This episode starts out with Lamson fleeing the scene after knocking out Sasha. Rick catches up and administers quick and harsh judgment. The others hostages still seem willing to try for a peaceful trade with Dawn for Carol and Beth.
Last week we saw Father Gabriel flee the church. At first it was not clear whether or not he stumbled upon Gareth’s campsite by chance or if he was on a fact-finding mission all along, but one look at the maggot-covered remains of Bob’s foot brings him to tears. He finds himself surrounded by walkers and runs away. He makes it back to the church to be confronted by the horror endured by his parishioners when they were stuck outside, clawing to get in and begging for help. Only this time, Carl and Michonne show him the mercy that he denied others. They let him in and the walkers overrun the church. Our group retreats to the rectory and uses the hole in the floor to escape, boarding the walkers inside the church. Father Gabriel said that he did indeed go out to see for his self what happened at the campsite. Carl and Michonne brace themselves for a fight as the walkers break through the door, but Abraham shows up just in time with the fire truck, smashing through the church and sealing off the exit completely.
We see Beth staring down into an open elevator shaft in deep thought. Dawn finds her and proceeds to attempt to further manipulate Beth into being on her side. O’Donnell overhears them talking and a brief fight between he and Dawn ensues. O’Donnell gets dangerously close to the elevator shaft and Beth pushes him over the edge. Later, Beth sits by Carol’s bedside and tells Dawn that she knows she’s been manipulating her into helping her kill problem officers and to do her dirty work. She tells Dawn that she will one day escape like Noah, to which Dawn predicts that Noah will be returning soon. This upsets Beth even further.
The next scenes show Rick and company, including Noah, attempting to make the hostage exchange. Dawn seems to accept the terms of the deal easily. However, since she considers Noah to be one of her group, she will not let the group leave without him being turn over to her. Noah agrees to stay behind in order to keep the peace. Beth then moves toward Dawn and stabs her with a small pair of surgical scissors that she had hidden in her cast. Dawn is shocked and shoots Beth in the head. It’s not apparent whether this was an accident on Dawn’s part or self-defense – either way she looks shocked and horrified at having killed Beth. It is also possible that Beth knew exactly what the outcome would be when she first picked up the scissors.
The scene happens very quickly and quietly. At first there is a “what just happened?” moment. Then we see everyone sobbing. Daryl gently lifts up her body and carries her out. Norman Reedus does some fine acting here. His pain is palpable. Abraham, Maggie, Glenn and the rest of the crew show up at the hospital just as Daryl steps out into the sunlight with Beth. Maggie immediately collapses. Maggie has been so strong through almost losing Glenn, the recent death of her father and the disappointment of Eugene’s lie. The death of her sister is her breaking point.
Then in true sci fi/horror tradition, after the credits roll we get a bonus scene. We see Morgan enter the empty church and find Abraham’s note to Rick. His eyes widen and we fade to black.
Now there are more questions than ever and a lengthy wait to start on the answers. Will Morgan and Rick reunite and how will that go? What about Washington? Have we seen the last of Dawn? Will Abraham find a new mission to keep him going? Will Daryl and Maggie recover from Beth’s death? Will Carol recover from her injuries? Is there a Daryl/Carol romance ahead or are they just close friends? Is there more to Father Gabriel than meets the eye and will he fight with the group now? What about Eugene and Noah? How will Carl, Rick and Michonne fare the rest of the season? The list of questions just goes on and on.
The name of the episode – “Coda” – was very appropriate. It closed several story lines and brought a lot of things back around full circle. It was also the ending of a beloved character. I for one can’t wait until February and I’m sure that even then, the second half of the season won’t be long enough to satisfy us. Rest in peace Beth.