The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 8 "Coda" Mid-Season Finale Review

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In “Coda”, things get deadly when a main character bites the bullet. Elsewhere, the church is attacked by an undead horde.

Everything after the break will contain full spoilers and a reaction to The Walking Dead Season 5’s mid-season finale.

Coda

On paper, Coda had enough elements that should have made for a great mid-season finale: a mini-horde of walkers attack the church, a confrontation with Officer Dawn comes to ahead, the death of a regular character, and a reunion of all the survivors in Atlanta.  Yet because of poor execution and too many contrivances, Coda is a lacklustre effort, breaking the tradition of strong mid-season finales going all the way back to Season 2 when Shane let loose the walkers out of Hershel’s barn.

Shut Up!

The cold open started on a promising note in which Rick ran over Lamson with the police cruiser.  Surviving in the wilderness so to speak has moulded Rick into a formidable leader, yet one whose humanity is increasingly put to the test. He could not have evolved to his present state if he was sheltered within the security of the hospital walls. Lamson raised an interesting question if Rick’s been “out there too long”. Rick gave the officer an opportunity to surrender, at the same time it is chilling to see Rick blow Lamson’s brains out as he laid paralysed and defenceless with his hands tied behind his back.

The church scenes would have been personally more satisfying to me if Gabriel was left to die at the front door as a poetic fate having locked out his own parishioners. Witnessing first hand the remnants of the horrific Bob-becue pit was a revelatory moment for Gabriel but it was knuckle headed of him to lead the walkers back to the church with baby Judith inside. As brief as it was, it’s great seeing Michonne slicing and dicing again, she’s been underused so far this season.

Having Abraham’s fire truck save the day wasn’t the awesome fist pumping moment it was probably meant to be. It looked like Michonne had the situation under control. We’ve seen her take out a bunch of walkers single-handedly before when there’s plenty of open space for her to use her katana. Also, since Abraham’s crew hastily ditched their companions earlier in the season, I can’t help but to think “so you want back into the group now that your mission to DC is a bust?”.

The Walking Dead Coda

Stay In Your Lane Bitch

Like the scene where the officer got pushed down the elevator shaft (saw that coming from a mile away), the set up of the prisoner exchange felt contrived. Rick is a tactical leader, it would have made more sense to exchange prisoners in an open, outdoor location like where he met those two police officers to set up the deal in the first place. A place where he can have snipers pick off enemies if the deal goes sour. It also didn’t make sense for Dawn to let fully armed strangers who held two hostages inside their home instead of the hospital parking lot for example.

Beth’s instant death is shocking but shocking doesn’t necessarily mean good writing. It certainly wasn’t a fitting end to a character who was built up to be smarter and stronger than she appeared. Even though Beth is proven to be a cop killer on two previous occasions, when she stabbed Dawn in the shoulder with a tiny scissor it likely wasn’t intended to be a death-blow. Either way, it was a stupid decision that cost her life and Dawn’s.

Dawn preached that as a leader it’s more important to be respected that it is to be loved. In the end, Dawn’s demise is in not earning Beth’s respect and in wanting to appear in control by demanding Noah which set off the final moments. Beth’s death is tragic for the wrong reasons in that her sacrifice, if you can call it that, is essentially meaningless. Beth could have traded a bunch of high powered weapons or something else instead of her life in exchange for Noah to make it look like Dawn got the better of the deal. Where as when Carol shot Lizzie in the head it was more than just about shock value, it was a powerful character moment that punctuated a season long story arc.

Daryl’s instant reaction to blow Dawn’s head off is great and Rick’s watery-eyed reaction while trying to stay composed is a solid performance by Andrew Lincoln. Unfortunately, these positives weren’t enough to salvage the scene, ending the hospital story line on a low note.

“Coda” is an underwhelming way to cap off the mid-season point of the season. It sort of ended on a similar story point as the season premiere with the whole gang back together minus Beth. There are a number of different ways this episode’s story could have played out, including killing off Beth, that would have been more satisfying and meaningful. At least it didn’t end on a cliffhanger that would have dragged out this story arc longer than it deserves.

What do you like or dislike about the mid-season finale?

 

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