Another half-season has come to close. We know we’ll be eagerly waiting for the show to return, but it will take us a little while to absorb everything from tonight’s shocking episode first.
Let’s get straight to the episode.
We start with Bob Lamson (boo, hiss), trying to get free from his makeshift cuffs. And Rick, running like a hell through the alley and taking out walkers. Rick gets in a cop car and chases Lamson, who tries to get away on foot. He gets on the car’s PA and demands he stops.
When he doesn’t, Rick simply hits him with the car. Lamson ends up in a sickening, twisted pile on the street.
Rick gets out to check on Lamson, who begs for help and says he thinks he has a broken back.
“Didn’t have to be like this. You just had to stop,” Rick said.
Lamson says he ran because he didn’t know you, but now “I think I’m getting the idea,” recreating one of the more hardboiled lines from the comic book. He begs to be taken back to the hospital, saying he did that for Rick’s friend, Carol.
“Can’t go back Bob,” Rick says, echoing something Gareth told to Bob Stookey earlier in the season.
The walkers are closing in. Bob says he was going to iron it over, says Rick has been out there too long, starts to say more.
And then Rick shoots him.
“Shut up,” he says, and goes back to the car.
Father Gabriel goes to the camp the hunters made at the school near his church. The walkers inside the school are straining at the glass. Gabriel notices magazines on the ground. He notices Mary’s Bible, which her son Gareth left at the camp.
And finally, finally, after walking around it for what feels like a full minute, he notices the maggot-infested leftovers of Bob’s well-done leg on the Hunter’s campfire grill. He tosses it in anger.
Gareth wasn’t wrong about everything. He was right when he said the walkers in the school were going to break that glass some day, and they do so now. Gabriel, who jammed a nail through is foot last episode, tries to limp away.
He follows the Hunter’s path back to the church, passing some of their marked trees. In an interesting reversal of what happened to Gabriel’s doomed parishioners, now he’s at the door of his church begging to be let in as the walkers try to get to him past the make-shift barricade the others made of his church organ.
“I see it. I know now. Let me live with it,” he begs.
Carl goes to open the door but it’s boarded up really well. Michonne, with Judith on her back in a baby carrier, attacks it with an axe.
Gabriel gets in but he lets a whole walker congregation into the church. Michonne, still with Judith on her back, katanas a bunch but there are too many, so they run to Gabriel’s office.
Now Gabriel becomes brave. He holds the door so Carl and Michonne can escape with Judith through the escape hole in the floor he made last episode. Only after they’re clear does he leave himself.
Gabriel says he can’t run anymore, but as Michonne says, they aren’t running. They board the horde up in the church instead.
At the building near Grady where the rescue mission is camped Sasha is conscious and well after her knock to the head last episode, but maybe feeling a little dumb after trusting Bob Lamson.
Rick returns to the building. He wants to go back to his murder-murder, kill-kill plan to rescue Beth and Carol from Grady Memorial Hospital, but Daryl wants to stick to the peaceful solution. They go to their two remaining kidnapped cops to see if they’ll still play along.
The female cop makes it clear they will by agreeing without prompting to lie about Lamson, saying “he was attacked by rotters.” She says she knows the good cops from the bad and begs “let us help you.”
Even the big bald cop who nearly choked Daryl to death, if not for some timely walker-head fu, last episode agrees to go along. He says Dawn is afraid to look weak, and she’ll see the trade as a rip off if she thinks Rick killed one of her guys, so it’s a good thing Lamson “got aced by rotters.”
At Grady Dawn is riding her stationary bike and trying to call her missing cops on the radio. Beth is working in the room and asks her if something is wrong.
“They don’t always radio back and it drives me crazy,” Dawn said.
The task Dawn has set for Beth is re-framing and replacing Captain Hanson’s picture on her filing cabinet. It was broken when Beth killed Gorman in the office earlier. She asks Dawn about Hanson.
She says Beth will hear stories about him and about what Dawn did to him after he went out of control, but he was a mentor and friend.
“I miss him. That’s the part the stories leave out,” Dawn says.
She says Hanson lost site of the fact that because the cops risk their lives when they go out it has to be worth it and matter, so he lost the cops. She says you don’t need their love but you have to have their respect.
