Coda. It was the name of the final album released by Led Zeppelin in 1982. It’s also the word to describe the ending of a musical piece, the finale of this particular section. In Zeppelin’s “Baby Come On Home,” Robert Plant wails, “So I met a sweet little girl. Just about as nice as she could be, oh, I fell in love with that woman. But she turned around, and did the same thing again to me…”
Oh, Bob. Don’t act surprised. You knew Rick Grimes was a cop—and a good one at that. You’d be a fool to think you can outsmart or outrun him. Rick says to Bob moments before he shoots him dead, “You can’t go back Bob.” I mean, it’s true—we can’t go back, we can only continue to go round and round and round in the circle game but also that’s what Gareth said to our Bob as he was eating his leg a few episodes back. So, that’s weird.
Meanwhile, Father Gabriel is wandering around the school where he finds what appears to be the Terminus camp, from when Bob was taken outside of the church—charred limbs show signs of their creepy cult, that—and a white Holy Bible that says “Mary” next to a heart on the inside. Was Cannibal Mary the artist formerly known as Religion Mary? Due to the fact that Father Gabriel is kind of a chump and cannot handle anything out here in the real world, it’s probably best he run back home now, to the little white church down the lane. Only problem is, he’s causing too much attention as he begs for Michonne to let him in. Oh, yeah—sneaky Father Gabriel broke out of his church and now he needs to break back in.
Michonne and Carl have no choice but to chop down their blocks and open the door. Basically Father Gabriel leads all the walkers into his church and doesn’t even have the decency to give them a sermon. Gosh! Speaking of good manners, Rick and the rest of the gang are currently handling the hospital guards, still trying to iron out a deal. Isn’t life funny these days? Making deals so that people live, at the hands of other people. Silly humans, making it easy out there for a walker on the streets.
This is going to be tricky now that New Bob (now Dead Bob) is not coming back with them through those hospital doors. Dawn will be severely pissed because she has a complex with every single man. Up there in Grady Memorial, Beth is shining up Dawn’s picture frames as Dawn goes for another spin on her hip workout bike. Dawn softens to Beth and tells her a story about Captain Hansen, the guy in the picture—a guy who she killed. Damn, Dawn—you even make those crazy bitches from Dynasty and shit look sane. Keeping pictures around of the guy you killed? Tell me that isn’t some soap opera drama right there? She tells Beth he “lost his way” before she took his life. At first it seems she’s super pissed at Beth, telling her, “You’re a cop-killer,” she says she knows Beth killed that cop who was trying to rape her in Dawn’s office. But then it seems, she gets why Beth did what she had to do. Maybe she’s even learning a thing or two from Beth. She’s “covering for her.” But, why? Because she realizes she can’t let these men get away with this any longer? Because she recognizes that allowing rape and whatnot is not the key to respect and survival?
Dawn’s made tough choices to get by, but eventually everyone cracks—and Beth keeps reminding her that this—this right here, is actually life, beyond the elliptical machines and the ironed cop uniforms and the play-along roles everyone is suiting up for in the hospital wing. As this happens, Officer O’Donnell overhears Dawn’s confession about Hansen and threatens to “make some changes.” Dawn draws her gun, because to hell with it all. O’Donnell’s like, “We smoked cigars downstairs in this parking lot when I was having a baby.” And Dawn’s basically like: “You are a perverted asshole who beats old men and had a good chuckle with your friends about that girl who was raped—that’s you.”
With that, the two scuffle for a little while, O’Donnell choking out Dawn just seconds before Dawn regains her mojo and pushes him toward the elevator shaft, Beth finishing off the deed by shoving him into the shaft at the last second. What neither girl knows is that they’re in the movie Final Destination, you know—the one with Devon Sawa and that plane, and he gets on the plane and he’s like, “No no no, we have to get off this plane, I just saw what’s going to happen and the whole thing is going to explode.” So everyone gets off the plane and then it explodes and they’re like, Yay! I’m alive! But they’re also like, Fuck! And then because they cheated death, they all start to die, one by one. In our case here, it’s also what we call: foreshadowing.
Back at the church, Fr. Gabriel leads Michonne, Carl, and Baby Judith into his escape slot through the wooden floor. He would so not do well in a horror movie. Oh wait, his life is that horror movie. Outside, they’re trapped. Walkers are about to come busting through the church walls like the Kool-Aid Man. Nah, how about something better—Sgt. Abraham, in a huge ass red fire truck to save the day.
Everyone hops out of the truck, and Michonne looks on like, “Now I know it takes longer to get to D.C…” Maggie tells Michonne Dr. Porter was as liar and there’s no cure-all reset magic juju button in Washington that’ll save the world, so they turned around came back. Michonne happily tells Maggie that Beth is alive, she’s at a hospital in Atlanta and Rick, Tyreese, Sasha and Daryl are trying to get her and Carol out as we speak. No one introduces Father Gabriel because he’s bugging out and thinks the trees are going to get him. Everyone looks elated, like there’s an epic reunion in store—well, except for Father Gabriel.
