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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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This causes Dawn to involuntarily fire her weapon, sending a bullet right through Beth's head and killing her instantly. Dawn immediately realizes what she's done - Rick and co. definitely look like the wrong people to be screwing with - but her gasped apologies don't matter. Daryl drops her with a single shot to the head and the others aim their guns at the freaked out remaining members of the Grady group, who are now outnumbered and outmatched.

The Grady group immediately stands down, which saves them, and they invite Rick and co. to stay. They insist it's safe and the best option, but Rick, overcome with grief and keenly aware of how awful their little society is, declines their offer. He does invite anyone trapped at Grady who wants to leave to come with him and his group. However, they leave, and we see only Noah accepted that offer. The episode ends as the fire truck arrives with the remaining survivors, giving us a final shot of a devastated Maggie as she learns of her sister's fate.

  • This season has done a fine job of taking two horribly underdeveloped characters - Carol and Beth - and turning them into the season's most interesting. Beth was suicidal and self-abusing, while Carol suffered abuse from her deceased husband. Both characters have since evolved into hardened people, who more often than not make the hard decisions even Rick and Daryl can't make. This makes Beth's final act of defiance almost a triumph. She might be dead, but she went out on her terms.
  • Further, the way this season has used Carol and Beth has served to underscore the importance of community in helping to reinforce and support, for lack of a better way to put it, decent values. Our survivors have been contrasted with other groups who devolved into varying kinds of monsters, groups whose members embraced and encouraged the descent into evil. Seeing Rick struggle with his grief over Beth's murder, only to be silently talked out of killing the remaining Grady cops by Carol, beautifully illustrated how his group has avoided similar outcomes.
  • It's interesting that only Noah chose to leave. The remaining Grady prisoners/officers must surely know how bad things were getting. But the central appeal of fascism is that it establishes order. Further, the thing about totalitarianism and the crimes that often happen within it, is that everyone becomes somewhat complicit (see East Germany). This was a very effective demonstration of that sad fact.
  • This episode contains some truly fantastic shots, any one of which might be worth an entire article. Rick ramming into officer Hydra, the shot of a zombie pushing its face into a machete and getting sliced in half, the way the sniper scene is framed. This season hasn't just seen a dramatic leap in the quality of writing, it's also demonstrating a vastly increased level of artistry in cinematography. I can't wait for the show's return.
  • I've talked a little bit about this season's heavy use of religious symbolism, but looking back on the last 8 episodes, the real undercurrent has been a lengthy riff off Richard Adams' Watership Down. Rick and his group are obvious stand-ins for the Sandleford rabbits, in broad strokes, but I'm more interested with the way the two opposing groups of survivors they've encountered match up nicely to the two other warrens that novel spends time on. BTW, if you haven't read Watership Down, rectify that immediately.

Bottom Line: My favorite episode of the season, "Coda" is touching, brutal, beautifully shot and excellently written.

Recommendation: An amazing episode and fitting end to a brutal and exciting half-season. I can't wait for the show's return in February.

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