A Closer Look: The Walking Dead – “Coda”

And so the first half of The Walking Dead’s fifth season comes to a close. There’s a LOT in this episode to talk about and I’m sure some of you still have a tissue box nearby. So blow your nose and let’s take a closer look at The Walking Dead “Coda” to find out just how everything came to an end.

Coda – What Does It Mean?:

As with every episode of The Walking Dead, the episode title references the overarching theme of that episode – and “Coda” was no different. A ‘Coda’ is something that completes a piece of work or brings it to and end. Even though it was only a half Season, a lot of new chapters were started; but then quickly came to an end in this episode. The time at the Church, the new trip to DC and rescue attempt of Beth were all things that met their finite and conclusive end in this episode.

Though it goes much further than just simple plot lines. With Beth, so too is the “light of the group”. Bob filled her role for a few episodes; but now they’re both gone. The group is more depressed than ever before and this will drastically effect what happens in the second half that picks up in February. I’ll go into more detail on this later; but Kirkman promised that from here on out things will be radically different.

The Church’s Final Chapter:

Last episode we saw Gabriel escape the Chruch in order to see for himself what kind of people these Hunters were – which again you should remember happened approximately 36-48 hours prior. Gabriel comes across the school and finds what’s left of Bob’s leg and Terminus Mary’s Bible. It is from this that he can tell they were indeed monsters that thought they were doing good.

Sadly Gabriel also finds that the hoard of walkers locked in the school FINALLY broke through the doors. With his foot still injured from that nail he got impaled with while escaping, he slowly lures all the walkers back to the church. Michonne and Carl are able to open the doors in time; but not before the walkers all flow into the church, leaving their only escape route the same hole Gabriel had dug earlier.

Walking Dead CodaDuring all of this, Gabriel learns that the world has changed and he’s tired of running – though not physically; but mentally. He’s been running from the truth; but now accepts that he has to fight back and not just hide away and flee every time he’s faced with a truth he isn’t willing to accept. When he tells Michonne that he won’t risk fleeing the church until her, Carl and Judith are safe, this is a whole new Gabriel. This isn’t the man who cries, throws up and drinks because he sees himself as a failure. This is a man who knows his new group “is worth it” and he will risk his life for them. With the church now boarded up, picked clean and filled with walkers, Gabriel and the group are ready to leave it behind and continue forward.

A History Of Fear, Selfishness & Irrational Beliefs – The Grady’s Cops:

We already know that there are some very abusive and corrupt cops at Grady; but another trait that is almost as prominent as abuse is fear. Whether Bob #2 or even Dawn herself, even though they’re good people, their fears still compel them to do bad things. We can of course see this in the opening of the episode as Bob #2 continues to flee from Rick after knocking out Sasha. Rick and his group showed the cops nothing but respect and hospitality; yet Bob #2 still fled as if he was locked in with people from Terminus.

We even see how Bob #2’s logic is just awful when he thinks agreeing to return with Rick gives him a gold medal. He just ran twice, hurt one of Rick’s people and now has a broken back because of it. . . Bob #2 doesn’t really have any other choices. Yet he thinks himself a saint for accepting these terms after its WAY too late. Though Bob #2’s back and forth is just a smaller example of what we’ve seen from Dawn from the beginning.

Usually a character comes in and we immediately see if they’re good or bad; but Dawn has ping ponged between these two like crazy. Though it’s not because of her morals; but rather he only personal strength. During the stand off with that other abusive Officer, we see that Dawn really is a good person. She feels remorse for those affected by the bad ones and isn’t going to let it happen anymore. Pair this with her badass fighting skills and she could totally fit in with Rick’s gang; but sadly it is Dawn’s fear that wins out in the end. Despite her and Beth saving each other during this scene and forming a true bond, Dawn’s fear of looking weak and shattered nerves cause her to do the unthinkable – thus making her end deserved rather than tragic.

