In the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leads his group against Dawn, in hopes of recovering Carol (Melissa McBride) and Beth (Emily Kinney), without conflict.
The show opens with Rick running a marathon, with a zombie stomach decapitation, while Sgt. Bob (Maximiliano Hernandez) attempts to cut of his cuffs. Rick gets into the police car and runs him down, before shooting in the head and telling him to shut up.
Preacher man, Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam), is savaging outside an elementary school, where he picks up a pack of playing cards and a Bible! He potentially finds Bob’s leg, before throwing a piece of fence like a girl and scurrying off into the woods. Stokes leads the zombies back to the church, as Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) chop open the door and rescue him. All three escape from the church using Gabriel’s escape route. The crew MacGyver up the church door, which effectively traps the zombies inside.
When the show returns, Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) discuss their next move. They speak with the officers, Shepherd (Teri Wyble) and Licari (Christopher Matthew Cook), who are willing to spin a yarn to Dawn. Beth (Emily Kinney) is beginning to gain Dawn’s trust. Back at the church, Carl and Michonne question Stokes about his whereabouts, while the zombies begin to break out of the church. Of course, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) shows up and blocks the door with the fire truck.
Beth has another conversation with Dawn (Christine Woods), in which Dawn suggests she saved her twice. Dawn insists that Beth is a cop killer and that she protected her from the others. Dawn has a confrontation with Officer O’Donnell (Ricky Wayne). O’Donnell attacks Dawn the gun conveniently flies down the elevator shaft. After a struggle, Dawn and Beth manage to throw O’Donnell to his death down the elevator shaft. Afterwards, Beth and Dawn chat inside of Carol’s hospital room. A long conversation, in which Dawn asks Beth to join her.
Next, Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) share a moment on the roof and Tyreese admits to being unable to kill the man earlier in the season, in an attempt to comfort Sasha. He suggests they’re still the same as they were as children, but Sasha says she’s changed. Meanwhile, Daryl and Noah (Tyler James Williams) watch the police car head to the vantage point.
Rick surrenders to Franco (Rico Ball) and McGinley (Kyle Russell Clements) in hopes of making a proposal. Of course, the officers don’t notice they’re surrounded by the other survivors. Rick suggests trading two of his people for two of their people. Sasha takes out a zombie, which alerts the cops to their presence.
Rick and crew enter the hospital with their hostages, as Beth gets dressed, as if preparing to leave. Beth pushes Carol out in a wheel chair, as Rick rendezvous with Dawn. Dawn questions about Lamson. Carol is traded for Licari, while Beth is traded for Shepherd. Before they can leave, Dawn insists getting Noah back. Noah goes with Dawn and Beth follows, but Dawn shoots Beth. Daryl kills Dawn. The shooting stops and Rick invites everybody from the hospital to join them. Meanwhile, Abraham and crew arrive at the hospital.
Daryl carries out Beth’s body, which makes Maggie hysterical. Really? Next, Morgan Jones (Lennie James) is shown following the marks on the trees. He makes his way to the church, but everyone is already gone.
In all honesty, fans of the show will probably think this was an amazing episode, with a thrilling dead, but it was little more than the death of Beth, which most people saw coming. Much of the episode felt like filler, especially Gabriel’s adventure out into zombie land, which resulted in the church being overrun by zombies. Of course, this show is full of convenient placement and character arrivals and the arrival of Abraham and his fire truck was perfect.
Overall, the episode felt very anti-climatic, despite the death of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney). Although she has been with the show since the second season, she still was one of the weakest links. Heck, her own sister, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) forgot all about her, until Daryl carries her corpse from the hospital. Of course, Maggie and Abraham are only at the hospital, because of the show’s perfectly timed coordination.
Much of the acting fell flat, after Beth’s execution. Norman Reedus smartly filled his eyes with tears, before quickly looking away, while Andrew Lincoln just glared stoically at the camera. On the other hand, Maggie’s acting was quickly pushed to the side and much wasn’t shown on camera.
The Walking Dead writers perfectly take a single subject and drag it out for episodes and weeks. Enter Morgan. What is the purpose of dragging out his reunion with Rick? He is likely the most interesting character in the show at this point. The sooner he hooks up with the group the better. For a mid-season finale, this one felt a little lackluster, despite a “major” death. It is difficult to over look the flat acting, convenient writing and low budget effects. For that, the episode deserves a 7 out of 10.