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The Walking Dead "Coda": Finally, The Show Lives Up To Its Own Hype

Ross Lincoln | 1 Dec 2014 17:15
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The mid-season finale ends with a serious HFS heartbreak that we're going to spoil in the first paragraph. Assume a major spoiler warning is in effect from here on out.

Holy Hell, I did not see that coming.

Maybe I should have. Season 5 of The Walking Dead has not been particularly subtle about the fact that certain characters seem to have giant targets hovering above them. But still, the sudden murder of Beth, after a season devoted to finding and rescuing her, hit like a punch in the junk delivered by a particularly cruel Joss Whedon.

The bullet blasting through the top of her skull was a staggering moment, as brutal as it was surprising. And even though Beth wasn't one of the core members of Rick's posse of survivors, her longevity on the show made her elimination feel meaningful, and the reaction of the other characters to her death earned. Paired with the show's newly-excellent writing and some truly awesome shots, "Coda" stands among the best episodes this show has ever produced, and even better, that statement isn't simply damning with faint praise anymore.

What a way to bring the half-season to a close. Let's move people, and prepare for all the feels.

Related: Read last week's review here.

Despite the weight of events portrayed, "Coda" was a surprisingly fast, tightly scripted episode that lived up to its name. Taking place over what amounts to two hours, it picks up where we left off last week, with Officer Hydra running away from Rick and Co.'s hiding spot after having attacked Sasha. Rick is giving chase of course, and he hops into the captured Grady cops' police car, using the vehicle's loudspeaker to command that Officer Hydra stop and surrender.

Officer Hydra refuses to stop and keeps running. Rick gives him one more chance to surrender and when that isn't accepted, Rick rams the car into Officer Hydra, knocking him forward and sending him crashing to the ground face first, breaking his neck. As Hydra twitches, he and Rick have a brief conversation. Hydra begs to be taken to the hospital. "No, you don't get to go back. Not now." Rick tells him, before killing him in cold blood.

Rick returns to the hideout, where the two other captured cops, clearly aware that Rick just killed their companion, are suddenly very cooperative. They agree to lie and tell the Grady hospital group that Hydra was killed by a walker, which will enable Rick to negotiate for the release of Carol and Beth. This makes way for a delicious moment in which Rick approaches two more of the Grady cops, seemingly alone. The cops force him at gunpoint to disarm, but Rick demonstrates that his group has the upper hand when a random zombie walks into the area. "Where is the rest of your group?" asks one of the Grady cops. A sniper bullet from Sasha takes off the zombie's head. "They're close," quips Rick.

It's yet another example of how effective this show has become since embracing the shlockier aspects of the genre, and a cool moment in its own right.

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