TV Review: The Walking Dead Series 5 Episode 8: ‘Coda’

The emotional midseason climax to The Walking Dead hit our screens this week. reviews

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Rating: ★★★★★

Line of the Week: Dawn’s officer: “Where are your people?”
Sasha snipes an approaching walker.
Rick: “They’re close.”

With that heart-breaking ending it seems that we will need the mid-season break just to recuperate. At the end of the first half of the season we were forced to say goodbye to Beth, and without her the post-apocalyptic world just seems darker than ever. Raised by Hershel and trained by Daryl, Beth had come a long way from her suicide attempt in Season 2. With nice call backs to previous seasons, like her repeating the “I don’t cry anymore” line, we are made aware of the progress she has made. Although her death may not have come as a surprise to the many people who speculated that it would happen, or to those who had it spoiled for them by the official Walking Dead Facebook page shortly after the show first aired in America, the final scene brought a tear to many of our eyes. It is with this that I must thank Emily Kinney for bringing the character of Beth to life with her fantastic performance throughout the duration of the show.

Beth’s death was excellently portrayed for different reasons. Firstly, it perfectly captured the best part of her character: she dies to save somebody else, showing great strength and selflessness, plus she acted as a martyr to ending Dawn’s inhumane system- fighting for the ‘good’ in humanity that she had always been a beacon of.

Secondly, the group’s reaction to the losing her was utterly heart-breaking. The following scene where everyone begins to react to what has just happened was particularly poignant. Daryl, who we have seen spearheading the search for Beth, starts off this heart-wrenching scene by letting out a few whimpers that truly emphasise how much he cared for Beth. It is particularly resonant because it is rare that we see such vulnerability from one of our strongest characters and his reaction is very reminiscent of how he reacted to seeing his brother Merle as a walker. We do see the sadness and shock of the other present characters, but Daryl’s reaction is the most affecting.

Then we see Maggie’s reaction. After presuming that her sister was dead, somewhat explaining her unusual lack of concern about Beth’s location after the attack on the prison, she had only been made aware of the fact that she was alive earlier in this episode. This made for a really emotional scene where we see Maggie’s tragic realisation that her sister is dead. Her facial expressions really capture the quick turnaround from her sheer elation in thinking that she’ll see her sister again into her utter despair as she realises that she won’t see her alive. Furthermore, what makes it even more of a devastating scene is when you realise that the last time Maggie saw her sister alive was also the day that she saw her father killed. Lauren Cohan’s performance here was so on point and really encapsulated the level of despair following the loss a loved one.

As the episode draws to a close the camera pans up from our broken group to show the ruined buildings of Atlanta, highlighting that the show is still taking place in the same cruel world as Season 1, but now the buildings are completely ruined, reflecting the state of the group. When the show returns in February, as shown in the credits segment, the group will begin to move towards Washington again. Although Eugene doesn’t know the cure, it would appear that they are holding onto the hope that it will provide them with some sanctuary that Atlanta cannot. Perhaps part of the reason is that Atlanta has proved to be nothing but death and sorrow and now they need to move on and hope for the best, since hope is all that they have now.

3 comments

  1. I don’t think this reviewer watched the same episode that everyone else did. This episode was poorly constructed and Beth’s death was pointless, premature and wildly out of character. Nothing that has been shown about Beth so far would lead us to believe that she would jeopardize being reunited with her sister and family by attacking an armed individual with nothing but a pair of small scissors. It was stupid, and Beth is anything but. The Beth I know would have tried to talk it out, persuade Dawn maybe by reminding her how she’s saved her from that policeman earlier. How on earth did her death function in saving Noah, how was she to know that even if she succeeded in killing Dawn, that Dawn’s comrades wouldn’t open fire on all of them? She didn’t only jeopardize her own safety, but that of the entire group. It was not a sacrifice, it was stupid. The entire Grady arc was rendered pointless by this turn of events. After all these declarations about Beth’s strength and will to survive she at least deserved a more noble conclusion to her tale, not just one where she’s seen as a dumb kid who made a rash decision that cost her her life.

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    • 7 Dec ’14 at 9:10 pm

      Liam (the reviewer)

      That is a fair point! If definitely seemed a bit rash but she was fully aware of what Dawn was like, that’s why she grabbed the scissors in the first place, she knew things might go south and she wanted to be prepared. There’s no way to persuade Dawn, she is so deluded in her little system that do you think she’d ever honestly listen to anyone?
      When she heard Dawn say “I knew you’d be back” to Noah she knew that Dawn would hunt her in the same way that she hunted him before he joined Rick’s group. In that moment she realised that as long as Dawn was alive nobody ever would be free of Grady and it would probably put her group in danger. She then made the choice, even if knee-jerk, to try and put a stop to it. At least that’s how I saw it and it seemed a rather brave and selfless act to me. Of course your interpretation is just as valid and thanks for sharing it!

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    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. I would have been upset over Beth’s death either way, but if she had at least died helping someone else, it would’ve felt OK. This was wasteful and stupid, and I can’t believe the writers did such a bad job. I’ve always admired their work so much. I don’t ‘get this’ at all.

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