The first half of season five ended pretty much as it began, with blood, an angry Rick and a wee cameo from Morgan after the credits. While “Coda” wasn't quite as electrifying as “No Sanctuary”, it was a satisfying conclusion to the hospital arc, and to Beth's story.
But first, Bob Lamson! After making a break for it last week, he doesn't even make it through the pre-credits sequence here. Rick runs him down and then shoots him. Oh Bob, you dick. We thought you had a plan!
It's a supremely callous moment, and one that pushes Rick further than ever into anti-hero territory. He's gone beyond doing things for the greater good now and his actions here align him with other morally-broken TV leads, from The Shield's Vic Mackey to Breaking Bad's Walter White. And given that Ty's trusting hostage negotiation plans ended in disaster, he's unlikely to take the peaceful route again.
It's the first of several moments in “Coda” which asks, “who are you now?” Those very words are spoken by Dawn at one point, during the episode's middle-third lull. She doesn't really know. The episode suggests that there's a good person in there, but then her selfishness leads to the climactic bloodbath.
Slice And Dice
There's a couple of great, gory zombie kills this episode. Rick guts one while running after Lamson (R.I.P. Bob). Later, Michonne gets a nice hero moment, protecting Carl inside the church. More from her next year, please.
Gabriel also discovered a new aspect of himself. In a (slightly heavy-handed) reversal, he is trapped outside his church as some walkers approach – exactly as his parishioners were. But where he floundered and left people to die, Michonne and Carl risk their own lives (and baby Judith's) to save him. In return he shows the first glimmers of heroism, buying them some time to escape. It's welcome – his flappy panic early on was getting old fast.
And then there's Beth, in her final hours. After professing that she wouldn't kill, she does exactly that to protect Dawn. That she is ultimately betrayed and killed by the woman she has just saved is a tragic final note for her story, if not a surprising one. It was always fairly clear that someone was going to be lost in this episode and Beth was by far the most expendable.
That said, the prisoner exchange sequence is a brilliantly tense ending and we'll certainly miss Emily Kinney's sweet, soulful performance. It elevates an otherwise solid but unspectacular episode and ensures that this half-season goes out on a high.
So, 5.1 is done. It's been a good run, with no truly duff episodes – though, by the same token, there hasn't yet been anything to match “The Grove”. Still, a year-and-a-half into his reign, it seems pretty clear that Scott Gimple is the best thing to have happened to The Walking Dead. And when the show returns in early February, he has promised that things will be “super-hard” for the group. Harder than this? We can't wait.
The Dead Pool
Beth's death leaves the greatest hole in the cast, but let's hear it also for Lamson. Maximiliano Hernandez was pretty sympathetic as the conflicted copper, and you can't help but think that his final words to Rick – “you'll die” – may be a prophecy of what's to come. Perhaps even soon... Oh yeah, and Dawn got shot. Never mind, eh?
Well well well, look who's back. After appearing briefly at the start of the season, Morgan pops up again in a post-credits sequence. He's on Rick's trail now. Presumably next year will finally see the old pals reunited. Perhaps he can talk some sense into Mr Grimes.
Napping Through The Apocalypse
Our mulleted con-man spends the entire episode asleep, so we're going to have to wait until Feb to see how Abraham reacts to him.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC in the US on Sundays and Fox in the UK on Mondays.