The Walking Dead mid-season finale, review: Rick and Dawn go head-to-head in tragic episode

To say that this mid-season finale is heavy on the violence is an understatement

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The Independent Culture

In keeping with tradition, The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale elicits a whole smorgasbord of emotions. Like many of the series’ finest episodes, “Coda” is absorbing enough to make its running time fly by (there’s also a nice post-credits scene on offer).

“Coda” depicts the inevitable showdown between Rick and Dawn Lerner’s hospital-based police force, as the two authority figures go head to head in a confrontation complete with its fair share of casualties. Father Gabriel’s frolic through the woods lands him in hot water (again, the group will be in search of new digs), while Abraham, Maggie and Glen return to the church in time to make a last minute (but overdue) play at being the cavalry.

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To say that this mid-season finale is heavy on the violence is an understatement. There’s cranial damage from start to finish, with the church massacre (the second of the season, incidentally) being a particular highlight. Father Gabriel’s uselessness has a nice pay-off this week, as his trip into the wild turns into a race to escape a horde of zombies and ends with the church being overrun by walkers. It’s a return to form for Michonne, who has spent most of this season to date in the background or demoted to babysitting duty.

 

That said, only a zombie could watch the events of “Coda” and not feel moved before the end. The real star of the episode (or even the first half of the season as a whole) is Emily Kinney, who gives an emotional, admirable performance as Beth. While her death doesn’t come as a total surprise, it is a great loss – Kinney has gradually transformed Beth into a much loved Carol-in-training. Her final character arc has enabled her to grow in ways that wouldn’t have seemed authentic two seasons ago.

Maggie’s reaction to her sister’s death is both touching and a much-needed indication of what is to come for the character. Maggie has seemed indecisive this season, but it looks likely that the impact of Beth’s death will send her off in new directions.

Like the series premiere, the presence of a post-credits scene offers a glimpse of what the rest of the season holds. While it doesn’t really tell us anything new (Morgan is alive, and no doubt on course to cross paths with Rick again soon) it offers a degree of hope at the end of a melancholy episode.

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