After walkers basically brought upon the apocalypse in the world of The Walking Dead, many characters have had to face whether they were going to remain good people or whether they were going to let the new reality change them into survivors who might have to do awful things to others in the name of surviving. Some people like Gareth give up and give in to evil, while Dawn does evil in order to maintain the idea that one day the world will be normal and good can happen again.

This thematic idea, it has made for an absolutely incredible half-season of The Walking Dead. And it should be what I should spend most of my time talking about in this recap. But then again, that happened…

…a hole was blown out the back of Beth’s head. While her death has been speculated quite a bit this season — and many of you voted in the previous polls on this site that her death was coming — it’s still a shocker. But we’ll get to that.

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The Trade Is Back On

For reasons that seem to defy logic, Bob the cop at the beginning of this week’s episode, “Coda,” decides to try to free his hands on his cop car before escaping the immediate vicinity. This gives Rick plenty of time to catch up in the car when Bob gives up and tries to make a run for it. Rick orders Bob over the cop car loudspeaker to stop, but when Bob refuses, Rick hits him with the car.

“It didn’t have to be like this,” Rick says to Bob, who claims his back is broken. “You can’t go back, Bob,” Rick tells him, sounding like Gareth before he puts a bullet in Bob’s head. 

When Rick returns to the factory, Tyreese, Daryl and Sasha don’t seem happy that Bob is not with him. “This changes things,” Darryl tells Rick, before remembering that according to their other cop hostage, Dawn hated Bob. She even suggests they should claim that rotters killed him, and the other remaining cop hostage also agrees to go along with the story.

A Happy Reunion Occurs

Early in the episode, Father Gabriel stumbles upon an unlikely coincidence when he finds himself at the scene of where the other Bob’s leg was amputated earlier in the season by Gareth and his friends. The discovery freaks Father Gabriel out and he limp/runs away as walkers start to close in. He is chased and winds up back at his church, ironically begging to be let back in to the building that he had forbidden so many others the opportunity to seek shelter in.

Carl and Michonne hear his cries for help and they instead decide to help him, even if that means destroying the protection they had installed inside to keep walkers out.

Father Gabriel makes it inside safely and Michonne easily kills all of the walkers that follow in, until she and everyone else realize they’re dealing with an actual herd of walkers, not just a few isolated ones.

The three of them barricade themselves in the back, and Father Gabriel tells Michonne and Carl to escape through the hole he used last episode, while he holds off the horde. Carl grabs Judith, and Father Gabriel tells Michonne that it was worth it. He, however, is able to escape (just barely) and tells her he can’t run anymore.

Michonne and Carl then decide to lock the remaining walkers inside the church and barricade it from the outside. It doesn’t hold very long, and the walkers are about to bust out when a fire truck comes down the road and rams the porch, blocking the front door. That’s right: Abraham and the team are back.

Glenn tells Michonne that Eugene was a liar, and while she looks surprised, she isn’t that upset. Maggie, however, is overjoyed to hear that her sister Beth is alive.

Dawn Almost Loses Command

At the hospital, Dawn starts to get concerned that her cops in the field aren’t getting back to her. She then tells Beth about the downfall of her mentor and how you don’t need the love of your community, but you do need their respect for it to survive.

Dawn later finds Beth sitting on the edge of an open elevator shaft. Beth continues to challenge Dawn, who is obsessed with keeping order until “all of this is over.” Unlike Gareth, Dawn still believes the real world will snap back into place one day and all the walkers/rotters will be gone.

Dawn reminds Beth that she inadvertently killed a cop at the hospital and that Dawn was protecting her from the others. One of the other cops, Donald, overhears and threatens Dawn before saying, “It’s time to make a change.” We learn in that moment that Dawn killed her mentor because he wasn’t tough enough when he was in charge of the hospital sanctuary.

Dawn pulls her gun on Donald, but he reminds them of their shared history: knowing his wife and having cigars when his child was born. But Dawn reminds Donald, who starts to show the same kind of crazy eyes that Gareth used to have, that he now laughs about rape. Dawn and Donald start to fight and Dawn’s gun slides across the floor before going down the elevator shaft.

Beth tries to intervene and gets knocked down. Dawn then hits Donald in the throat, and as he stumbles back, Beth pushes him down the open elevator shaft. We hear the sounds of walkers having a meal as Dawn thanks Beth.

Beth and Dawn have a heart to heart later in Carol’s room. Dawn says she knows that Beth knows the woman in the bed (Carol) and offers Beth a chance to be a part of the group for real. Carol then starts to stir, as if she’s going to wake up.

The Trade

On a roof, Tyreese comes clean to Sasha about how he failed to kill Martin, one of Gareth’s men who later showed up at the church during the assault earlier in the season.  He believes that the mistake he made and the one Sasha made (in trusting cop Bob last episode) means they’re just like the people they used to be before the apocalypse started. Sasha, however, doesn’t think she can be that person anymore.

Rick is on a roof across from that building. He meets two of the cops from the hospital and offers a trade for two hostages. He also claims that cop Bob died from walkers, just as it was agreed upon earlier in the episode. He gives the officers 10 minutes to make the trade happen.

Rick and his group arrive at the hospital later while Dawn is surrounded by other cops, as well as Beth and Carol, who is in a wheelchair. Dawn and Rick order both of their friends to holster all their weapons just before the trade is about to take place.

Dawn seems to believe the story of Bob the cop being killed by rotters, so she says she’ll hand over one person if Rick hands over someone. Carol is handed over first, then Beth.

“Glad we could work things out,” Dawn says to Rick, before adding that she needs Noah as well. “That wasn’t part of the deal,” Rick says. Really, Rick? You barely know this kid.

Rick and Daryl both try to stick up for Noah, but he offers to go back to Dawn’s group. Beth gives him a long hug first before delivering an epic stare down to Dawn. Beth says, “I get it now,” before she stabs Dawn in the shoulder with a pair of scissors.

Dawn then casually blows out the back of Beth’s head with her pistol. I screamed “NO!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs — scaring the shit out of my dog — shocking myself both by the volume of my voice as well as my love for a character I used to forget the name of.

Dawn shakes her head in disbelief, but Daryl quickly shoots her in the head. The female cop hostage (or former hostage, if you will) tells everyone else to stop and stand down — it was just about Dawn. She then tells Rick that they can all stay now.

“No,” Rick says. “And I’m taking anyone back there that wants to leave.”

The fire truck with everyone from the church arrives outside at the hospital. And I suddenly realize poor, poor Maggie is about to head inside and see her dead sister. Instead, Rick comes out, shaking his head, with Tyreese holding Carol and Daryl cradling the dead body of Beth.

Other Odds and Ends

— I watched Hello Ladies: The Movie this past weekend. Kind of crazy to go from seeing Christine Woods in that (as Jessica) and then in this week’s mid-finale as Dawn.

— If you had any doubts that someone was going to die in this episode — despite Norman Reedus basically screaming it in interviews this past week — knowing that there was going to be a “mysterious” cast member on Talking Dead this week made it certain.

— Just like in the season premiere, we get an after credits sequence with Morgan. He has stumbled upon the spot where Bob lost his leg (and Father Gabriel visited earlier in the episode). Morgan calmly kills a walker before he wanders over to the church, where all the walkers are gone. He lays down a few items on the altar (as an offering?) while he prays, before he spots the note Abraham wrote to Rick, asking him to come to DC. 

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, February 8, 2015, at 9pm on AMC.  

(Image courtesy of AMC)

Alan Danzis

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV