The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead either had you sobbing like Daryl or weirdly apathetic like me. While the main casualty in last night's episode, "Coda," wasn't entirely unexpected, it was no less tragic. Of course, part of the anxiety in watching a series that's so focused on certain-death is the dread that a character you love won't make it to whatever's considered a happy ending.
Walkers/Rotters used to be the leading cause of death on The Walking Dead. But as a wise cannibal once said, the living have become much more threatening. In comparison to Bob (now dead), ye of irrational faith, most of the other characters seem to be barely clinging onto it. By now it's clear that even the youngest, like Beth—who's survived so far by following the more fearless ones—have breaking bad moments, though hers turns out to be fatal. As Beth finds some version of strength under the captive conditions at Grady Memorial, the experience in turn has made her so emotionally detached that, much like a Real Housewife, she can't manufacture tears. "I don't cry anymore," she tells Dawn.
I didn't either when she died. What got to me more than Beth's death was a segment on the Talking Dead after-show. Emily Kinney, the actress who plays her, got all choked up while talking about her attachment to the show and the stress of having to leave her job. Walking Dead invokes tons of thought-provoking real-life themes and unexpected loss is one of them. You could tell Kinney was feeling that (the actress didn't know until filming Episode Seven that Beth was being offed). While I wasn't super invested in Beth, it's clear that her presence as a symbol of strength was important.
This has been the best and most action-filled season since the first one and we'll see how Rick's crew handles her absence when it picks back up in February. Here's What Would Jezebel Do?
1) Would we shoot Bob No. 2, the runway?
No. Rick could've spared his life and instead brought him to the hospital with the other cops. But a threat is a threat I guess. In case anyone forgot that Rick is deranged, during the opening scene he reminds us that his killer instinct is still intact. Bob No. 2 is on the run after smashing Sasha's head into the window but he's got no time to free himself from the hand restraints because Rick is in pursuit and angry, which is not good for Bob No. 2.
Rick runs him over with the car, breaking Bob's neck. Leave him there for the walkers to get him or…?
"You're crazy," says Bob. Rick tells him, "Didn't have to be like this. You just had to stop." Translation: Why did you make me kill you?
Bob kindly asks Rick to take him to the hospital, which is a stupid request. Metaphorically and physically, as Rick says, you can't go back. No one can ever go back to anything. This time, there's no moral compass like Daryl or Tyreese around to stop Rick from putting a bullet through Bob's head, so that's what he does. And then he says, "Shut up."
Whenever Rick kills someone, there's always a sense of justice mixed with malice. Bob No. 2 really should have stopped. Instead of bum-rushing the hospital like I had hoped (and per Rick's suggestion), the team proceeds with Tyreese's plan to offer Dawn an exchange for the remaining cop hostages. The Glenn team returns to the church, reunites with Michonne, Gabriel* and Carl and fill them in on the Eugene scandal. When Michonne informs Maggie that Beth is alive, we're all thinking, not for long.
2) Would we push the bad cop O'Donnell down the elevator shaft?
Yes. This is a decision that seems to put Beth in Dawn's good graces, though (again) not for long. While in the hospital, Beth develops a strange, fleeting kinship with Dawn, who's still obsessed with retaining her authority. In a rare compassionate moment, Dawn tells Beth, "With this job you don't need their love, but you have to have their respect." Even though the show gives Dawn some humanity through her bonding with Beth, it's still hard to side with her type of leadership. One of the most sinister things you can do is take away a person's right to choose, which is how Dawn operates.
She does have a point when she mentions that some deaths being less impactful than others on the show—"Gorman and O'Donnell hurt people," she says. "The world didn't lose anything when they died." (What did they lose with Beth's death? Maybe innocence.) Later, there's a showdown in the hallway between Dawn and O'Donnell, who earlier in the episode pushed an old man down, the definition of The Worst.
Dawn's in danger of losing control and O'Donnell's willing to take it from her, so those two fight while Beth watches from the sidelines. Dawn gets lucky when Beth helps out and pushes O'Donnell into the elevator shaft full of walkers.
3) Would we stab/kill Dawn?
In the heat of the moment, probably. After arranging an even trade with Dawn, the Rick team enters the hospital and finally gets Carol and Beth back. "Glad we could work things out," says Dawn. There's a caveat: She wants Noah. Seriously? She's looking to maintain order and this peaceful deal doesn't help her image. Rick says Noah should have a choice, which is a part of Rick that makes him redeemable.
Noah agrees to become a servant again. It's at this point that Beth moves with emotion instead of smarts. She hugs Noah and tells Dawn, "I get it now," before stabbing her with a pair of stolen scissors. Yes! Noooooooo!
Dawn (instinctively?) fires her gun and kills Beth. Silently, Dawn mouths, "I didn't mean it." Did she? Dawn's shock does seem genuine. It means nothing. A sobbing Daryl wastes no time shooting her in the head in retaliation. I mean, we knew Beth wouldn't make it and yet you felt the pain in everyone's reactions, especially Daryl's and Maggie's after she sees him carrying Beth out of the hospital in his arms.
4) Would we stay in the hospital or leave?
Stay, at least for a few days. Like they said, "It's better than out there." Rick, however, says no and welcomes anyone on the Grady side who wants to join the Money Team.
*Gabriel learns the meaning of irony when he returns to the church, surrounded by walkers, and has to bang on the door to get Michonne and Carl to open it up. Glad a Wire cast member is still alive, but can he not be so useless next season?
Images via screenshot/AMC