Review by Gene
After last night’s episode we head into the mid-season break with just about every loose end wrapped up. The deal is going down at the hospital, but don’t you for one second think this will be a smooth transition. (spoilers ahead)
The opening chase between Sergeant Bob and Rick is quite cool. Excellent choice to start right off with the suspense and obvious followup to the conclusion of last week’s show. Rick’s purpose driven sprinting and the shots of just his feet running down the road brought me right into the show from the start. To the point where I was thinking, “just stop, man!” when Bob kept running. Rick’s decision to essentially murder him is another small step down the road to darkness that Rick has been traveling this whole season. He even says exactly what Gareth said to Bob before they were nearly executed at the feeding trough to open the season. “Can’t go back, Bob.”
Meanwhile, the tables are turned on our not-so-good pastor Gabriel, and I can just feel 15 million or so people pointing and laughing. Gabriel, who once locked out people seeking shelter from walkers, was now locked out himself as he ran for his life. He had decided to travel to a nearby school where he stuck around long enough for some walkers to break through the doors and chase him back to the church. Because of course he did. It would have been poetic justice for him to bite the dust right there, but he makes it thanks to Michonne and Carl. There is a lot left to explore with the character of Gabriel. He can bring an uncompromising religious/spiritual element that has only been hinted around thus far. Good move to keep him around, but I’m sure nobody would’ve been complaining had he been killed.
Abraham comes around as expected and gets his crew back to the church just in time to keep the walkers from breaking out of the church they had just broken into. A lot of missing information is exchanged. Glenn relays that Eugene was lying the whole time. More importantly, Michonne tells Maggie that Beth is alive, they know where she is, and they’re going to save her. A decent chunk of showtime was spent on Beth and Dawn. Just talking back and forth. I thought that a bit strange at the time. We weren’t learning a whole lot more information, except seeing some things from Dawn’s perspective to make us sympathize with her. I guess hindsight is 20/20, because we almost should’ve seen it coming when Beth gives a somewhat passionate speech at the elevator shaft.
As you know if you’ve watched the episode (major spoilers upcoming) the deal goes south when Dawn demands that Noah be turned over as well. Rick resists, but Noah agrees. Beth gives a final goodbye to him and as soon as Dawn says to Noah, “I knew you’d come back”, Beth got that look on her face. I don’t know what she thought she’d accomplish with scissors to the shoulder, but it cost her life. This has got to be one of the more surprising deaths on the show. Equally surprising I think is that the entire hallway didn’t erupt in gunfire. Daryl gets immediate retribution on Dawn, but that’s it. No more shots fired. No more killing. I think that’s a good thing. Not for the characters, but for the show in general. That’s a very predictable move for a mid-season finale, but they kept away from it. Even moreso, we have Rick pleading for anyone who wants to leave to come with them. That’s something I wondered if we would ever hear again from Rick. Seeking out people to save. Setting the captives free, if you will.
Unfortunately it didn’t look like anyone came with them as they walked out to meet Maggie and the rest of the group. That scene, Daryl carrying Beth’s dead body and Maggie wilting onto the ground, is right up there with prior major character death scenes of Dale and Andrea. Wherever the group goes from here we can be sure of one thing; Maggie will be an emotional mess, and Daryl won’t be far behind.
Episode Rating: A-
Episodes like this are why I love this show. Killing off as many major characters as it does takes some guts, a lot of planning ahead and a long-term commitment to a specific way of doing things. Beth had been with the show since season two. Maggie is now the only remaining member of Hershel’s family. Daryl has lost a potential love interest. The group is all back together once again, but nobody is drawing comfort from that. I felt like this episode turned down the notch a bit on musical ironies. They’ve leaned heavily on that this season and sometimes it has been a distraction. Morgan’s short scene at the end was nice. It’s anybody’s guess how he’ll work into this show again. He read Abraham’s note to Rick about heading to DC, so best guess may be that he heads that way. Final note: Emily Kenney, who plays Beth, was great on Talking Dead. It’s awesome to see actors/actresses so invested in these characters and really form a bond with the rest of the cast to the point that they’re genuinely sad to leave.
From the previous week(s):
I predicted that Carol dies chasing down Beth’s captors (wrong, -1). I predicted Abraham will gather himself and lead his sub-group back to the church (right, +1). I predicted either Eugene or Rosita will soon die. In all honesty I thought this would happen before the mid-season break (wrong, -1). I predicted Morgan shows up at the church with Rick & Co. gone (right, +1). I predicted more specifically that Carol dies sacrificing herself for Beth to go free (wrong again, -1). Finally, I predicted that Gabriel would return to the church because there’s just too much possibility left for his character (right, +1). Current running total: +2
Aside from my overall prediction for this season that Rick will end up nearly alone as a result of decisions he makes leading him down a dark path, I’ve got nothing more for this episode. We’ll start fresh again in February!