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The Walking Dead “Coda” Review (5×08)

30 Nov

 

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“This is who you are until the end.”

One of the major themes this show tries to explore is the notion of change. In a post-apocalyptic environment, does survival simply fall into a dull, monotonous routine, or can this world cultivate new behaviors, new attitudes, new relationships? We explore this idea during the conversations between Beth and Dawn in the hospital, and through these ideas, we then take a look at transformation and desires for control hidden under the guise of moral righteousness. These are interesting ideas, no doubt, but the writers don’t have a solid grasp on them or on the characters involved, and “Coda” ultimately stumbles to the finish line as a fairly average midseason finale.

The main problem with the hospital storyline is the fact that all the hospital characters serve more as symbols, as plot points, rather than as actual characters. They’re all very one note, from the villainous guards to Dawn herself, and as a result, Beth’s character suffers a bit as well. It’s clear what the writers are getting at with this dynamic: the idea that Dawn “protected herself” and that she “used people to get what she wanted”, and therefore couldn’t see that she was transforming into the problem herself; she believed herself to be the mediator, but she was anything but. However, her character pretty much serves as Theme Bot #1 throughout her arc, and her storyline never elevates her to character status before it kills her off. The show’s trying something similar with Rick right now–his actions at the beginning of the episode seem to be getting close to Gareth levels, to be honest–and that’s more effective because we know the character.

We also know Beth, which is why it’s kind of disappointing that her final arc is in service of a flimsy theme and a bunch of uninteresting characters. I understand why she feels the need to stab Dawn. I understand that Dawn’s “I knew you’d be back” is representative of a woman who craves control. I understand that Dawn views Noah as merely a possession. However, this is all payoff and weak setup, and the show falls into the trap of “It’s the midseason finale, so let’s kill someone off again!” It’s an effective moment, especially given Daryl’s reaction, but I’m not so sure it’s as effective as it should’ve been.

Ultimately, this has been an improved half season, and now that we have the hospital stuff out of the way, I hope the writers can sit down and churn out more episodes like “Four Walls and A Roof”. For now, though, we end outside of the hospital, with Beth in Daryl’s arms and with Maggie laying on the ground sobbing. Beth’s coda has reached its inevitable close.

GRADE: C+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Wow, Maggie remembers she has a sister! It’s hard not to laugh when she starts sobbing at the end, which isn’t Cohan’s fault at all. It’s the writers’ fault for forgetting the character had a sister.

-The fight between Dawn and O’Donnell is pretty cool.

-Okay, so that Gabriel scene–with him banging on the church doors–is kind of on the nose, isn’t it?

-That post credits scene is wonderfully done. I love Lennie James.

-So, how about that Better Call Saul teaser?

-The show returns on February 8, and immediately following that will be the premiere of Better Call Saul. Until then.

Photo credit: AMC, The Walking Dead

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7 Responses to “The Walking Dead “Coda” Review (5×08)”

  1. sarah9461 December 1, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    If something happened to my baby sister, I would know no peace until she returned, yet Maggie clung to Glenn and jumped at the chance to go to Washington with Eugene. Yes, it was crazy to see her “mourning” Beth.
    I was surprised the doctor and some of the other hospital staff didn’t go with Rick and the gang, but I guess leaving the safety of the building and going out into the zombie world was too much for them.

    • polarbears16 December 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      Yup. Would’ve been so much more effective had the writers handled Maggie and Beth better.

  2. #peggyatthemovies December 2, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    But honestly..how could you not cry when seeing Darryl & Rick break down??!! plus I liked Beth ..she played the fine line between strong & weak very well. #impossible

    • polarbears16 December 2, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

      I liked Beth as well! I just thought the writers didn’t handle her character as well as they should’ve.

  3. Douchebag Batman December 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Befuddled Channing Tatum in your banner sums up my feelings. I don’t mind where the plot took us but getting there kind of sucked.

    • Douchebag Batman December 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      I also never need to see Daryl’s crying face ever again. Norman Reedus is not a man meant to do crying roles.

  4. Hepburn3 December 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    A sound review as always. 🙂
    I enjoyed it in parts.
    I was sad that Beth had to die and the way she had to die, but I agree Maggie’s over the top mourning and shock about her baby sister’s murder really rang hollow. Maggie spared nary a thought for Beth at all, not even in a passing conversation with Glen over the past episodes,and I found that so off and a tad unrealistic. But like you said it was the poor writing and planning of the show’s writers and producers, and sadly that is often a foible in a reasonably good show.

    P.S. I was wondering and hoping if you would start reviewing the tv show The Flash? I love it and it is the coolness and I would love to hear what you think!
    Laters!
    And so stoked that Person of Interest is back NEXT WEEK!!! HUZZAH!!! 🙂

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