The Walking Dead: Coda Review

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)



Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You don’t have to have their love, but you have to have their respect.”

Gabriel’s soul-searching takes him further away from the safety of the church, until it doesn’t. It’s not exactly clear what he hoped to accomplish by leaving on his own, but what he did manage was bringing a horde back to the church. Michonne and Carl acted in the way they knew best and helped him, even if it threw a wrench in their burgeoning harmony. In fact, the only thing that Gabriel leaving really did in the end was create conflict for the sake of conflict. There’s the foreshadowing down the road of when all the disparate groups attempt to reunite at the church only to find it’s no longer the safe haven they left it.

And of course, the irony isn’t lost on the fact that the zombies made their way into the church. Gabriel’s whole thing was penance for not letting the living in when they needed his help. The fact that they forced themselves in as the dead is a fitting retribution for him. In the process though, it displaces the survivors and almost kills Michonne, Carl and Judith (and Gabriel) before Abraham and co. showed up. It didn’t take long for the truth about Eugene to be revealed to Michonne and Carl, meaning the fallout will definitely reverberate within the group down the road.

O’Donnell overheard Dawn talking to Beth about her incident. There’s a strange dynamic surrounding Grady Memorial Hospital. All the police trade in pomp and circumstance, but the group turns to a pack of thieves when it comes to self-preservation. Dawn’s clinging to any shred of leadership she can, while those under her realize she’s open for a mutiny. And for some reason, Dawn and Beth are forging an unlikely partnership. Perhaps it’s because alpha male cops for have surrounded Dawn so long that Beth is a refreshing addition in that she’s a strong female.

And Beth has seen some of the less glamorous workings of the hospital. Maybe it’s another reason that Dawn commiserates with Beth and shares a bond. Dawn’s not an idiot and knows that Beth is helping Carol, even if she doesn’t know all the details. She also covered for her when she left the other guard to die at the hands of the zombie. It was very apparent when Dawn cried for Beth to finish off O’Donnell in the elevator shaft that she’s thinking a few moves ahead in this game.

Rick gets his highway cop on, tracking down the escaped prisoner who refused to listen. There are a rather alarming number of pedestrians hit by cars this season, considering the characters are in an apocalypse and everything. Still it’s part of the new Rick. Rick’s gone from someone who hesitated to kill to someone who almost kills with reckless abandon. There’s still the matter of getting into the hospital to save Beth and Carol and the recent tragedy means the plan has to be modified.

The aforementioned survival instinct kicked in for the prisoners, as they were willing to confess that Rick and the gang didn’t kill the third cop. That bit of truth allowed the exchange to still go down. The tense standoff in the hospital ended for the most part as expected, despite the Noah wrinkle. Dawn requested Noah as part of the exchange, even though he wasn’t originally part of the deal. It was at that point that things took a turn, with both Beth and Dawn casualties of the exchange gone awry. The episode promised a pretty big death, in which case Beth would be it.

Beth’s death didn’t really resonate as it probably should have. Sure, Beth is considered a major player in the group, but the impact of her death seemed to be more for the sake of shock value than anything else. The shot at the end of Daryl carrying her and Maggie falling to her knees crying was pretty powerful. Daryl, Carol and Maggie are clearly the most affected by the tragedy, but Rick demonstrated a fatherly leadership that showed a committed loyalty to his people. He offered anyone there the chance to leave with him, but it remains to be seen who (if anyone left).

Coda is a musical term that signifies an end to a musical passage, so it’s only fitting that it was the title of the midseason finale. The arc surrounding Grady Memorial seems to be concluded, as does the storylines surrounding Terminus and Eugene. The group is on the move yet again and where they move now remains to be seen. And there’s the interesting subplot with Morgan finding his way to the church and the map with Rick Grimes written on it. It’s a nice way to bring that back into the fold and offer a way of putting Morgan on their path; what his ultimate role is to be remains to be seen. In the meantime, Rick and the survivors are in rebuild mode yet again in an episode that felt tense at times, but not necessarily as emotional as it probably should have been.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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