In the build up to the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, every story begins its climb to the climax. What’s sad is that it’s not entirely that different from any other mid-season/season finale.
The group is split up, Carl is inevitably not with his father, two-to-three members of the group may die soon, and a rescue mission happening against a formidable force in some organized community.
It was however nice to get a change of pace by featuring each group and showcasing their merits and demerits. Let’s start off with the group with the least activity, Team No-DC.
Abraham spends 99% of time on his knees, still in shock over Eugene’s big reveal. Rosita attempts to get him onto his feet, but he remains privy to his anger and instability, leading Maggie to get him back down. Water supplies are down, so Glenn, Tara, and Rosita venture out into the woods. They end up finding a nice stream complete with fish, and put together a fishing net and water filter. Overall, it’s a good day over at Walker-pocalypse Camp. Tara even finds a yo-yo! Towards the end, it’s still very unsure as to whether Eugene has turned or not, but things seem to be going okay (despite the fact that their mission and vehicles have both turned to dud).
The next group involves Michonne, Carl, Judith, and the pastor at the church. The group lines up the ammo as Rick and the others leave for the rescue mission. Carl even has a talk with the pastor, edging him onto taking a more authoritarian attitude towards the walkers. He’s gonna have to defend himself at some point against his enemies. The pastor ends up taking a machete, but not for the most obvious purposes.
Behind closed doors, it’s revealed that he’s been building an escape route of the church, and the machete was the finishing touch. He slides out through the bottom and runs away, leaving Michonne, Carl, and the machete. It’s not without difficulty, however. He is confronted by a zombie and almost manages to kill it….but a necklace depicting a cross stops him.
Over at the hospital, Beth tries to make a case for Carol’s survival. Neither of them are in a good situation, but Beth ends up getting help from an unlikely source: Dawn. She is given keys to a medical cabinet, and runs to the doctor to get advice on medicine for Carol. After a very well-staged scenario featuring a very terrible old-man-actor, she ends up getting the medicine for Carol. Whether it will work or not is a mystery, though ultimately all Beth wants is for Carol to know that “she was there for her”. A bit too solemn for my liking.
Finally, the Rescue Team is on full throttle with a staged scenario involving Noah as the lead to trap the hospital cops. They end up getting three cops as hostages, though there’s the classic “should I kill him” debate beforehand. Rick believes eliminating one more threat is a good idea (and rightfully so), while Daryl and Tyreese both agree that it’s better to save lives. Since when is morality relevant in an apocalypse? Either way, good wins and the police cops are left alone.
Sasha gives special notice to the cop named “Bob”, for absolutely no reason at all, and strikes up an unlikely camaraderie. She promises to take out a buddy of his that has turned as a benefit to being locked up by Rick. While her back is turned, the inevitable happens: the cop knocks her down and runs out.
While this episode is basically a blueprint of past episodes, there are still certain things that are very unsettling:
The Pastor’s Motives: while it might be clearly obvious to the audience that he’s merely escaping the church so that he can avoid any type of violent confrontation, it could also be that he’s harboring some deeper and darker secret. The escape route in the floor of the church stands testament to that. While Carl and the baby are definitely in good hands, the pastor’s story remains to be a bunch of question marks.
Carol: Everything about Carol’s character, from her glory at Terminus to the built-up characterization of last week’s episode suggests something big is gonna happen to her, and it’s not gonna be good (referring back to the fire motif, perhaps her story arc has “burned out”). Her death runs smoothly with the pattern of events of each finale, in that there is always a death. It may be the most anticlimactic death of the show (at the hands of drugs in a hospital bed), but let’s be honest: we’d rather not see that happen. Here’s to hoping Beth will save the day, assuming Rick et al don’t.
Michonne and Tyreese: these two need to switch roles as the babysitter and warrior. Once again, Tyreese convincing Rick to let their “enemies” live doesn’t work to their advantage. Then again, Michonne as a babysitter isn’t entirely a bad thing either; she’s basically amazing at everything she does.
Daryl using the walker’s head as a weapon: not so much unsettling as unreal (but then again, we’re watching a show about a zombie apocalypse). It’s almost certain that every single person watching gasped and held onto each other as Daryl’s hands grazed over the walker’s mouth as he tries to escape. But of course, it all works out in the end as he gouges out the walker’s eyes and uses its skull as a bat. I’m just glad Daryl has become the most innovative when it comes to defense.