Into the fifth season this show can still surprise me and break my heart.
The writers could have given us another blood bath, another irredeemable group of survivors wiped out, but instead they gave us tragedy. Some of the people we would have considered 'normal' and good have been twisted into something else through terrible choices, trauma and loss. Dawn and many of the 'bad' police officers were just regular people trying to do a job, love their families and their friends and get on with their lives. But the world is different now and they've become instruments of coercion and torture. I felt for Dawn as she tried to explain herself to Beth and as she cried out that she hadn't meant to shoot her. I could see what she might have been otherwise. And the same is true for O'Donnell who tries to remind her of who she was and then viciously attacks her to try and save his own life. We have watched this transformation in Rick. He ran down Lamson and then killed him. Yes, Lamson didn't stop but there might have been other ways to deal with him and if Daryl or Tyreese had been there, he might have considered them.
Then there are the 'good' people who have clung to their humanity even as they experienced the same things. Some of the police officers were still 'good guys' and some of our group like Tyreese, Michonne and Daryl still have compassion and mercy in their hearts. I wonder if it will just take more trauma and loss for them to change or if they will hold on to themselves through it all. Of course, Beth was the epitome of this. She knew how things were and could read Dawn and her intentions through the bullshit and rationalizations. She hung on to her humanity and sacrificed herself to ensure that Noah would be free. She knew that she couldn't walk away and leave him there to be Dawn's pet. She was brave and principled and it killed her. I hope that is not all that our group takes away from her death. I hope they see that she still felt that survival was not all there was in this world. I think that Rick may have understood as he refused to stay and asked others if they wanted to join him. I hope so.
The scene at the church was also interesting. There are many times that the writers could have gone down well worn paths. The preacher returns to the church and begs for entry. It would have been just for him to perish like his congregation but Carl and Michonne saved him, risking their own and Judith's life. They also could have chosen to scatter the group again with Michonne and Carl running for their lives but instead they brought back the Washington group and everyone was reunited in Atlanta. It's only mid-season so I was surprised.
The very unusual mid-season cliffhanger is how the group will deal with the death of Beth. Their reactions were very well done. The little shake of the head that Rick gave coming out of the hospital started my tears. Glenn saw him and knew right away but Maggie didn't until she saw Beth and started wailing. That was wrenching and Daryl in tears finished me off. If she had died in a blood bath I don't think I would have been as upset. Will this be true for the group as well? I wonder if Daryl will crack, if Rick will use this to fuel his kill first, ask questions later attitude or if it will pull him up short and remind him to be human, if Noah will blame himself, if Maggie will recover from losing the last of her family. I have a very complex and psychological 'can't wait to see what happens next' anticipation for February.
Bits and Pieces
Rick hit Lamson just like they hit Carol. I know he did it intentionally. I still don't know if they did. One of the officers looked guilty when Rick mentioned it.
I enjoyed watching Michonne in action again with her sword but the fake baby on her back was terrible. And by the way, can that kid sleep through anything or what?
Things I could live without: Rick gutting the walker as he went by. How useful was that? The walker splitting its head open on the preacher's machete.
Officer Shepherd was a smart cookie and a good liar. I hope that she will be a better leader than Dawn.
How lucky is it that Carol is awake and can walk again? Our group now has three injured people, Carol, Eugene and the preacher. Did they take supplies from the hospital or get the preacher a tetanus shot?
Rick: "Can’t go back Bob."
Lamson: "You’ve been out here too long."
Preacher: "I had to see it. I know now. Let me live with it."
Doctor : "We’re surviving here. It’s better than out there."