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Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x08: Coda


Well, when it comes to the *sigh* mid-season finale* and The Walking Dead, you can always count on someone dying and this episode was no different. When a main character dies I always try to figure out why and how it served the plot. Of course, on a nihilistic show like this that may be a fool's errand.

On The Walking Dead people die all the time. Some would say that's the point of the show. It doesn't matter if you're good or bad, smart or stupid. People die. Sometimes it's their fault, sometimes it's not but the world keeps on turning. I think my thoughts about that is well explored territory for me so maybe I should just move on.

So Beth is dead. I'm still a little confused about what exactly happen. Why did Dawn want Noah back so badly? Was it just a power play? Or am I missing something? And what did Beth think she'd accomplish by stabbing Dawn? It really didn't look like she was hitting a vital area. I just don't know. But Beth is dead and it's pretty much her own fault.

Was her death necessary? Maybe. You could argue her character arc had finished. I think there are some stories to tell with a completely self-actualized Beth but, then again, you could say all characters have more story to tell. (The quality of those stories just depend on execution.) All in all, it was an acceptable time for this character to meet her end. Of course, it has to happen as tragically as possible. But I wasn't as moved as the show wanted me to be.

Maybe I wasn't really affected by Beth's death because The Walking Dead has reached the point of diminishing returns regarding character deaths. There is certainly an advantage to killing off regularly occurring characters...er...regularly. It adds tension to the series. All scenes of characters in danger could actually end in death. However, after a while, death becomes the norm. Once you start expecting main characters to die it starts to lose its impact.

I suppose a solution would be to go a long time without a character death. Like one to two seasons without a main character death. The show has built enough death equity that I don't think the tension would be loss. Then, when a death finally does happens, I think it would have a bigger impact. Less is more, I suppose. But, then again, if this show doesn't kill off regular cast members every half season would it still be The Walking Dead?

Other Thoughts:
All in all this episode was another perfectly fine effort. It seems the series spent its big action sequence budget on the premier and instead went for the more understated tension of a hostage exchange for the mid-season finale.

I agreed with Rick killing the cop at the beginning. The cop didn't stop running. Rick did the only thing he could.

So Father Gabriel wanted to see Bob's leg? Was it because he couldn't believe the world had sunk to a level where cannibals existed?

I guess you can't say The Walking Dead never foreshadows. Gareth did mention that the zombies would break out of the school eventually.

I'm confused at how anybody was supposed to get back into the church after it was boarded up like that.

Considering Abraham was driving a fire truck at seemingly breakneck speed he assessed the situation and what was needed pretty quickly.

Some may say that Rick's plan to sneak in and start slitting throats would've worked better than the hostage exchange. I suppose it depends on your definition of “better.” We saw that the hospital had seemingly decent people. Rick's group probably would've killed some of those decent people. Are their lives worth less than Beth and/or Carol's? This is even assuming Rick's plan went smoothly. And assuming Beth didn't screw that plan up like she did with hostage exchange.

I have no idea what to expect from Morgan.

I would've empathized more with Maggie if she had made any mention of her sister at all this season before this episode.

When Chris Hardwick on The Talking Dead goes into grief counselor mode after an episode where the main character dies I can't help but roll my eyes.

That being said, it was genuinely sad seeing Emily Kinney crying over leaving the show. It was right in front of Robert Kirkman, too. I don't often think about it but killing off a regular cast member really does turn their life upside down. (To be clear, it's not like Emily was angry about her character being killed off. Just sad that this phase of her life was over.)

*On various shows I've heard these "finales" called a mid-season finale, a fall finale and a winter finale. I'd be remiss not to mention that a series had a fall finale and another had a winter finale all within the same week.

7 comments:

  1. Why did Dawn want Noah back so badly? Was it just a power play?

    It was about the "they all return here in the end" bit, right? Some sort of personal, ha, coda that Dawn had adopted and in the end pushed Beth beyond borders by showing what exactly she means by it to Beth's horrid realization. Dawn sees they return in the end. Maybe she was planning that for Beth too.

    I loved the bit how everyone in the hospital clearly had to really do their best to not break into spontaneous rendition of 'Ding-dong, the witch is dead'. Also, Dawn got stabbed close enough the throat and thus is Apocalypse. And yes, I did fistpump when it happened ruining the severity of the scene a bit.

    I thought I was spoiled Beth's death by an US Facebook acquaintance reposting the official account's "Rip Beth" post prior me seeing the episode Monday night, but apparently lots of people got spoiled from the same official account post originally posted before the episode had even been aired everywhere in the US.

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  2. would've empathized more with Maggie if she had made any mention of her sister at all this season before this episode.

    I keep reading this on Sepinwall or AV club reviews And I disagree. Just because Maggie didnt spend every episode crying about Beth doesnt mean she stopped caring, just that it was never shown. Besides, had she done so in every other episode, you know people would have complained about her endless whining, just like when she was looking out for Glenn before Terminus.

    Yeah, the stabbing was à bit confusing, you wont do much damage with those scissors on the shoulder, why not aim for the eye ?

    Why didnt Gabriel get back inside the same way he GoT out ? Can walkers (duh) even crawl, besides the ones cut in half ? It seems to me they re always shown standing up.

    Finally, keeping in mind how quickly and randomly people die around, Michonne should have waited before breaking the good news to Maggie.

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  3. One more thing : Michonne swinging that sword like a maniac while carrying Judith on her back made me LOL.

