The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Descriptions of violence. Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein.]

image of actor Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, from an episode of The Walking Dead, to which I have added text reading: 'Rick Grimes: Patriarch & full-tilt excellent decision-making machine.'

We have two weeks of terrific episodes to cover, so let us first begin with the briefest of recaps of last week's episode, "Crossed." Filler filler filler. The Grimes Gang hatches a plot to rescue Carol and Beth. Filler filler filler. Michonne and Carl the Hat stay behind to babysit Baby Zombie Whistle Grimes and Gabriel the Priest. Filler filler filler. Glenn and Maggie go fishing. Filler filler filler. Maggie yells at Sgt. Red Bull. Filler filler filler. One of the hospital police officers double-crosses Sasha and escapes.

And now to this week's episode, which is the winter finale, "Coda." We pick up with the officer who has escaped, still handcuffed, running down the street back toward the hospital to warn Officer Meanlady about Grimes Gang's plan to exchange officers they've taken hostage for Carol and Beth. Grimes is chasing him in a police car (because of course he is) and warns him to stop. When he doesn't, Grimes smashes the car into him, then shoots him. RIP that guy.

It's important to note at this juncture that we are definitely meant to side with Grimes here. That gosh darn guy was going to ruin everything! But, for all its exhausting, repetitive, simplistic, eyeroll-inducing attempts to address moral relativism and the ethics of survival in the zombiepocalypse, the show never invites us, in any discernible way, to consider that, if it had been one of the Grimes Gang escaping someone who had taken them hostage for a prisoner exchange, and the person from whom they were escaping shot them, we'd be mad at that person. That person would be presented by this show as a monster. Because the only "my people" who are worth our sympathies, ever, are Grimes' people.

This is, ahh, worth noting. For later in the episode.


Back at Grimes' Church, Gabriel is fucking around out in the woods by himself, and naturally gets besieged by zombies. He runs back to the church, where he claws at the front door and begs to be let in, JUST LIKE THE PEOPLE HE LEFT TO DIE, IN CASE YOU FORGOT, KARMA KARMA HEAVY-HANDED KARMA. But, of course, Michonne and Carl the Hat let him in, and then somehow can't keep out the influx of zombies like they have a zillion times before, so they have to beat a hasty retreat.

Luckily, Sgt. Red Bull, at the helm of the fire truck, appears just in time (huzzah!) and drives into the door, barricading it shut. What a serendipitous and happy reunion! Maggie is delighted to hear that Beth is still alive and that everyone else has gone to rescue her. Uh-oh.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Beth and Officer Meanlady have Meaningful Conversations. Beth rescues Officer Meanlady from a rogue officer, by pushing him down the elevator shaft of zombie doom. Beth accuses Officer Meanlady of using her, to which Officer Meanlady responds, "That's how things get done here: Everyone uses people to get what they want." Beth gives Officer Meanlady major "I Will Have My Revenge" face.

Later, Officer Meanlady's contingent and Grimes Gang Prime meet in a hallway in the hospital. It's a real showdown at the Oh Good Grief Corral. Everyone holsters their weapons. I think this should be tense? But it doesn't feel particularly tense to me. As per every single finale of The Walking Dead ever, the big showdown to which every interminably slow episode has been leading now feels rushed and contrived.

The two groups exchange prisoners—two officers for Carol and Beth. That should settle it, except Officer Meanlady demands that Noah, the young man whom Beth helped escape who later hooked up with Carol and Daryl, be returned to his indentured servitude at the hospital. Grimes refuses, insisting that wasn't part of the deal. Officer Meanlady says, "Then we don't have a deal." OH SHIT.

Tensions start to escalate, and Noah volunteers to go back to the hospital group, in order to keep the peace. NOT FAIR! Beth is super pissed. She sidles up to Officer Meanlady and says, in a real "They're screwing with the wrong people" moment, "I get it now."

If there's one thing the writers of this show know how to do PERFECTLY, it's spectacularly flub moments begging for powerful dialogue.

Anyway, after uttering the woefully unsatisfying, "I get it now," Beth pulls out a tiny pair of surgical scissors she'd concealed in her arm cast and stabs Officer Meanlady in her riot-gear protected chest. Surprised by this impotent attempt to murder her, Officer Meanlady accidentally discharges her gun, shooting Beth in the head.

She looks up, horrified, pleadingly. Before she can even argue it was a mistake, Daryl shoots her in the head.

RIP Beth. RIP Officer Meanlady.

Now, remember that whole thing about how Rick Grimes is Superhero #1 for killing the cop who was risking their plan to rescue Carol and Beth? He killed that dude deliberately, when the guy was trying to save himself and "his people." Officer Meanlady, on the other hand, is immediately slaughtered by everyone's favorite character for accidentally killing a member of Grimes Gang who was trying to murder her.

Was Officer Meanlady a nice person? Nope! She made some highly shitty decisions, which she justified under the auspices of keeping their ragtag group of assholes together and functioning and safe. Which, you know, sounds an awful lot like how I could describe some other RICK GRIMES I won't mention.

The best commentary this show makes is the unintentional commentary embedded in asking us to always side with Grimes Gang, for the arbitrary reason that they're the group of which we're (effectively) a part. We see them as "good" because "they" are "us."

This is a true thing about life: We tend to see groups of which we're a part, by choice or circumstance, as "good," not necessarily for qualitative or quantitative reasons, but just because they're "ours."

It would be awesome if The Walking Dead ever made any attempt to explore that theme, but nope! It's way easier and way more fun to cheer at Daryl shooting a lady who's definitely a total bitch for acting just like Rick Grimes who's definitely a hero.


Just as the fire truck arrives carrying the rest of Grimes Gang—is this a fire truck or a GETTING PLACES AT THE PERFECT TIME truck?!—Grimes Gang Prime walks out of the hospital, Daryl carrying Beth's body in his arms. Maggie collapses on the ground and screams, and that would be a genuinely moving moment, if only Maggie had seemed to give two shits about Beth missing at literally any point before this.

Everyone is very sad, and that is the end of the episode.

WAIT NO IT'S NOT. Because here is a three-minute clip of Morgan (hey, remember that guy?!), who's been trailing Grimes Gang for awhile, showing up at the now-abandoned church. He finds the coolest note ever, and his eyes widen with delight (?), as anyone's would, upon learning that Rick Grimes is alive, making good decisions, and within one's reach.

And that is the end of the episode.

But it is not the end of this post, because immediately following the airing of the episode on the US East Coast, the show's Facebook page posted the MAJOR SPOILER, way the fuck before people on the US West Coast and everywhere else it airs got to see the episode! Whooooooooops! Way to reward your fans, dipshits. Yeesh.

And, with that, we will reconvene in February, when part two of this season begins.

In the words of a flannel shirt wearing zombie, "ARGLE BARGLE." Fin.

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