The Walking Dead S5E8, “Coda”

Season 5 Poster

I totally missed writing up last week’s episode and I’m ridiculously late with this one.  Sorry guys.  Other responsibilities took me away from this one.

We’re now at the midseason break.  Can we talk about how obnoxious that is?  I feel like we just got going, and now we have to wait until February for new episodes.  For their part, I understand it.  It breaks up the shooting schedule, and also allows them to double-up on a TV writer’s favorite activity: cliffhangers!  Oh man, they love cliffhangers.  Instead of just getting one at the end of a season, you can now get two!  It’s like having two Christmases!  Before long, shows will be broken up into 4 episode runs with a cliffhanger at the end of each one.  TV shows will run constantly: a month on, a month off, and they will run all year.  I’m tired just thinking about it.
There will be no escape from our new TV overlords.  Oh sure, we can try to get away, but, in the end, we’ll have our back broken by a car and get our heads blown off while the undead watch.  There are certainly worse ways to die, but that’s not exactly a noble death.

1. Nothing came of it, but Rick jumping in the police car and not checking the backseat seemed foolish.  I kept waiting for something – a zombie, another cop, etc. – to pop out at him.  Zombies and murderous people are everywhere.  Check the backseat, fella.  Stuttering Brad Dourif isn’t around to warn you, so you’ll just have to remember to do it all by yourself.

2. Sure, Maggie was happy when she found out Beth was still alive.  But where has that emotion been?  She hasn’t acknowledged the Beth even existed since she went missing.  I suppose this is the result of losing so many people; you’re just numb to death after a while.  What point is there in hoping that your missing family member will be found, when it’s much more likely that they’re zombie food?  I get it, but I also find it odd that Maggie never even mentioned her sister.  With her breakdown at the end of this episode, I guess we know we can prepare ourselves for a lot more of the Maggie Questions Her Faith subplot that ran throughout this season.

3. Why do people with guns always stand so close to those without guns?  “Hey.  You.  Guy in the hallway questioning my authority.  I’m going to point this gun at you, but allow you to get within an arm’s length of me, because I trust you won’t knock the gun out of my hand.  Deal?”  It’s not just this show: it’s all shows and movies.  Add this to my list of gun-related pet peeves.

4. All the talk between Tyreese and Sasha about not being the same as they were when they were kids.  That was a long conversation, and it meant absolutely nothing.  A lot of dialogue-driven shows have these scenes: the conversations that sound deep, but are really just inane chatter.  It’s faux philosophy, and it drives me crazy.

5. Beth finding herself with a brief opening to attack Dawn, and using it to stab Dawn in the chest.  Dawn was wearing a vest.  Go for the neck. Beth.  Maybe she didn’t want to kill Dawn, but she had to assume that stabbing Dawn – whether the others liked/respected her or not – would not end well.  If you’re going to attack in that situation, make it count.

6. This is not a problem with the episode, but rather someone from AMC thinking it was a good idea to post this photo a mere seconds after the east coast feed ended:

RIP Beth

The caption was “RIP Beth” and everything, just in case you thought Daryl was carrying her body across the threshold.

1. The return of Michonne’s zombie head chopping.  It feels like it has been a long time.  Welcome back.

2. There were a lot of great zombie kills in this episode, so it’s hard to pick a definitive favorite.  But I think I’m going to go with the zombie who fell on the machete and cut his head in half.  I couldn’t help but think of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.

Friday the 13th Jason Death

3. The scene of Rick negotiating with the cops.  It looked like a scene out of a Western.  I kept waiting for the Ennio Morricone score to kick in.
He was all calm, cool and collected, too.
“Where are your people?”
[Sniper immediately shoots a zombie.]
“They’re close.”

4. The exchange scene in the hospital hallway.  For starters, there was no music.  I love music, but I feel like it’s easy to go overboard.  “Things should be tense.  Crank the music!  The people need to know!”  The lack of music made this scene extremely tense.  You could hear every footstep.  Time seemed to crawl.
The camera angle was terrific.  It was crooked, like something wasn’t quite right.  It was like a picture hanging askew on the wall.  I wanted to reach out and straighten the screen.  The camera is used like this at the end of The Bride of Frankenstein, and I always loved that scene.  It’s clear that something is wrong, even if you’re not quite sure what that something is yet.
In a documentary on the Pixies, PJ Harvey describes Joey Santiago’s guitar playing style by saying that it feels the notes are bending in such a way that you need to bend your body to hear it correctly (paraphrasing, of course).  That’s how I feel about these kinds of scenes.  I feel like I need to bend my body to be able to see what is going on.  It’s an odd feeling, and it worked perfectly here.
It’s amazing what a lack of music and a crooked camera angle can add to the tension of a scene.

5. I loved the scene of Beth standing in front of Dawn.  The way the camera was, it looked like Beth was hulking over Dawn.  If it wasn’t clear before, it was made perfectly clear in that moment: Beth was strong and Dawn was the coward.
Strong?  Coward?  In the end, it doesn’t really matter.  The only thing that matters in this world is who is holding the gun.

6. The final shot was terrific.

Coda Final Image

7. Morgan still slowly following the group.  I love that actor and am really looking forward to seeing what they do with his character.  Here’s to hoping that storyline kicks in when the show returns in February.

Final thoughts:
I was on the verge of giving up on this show, but these last 8 episodes drew me back in.  They weren’t without their faults, but they had an energy to them that had been lacking.  It was also consistently good, which is something the show has struggled with from the very beginning.  I’m already looking forward to seeing what they do next.
I’d also like to say that I’m going to miss Beth.  Not a lot, but a little.  More often than not, Emily Kinney did a good job with the material she was given.  Also, I know that it was a pretty widely mocked, but I liked her singing.  I like that they worked in Tom Waits and Waxahatchee songs into a show about the zombie apocalypse.  Her death didn’t devastate me, but I am a little sad that she’s gone.  RIP Beth.  May your strength and your songbird spirit be passed on to another weary traveler.