Ah, the mid season finale; I really, really hate you. Wait. I think I love you. Here's the conundrum: in America we are so used to having epically long seasons that we are very taken aback when a show pulls this mid season finale bullshit. The thing is, I have always been very vocal about my preference for the U.K.'s proclivity towards shorter television seasons and shoving one of these mid season finale's in kind of accomplishes that in an over-stuffed American kind of way. Last week set the scene and this week was the action. Rick's fast feet running to catch Bob only helped to illustrate the tight spot that the group found themselves in after Sasha's misguided attempt at human kindness.
"Stop. Stop right now. I won't ask again." Rick says over the patrol car speaker. Bitch, when Rick Grimes tells you to stop, you stop. Now your back is broken and you're going to try to make friends with Rick? Sorry, "You can't go back, Bob." (Attention anyone named Bob: you can't go back. Both Gareth and Rick have had to make this abundantly clear to people named Bob.) "You just had to stop." And now you need to shut up. (Was I the only woman strangely turned on by this?)
See, this is what I love about the Ricktatorship. Just do what he says and everything will be fine. He is at his most practical when in Ricktatorship mode and everyone should really just buckle up and go along for the ride. While I sincerely appreciate Daryl siding with Tyreese in an effort to show solidarity, they should have never tried to reason with Dawn's group. Things could have been so much different if they had just gone in Rambo style and slit everyone's throat. Clearly, they didn't learn anything from Carol and her badass takeover of Terminus that set them all free.
So, where to begin with this episode? Let's get Gabriel out of the way. As far as I can tell, dude's recon mission to know, with absolute certainty, that people have become murderous in an effort to survive was only a means to have him reap what he sowed. Gabriel FINALLY knows how it felt for the people that he locked out of the church. Now that he has officially desecrated his own house of worship, perhaps we can move on from all of the overly nagging biblical references. Don't tell me you didn't notice the quote painted above the archway; they only focused on it FOREVER while the zombies invaded the church.
"He who eats my flesh and bones, my blood has eternal life"
Here's what; if you are not on team #Darick (Daryl and Rick), you are not going to survive. These two really do make an awesome team and I never get tired of seeing how they play off of one another's strengths and weaknesses. Despite the setback with Bob, a decent plan is made to rescue Beth and Carol. Rick has two of Dawn's people and Dawn has two of Rick's people. An even trade seems fairly straight forward, easy and non violent, right?
Too bad Dawn is a real stupid B who let's her hubris get in the way of the greater good. Can anyone say Walter White? This stupid woman was on an exercise bike! What the what?! Surely, there were more important things to be done than spout, yet another, boring lecture to Beth where you try, but fail, to trick her and us into believing that you are a good person who means well. You claim to be commanding respect in an effort to keep everything and everyone together, but you don't realize that respect is the one thing that no one is giving you. I defended you in the beginning because I thought you were suffering from the Hillary Clinton disease. You know, the one where if a woman behaves like a man, she is considered a bitch. No Dawn, you really are a stupid bitch. Beth said it best when she called you out on your bull and said, "This is it, this is who you are and what this place is until the end." Now, don't even get me started on Dawn's response to this nugget of wisdom.
Too late. Bitch, you didn't save Beth! You kidnapped her from Daryl; the only person who was protecting her and teaching her to defend herself! Where the hell do you get off speaking to her like this!? What world are you living in? And then you go and call Beth a cop killer???? This ain't Yo! Mtv Raps. Beth is not a "cop killer". She's a survivor who refuses to let go of what makes her good which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for you. I will take Beth and her lame musical renditions over you and your willingness to turn a blind eye to rape any day of the week. Dawn, you are exactly the type of woman who gives all strong women a bad name. You, and you alone, are responsible for Beth's death. Love her or hate her, the loss of Beth is a huge one and will devastate the group.
Beth was our last thread of genuine optimism and I don't know that everyone realizes exactly how much they all depended on this to get through their days. Daryl's face when that bullet went through Beth's skull is EXACTLY how everyone felt. Dawn just murdered their very last bit of sunshine and it will cause a ripple effect of negativity for our group. Beth may have been annoying to a lot of the viewers, but she had a very special connection with each and every character on the show in a way that no one else did. In some ways, I think the loss of Beth will be more detrimental than the loss of Herhsel. I suppose only time will tell, though.
The conversation between Tyreese and Sasha only furthers the discussion of how you hold onto your best self in this new world. Every time you choose compassion you are risking your life, so how do you know when to be good and when to just go into full-on Shane mode? It's interesting how the fan's attitudes towards the characters change as the characters change. Beth became cloying to many because she was such a goodie goodie, but people turn on Rick every time he goes all Ricktatorship. Daryl is beloved because he is such a badass with a huge heart, Carol is both a saint and a pariah for all of her "good" deeds, Tyreese is maligned for not taking out the baby killer and Sasha isn't tough enough because she couldn't kill Bob herself. You can't have it both ways. Our group is going to have to be homicidal from time to time in order to survive and we're not always going to agree with their decisions. This is why Rick has his three questions and why they are so very important and insightful.
Now, I know I'm not the only one who felt cheated out of seeing Beth and Carol react to knowing that their rescue mission had arrived. Where were the happy faces, tears of joy and hugs that I needed to see between Daryl and Beth and Carol and Rick??? Instead, we get a stilted hostage trade off and Dawn's incredibly stupid need to look like a leader. When Dawn demanded to have Noah back, it was no different than when the schoolyard bully stole your ball from you. She was just trying to prove a point and swing her big dick around. The look of hatred and fire in Beth's eyes when she looked at Dawn was absolute perfection. That look said it all and better than any words could have. Girl, I would have shanked Dawn too. Proving just how in control of herself and the situation she really is, Dawn accidentally shoots Beth out of a physical reflex. Fuck you Dawn. Fuck you and your complete inability to be a true leader.
Hey, can we get an Emmy for Norman Reedus just for his reaction to Beth's death? Andrew Lincoln's look of complete dismay and disbelief was really great, but Norman's full on emotional reaction to this death was gorgeous. It really is true; if Daryl cries, we all cry. Anyone who didn't feel a pull on their heartstrings at the sight of Daryl carrying Beth out of that hospital is an emotional robot. Oh Maggie, just when I thought I wouldn't make noises while crying, Maggie went and let out that heart wrenching scream. That utterly destroyed me. It's funny, going into the episode everyone was worried about Carol and no one really cared if Beth made it out alive or not, but her death was exceptionally tragic, whether you liked her character or not. This death was a huge blow to our survivors. It's going to be very interesting to see how it affects each person.
Oh yeah. Abraham's Army magically showed up at just the right time. Whatever. At least everyone is reunited. For now.