By David Oliver and Josh Axelrod
UM, HAVE YOU STOPPED CRYING? Because we haven’t. While Beth’s death (unfortunate rhyme) certainly made sense storyline-wise, as it reverberated with many characters, it didn’t change the fact it was unbelievably heart-wrenching.
David: Rick follows Bob trying to escape and bumps him after he doesn’t stop. “You just had to stop,” Rick tells him. Rick shoots him in the head. Looks like things aren’t going to go exactly as planned – he and Daryl discuss a change in strategy and get the other cops on board. The trade is all set, but Dawn has a caveat – more on that twist later.
JOSH: All he had to do was stop. Something tells me that even if Lansom had stopped, Rick was still going to shoot him in the head. After what he did to Sasha, there was no way to redeem him. I love this trigger-happy Rick that does what’s best for the people he cares about without flinching. If only his trigger finger was a little faster later in the episode…
David: Gabriel heads back to the church after zombies start chasing him, and Michonne and Carl let him inside. I’m really digging how the show stuck with the “no sanctuary” theme since this season’s premiere. It’s definitely flowed through each character’s arc. “I can’t run anymore,” Gabriel says. Clearly. Abraham’s crew heads back to the church and blocks the zombies in once Michonne and company leave. Michonne tells Maggie that Beth is alive – yes, the two are sisters, though the show hasn’t really addressed that in what feels like a long time (probably a season or so).
JOSH: What an idiot. This is the kind of show where every character’s life is precious, so I rarely actively root for a character’s death unless they’re a clear villain. But while Gabriel was pleading for Carl and Michonne to let him back into the church, I was really hoping they’d leave him to get eaten by the hoard of walkers surrounding him. He’s going to get someone killed eventually if he keeps acting as walker bait. But it now appears that he understands how to survive in this new world after seeing the school, so hopefully he gets stronger in the second half of the season. That is, if he doesn’t die from tetanus first.
David: So he’s always going to be a season behind, isn’t he? Nice callback to the church again. And that note with Rick Grimes written on it is certainly a clue to these two seeing each other sometime in the near future (most likely season finale, though).
JOSH: I’m excited to see how Morgan and Rick get along once they inevitably reunite. I’m also a bit nervous. Morgan had gone off the deep end the last time we saw him, so who knows if he was able to bounce back a bit mentally or not. Is it February yet?
David: Well, this arc’s over, in more ways than one. The two bond throughout the episode, though it’s clear Dawn is trying to manipulate Beth. Another cop named O’Donnell overhears the two talking and he fears Dawn is losing control like Hanson, and after a scuffle with Dawn, Beth pushes him down an elevator shaft.
(In case you thought they were talking about the band Hanson, here’s a treat).
Dawn and Beth talk after this in Carol’s room:
Dawn: It’s OK to cry.
Beth: I don’t cry anymore.
Dawn: I do.
Beth accuses Dawn of only protecting herself, though she insists otherwise. During the trade showdown, Dawn lets Beth and Carol go back to Team Rick, but insists Noah return to the hospital group. Beth, who had stolen a pair of scissors, attacks Dawn after embracing Noah, and Dawn shoots her in the head, killing her (!!!), with Daryl promptly firing a bullet in Dawn’s head. Abraham and company get to the hospital, with Maggie excited to see her sister, only to fall down sobbing over seeing her dead body. WOMP. I’ll miss you dearly, Beth! You were a ray of sunshine in this cold, dead world, but your death will certainly move the story forward. Bittersweet, but mostly bitter. Until midseason, kids.
JOSH: MY HEART. OH MY GOD MY HEART.
Emily Kinney has done a terrific job since Beth’s role was elevated last season. She’s proven her strength and ingenuity over and over again. You really believed she was a survivor in this world now. After pushing O’Donnell down that elevator shaft, I assumed the worst was over for Beth. Maybe she could finally find some solace after her ordeals at Grady.
But no. Beth, in addition to being a secret badass, has a heart of gold. She couldn’t sit by and allow Dawn to keep control of Grady. Instead, she sacrificed herself to get rid of Dawn. And here I thought “The Walking Dead” peaked in sadness with “Look at the flowers Lizzy.” But this…this somehow hurt worse than that, Amy’s death in Season 1, and the time we thought Judith had died combined.
Five seasons in, everyone who has stuck with “The Walking Dead” should have a strong connection to every survivor, or at least I do. And Beth was slowly becoming my favorite character. She was the only character on the show that I would classify as classically “good.” Sure, she had ended a few human lives, but they were both dirty cops trying to harm her. The girl, as David said, was a ray of sunshine in a world without much light. Now it feels like that light has been snuffed out permanently.
And the look on Daryl and Maggie’s faces when they saw Beth’s dead body was beyond heartbreaking. Frankly, I feel like my little sister just died. That’s a testament to how strong the first half of Season 5 has been and how the show made Beth a central character whose death would legitimately hurt. RIP Beth. You will be missed.