The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 8 “Coda” Mid-Season Finale Review


In “Coda”, things get deadly when a main character bites the bullet. Elsewhere, the church is attacked by an undead horde.

Everything after the break will contain full spoilers and a reaction to The Walking Dead Season 5’s mid-season finale.


On paper, Coda had enough elements that should have made for a great mid-season finale: a mini-horde of walkers attack the church, a confrontation with Officer Dawn comes to ahead, the death of a regular character, and a reunion of all the survivors in Atlanta.  Yet because of poor execution and too many contrivances, Coda is a lacklustre effort, breaking the tradition of strong mid-season finales going all the way back to Season 2 when Shane let loose the walkers out of Hershel’s barn.

Shut Up!

The cold open started on a promising note in which Rick ran over Lamson with the police cruiser.  Surviving in the wilderness so to speak has moulded Rick into a formidable leader, yet one whose humanity is increasingly put to the test. He could not have evolved to his present state if he was sheltered within the security of the hospital walls. Lamson raised an interesting question if Rick’s been “out there too long”. Rick gave the officer an opportunity to surrender, at the same time it is chilling to see Rick blow Lamson’s brains out as he laid paralysed and defenceless with his hands tied behind his back.

The church scenes would have been personally more satisfying to me if Gabriel was left to die at the front door as a poetic fate having locked out his own parishioners. Witnessing first hand the remnants of the horrific Bob-becue pit was a revelatory moment for Gabriel but it was knuckle headed of him to lead the walkers back to the church with baby Judith inside. As brief as it was, it’s great seeing Michonne slicing and dicing again, she’s been underused so far this season.

Having Abraham’s fire truck save the day wasn’t the awesome fist pumping moment it was probably meant to be. It looked like Michonne had the situation under control. We’ve seen her take out a bunch of walkers single-handedly before when there’s plenty of open space for her to use her katana. Also, since Abraham’s crew hastily ditched their companions earlier in the season, I can’t help but to think “so you want back into the group now that your mission to DC is a bust?”.

The Walking Dead Coda

Stay In Your Lane Bitch

Like the scene where the officer got pushed down the elevator shaft (saw that coming from a mile away), the set up of the prisoner exchange felt contrived. Rick is a tactical leader, it would have made more sense to exchange prisoners in an open, outdoor location like where he met those two police officers to set up the deal in the first place. A place where he can have snipers pick off enemies if the deal goes sour. It also didn’t make sense for Dawn to let fully armed strangers who held two hostages inside their home instead of the hospital parking lot for example.

Beth’s instant death is shocking but shocking doesn’t necessarily mean good writing. It certainly wasn’t a fitting end to a character who was built up to be smarter and stronger than she appeared. Even though Beth is proven to be a cop killer on two previous occasions, when she stabbed Dawn in the shoulder with a tiny scissor it likely wasn’t intended to be a death-blow. Either way, it was a stupid decision that cost her life and Dawn’s.

Dawn preached that as a leader it’s more important to be respected that it is to be loved. In the end, Dawn’s demise is in not earning Beth’s respect and in wanting to appear in control by demanding Noah which set off the final moments. Beth’s death is tragic for the wrong reasons in that her sacrifice, if you can call it that, is essentially meaningless. Beth could have traded a bunch of high powered weapons or something else instead of her life in exchange for Noah to make it look like Dawn got the better of the deal. Where as when Carol shot Lizzie in the head it was more than just about shock value, it was a powerful character moment that punctuated a season long story arc.

Daryl’s instant reaction to blow Dawn’s head off is great and Rick’s watery-eyed reaction while trying to stay composed is a solid performance by Andrew Lincoln. Unfortunately, these positives weren’t enough to salvage the scene, ending the hospital story line on a low note.

“Coda” is an underwhelming way to cap off the mid-season point of the season. It sort of ended on a similar story point as the season premiere with the whole gang back together minus Beth. There are a number of different ways this episode’s story could have played out, including killing off Beth, that would have been more satisfying and meaningful. At least it didn’t end on a cliffhanger that would have dragged out this story arc longer than it deserves.

What do you like or dislike about the mid-season finale?