After the elevator shaft incident, Dawn finds Beth sitting against the wall in Carol’s room. She tells Beth it’s okay to cry and Beth’s like, “I don’t cry anymore!” Because Beth is a tough ass and she left her emotions at the door when Daryl took her in and gave her a Karate Kid lesson in survival of the fittest. Dawn confronts Beth about Dr. Edwards and Dr. Trevitt—the medicine mix-up that killed him at the hands of Beth, via Dr. Edwards. Beth just kind of moves her face a tinge and blinks her eyes. Her poker face is ridiculous. Dawn sees herself in Beth; her harshness against Beth in the beginning has melted into a trusting female-to-female bond that is thinly decorated in Dawn’s lamenting diatribes about the past, her past. Oh, and CAROL JUST WOKE UP.
It’s the episode of confessions, which is interesting because the themes from past episodes so far this season have eluded to confession, and the ways so many of our characters have needed desperately to come clean with some aspect of themselves that hasn’t forgiven, so now, it’s Tyreese’s turn. He tells Sasha about Martin, the bro dude from Terminus who he told everyone he killed, after Carol and Tyreese discovered him near that cabin and Martin got to him by egging him on and calling his bluff. Therein lies the insurmountable mountain of Tyreese’s guilt—and it explains why when he did kill Bob for Sasha, it went deeper—there was a part of him that knew he was a coward, and he wasn’t going to be a coward when it mattered the very most. Only problem? Everything matters the very most out here. Had Martin been killed at that time in the cabin, maybe Bob would still be alive. Now, all the Bobs are dead.
“You’re still the same, and that’s good. I don’t think I can be—not anymore, not anymore,” Sasha says, gritting her teeth and shaking her head. The two are perched on the rooftop as Rick stops the Grady cop car and raises his hands. Surely, some tumbleweed drifts by in the foreground. Where the Wild West was won, the Dirty South has now become a human trading post. This rescue mission is officially on.
“Where are the rest of your people?”
Rick gives the men the deal, takes a few steps back and says Rickly, “I’ll wait.” Next thing we know, we’re back from the commercial break and it’s go-time. I’m looking at my clock right now—nine minutes left! As the gang enters Grady, it’s obvious Beth is aware of the deal—she’s back in her dirty yellow shirt, the same one she was taken in on the night she was with Daryl, maybe the most definitive episode in the show for the two characters and their development. But, I digress.
At the bridge, Dawn gathers her cops and a very confused and doped up looking Carol is wheeled in by Beth. We see Rick and the rest of the group enter with Noah and the two cops they are swapping during the trade. Boom, boom—done. Daryl takes Carol into the group and Beth gets a sweet hello from Rick who begins to say his goodbyes to Dawn and the excellent staff here at Grey’s—I mean Grady Memorial. But that’s not good enough for Dawn, who’s pushing back obvious tears at the news that her Bob, New Bob, is dead Bob.
Dawn says they’ll take Noah back now. Beth was “her ward” and now she needs a new one. Rick is like, “Excuse me, Noah can decide for himself.” The kid wants to go home. Not that “home” is anywhere anymore, or that he’ll survive long enough to get to Virginia. But the point is: It’s Noah’s choice. All the cops in the background are basically rolling their eyes because, damn Dawn, just let this deal end peacefully! Noah stumbles over (his legs are still both totally busted) and tries to appease the whole situation by offering he stay. Rick starts dancing on his toes as he fiddles with how to handle yet another potentially botched deal. Still, Noah insists. He inches toward their side, the coast is clear. But Beth wants to give him one last hug. I know what’s about to happen, we all do. We saw Beth grab those scissors from her room and stuff them in her cast. It’s clear now she wants to take Dawn out before she hits the road.
With a flash, Beth’s eyes light up in rage and she stabs Dawn with the sheers. As quickly as she does, Dawn shoots Beth in the head from her upward pointed gun on her slinger. The look on her face says it all: Either she didn’t mean to, or she doesn’t want anyone to shoot her dead because of it. Doesn’t matter. Daryl, tears filling his eyes, takes a gun and shoots it square between Dawn’s eyes. Everyone raises their weapons. But lady cop Shepherd yells at everyone to stop. “It’s done. It was about her!” Everyone stands down. Noah suggests Rick and co. stay at the hospital. But from where I’m sitting, the images become blurry and white—all I see is Daryl Dixon crying his eyes out, followed by Rick, then Carol, then Tyreese, then Sasha. Everyone is crying. I’m crying. Are you crying? Yeah, duh. You’re crying too.
I’ve seen a LOT of speculation on the interwebs about this ending. What do you think Beth’s scissor incident was all about? Why did she need to kill Dawn? She says, “I get it now.” Get what, Beth? Get what?!?! How do you interpret Beth’s final words? Do you think she had more to say, and if she hadn’t been shot—what would she have continued to say to Dawn?
Outside the hospital, Rick shakes his head as he sees Glenn, Maggie and the rest walk up to the door in classic TWD this-is-the-last-five-seconds slow motion. Michonne fearlessly chops off a walker’s head as the group reaches Rick with the sun hitting their backs. Maggie’s giant grin fades in horror when she sees what’s behind Rick. It’s Daryl holding a lifeless Beth. She falls to the ground screaming. As a final teaser, we see Morgan hot on Rick’s trail, scoping out the map Abraham left behind at the church. Morgan is one of the only three characters left alive from the very first episode of TWD, but what does he want with Rick?
Follow me on Twitter @the_hoff so we can properly mourn Beth’s life and send hugs to Daryl Dixon. See you all in February!