katana. The three move fast and head to the back room where Gabriel has his secret exit. They barely close the door behind as walker hands try to grab at them. They use a desk chair as their last resort to buy them time to escape. Carl takes Judith and crawls under the church, Michonne follows. Gabriel leaves last as he stumbles back and jumps down only to wait and observe more of the walkers’ behavior. When the walkers come barging in, one of them falls head first into a machete, slicing it in half. That was extremely gory. Finally, Gabriel escapes out of the crawl space with the Machete in hand when he reunites with Carl and Michonne. Carl stabs the trapped walkers by the pipe organs. In order to trap the walkers inside the church, Carl and Michonne nail the remainder of the boards to the church front doors. Carl, Michonne, Gabriel and Judith wait outside the church as the walkers scratch at the doors. “Where do we go now?” Carl asks.
At Grady Memorial Hospital, Beth is cleaning up a room as Dawn is on a bicycle exercise machine. The Officers are not returning her messages and she’s getting worried. Beth finds a photograph of Dawn and another cop. Dawn finishes her workout and tells Beth it’s Captain Hanson, her former mentor. When Beth asks what happened to him, Dawn tells her Hanson lost his way. Dawn explains that people ought to respect an officer rather than get emotional. It’s their duty to protect and serve. Soon after, Beth is walking the Hospital hallway when she sees Officer O’Donnell pushing old man Percy on the floor. O’Donnell sees Beth starring at him and begins to verbally abuse her until Dawn comes strolling down the hall asking Beth for her immediate help.
On the rooftop of a skyscraper, Rick and the others are gearing up for the negotiation. Sasha is preparing her sniper rifle and is aiming her crosshair over the ledge. Tyreese is also on watch with a rifle. Daryl and Noah are tending to the captured officers. Tyreese tries talking to her sister. Sasha feels like she let the team down a bit when she let her empathy for Lamson get in the way of him escaping. She has also been coldly mourning the death of Bob. Tyreese tries to reassure his little sister that things will work out in the end. Tyreese then reveals to Sasha that one of the Hunters she killed was Marvin who he let live during the fight at Terminus. Tyreese is unsure if he should have killed him or not since he lied about it to the entire group. Tyreese then reminisces a time when him and Sasha were children and when the world was innocent.
At the church, Carl, Michonne, Gabriel and Judith are still waiting outside when a red fire truck comes crashing through the pipe organ trap and steps of the church. Abraham, Glenn, Maggie, Rosita and Tara step out while Eugene rests inside. Glenn tells Michonne that Eugene lied about Washington D.C. There is no cure as far as they know. Regardless, Michonne smiles when she tells Maggie that Beth is at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and that Rick has gone to get her back. Maggie cries in delight, Tara says, “let’s go save your sister.” They all take off in pursuit of Atlanta.
Back at the hospital, Beth is sitting while overlooking the empty elevator shaft. Dawn approaches her and says that Percy will be fine. Beth says things aren’t fine. Dawn asks Beth if she was trying to commit suicide. Beth borrowed the elevator key so she can get a moment to herself. The two dispute about what needs to be done versus what is already happening. Dawn admits that she knows that Beth killed Gorman, because she saw the broken glass. “I cleaned everything up, you’re a cop killer,” Dawn confronts Beth. Beth denies her actions as Dawn continues to say she saved her life twice. Dawn explains she cleaned up Beth’s mess so the other cops would not find out.
Soon after, O’Donnell comes into the hallway and begins stirring up more craze. O’Donnell tells Dawn that she is losing it and is just like Hanson. Before O’Donnell can walk away and alert the other cops, Dawn pulls a gun on him. Dawn reveals that she killed Hanson and that O’Donnell is giving her no choice. Dawn tells Beth to move away from the elevator shaft. O’Donnell shocked by his fellow officer’s actions, tries to remind her of their past. O’Donnell lists off things they once did, like being there for each other when Dawn was in labor or that they used to share cigars outside. Still pointing her piece, Dawn lists off all the horrible things he has done to the patients. O’Donnell abused Percy and raped Joan, along with Gorman several times. O’Donnell quickly knocks the gun out of Dawn’s hand as it slides down the elevator shaft. The two cops engage in an intense brawl; punching and wall body slamming ensues. After a minute of fighting, Dawn manages to get O’Donnell off her with a sweet ninja kick. O’Donnell is now parallel to the elevator door. Dawn shouts for Beth, as Beth pushes him off the elevator ledge. O’Donnell screams as he splats on top of the pile of bodies down below. The sound of the undead tearing into O’Donnell’s flesh echoes upward. Alright Beth! Strength comes in many forms.
Beth and Dawn are now by Carol’s bedside, who is still in a comatose. The two continue their argument about the incident with Gorman. Beth says Dawn only cleaned up to save herself. If Dawn did not clean up the mess, it would have most likely made her look bad in front of her cops. Maybe the others would then be more inclined to commit regicide. Beth adds that everyone in the hospital does things to use or take advantage of one another. “I wasn’t using you,” Dawn replies. Dawn actually has needed her support this whole time. Dawn figures out that Beth and Carol know each other, and that they were possibly reunited for a reason. Carol begins to wake up.