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The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 5 “Self Help” Review

About Sidekick Reviews

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Posted on December 1, 2014, in Television, The Walking Dead and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Good day to you sir, how are you? Sorry I didn’t comment last week, time got away from me especially after starting my new job.

    Anyways let’s talk about this mid-season finale. I see a lot of people saying that this a disappointing mid-season finale, I don’t really see it that way, I see it more as an okay episode was some cool highlights scattered throughout.

    Like you I loved the beginning with Rick, that guy is such a don. I’ve always liked Rick’s more aggressive side and seeing him do the balancing act between doing what is right and what easy is always fun. Since he lost it back in the prison when Lori died, he became a more interesting and dangerous character and its the moments when he has to make some moral and ethical choices which makes him so engaging. You never quite know what he’s gonna do. When he shot that guy and said “Shut up.” That was so frigging cool and quite funny too. This was probably the best part of the episode for me.

    There was, however, a load of stupid decisions made for the characters and plot in this episode. Stupid Gabriel, he went from someone I actually felt for, to some annoying little pissworm who can’t defend himself and attracts danger to others. I can’t believe he lead the zombies back to the church, idiot. Then the guy didn’t even sacrifice himself, he somehow survived and escaped that room? I call bullshit on that, if I was Michonne I would have struck him down then and there, and speaking of Michonne… Why did she not have more slicing screen time? She could have easily taken on more zombies if she had given the baby to Carl and gone on a cutting rampage. Also the apparance of Abraham and co. on that bus, very unnecessary and convenient. Also even though I was starting to like Dawn and Beth’s odd relationship, that moment when Dawn got into that scuffle with that other officer, I saw that coming and his eventual death was something I imagined would be a tag team effort. Was happy to see him fall down the elevator shaft.

    As for the whole Beth dying scenario, like you said it was a bit of shock, though I can’t say I was really that sad. I’ve seen enough films to know when a character is going to bite the dust (you know the whole ‘build them up so they are stronger mentally and better developed and have them die’ kind of thing). Twas a foolish and unnecessary idea for Beth to go for the kill or to get killed herself, I thought she’d give some powerful words and be like “I’m coming back for Noah” But no, she just had to use scissors in the most useless way possible, in a way its her own fault. Her attack caused her own death. That being said seeing Daryl blast her head and Rick looking like he was going to flip his shit was so cool, that’s real emotions yo. But yeah I felt gutted, not that Beth had died, but more so that the group had lost her especially when Daryle carried her out.

    Well that’s my two cents on the episode, hope I covered all bases in another long-ass comment lol. I’ll be interested to see what happens next year.

    • Hope all is well with you too! Big congrats on graduating uni and on your new job! No worries, whenever you find the time to stop by and chat it’s always appreciated!

      There were some bits that I liked and other parts that could have been stronger for me. The opening scene started off the episode really strong. I like this side of Rick compared to his farmer days haha. Rick has gone through so much and keeps on evolving, I remember the time he was talking on the phone to “dead people” lol. Love that “Shut up” line!

      Oh Gabriel causes so much trouble through his own stupidity. I kind of blame him for Bob getting bit in the flooded basement, I hope this isn’t going to be a trend of him causing danger and death to the group. I wanted more of Michonne slicing up walkers too, maybe they ran out of budget or time.

      When the officer pushed down the elderly man and gave an evil look, it pretty much set up he was going to die soon. You know when Dawn was drinking and talking to Beth, I considered if Dawn might just make it through to the next episode and maybe even join the group. They spent quite a bit of time giving Dawn some scenes I wasn’t sure if they were going to kill her off or not. I guess I should have known better lol.

      I thought Beth was going to just face-slap Dawn as payback. There’s was a lot of speculation about Beth dying in this episode so in a sense I wasn’t that surprised but in that moment her head got blown I was shocked. For example, before Hershel got his head cut off there was a long build up and he had time to give a knowing look to Rick. And before Lori got her head blown, she had time to give final words to Carl. Beth’s death was basically … bang! I like your idea of her just saying “I’m coming back for you Noah”. For all we know Noah could have tied some more bedsheets together and escaped out the window the next day lol. When Beth stabbed Dawn, she could have started a big shoot out and gotten her friends killed too.

