MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS!

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Legion contributor Mike Spring is recapping and reviewing The Walking Dead for us this season. Follow him on Twitter @themikespring.

WARNING: Massive spoilers ahead!!!

Okay, I’m mad at The Walking Dead. They killed one of my favorite characters in an episode that starts and ends brilliantly, but drags in the middle. Read on for the gory details…

Episode #508 of Season 5 of The Walking Dead, “Coda,” brings to a head all of the season five plot lines so far: the hospital, the church, and Abraham’s splinter group heading to DC.

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The episode starts with Lamson, who knocked out Sasha and escaped last episode, loose in the streets of Atlanta. We see Rick running to catch up to him, and we see Lamson trying to saw through the bindings that have his hands tied together.

Rick finds Lamson’s police car and starts chasing him down. He announces over the car’s loudspeaker for Lamson to stop, repeating it three times. When Lamson refuses to stop, Rick runs him down with the car. Lamson is laying paralyzed on the ground. “It didn’t have to be like this. You just had to stop,” Rick tells him. Lamson says, “I couldn’t. I don’t know you. But I think I’m getting the idea.”

Lamson tries to convince Rick to take him back to the hospital, as his back is broken. When Rick doesn’t acquiesce, Lamson says, “You’ll die. You’ll all die.” As walkers converge, Rick pulls out his gun and shoots Lamson in the head. “Shut up,” He says.

We next see Father Gabriel at the school where Bob was held by the Terminus cannibals. There is a horde of walkers trapped in the school trying to get out. Father Gabriel looks around the campfire site and discovers what’s left of Bob’s leg on a makeshift grill. He loses it and throws the grill in a fit of rage. The walkers burst through the door of the school and begin to chase Father Gabriel, who hobbles off back in the direction of the church. As he runs through the woods, he comes across another tree with one of those weird markings carved into it, although he doesn’t notice it.

He gets back to the church and tries to crawl under it, but is cut off by another horde of  walkers. He runs to the front door and starts yelling to Carl and Michonne for help. The walkers are temporarily held off by the defenses the group put up last episode. He yells, “I had to see! I know now! Let me in!” referring to the conversation he had with Carl and Michonne last episode about how they “murdered” the Terminus cannibals. He’s finally realized that it was either the good guys or the bad guys who were going to live.

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Carl and Michonne hear Gabriel’s cries for help and start trying to rip off the boards they’ve nailed the doors shut with. They break through in the nick of time and pull Father Gabriel into the church, but the walkers overpower them and start coming in the doors. Carl and Michonne dispatch a few, but the walkers’ numbers overtake them and they pour into the church. Father Gabriel leads them back into the rectory. Before they can close the door fully, the walkers get their hands in the door. Father Gabriel tells them to go out the hole he’d pried in the floorboards while he holds the door closed. Carl takes Judith and escapes, followed by Michonne.

As Father Gabriel runs for the hole, the walkers pour through the door. The first one through falls right onto the machete still sticking out of the floor and splits her head open right next to Father Gabriel, who is cowering half in and half out of the hole. We see some of the walkers heading back to the front of the church and — in one of my favorite moments of the entire series — on the church ceiling above them, there is a quote from scripture: “He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has Eternal Life.” Brilliant.

Father Gabriel emerges from under the church to a waiting Carl and Michonne, carrying the bloody machete, and says, I can’t run anymore.” “We’re not running,” replies Michonne. They close the church doors and nail them shut, with the horde of walkers still trapped inside and clawing desperately to get out.

We then return to the warehouse in downtown Atlanta where Rick and the group are holding the other two police officers hostage. Rick and Darryl debate whether or not to change the plan. “He was a good man. He was attacked by rotters. I saw it go down,” says Officer Shepherd. “You’re a damn good liar,” Rick says. “We’re hanging on by a thread here. He was attacked by rotters, that’s the story,” she replies. They agree to try the hostage exchange deal.

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Back at the hospital, Lerner is trying to raise her officers on the radio, to no avail. Beth and Lerner get into a conversation. This is the start of a large section of the episode that involves Beth and Lerner talking, which gets a bit tedious. Beth asks her about Captain Hanson, the previous leader of the hospital. Lerner tells Beth that he started losing it, and he lost the respect of the officers.

Back at the church, Father Gabriel tells Michonne that he went to the school. “I had to see. I had to know,” he says. Just then, the walkers start to break through the church door. “Where do we go?” asks Father Gabriel. And BAM! Abraham drives the fire truck right into the doorway of the church, blocking the escaping walkers! YES!!

Abraham’s group exits the truck, and Maggie and Michonne hug. Glenn tells Michonne that Eugene lied, and Michonne tells Maggie that Beth is still alive. Tara says, “Let’s blow this joint, go save your sister.”

