The Walking Dead Season 5: “Coda” Recap

Thoughts on the The Ricktatorship's latest suite of travails.

click to enlarge The Walking Dead Season 5: “Coda” Recap - AMC
The Walking Dead Season 5: “Coda” Recap

In this week’s tortuous midseason finale we bid goodbye to two important cast members.

Best Rick Moments

1. After he kills Officer Lamson for running away: “Shut up.”

2. “Where are your people?” (Zombie sniper head shot) “They’re close.”

Father Gabriel

Gabriel continues to explore the zombie-ridden forest, and stumbles upon the remnants of Terminus’s Bob-B-Q. The idiot proceeds to lead all the walkers into the Church. Michonne and Carl handle the situation like the seasoned survivors they are, and they all escape unharmed. Gabriel’s finally woken up to the realities of the zombie apocalypse, claiming, “I had to see. I had to know.” His cowering is pathetic and irritating, but it’s ultimately human. With fans’ low tolerance for useless zombie fodder (Lori, Abraham and others) we’ll see how long he weathers the rest of the season.

Dawn of the Dead

For me, seeing Dawn exercise on that stationary bike never fails to add that delicious extra layer of contempt for her character. As Beth cleans up Dawn’s office, she asks what really happened to Captain Hanson, the previous leader of the Grady tribe. Dawn’s meandering response is that she regrets murdering her mentor and she misses him; but ultimately, she dismisses him as weak. “Beth in this job, you don’t need their love. But you have to have their respect. Hanson lost his way.” Like Dr. Edwards, Dawn’s plan for survival is about remaining indispensible to a desperate collective.

Deus Ex Machina of the Week: D.C. Firetruck

Just when the walkers in the church are beginning to break doors for Michonne, Carl and Gabriel, the D.C. crew rams the fire truck into the church and seals them back in. Glenn reveals that Abraham lied about the cure, but it’s quickly brushed aside for the good news that Beth is still alive at Grady Hospital. At the insistence of sweet Tara, they hustle over to downtown Atlanta.

Beth and Dawn vs. Officer O’Rapey

Beth witnesses one Officer O’Donnell shoving Percy, the old man who helped her steal into the drug locker for Carol, down into the walker-infected elevator shaft; he throws her one last lewd barb before exiting.

When Dawn corners a pensive Beth at the elevator shaft, they have another depressingly circuitous chat about how they’re not going anywhere. Dawn immediately reinforces her power politics by reminding Beth that she’s saved her ass twice, and she knows what Officer Gorman and Jeffries did after cleaning up the shattered jar of lollipops in her office. Beth ought to be thankful she’s been covering her.

Enter Officer O’Donnell once again, who’s overheard everything. Dawn accuses him of cruelly laughing as a girl got gang raped and other monstrosities; but he’s ready to spread word to the Grady tribe about how Dawn is cracking. The two officers exchange vicious punches, and Beth finishes the job by shoving O’Donnell down the elevator shaft. “I don’t cry anymore,” Beth declares, showing us that she’s grown so much from the crybaby of the farm.

Sibling Therapy

As Sasha and Tyreese take guard on a rooftop in Atlanta, Tyreese coaches his little sister that she shouldn’t beat herself up for letting Officer Lamson escape. Tyreese confesses that he had the chance to kill Martin of Terminus, and he lied about killing him: “I could’ve done it. I should’ve done it. But I didn’t.” For a bit of levity, he talks about how when they were little, Sasha used to follow him around, copying every little thing he did. Tyreese thinks that their two soft hearts and their shared experiences means that they’re still the children of their past, and maybe that’s good; but Sasha asserts that while Tyreese is still the same, she can’t be that trusting child ever again. Their discussion of lost innocence is a poignant exchange that effectively crests out the arch of these two characters for the season; and it points to the devastating conclusion of the mid-season.

The Pyrrhic Exchange

The Ricktatorship and Dawn’s camp meet in a hallway of Grady to swap their hostages. At first, the hard-fought trade happens without incident, until Dawn persists in her weird power politics and demands Noah back. Noah, not wanting any more conflict to explode between the two groups, agrees to return to Dawn. As Beth runs to hug him for his sacrifice, Dawn blabbers again: “I knew you should come back.” Her words are the final straw for Beth, who sneers that she finally gets what it’s about now.

Beth draws out a pair of scissors she concealed in her cast and stabs Dawn, missing her neck and tragically only getting her vest. Dawn accidentally squeezes the gunshot that blows Beth in the head. Dawn’s face breaks with instant regret just before Daryl kills her in the same fashion. With Dawn’s reign ended, Officer Shepherd quickly orders everyone to hold their fire and proclaims, “It’s over! It was just about her!”

When the D.C. unit reunites with Rick & co. outside Grady Memorial, Maggie breaks down to her knees as she sees Daryl carrying the body of her little sister. It’s a sad farewell to Beth, who never really had a chance with the burnt-out writers and the majority of audience’s sympathies.

... Until February!

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