The mid-season finale was undeniably effecting, anyone who has been with the show since its inception would find it hard not to be effected by the loss in this episode. The writers room always bring it on the last episode of a season or a mid-season finale, more often than not a finale features the death of a fairly main character. The episodes are often packed with action and fraught with unbridled tension.
Just a little thought to start off with, this isn’t necessarily a criticism it’s just something I noticed that I found slightly odd; there were synthesizers on the soundtrack giving it the feel of an episode of Classic Doctor Who. It was something quite out of the ordinary for an episode of The Walking Dead. As for the actual scene in the prologue of this episode, it was tense and exciting, Rick has become something very dangerous while retaining his moral code, making him a frightening person for bad people to run into. When Rick Grimes is angry Andrew Lincoln portrays him in an almost animalistic way, reflecting this in the sounds that Grimes makes in action. Angry Rick is dangerous Rick, which I think we can all agree is the best version of him. The moment in the prologue where the officer from Grady Memorial is running from Rick and is knocked off his feet by Grimes in the police car is awesome. The producers on The Walking Dead are very skilled at creating action scenes that make any audience member display a devilish smile. The fact that Rick then killed the officer was shocking, setting the tone for the episode to come. Rick becoming very merciless is the intelligent decision for the character going forward, you can see how someone like Rick would be changed by the events at the prison. It was a scenario in which he though his friends and family could finally be safe, but it was snatched away. He was proven wrong, people he was trying to protect were killed. You can see why this has given him a take no prisoners attitude.
Gabriel has become an annoying character in my opinion. I am not a Neanderthal who needs all the characters to be zombie and bad guy slaying badasses but it is ridiculous how useless he is. Being a thinking type is fine just as long as he doesn’t do the complete opposite of this and go out away from safety with no weapons, food or water. I don’t know why the writers think the character has to be so detrimental to the team. I have said it in previous reviews, he can be a pacifist but he doesn’t have to jeopardise the safety of the group with his ridiculous decisions made out of fear. Although I hesitate to complain about Gabriel’s actions too much as they did lead to a very fun moment; Michonne taking out zombies is always fun to watch, there was a really brutal and awesome sequence of zombie kills by Michonne with her when the church gets overrun.
Carl is getting much more interesting as a character, he has gone from overly trusting to the opposite, into a good balance of strong yet willing to give people a chance and help people in danger. I think the writers have listened to the fact that the audience found him annoying and made him much stronger, no longer is he getting in danger and jeopardising the group. He is one of the most capable characters in some instances often taking matters into his own hands in the best way.
Dissension in the ranks at Grady Memorial was an excellent idea; the standoff between Dawn and O’Donnell was incredibly tense. The ensuing fight scene was violent and exciting. Though we have no reason to root for either one of them it is still cool to see two badasses go to work on each other even if they are both bad guys. It is actually more fun to watch two bad guys slug it out because you have no reason to want either one to win, you can just sit back and watch them duke it out.
The fact that Beth dies in the exact episode that Maggie first finds out she is alive at Grady Memorial is cruel. However, you can’t really complain because the death of loved characters is what brings this series to life, this was a point made by creator Robert Kirkman on Talking Dead. Sometimes the good guys lose, to believe in this apocalyptic world this is something we have to see. The group defending Noah and fighting his corner against Dawn was a nice moment even if it led to something bad. It seems Noah is staying behind at Grady Memorial Hospital which makes me quite sad as he is a very interesting character that I would have liked to see become a part of the main character.
Beth’s death was brutal and effecting as was Daryl carrying her out with Maggie crying. I have to say everyone’s performance in this sequence was affecting particularly that of Norman Reedus and Lauren Cohan. Everyone trying to hold it together while fronting up to the other group directly after Dawn shot Beth was heartbreaking. This season has been really enjoyable, the episodes have flown by it is difficult to believe that the season is back on a break. It feels like things had only just got going again, but February isn’t long to wait, I look forward to what lies ahead.