Back at the hosital, Beth sees Officer O’Donnell bullying and shoving Percy, the older orderly who helped Bet get the drugs out of the locker. As he shifts his bullying to Beth, Lerner comes along and says, “I need her. Come on, Beth.” Lerner stares after them with anger in his eyes. The next thing we see is Beth sitting at the elevator shaft with her legs dangling through the open door. Once again, Beth and Lerner get into a protracted conversation. Again, Beth tells Lerner that she’s spiraling out of control and that the situation isn’t going to get any better. Lerner argues back that things have to happen a certain way. Yadda yadda.

Officer O’Donnell shows up and confronts Lerner. He threatens Dawn, and it’s revealed that Lerner was the one who killed Captain Hanson when he lost control. Dawn pulls her gun on O’Donnell and they debate some more (see a trend here?) O’Donnell attacks Lerner and they get into a fight after her gun is knocked down the elevator shaft. She gets a throat punch in on O’Donnell and he staggers back to the edge of the elevator shaft. Lerner yells, “Beth!” and Beth shoves him down the elevator shaft. He falls to his death with a sickening thud and we hear the walkers below swarm on his body.

Next, we see Beth sitting in Carol’s room. Lerner comes in and they start talking. Again. “It’s okay to cry,” says Lerner. “I don’t cry anymore,” replies Beth. “I do,” says Lerner, “I just don’t let them see it.” Lerner reveals that she’s figured out that Beth knows Carol. More talking. Right as the scene ends, we see Carol starting to stir behind officer Lerner.

Outside, we see Sasha, Tyreese, and Darryl on the roof adjacent to the hospital. Tyreese reveals to Sasha, who is feeling guilty that Lamson escaped, about how he let Martin (the terminus baddie he beat up at the cabin) live, and maybe he shouldn’t have.

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We then see Rick walking into a meet-up with two officers from the hospital. He calls them out by name and tells them that he wants to trade Shepherd and Licari for Beth and Carol. As they’re talking, Sasha dispatches a stray walker with her silenced weapon, and the cops realize Rick’s people are nearby. They agree to radio the deal into Lerner.

We then cut to inside the hospital, where Rick and the gang are leading the hostages in for the trade. Beth has gotten dressed in her own clothes again and slips a pair of surgical scissors into her wrist cast. The two groups of people meet up in a hallway. Lerner tells them to start the trade: “One of yours for one of mine.” They exchange Carol for Licari, and then they exchange Beth for Shepherd. Everything goes smoothly. As our group is about to leave, Lerner says, “Glad we could work things out. Now I just need Noah and then you can leave.” Shepherd tries to tell Lerner it’s not necessary, but Lerner shuts her up.

She explains that since they’re taking Beth back, she needs her ward back. “The boy is mine, so you have no claim on him,” she says. “The boy wants to go home, so you have no claim on him,” Rick replies. Rick and Darryl continue to protest strongly, saying that this wasn’t the deal, but Lerner stands firm. The group isn’t going to let Noah go, but he volunteers to stay. Beth runs up to Noah and hugs him.  “I knew you’d come back,” Lerner says to him.

Beth looks at Lerner with hatred in her eyes and says, “I get it now,” she says. She stabs Lerner in the shoulder with her scissors, and Lerner’s gun goes off in reaction, shooting Beth right in the head, literally blowing the back of her head off. In slow motion, we see Lerner trying to say that she didn’t mean for it to happen. We see the reactions of both groups of people in shock and horror, and Darry pulls his gun and shoots Lerner in the head. Both groups pull their weapons, but Shepherd yells out, “No! Hold your fire! It’s over! It was just about her. Stand down.” The police officers lower their weapons. Darryl starts to cry and Carol comes up and tries to comfort him, but she’s crying, too. We see that Rick is distraught with tears in his eyes, and Sasha and Tyreese are in shock.

Shepherd tells Rick and company that they can stay, but Rick looks at Beth’s body and says no. He offers to take anyone with them that wants to go, but nobody steps forward.

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Outside, Abraham and his group pull up to the hospital in the fire truck. As they walk towards the entrance with guns drawn, Rick and his group emerge from the hospital. Maggie is smiling until she sees Darryl carrying out Beth’s body, at which point she collapses to the ground, sobbing and screaming. Darryl is still crying as he carries Beth’s body. We see the entire group reunited from afar, and the scene fades to black.

After the credits, we see Morgan arrive at the school. He follows Father Gabriel’s path (again passing the trees with the strange symbols carved into them, which he definitely notices) and arrives at the church. He finds the map that Abraham gave Rick on the floor and sees the message Abraham wrote: “Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes.” Upon seeing Rick’s name, there’s a look of shock on Morgan’s face, and the scene cuts to black.

As to what I said at the beginning of this article, I’m mad at the show. It seems like whenever there’s a mid or season finale of the show, they have to kill somebody off. It’s almost arbitrary at this point. Originally, it took me a while to warm up to Beth, but after last season’s storyline that saw Beth and Darryl bonding, she became one of my favorite characters. To have her go through all of this hospital drama only to end up dead saddens me. I was looking forward to seeing Beth and Darryl’s friendship continue to grow. Sigh. Still, despite some tedium in the middle, this was a pretty great episode, and it was good to see the entire group reunited again, even if it’s minus one character.

Now the wait for February begins!

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