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.

The Walking Dead – Self Help review

Scrolling through Facebook today (yes, that social convention that takes up a fair amount of time) I came across a status which read “The best part of Monday is hearing ‘Previously on AMC’s The Walking Dead.'”, and I believe its fair to say that you would be hard-pressed to come across a fan who would disagree. Five seasons in, WD could potentially find itself between a rock and a hard place; its far enough in to of cemented itself as a great show, but also at the stage that the final season, and the question of when that will come is a hovering thought. Currently, The Walking Dead is still as thrilling, and exciting, as it was in season one (perhaps even more so), and although the narrative has generally been continuous throughout, the curve-balls thrown in have been enough to keep us all coming back for more. Today’s episode, Self Help, leads one to ask, where next? For the first time. The shock of Eugene (a character we know little about, played by Josh McDermitt) professing that his whole story of the chance for a return back to the life they all once knew, and a cure to the virus that has turned humans into Walkers, was all a lie, left a gap for the thought – where now? Where will the story go next, and where can this whole show now go? If you read the graphic novels, then you’ll have that answer. But for us in the dark, its certainly a thought that makes for a fair amount of day-dreaming, and mental script-writing.

michael cudlitz as abraham in the wlaking dead

michael cudlitz as abraham in the wlaking dead

A formation that WD has perfected over the past two seasons is that of swapping between characters, and their stories. This week it was all about Abraham’s (and those who left with him) journey to DC, last week we followed Beth, and before that Rick and the crew. This way of storytelling from the makers, means every week there is a fresh narrative in which audiences can sink their teeth into (excuse the pun). Gaining insight this week (however slight it was) into Cudlitz’s Abraham made for new and definitely interesting fare, and discovering that he at one point nearly took his own life added a softer element to a character with a hard exterior. More than this however, the aesthetic of what must be nearly a thousand walkers (I may be exaggerating) was one of the best images WD has given us yet, and almost places you there in the scene. Trust me, its up there with the park Walker of season one (and who can forget that?!). While Self Help didn’t present itself as the best episode season five has given us, it still remains a fantastic offering for the zombie genre. This weeks episode also reminds us that The Walking Dead is an adult show, and one that explores relationships of all types, in a refreshing and human way.

Not an episode of epic proportions, or overwhelming discoveries, but an episode of humble modesty, exemplifying The Walking Dead‘s ability to shine no matter what the subject matter.