Without it there’s no backup when you need it and “everybody goes down.”
Carl, Michonne and Gabriel are in front of the church, which is containing the walkers well enough. Right now. Gabriel admits he went to the school to see if what he was told was true.
The walkers start breaking through the door of the church. Uh oh. But in the distance there’s the sound of a vehicle.
It’s Abraham in his fire truck. He rolls right up to the church and blocks the walker’s exit with it. Before he gets out he checks on Eugene, who is unconscious but seems to be alive. Abraham, Maggie, Glenn, Rosita and Tara pour out of the truck.
There’s a nice little reunion with Abraham’s group and then Glenn sheepishly admits that Eugene lied about being able to stop the virus.
Michonne fills them in. Well, she fills Maggie in.
“Beth’s alive. She’s in a hospital in Atlanta,” Michonne says.
“Beth who?” Maggie asks.
Just kidding. She gets really emotional at the idea that they’ll get Beth back. It’s nice.
“Let’s blow this joint. Go save your sister,” Tara says.
One of the cops is being really mean to one of the patients, Percy, for forgetting to fix the hole in his sleeve. Beth watches as he knocks the old man down and Dawn walks by like that’s no big. The cop tries to draft Beth for the sewing by Dawn says she needs her. The cop gives Beth the rapiest stare ever.
Beth is sitting at the top of the elevator shaft that she and Noah climbed down during their escape attempt, the one the cops use to dump bodies to the walkers below. Dawn comes up and tries to comfort her, saying Percy will be okay. But Beth is depressed, she says nothing will be okay.
“Are you going to jump?” Dawn asked.
Beth said she wanted to be alone and Dawn made the mistake of leaving the elevator key in the same place.
Dawn tells Beth she’s not going anywhere, but Beth counters by saying Dawn isn’t either. She again tears apart Dawn’s belief that she just has to do whatever it takes until the authorities come to save them.
“This is it. This is who you are and what this place is until the end,” Beth says.
Dawn tells Beth she and this place saved her twice. She says she even covered up Beth killing Gorman. She says she saw the smashed jar of lollipops Beth used to brain Gorman before feeding him to a walkerfied Joan.
“I would never kill somebody,” Beth protests, but Dawn, of course points out that she did. She holds that over Dawn’s head, plus helping her get drugs for Carol.
Uh oh. Rapey cop was listening down the hallway this whole time. He threatens to tell the whole thing, says it’s Hanson all over again.
Dawn draws her gun, says she’s nothing like Hanson, she was the one who killed Hanson.
He says she’s not going to do it. He talks about how they were friends in their previous life. But she just keeps motioning him toward the elevator shaft with the gun.
She says he’s not that guy she had cigars with when his kid was born any more. Now he’s a guy that beats old men and laughs about raping women. And she’s not going to let it happen any more.
He argues it’s really about holding on to what she has and says after Hanson she changed, but it’s just a feint to get close enough to knock Dawn’s gun down the elevator shaft. This kicks off a hellacious fight. Dawn does not do well, ending up getting choked against the wall. Beth tries to help but gets knocked down.
But that gives Dawn just enough time to find her inner Bruce Lee. She crushes Rapey Cop’s trachea with a chop to the throat and then kicks him in position in front of the shaft.
“Beth!” Dawn screams.
Beth runs up and shoves the cop to his death. He probably survived the fall, but not the walkers at the bottom.
“Thank you,” Dawn says.
Beth is keeping watch in Carol’s room. Dawn enters with some booze and tells Beth it’s okay to cry.
“I don’t cry anymore,” Beth says.
“I do. I just don’t let them see it,” Dawn says and hands Beth a drink and takes a seat on Carol’s bed.
“You weren’t protecting me. You were protecting yourself,” she says. She accuses Beth of using her to get rid of cops that were a problem for her without doing the dirty work herself. That everyone there does.
When she says this Dawn figures out that Dr. Edwards used Beth to kill the injured doctor that might have replaced him.
Beth says she’ll get out just like Noah. Dawn says he’ll come back, they always do. But Beth insists angrily that “he’s going home.”
She says she was like Beth when she was younger and “no one could tell me anything.” She says she’s not stupid and knows that Beth knows Carol and that might mean something, but Beth and Carol have a chance to be a part of what Dawn has at the hospital.
