Finale spoiler warning.
The Walking Dead 5×08: Coda brings us a finale filled with heartache, frustration and overall a fitting conclusion to a slow build of the first half of season five. What have we learned?
We’ve learned that even in the middle of the zombie apocalypse there are long pauses of boredom and drudgery than will be the death of you the moment that you turn the next corner. Even in this episode we get long conversations between Dawn and Beth. We’re thinking they will all be worth it later, that we’re building onto them to bring these characters as stronger later. But life – and the walkers – can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
The episode starts with a chase, a chase that could have gone a million of ways but for Rick, the games are over and he has no problem in running down the fugitive officer Bob. He also has no problem in finishing him off.
Father Gabriel limps into more walkers that he can manage – oh wait, I guess that’s any random number – but since he’s really about sharing misery he just leads them back to the church. Gee, thanks Gabriel. It’s up to Michonne and Carl to save his hide, albeit at the cost of lowering their defenses.
The cavalry will eventually arrive in the form of the red firetruck with Abraham and company. The firefighters share the bad news (“Eugene lied”) while the church choir share the good ones (“Beth is alive”). If you had a bad feeling about that, you’re not alone. Quite a few people thought there was no way we would get a happy ending. That also means there was no way we would get an unhappy one without… ok, I’m getting to it, don’t rush me.
Beth and Dawn bond. It’s curious, because during the episode it does feel like their relationship is slowly turning into one of empathy. We learn about Dawn’s predecessor in command, a man named… Nevermind, it’s not going to matter in a few lines. One of the officers challenges Dawn, a brawl ensues and it’s up to Beth to deliver the final blow, or in this case to push him into the elevator chasm.
Finally the dreaded prisoner exchange takes place in a very cramped corridor, where Carol gets to the other side without issues, but for Beth things don’t go as planned. First, Dawn wants Noah. I don’t really understand why he agrees. As the last words are exchanged, Beth tells Dawn she understands and then stabs her with scissors. In the struggle, Dawn fires her gun, which seems to be an accident and kills Beth. It’s one of those moments where everyone appears to freeze. Except Daryl, who shoots Dawn on the head.
Before a fire fight breaks out, one of the other officers takes command and asks both sides to withdraw. With Dawn dead, the interest in retaking the prisoners is gone. Our ragtag team leaves the hospital to run into Abraham, Michonne and the rest of the group. Daryl brings out Beth’s body as Maggie breaks down screaming.
We’re once more left with the group together but broken. Now we know that what we had initially was very high hopes for a cure and a reunion, neither of which crystallized. After a couple of episodes of pure action, we entered this period of stillness in which things seemed to be slowly moving to a crossroad, not one of reconciliation or victory but once again of loss.
- Emily Kinney plays her last moments as Beth Greene. It’s a bit complicated to figure out what she was after with that last moment when stabbing Dawn.
- Rick opens the episode with a bang. He also plays it cool to the extreme as he comes out in the open to offer the exchange.
- Sasha as a sniper.
- There’s something about that last scene where the characters are brought together to say goodbye to one of their own. The city of Atlanta in the background is a surreal setting. It would be too easy to say they’re back to where they started. That isn’t true. Everyone here was someone else when they started.
- Father Gabriel… Is he going to die by himself or is he going to get more people killed trying to save him until he dies? Is there a redemption for this character at all?
- We didn’t get a badass moment with Carol. I guess she did have her huge moment on the first episode so we’re saving her for another moment down the road.
- Once again, slow build… We’re treated to a lot of long talks between Dawn and Beth to seeming expand and perhaps even care a little more for the ones about to die.
- Poor Beth, yes… Also, poor Maggie. That was cruel for her to find out her sister was alive only to see her dead.
That will do for now.