      Great to get your thoughts on the ep, nice to know that I’m not alone about how Beth’s death was handled. I don’t mind that she died, just that scenario of how and why. Yeah, it’ll be a few months until more new Walking Dead … time to catch up on other shows and movies I guess. 🙂

      • Thank you so much man, small successes like these make life worth trying you know lol.

        Oh yeah I do remember that point, I really wasn’t sure if he was actually talking to people at first, but it did become evident that it was just his imagination. So weird lol. Aggressive Rick is just the shit, may he live to be a badass forever more lol.

        As for that set up with the officer that died, I should have guessed. Seems like I was really paying attention. 😛 Thinking about it now, I do find it convenient that it was that particular officer that overheard Dawn and Beth’s conversation, it could have been any other character, but it just had to be that guy in particular becuase he’s a douche. I think it would have been interesting and maybe even cool to see her join Rick’s crew, too bad we’ll never get to explore that.

        I actually would have preferred a slap to the face, that would have been better and more powerful emotionally. and like you said there was a decent amount of lead up to the deaths of previous main characters, but here it was fairly quick, surprising and unnecessary. I’m sure Beth’s character wouldn’t be that careless or stupid, I do feel like, upon reflection that the writers you done goofed with that one. It was foolish for Beth to attack Dawn in such a narrow and close-quartered area because she not only could ahve died (as shown in teh episode) but like you said she could have sparked an all-out war with the hospital people. It’s an unexpected move that could have fucked everyone up in many ways without either side having a proper leg to stand on.

        I’m gonna miss TWD for a while, at least it will be just a tiny bit easier to follow some of my other TV shows. I don’t suppose you’ve seen any of Constantine? If you haven’t please do, its good and your viewership may help it continue beyond its current first season. 🙂

        • That’s a good point about how a slap to the face is emotionally powerful and can show that the anger is personal. Luckily that police lady was there to cool off both sides … one of the only sensible police officers there by the way haha.

          So far I’ve seen the first four episodes of Constantine and I plan on catching up on more later this month. I like eps 3 and 4 more than the first two. I hope it finds a loyal and growing fan base to give it a shot at a second season. 🙂

  2. Due to previous midseason finales and last week seeming to set things up for a big one again, I feel pretty underwhelmed by this episode. I agree that them doing the exchange in the hospital seemed really silly. And you bring up some other good examples of missteps in the review. I think I just generally kind of had a “That’s it?” feeling at the end. It definitely had its moments like the opening (I liked RIck’s running zombie slash and his chase/confrontation with the cop), but I wasn’t too impressed overall. While Beth’s death was shocking it felt like it was more shock for shock’s sake than anything. Well great review. Guess we will see where they go from here in February.

    • I read a brief interview from creator Robert Kirkman last week and he said that on a scale of 1 to 10, the mid-season finale would be pretty deadly … which maybe raised my expectations a bit high. The previous mid-season finales hit the mark and I was hopeful this one would be epic too. I felt that the writers had the idea first to kill Beth in a shocking way but didn’t set up or plan it carefully enough so it ended up being for the sake of shock value just like you said. It’s really hard to make sense of it all. Thank you and totally appreciate you commenting on & checking out the reviews!

  3. Can’t agree more with what you had to say about Beth. They were clearly building her as the next solid female character… and then this happens. There was no discernible logic behind Beth and the scissors given how the past few episodes were there to speedtrack her maturity.

    Shock value at its worst.

    • The build up of Beth as as solid female character was a step in the right direction. I guess the writers wanted to build her up to try to make her death have some impact. Unfortunately, the logic was lacking in that scene like you said and I never became fully invested in her character, only a little to be honest. I did like Daryl’s and Rick’s reactions.

  4. Great review. I liked the episode a bit more than you did, but I see your point in regards to Beth’s death. I think I was more sad about it just because of how the group reacted to her death (poor Maggie, Daryl and Rick!). It was a stupid move of Beth to stab Dawn but I saw it as Beth reaching her breaking point with Dawn’s demands and just acting impulsively against her.

    And Gabriel is getting more irritating with each episode. I was hoping he would get killed off. He’s basically useless.