The Juxtaposition of Beth & Dawn – Love Vs Respect:

Since Beth first arrived at Grady, there’s been an ever growing juxtaposition between Beth and Dawn. This only swelled more last episode when we saw Dawn admit that ‘Beth was stronger than she appeared’, which in the end reveals that Dawn is ‘weaker’ than she appears. This juxtaposition would appear two very distinct times in this episode, the first was their different beliefs on people’s love and respect.

Dawn feels that the cops will listen to her NOT because they like her; but rather because they respect her. This is at first very hypocritical considering a lot of what Dawn has done – and let happen – thus far has all been to cater too her police officers. She feels she has to make things “worth their while” in order for them to listen, which doesn’t try to earn respect; but rather attempts to earn like – and even that fails and just results in them walking all over her most of the time.

Walking Dead CodaBeth doesn’t only feel the opposite of Dawn in this debate; but actually embodies the very antithesis of what Dawn claims. Does Rick, Darryl and the rest of her group respect Beth? No, they LOVE her. She is one of them; and whether she can be powerful or useful is besides the point. She’s family and they’d do anything to have her back. Dawn’s ideas aren’t only wrong; they’re dead wrong, which brings us to the other juxtaposition between these two – their deaths.

Now to be fair, I don’t really understand how Beth could kill a bunch of walkers with headshots in a pitch black elevator shaft and then only stab Dawn’s collar at point blank range. Though no matter how ill advised her actions were, Beth went into that knowing her fate. Whether it was a critical strike or not, she owned that scene. Dawn on the other hand showed nothing but cowardess. She tried to act tough and demand Noah back despite her own cops telling her it’s not worth it; but in the end after she shot Beth you can see from the look on her face that it was only a reaction.

She didn’t mean to kill Beth and only fired because she was startled. As I said before, Dawn is full of fear and despite putting on a strong front is very weak. She might have not meant to strike Beth; but Beth meant to strike her. They both died as they lived: Beth with determination (and possibly in over her head) and Dawn with fear and lack of control.

An Unexpected Ending – No Shootout!:

As shocking – and seemingly unnecessary – as Beth’s death was, there was something even more surprising: the fact that this didn’t turn into a HUGE shootout. Remember what happened the last time two groups faced off with a hostage situation? That’s right, it was with the Governor and Herschel’s death. Though this time, Officer Shepherd stepped up and got everyone to put down their weapons so that there wouldn’t be any more deaths. I’m sorry; but for The Walking Dead THAT is incredible.

Things really have evolved; but in the end, people still have to die to keep it real. In life sometimes people die for no reason and it’s a tragedy. That’s what The Walking Dead did here with Beth’s death. It might seem pointless now; but it’s what comes next and how the group will cope that will really show their character – which is exactly what happens in real life. In a way, it’s almost beautiful symbolic that one of Herschel’s daughters died sewing peace rather than a massive battle and dozens of deaths. Shepherd has the makings of a good leader and embodies a lot of the characteristics of a ‘good cop’. Perhaps one day the people of Grady will join our heroes.

The Light Goes Out – Repercussions Of Beth’s Death:

Whether there was one death or a dozen, Beth’s death is still a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Most of this half season has been dedicated to finding her, which immediately reminds us of Darryl’s Season 2 hunt for Sofia. Both ended tragically and – as we’ll see next half season – will have consequences. It’s all about how the characters deal with not only the loss of their “light”; but also how they deal with defeat right at the moment of victory.

Walking Dead CodaReally insightful viewers would have seen this death coming from the middle of the episode when Abraham’s group saved Michonne and them. When Michonne told Maggie that her sister WAS alive and Rick and everyone was off saving her, you knew this was too premature. Everyone went into this expecting a happy ending, and now with Maggie finally having hope of her sister being alive restored, she arrives to see it taken away without a chance to even say goodbye.