She says she didn’t use Beth and she will remember.
And then Carol starts to wake up.
Sasha has taken a sniper position on a nearby rooftop. Tyreese is trying to convince her not to beat herself up but she says “I was stupid.”
Tyreese admits that he had a chance to kill Martin and didn’t.
“I could have done it, maybe I should have done it, but I didn’t,” Tyreese says
Tyreese reminds Sasha that when they were kids she followed him around and copied everything he did. Maybe what happened to both of them is because they’re “still the same” he says.
“And maybe that’s good,” Tyreese says.
“You’re still the same. And that is good. I don’t think I can be. Not any more. Not any more,” Sasha says, and looks through her sniper scope.
They’re providing cover as the cops head toward Rick’s position in a car. Two cops get out and draw down on Rick, but he introduces himself as a former cop and says he has a proposal.
They make Rick put his gun down, not that it matters as they’re both covered by sniper rifles.
Rick offers to do a swap for their kidnapped officers for Beth and Carol.
The cops ask about Noah and Officer Lamson. Rick says Noah is with them and Lamson was attacked by walkers.
A walker is sneaking up behind the cops. One of them asks where the rest of Rick’s people are and Sasha punctuates the question with a perfect headshot on the walker.
“They’re close,” Rick says matter-of-factly.
He tells the cops he’ll wait as they radio Dawn.
And so the prisoner swap is arranged. Rick leads the kidnapped cops in. Beth gets back into that awful yellow shirt, but she stashes her stolen scissors in her arm cast just in case.
Beth wheels Carol out to the place where the swap is to happen. It’s a tense standoff in a narrow hallway, but Dawn and Rick have their people put their weapons up.
Dawn, of course, asks about Lamson. The kidnapped cops reliably lie, stick to the story about him being eaten by “rotters.”
They do the transfer one at time, first the bald cop and Carol. This goes smoothly.
Next they do Beth and the female cop.
“Glad we could work things out,” Dawn says. Then she demands Noah.
Rick says it’s not part of the deal.
“The deal is done,” Rick says, but Noah agrees to go. Beth gives him a hug first.
“I knew you’d be back,” Dawn says in a sort of snotty way when Beth comes near.
Beth gets right up in Dawn’s face. She trembles with emotion and says “I get it now.”
And then she stabs Dawn in the shoulder with the scissors. It doesn’t do much damage, they were small scissors, but it startles Dawn and her gun goes off. She blows Beth’s brains out the back of her head.
Everyone is shocked. Rick wipes Beth’s blood and brain from his eyes. Dawn shakes her heard, seems to be trying to say it was an accident although there’s no voices at this point.
But Daryl shoots her in the head and kills her anyway. Rick tries to stop him but he’s too fast.
Looks like everyone is going to get shot to death now, but the kidnapped female cop convinces her side to hold their fire.
“It’s over. It was just about her. Stand down,” she says.
Daryl still wants revenge, but Carol puts her hand on his shoulder and stops him. Rick reluctantly drops his gun, too.
The cops offer Rick a chance to stay, but he says no, and says he’s taking anyone who wants to leave, including the patients who have been watching from down the hall. No one does.
Abraham finally shows up at Grady in the fire truck. His group works their way in and meets Rick’s coming out. Maggie sees Daryl holding Beth’s dead body and breaks down screaming and crying. Daryl holds Beth as they all stand in he parking lot, the ruins of Atlanta behind them. End of episode.
Wait, no, there’s an after-credits scene of Morgan at the Hunter’s camp near the school. He looks around at the magazines that fascinated Gabriel and then sees an incapacitated walker lying in the broken glass. He gets down on his knees and compassionately stabs it in the brain.
He follows the Hunter’s marks to the church and goes inside. He puts the cross back up on the altar and places a snack cake, a single bullet and what I think is a blue rabbit’s foot there as an offering, then seems to pray a bit. Then he laughs.
Getting up, Morgan notices the map that Abraham gave Rick on the floor.
“Sorry I was an asshole. Come to Washington. The new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes,” it says, although it’s hard to read now because of all the blood on it. We get a closeup of Morgan’s surprised face. Real end of episode.
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