  5. I felt bad for the group that they went through a lot to get Beth back only to lose her. She didn’t get a chance to get reacquainted with her friends or Maggie. Yeah, Beth didn’t think things through logically and I think that hurt her as a character.

    Gabriel is annoying, looks like the group will have to baby sit him in future episodes lol. Yeah, it would have been perfect to finish off his character this episode. Thanks Lauren!

  6. just goes to show that in The Walking Dead World, no one is safe, no matter how much we think the character is here to stay.

    Great recap!

  7. Agree that this mid-season finale was under-whelming. It had a few exciting scenes but too choppy of an episode to be over all good. I really was hoping Gabriel would get attacked as well. As soon as he started running I thought he’d head straight for the church, which was stupid.
    I kind of liked how Rick shot the cop – thought it was fitting with Rick’s progression of being the dude who does what it takes to save the group. Plus, I didn’t like that cop 🙂
    About half way through the episode I started to think that Beth would die, but was still surprised at how it was done. Rick and Daryl’s reactions were so well played by the actors. Maggie’s reaction I didn’t quite buy. Beth was never my favorite but I think this episode started to give a little more to her character, then she dies. Now there’s all this uproar about a “fan favorite” being killed off and a petition has been started to bring her back?! That’s taking things a bit far and I think fans were persuaded by Emily Kinney’s endearing appearance on Talking Dead – how could you not like her after that? But the petition is just ridiculous.
    I’ve started to read the comic books (up to no. 15 in the graphic novels) and am interested to see what the last eight episodes will contain since I’ve heard a few things about them. Will be nice if they kept the group together for the second half of the season to see how they all deal with part of them leaving for a bit and how Beth’s death will affect them all. Hopefully episodes will be a bit more consistent.

    • Hello there. In comparison to the previous strong mid-season finales I felt that this one didn’t quite measure up even though there were some good moments. The cop that got run over by Rick is the same actor who got tossed out of a car by The Winter Soldier in Cap 2 haha.

      It’s a bit funny to me that some would consider Beth to be a “fan favorite” but I guess everyone has their own particular favorites. For the longest time I could not remember her name and just referred to her as Maggie’s sister. Beth was a non-factor in Season 2 and 3, aside from singing once in a while. Under the current show runner, they only started meaningful development of Beth in Season 4. I’ll have to catch up on that Talking Dead after show with Emily Kinney. Yeah, the petition is ridiculous, no way she’s coming back unless in a dream sequence or something. I didn’t buy Maggie’s reaction either even though I liked the actress’ performance at the end.

      That’s very cool you’ve started to read the comics, I would say that the comics is faster paced and more gruesome in what happens to characters. I like that the TV series does it’s own thing too sometimes. I started reading the comics after watching season 4 and I’m up to volume 21 now.

      I thought that this half of the season the group would have been together more, I was wrong on that. My guess is that where ever they decide to go next it will be together as one group. Yeah, let’s hope the episodes will be more consistent in the next half, that’s been a consistent issue with the series heheh. 🙂

  8. Wish I could contribute to the discussion but I don’t watch the show. I did read enough reviews that I knew immediately what happened when RIPBeth started trending on Twitter 😀

    • Yeah, I can imagine the internet was buzzing after the episode. I heard many fans got spoiled when the TV Network posted RipBeth on their Facebook before the episode aired on the westcoast 🙂

  9. I loved this episode. I was sad to see Beth go but I could see it coming. She had no chemistry with Daryl, and her story had all but disappeared. The only thing that bothered me was that she represented hope in the show that things might get better. Now that she’s gone, I’m not sure what will happen. Will another character represent take her place in order to represent hope? Not sure. Whatever happens next, it will certainly be exciting!

    • I know a lot of fans loved this episode, I can’t say that I loved it myself but it had its moments. Beth brought optimism on a show that can get pretty dark, so I think I see where you’re coming from. Baby Judith is another good choice for a symbol of hope and a better future, just as a symbol though since she can’t talk or do anything yet haha. Yeah we’ll have to wait and see what the writers come up with, it’ll certainly be exciting. I can’t wait until the show returns! 🙂

  1. Pingback: The Comic-Verse: Awesome Art & The Top 15 Featured Links (11/27/14-12/04/14) | The Speech Bubble

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