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  4. Nobody is saying Maggie should have spent every episode crying about Beth. But a mention every third episode would have been nice.

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  5. out what exactly happen. Why did Dawn want Noah back so badly? Was it just a power play?

    I took it to be a power play, but I could also be missing something. Could be there's some more meaning to be sussed out from her earlier conversations with Dawn in this episode but I, frankly, wasn't paying that close attention.

    And what did Beth think she'd accomplish by stabbing Dawn?

    I think she was trying to kill her, mainly out of anger for having demanded Noah back (and the whole situation in general), and that anger (or the fact that she's not, zombie headshots aside, much of a figher/killer) led her to stab Dawn in the shoulder when she was, presumably, aiming for the neck.

    It's funny, because when they showed Beth slipping the scissors into her cast, I thought "that's smart". Especially since as soon as they showed them, you knew they'd be used, so I figured things were going to go south for Rick's group.

    Of course, in the end, Beth would have been better off NOT taking those scissors...

    Once you start expecting main characters to die it starts to lose its impact.

    Yeah. And while a general "anyone can die" atmosphere is fine (and generally good), it's the more specific expectation of "oh, it's a finale of some sort. Someone will probably die" that causes the loss of impact. I mean, part of the reason the T-Dog/Laurie bloodbath episode was so shocking was because it was, like, the 4th episode of the third season, and not a finale.

    I suppose a solution would be to go a long time without a character death.

    I suppose another solution would be to play around with those expectations. For example, in this episode, I figured if someone was going to die, it'd be someone in Rick's group. Beth, Carol, maybe even Daryl.

    So if they'd killed, I dunno, Maggie or Michonne or someone not involved in the main plot, that would have been more impactful for its seeming randomness.

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  6. I agreed with Rick killing the cop at the beginning. The cop didn't stop running. Rick did the only thing he could.

    Yes. And, again, that doesn't mean we're agreeing with Shane. There's a difference between "killing when necessary" and "killing all the time without question".

    Was it because he couldn't believe the world had sunk to a level where cannibals existed?

    I took it to mean he wanted to verify Bob's story and, in general, the notion that the Termites had what they got coming to them.

    I'm confused at how anybody was supposed to get back into the church after it was boarded up like that.

    Yeah. I think the idea was that when Rick and everyone came back, then they'd dismantle some of the defenses to get them back in, but its entirely possible that Rick's group could come in hot (pursued either by zombies or bad guys) just like Gabriel did, and they would have had the same problem, so ????

    Considering Abraham was driving a fire truck at seemingly breakneck speed he assessed the situation and what was needed pretty quickly.

    I like to picture the firetruck parked just offscreen as Abraham assesses the situation, makes his decision, then backs up, revs the engine, and comes crashing in. :)

    When Chris Hardwick on The Talking Dead goes into grief counselor mode after an episode where the main character dies I can't help but roll my eyes.

    That happens to me whenever Chris Hardwick says anything.

    I don't often think about it but killing off a regular cast member really does turn their life upside down.

    That's a good point. I mean, it means they've lost their job, plus they've presumably developed relationships with people on the show that they now have to say goodbye to it, so it's also kinda like moving in the middle of a school year.

    Plus, on this show, getting killed off is much more permanent (whereas on a show like Lost, even after you got killed off, there was still a good chance you could come back in some capacity eventually)(unless you had a DUI).

    @Frenchie: Why didnt Gabriel get back inside the same way he GoT out ?

    I wondered that too. At first, it seemed like he tried to go for it, but couldn't for some reason, so I assumed maybe Carl and Michonne had boarded it back up or something. But then they went back out that way, so that wasn't it.

    @wwk5d: Nobody is saying Maggie should have spent every episode crying about Beth. But a mention every third episode would have been nice.

    Yes. Heck, I'd have taken ONE mention of Beth by Maggie this season. Like, Glenn tries to comfort her and she says something like "I can't think about that right now" or "I made my peace with her passing awhile ago" or "whatever happens, happens". SOME acknowledgement of her absent sister, and then I'd have been fine if it wasn't brought up again until this episode.

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  7. @Teemu: "Also, Dawn got stabbed close enough the throat and thus is Apocalypse. And yes, I did fistpump when it happened ruining the severity of the scene a bit."

    Now we just have to see if Dawn heals and isn't truly dead.

    @Frenchie: "Just because Maggie didnt spend every episode crying about Beth doesnt mean she stopped caring, just that it was never shown."

    As mentioned by others, I'm not saying she should talk about Beth ALL of the time but once or twice would be nice.

    In the end, knowing they're sisters, you certainly could infer that Maggie was concerned off screen. But not showing any concern on screen certainly lessens the emotional impact of the scene.

    "Why didnt Gabriel get back inside the same way he Got out ? Can walkers (duh) even crawl, besides the ones cut in half ? It seems to me they re always shown standing up."

    I ended up watching this episode again (not entirely willingly) and when Gabriel is running from the zombies he initially attempts to crawl under the church but the zombies close in on him too fast.

    "Michonne swinging that sword like a maniac while carrying Judith on her back made me LOL."

    It was pretty badass.

    @Teebore: "So if they'd killed, I dunno, Maggie or Michonne or someone not involved in the main plot, that would have been more impactful for its seeming randomness"

    That could work too.

    "Plus, on this show, getting killed off is much more permanent (whereas on a show like Lost, even after you got killed off, there was still a good chance you could come back in some capacity eventually)(unless you had a DUI)."

    A DUI, more deadly than a smoke monster!

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