From Rick shaking his head in defeat as he left the hospital to Darryl cradling her body, Maggie collapsing wasn’t the only highly emotional moment. The beginning of next half season will deal with a lot of this fallout. Not just for Darryl and Maggie; but also for Noah who is only here because of Beth’s sacrifice. Even Carol will be effected by this because without Beth, she would have up and left the group. Though now one has to wonder if this will only support Carol’s belief that they can’t save anyone anymore. Above all this, there might be one other repercussion of this loss, and that will be even more support for the Rick-tatorship.

Rick Vs Tyreese – Who’s Plan Was Better:

Initially, Rick planned to stealthily infiltrate the Hospital and take out everyone in an attempt to rescue Beth and Carol; but it was Tyreese who advocated this new barter plan – and Darryl who supported. After seeing how things went down in the ‘trade’, we can say completely that Rick’s plan would have been better for our heroes – or at the very least switching back to Rick’s plan after Bob #2’s escape – and here’s why.

If you notice, Grady sent out two more cops even though three were already missing. Had Rick and the gang taken them all out, that would have left Grady with only 4 officers – including Dawn. Dawn was so narrow-minded to getting Noah back that she probably would have kept sending another cop or two out to check. Regardless, Rick and the gang had higher numbers and weapons; and thus could have very easily taken out these remaining threats. Heck, they’ve handled bigger in the past.

Walking Dead CodaAfter everything they’ve experienced this half season, we see how Rick is playing in a new league. Everyone has one shot; and if they screw it up no second chances. Even Gabriel had the same set up with Rick when they first met. Going forward, Rick and the gang will become more certain of this new mindset and think less about negotiating and humanity. Even Tyreese might start rethinking his ideas after he realized had he originally killed Martin like he said, Sasha wouldn’t have had to.

Morgan’s Bookend Moments:

It’s very fitting that we got another Morgan post credits with this midseason finale much like he did with the season premier. Ever a step behind Rick and the gang, Morgan comes across the School and the Church until finally stopping for a quick bite when he finds the map Abraham left for Rick. Morgan immediately recognizes Rick’s name, which will spur him to find his old friend. Morgan will certainly head towards DC; but where will Rick and them actually end up going? Perhaps Noah’s camp which might turn out to be the Alexandria Safe Zone, which is on the way to DC?

Well judging by the format thus far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Morgan met up with everyone in the Season finale. Then again, I’d love him to catch up with every one much sooner; but I think the first episode in February would be too soon. Either way, another important part of this post credits is seeing Morgan stopping to say a prayer before he eats. A few episodes ago we got the feeling faith was dead and a church was just ‘four walls and a roof’; but here Morgan shows us there is still faith – and thus hope. Again, I’m so glad well-adjusted Morgan is back – even if he does look like a member of the Assassin Brotherhood lol

Added Bites/Easter Eggs:

  • As the walkers enter the Church, the heading reads “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”, which is the usual blessing Christ gave before the Last Supper. If you think about it, that is EXACTLY what the walkers are. They have seemingly eternal life and consume flesh and blood. I don’t think what Jesus meant . . . and neither did Herschel (Season 2 reference)
  • Of course when Dawn tells Beth that people don’t go far out of inability or fear, this is to later set up the reality of when she commands Noah to return and how he’s “returning” of his own fault. Though additionally, Dawn’s words mirror the action of the show itself, which sees the crew return to Atlanta – where the series started – and how they never really ventured too far.
  • It’s fitting that Abraham’s firetruck was originally placed to block a large group of walkers; and now it was used to block the church doors which held back a large group of walkers.
  • When Abraham and them make it to Atlanta, Eugene is missing from their infiltration group, which shows he’s still most likely recovering from his knockout.
  • The scene of Darryl carrying Beth is a direct juxtaposition to the way he carried her the night she was kidnapped – the last time they saw each other. OH THE FEELS!!!!!
  • The two items Morgan takes out in addition to something to eat is a bullet and a rabbit’s foot. On hand, this could be a possession of his son Duane and the bullet he used to put down his wife. On another, all these things could symbolize what you need in this new world: food, weapons, luck.

The Walking Dead returns February next year. I’m sure we’ll get a full trailer for the next half of the season in the next month or so, so stay tuned!

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