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The Walking Dead' mid-season finale recap: 'Coda'

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  • Gene Page/AMC
  • MEAN MUG: Michonne (Danai Gurira) in last night's episode, "Coda."



Folks, we've reached the halfway mark for season 5 of "The Walking Dead," and if we learned anything last night it's that the Greene family might have the worst luck of any on this show. "Coda," the mid-season finale, felt like most of the recent episodes where a lot of table setting and post-apocalyptic character contemplation seemed to take the place of the high tension and action that really drives this AMC moneymaker. As viewers, the final five minutes gave us that much-needed kick wed' been longing for, with an unabashed brutality that only "TWD" could deliver. Before we dig into which character won't see February 2015, let's catch up on what happened before that shocking on-screen death.

Last week: 'GREATM'

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OK, so remember Sgt. Lamson (Maximiliano Hernández ) aka Bob 2 from last week? Well, he's on the run and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is chasing him down in a police cruiser. Being that he's Rick "Gives No Fucks" Grimes, we're not surprised when he hits Lamson with the car, allegedly breaking his back, and then follows that move with a "shut up" and a bullet to the guy's face. How will Rick killing one of the group's bargaining chips with officer Dawn (Christine Woods) shake out? Well, if the two remaining cops can corroborate on the story that Lamson was killed by walkers then they're all good, right? Surely, this trade two cops for Beth and Carol deal will go off without a hitch, right? This is "The Walking Dead"; somebody's got to do die.

Over by the church, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) checks out a nearby school where Gareth (Andrew J. West) and the cannibal crew made free lunch of Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) 1's leg. Apparently Gabriel wanted to find proof that sick bastards like this exist and he got it in the form of Bob's still-rotting leg, charred and covered in maggots. Oh, and there's a Bible with a few hundred pages missing that belongs to "Mary B." Maybe this'll have some deeper meaning next season, because before there's time to ruminate on it, walkers attack Gabriel. Being the asshole that he is, Gabriel naturally leads the horde of walkers back to the church, where instead of climbing under the building to his crawl space, he decides to bang on the front door, pleading for his life. It would have been poetic justice if Gabriel was eaten alive being that's the same treatment he gave his congregation, but alas, Carl has to save everyone who cries wolf, and the preacher finds safety — again. Seriously, this guy should be dead off sheer karma alone, no? The group at the church is then reunited with the no-longer-bound-for-D.C.-because-Eugene-lied crew. Michonne (Danai Gurira) tells Maggie (Lauren Cohan) that Beth's alive and that there's a mission in ATL going down to save her. After all this time, Maggie seems to finally give two shits that Beth is her blood relative.

Things at Grady, aside from Dawn using every free minute to give Beth boring speeches and tell stories of a mentor named Captain Hanson that she killed, are heating up. With the two remaining cops, Rick and crew are set to make their trade with Dawn. At some point, Carol (Melissa McBride) woke up despite Dawn and Co.'s prognosis that she was more or less a lost cause and was surely set to die sooner than later. I'm still convinced she was bitten by a walker a few eps back, but I guess my theory will/won't play out in the second half of this season.

At any rate, the showdown is intense before it starts. Camera shots showing the two factions at opposite ends of a hospital hallway only amped up the us vs. them feel that comes across when Rick and the gang meet any set of bat-shit crazy survivors. At first, things go according to plan: Beth and Carol are traded for two officers, everyone is still alive — we're good. Yeah, not quite. Dawn starts talking some noise about how she wants Noah (Tyler James Williams) back as her indentured servant. No Noah, no deal. Beth's had enough of Dawn's psycho babble and having to watch her work out on a stationary bike, so she attempts to shank her. In the same moment, Dawn pulls the trigger on her pistol, sending a bullet through Beth's head. Oh my God, they killed Kinney! RIP, Ms. Greene. Give your dad Herschel a big kiss for us when you get to "TWD" heaven. Honestly, sans her singing, I'll miss Beth.

From there, Daryl (Norman Reedus) of course shoots Dawn in the head and everyone starts crying. What should've turned into an epic gunfight in the middle of the ER was just an all-around sad moment for every human involved. It was like no matter what foul shit they've all seen, done, and seen again, it still never gets easy to watch people kill people. The scene only gets harder to watch when Daryl walks outside the hospital with Beth's limp body in hand being greeted by Maggie and the rest of the group. Fade to black.

Oh, but wait! There's Morgan (Lennie James) again, hot on the trail the survivors. He goes by the school where Gabriel found Bob's leg. He stops by the church, and it's here where he finds Abraham's map to D.C. and note addressed to Rick. Now, Morgan knows exactly who he's following.

So, there we have it. Eight episodes down and come next year, we'll have eight more before we close the books on season 5. With the exception of the Greg Nicotero-directed premiere, "No Sanctuary," a lot of this first half of season 5 felt like a prelude to bigger payoffs down the line in various story lines and character arcs.

Thoughts? Were you into this first half of season 5? Were you satisfied with last night's mid-season finale?



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