The Walking Dead, mid-season finale – review

Today’s final episode of The Walking Dead (until its return in the new year) was two things. One: Understated. Two: Phenomenal. Forget zombie horror cliches and the floors in television drama; Coda, the seasons eighth episode moved beyond the genre of survival horror and the living dead, and became something which represents well the dark side of people. To say that this weeks offering was a ‘shock’ would most probably be the understatement of the century (exaggeration is in need, trust me), and if you have been waiting for an episode to quite literally blow your socks off, you now have it.

Visceral, violent, horrific and packing an emotional punch Coda sits comfortably as the best mid-season finale we have seen since this overly-long wait for new episodes began. Plot-wise, not much needs to be discussed. For, in the forty minute running time not a whole lot really happens – until those last pivotal five minutes. There is Walker action, of course. Conversations about past lives, something which is always to be expected now. And, the group are all brought back together (just not on the terms you may of initially thought that they would be). The power in episode eight of season five lay with those five minutes, and those five minutes alone. You will cry, you will hold your face and shout at the screen, and you will be baffled at how the makers of this show, without warning, throw it at you with such a force.

the cast of the walking dead

the cast of the walking dead

Lauren Cohan as Maggie, in the brief moments she has screen time in this years finale, is exceptionally good and reminds us all why her character has become such a favourite. Her relationship with Glenn (fan-girl’s favourite played by Steven Yeun) and sense of leadership she often portrays firmly places her up there with Danai Gurira’s Michonne who oozes sass and bad-assness (not a word, right?). What is also rather wonderful, yet tragic, is how unafraid Robert Kirkman and crew are of killing off two or three of the audiences most beloved characters. Whether you saw the happenings of Coda coming, or like me, were quite baffled, its irrelevant – the close filming of the loss of one cast member will leave you reeling.

With no half measures prepare the tissues, set your calender for the February 8th return and enjoy.

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The Walking Dead; Consumed

With only two episodes left this year The Walking Dead  team are stepping up their game; filling gaps in the plot and bringing together characters from different groups. Consumed, Mondays offering, focused on Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (played by the beloved Norman Reedus). The two have had an interesting relationship throughout the entire series, which at one point seemed as though it may evolve into romance. Consumed, shows us that these two are more of a mother and son combination, which is a rather delicate and well-played out partnership, with both Reedus and McBride giving viewers some of their best work during their scenes together.

norman reedus at daryl in the walking dead

norman reedus as daryl in the walking dead

This is the third week in a row we have been away from Rick and the others, and by now the groups presence is being missed. Consumed focuses on Daryl and Carol’s (notice their names rhyme?) foray into Atlanta to follow up a lead on Beth‘s (Emily Kinney) whereabouts, along the way expect plenty of Walker action, and of course, as has become tradition, the trading of some heartfelt back stories. The past two episodes have certainly still been some examples of WD at its best, but generally not the best when it comes to season five. While the combining of different groups, and the separation of certain characters is proving interesting, the sharpness of its predecessors and intensity of the danger the Walkers pose (which is sometimes forgotten due to their slow walking and obvious lack of brain cells) is missing.

An important aspect this week is character development, specifically for McBride’s Carol who stands precariously between the barrier of love and hate. Looking back on moments that brought her character to this position makes for a clever technique in swaying the audiences affections towards her, meaning by the time the episode comes to its final minutes you are left reeling at whats to come for her. The shows ability to swap between time (the earlier scenes in this weeks installment are set before last weeks episode) and place means its almost impossible to become bored with WD, and the strength in acting (particularly from Reedus, who never over-acts as Daryl) is really rather refreshing. In particular watching the change in Carol from season one to now, from a naive and scared woman to a hardened fighter who often lacks sympathy with her fellow survivors, has made for one of the most (surprisingly) riveting elements of The Walking Dead.

Not the best we’ve seen so far, but certainly not the worst.