Outside by the hospital roof parking lot, Rick awaits as Daryl and Sasha are on sniper patrol a few hundred yards up. A red flag sways to let the approaching police car know of the terms. Two officers step out and point their guns at Rick. Rick lowers his magnum and raises his hands. Rick reveals himself to be a sheriff and says they will exchange Shepherd and the other cop for Beth and Carol. Rick reminds the cops that Carol is the one they hit with their car yesterday. On the roof of a skyscraper, Daryl flicks his finger from his right hand as he aims the rifle. Sasha steadies her sniper hand and aims the crosshair down below. Daryl and Sasha have their aim pointers at the cops’ heads. A walker begins limping behind the officers. The cops ask Rick if he’s with anyone else. Sasha immediately neutralizes the walker by shooting a sniper bullet at its skull. Rick replies, “they’re close.” The black officer looks around to see the walker fall to the ground. You can tell that the cops are scared. Rick then steps back and tells the cops to radio in Dawn, he will wait.
It is obvious that they are going through with the exchange. Rick, his group and the four officers walk up the stairs to meet with Dawn, Beth, and Carol inside the hospital wing. Beth gets dressed in her casual clothing and hides a surgical scissor in her arm cast. Beth rolls Carol in the wheelchair as they follow Dawn and Dr. Steven Edwards to the meeting point. Both sides are now at opposite ends of the hallway, facing each other whilst the camera is tilted at an odd angle. Rick and Dawn decide to exchange each person, one-by-one. The two negotiating officers bring the male captured cop as Dawn rolls Carol by Rick’s side. Then with ease, Rick exchanges Shepherd for Beth. Rick is happy as he caresses Beth’s hair. Dawn asks, “we’re done here?” Rick answers under his breath, “yeah,” as they all begin turning around and leaving.
The deal is done until Dawn opens her mouth again. Dawn suddenly blurts out that the deal isn’t finished until she gets Noah back. Before Shepherd has a chance to talk, Dawn shuts her up. Rick turns back and says that was not part of the deal. Dawn explains that since she’s losing Beth, she will need Noah as it is a part of an obligation. Daryl chimes in and defends Noah’s claim to stay with Rick’s group. Rick and Beth try to tell Dawn that he wants to find his family. Dawn has no power over Noah, they reiterate. Noah steps up and says that it must be done so Beth and Carol can be rescued. A gloomy Noah hugs Beth and tells her it will be fine. “I knew you would come back,” Dawn says as she observes the two hugging. Beth then approaches and seemingly gives Dawn her final goodbye. Beth says, “I get it now.” Beth quickly stabs Dawn in the chest with the scissors when a gunshot rings throughout the hallway. Beth falls to the ground as Dawn looks shocked. Rick and the others freak out as everything goes silent. The bullet from Dawn’s gun penetrated through Beth’s skull. Tears start to fall down Daryl’s eyes as he pulls out a handgun and shoots Dawn in the face. Dawn falls dead to the ground. Blood is everywhere. Both sides aim their weapons at each other. Shepherd immediately says that they’re not associated with the actions taken by Dawn. Rick, Carol and, Sasha begin to cry. Rick in tears shouts across the hallway and gives an ultimatum. Rick asks that if anyone else wants to join his group and leave the hospital, step forward now. No one does.
Meanwhile, near the hospital’s entrance, Abraham and the remainder of Rick’s group come in on the fire truck. They all get out, take care of a few walkers until seeing Rick and the rest walking outside. Rick shakes his head and Daryl carries out the body of Beth. Maggie falls to her knees and starts balling. Daryl continues holding Beth as the redness from his eyes bleed out more tears. Everyone else cries, this a terrible loss. The scene pans out to the aerial view of the big city. This was by far the saddest moment of The Walking Dead. What is Rick and the others going to do, how are they going to handle this loss?
There is an extra scene that shows what Morgan has been up to. The x’s that have been leading Morgan through the forest finally brings him to the Elementary School where Gabriel recently was. Morgan finds a female walker lying on her back as she groans and stares with dead eyes into blank space. Morgan creepily shushes her and stabs a knife through her brain. The trail leads him to the church which has now recently been emptied of walkers. Morgan walks up to the chapel and kneels. He places a cookie, a candle, and a pocket knife as he prays. A smile followed by a laugh comes off Morgan’s face. He stands up and picks up a crumpled piece of paper. When he opens it up, it shows a map to Washington D.C. This is the same document that Abraham mapped out for Rick when Abraham originally left the church. Morgan reads the last section of the note, “the world is going to need Rick Grimes,” and raises his eyebrows. Will Morgan eventually meet up with Rick and the others? Where will Rick be going now that Washington D.C. is out of the question? We will have to wait until the second half of the season picks up, in February 2015.
This mid-season finale really upset me. Beth was a pivotal character who brought purity and innocence to the show. She is now a fallen angel. This episode made us realize that Daryl was extremely close to Beth. Actors Norman Reedus (who plays Daryl) and Emily Kinney (who plays Beth) are even close in real life. It was very difficult for Norman to perform Emily’s final scene. A sunshine of hope has diminished. How will Maggie mourn her death? She is the last surviving member of her family. The show is going to be much darker from here on out.
Although it is only a fictional show, apart of me died a bit inside. Words cannot describe the death of such a beautiful character. And when it happened, I was like, “oh, Beth just died.” I was numb, but also in denial. Knowing that she won’t be returning is another letdown. Rest in peace, Beth Greene. You will be missed eternally. We can only hope that she’s joined by her father, Hershel, in heaven. Will the group use Beth’s death as a means of keeping morality? Who knows. Before February, there is The Walking Dead series marathon starting December 30, 2014. Stay strong everyone, we will get through this hiatus.