Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead (Midseason Finale)

The Walking Dead: Season 5, Episode 8 “Coda” (B+)

There’s sometimes a sense on this show that things are cyclical and that nothing ever really happens year to year, half-season to half-season. There was a certain simplicity to the construction of this episode, which had only one main plotline: Rick and everyone heading to make the exchange, which ended up being two cops for two of their own. Back at the church, Gabriel did his best to ensure that their sanctuary was hardly permanent, and the return of Glenn and Maggie just in the nick of time meant salvation and brought immeasurable joy for Maggie, who found out that her sister was in fact alive. Starting the episode off with Bob’s run and Rick’s execution of him emphasized the darkness that underscores this show’s tone, and the finality of his choice to run rather than to cooperate with the plan. Not much actually happened over the course of the hour, but that made the finale all the more impactful and devastating. Everything had gone well and even the unanticipated condition, which was that Noah return to his people, would have gone smoothly since Noah understood that he could fully resolve the situation by handing himself over. But Beth, a character who we had almost lost already and who grew up remarkably fast this season, recognized Dawn for who she was and what she would do to Noah, and decided that she couldn’t let it happen. That shot to the head was quick and finite, and the ensuing surrender of the hospital group was immensely powerful. That they offered for their would-be enemies to stay was generous, and Rick’s refusal to do so, followed by Maggie’s anguish upon seeing her sister’s lifeless body, signaled the long road this show still has to travel. This season started off uncertainly, and this finale made this whole arc mean something, sending the show on a several-month hiatus on a very strong note.

Season grade so far: B+
Season MVP: Emily Kinney as Beth

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