The Walking Dead: Coda (Or ARE YOU GODDAMN KIDDING ME, GIMPLE?)
Okay, first things first, this will contain MAJOR spoilers for both The Walking Dead up to the season five mid-season finale as well as the comic book up to at least issue 112, which is as far as I’ve read.
Second, I unabashedly love Beth Greene. I’m really goddamn sad and disappointed and angry, but I still think, even if you don’t love the character the way I do, you should not be satisfied with how things turned out.
I’ve been really critical of the show from the start. I’m a big fan of the comic, which is why I started watching in the first place. (I’m also a big fan of Andrew Lincoln’s face and his grizzled beard is the one thing that has never disappointed me, so keep up the good work there, Andrew Lincoln’s good looking beard.) But I’ve had some major complaints over the seasons. Most of them were to do with the pacing, which I felt was often slow and kind of wonky at the best of times. I discovered while re-watching it all on Netflix in preparation for season five that binge watching really improves my personal issues with the pacing, but that doesn’t excuse it in a week by week show.
I’ve also been critical of Andrea, because anyone who’s read the comics knows that Andrea is a goddamn badass. She’s smart and tough and strong. She’s sarcastic, she’s closed herself off from people in an attempt to keep herself from getting hurt, but then she’s turned around and loved so strongly and with such honesty that I still think Andrea/Dale is one of the best relationships I’ve seen in fiction. So I hated the TV version of Andrea who was smug and arrogant and willfully stupid most of the time. I was irritated every single time she was on screen, a feeling that held on during my re-watch.
But still I watched because I loved the comic. I felt like the show could be good. There was so much potential and Iso desperately wanted it to be good.
Let’s not even start on the writing of the female characters. We had nothing but one dimensional women who had so much potential to be great and who were given nothing week after week. Yeah, it’s great that Michonne is badass. Can we also see her as a human being? Oh, Maggie’s only plot is to fall in love with Glenn. Well, that’s great. And boring. Carol was the abused wife who spent a season crying. COME ON. Give them more than this.
And then suddenly it happened. Season four crept up on it slowly and I still have issues with some of the pacing. (Why did the Governor need to kill all his followers, wander around all mountain-man looking and find a new family before launching an attack? Oh, right, to give us canon fodder and man pain. Great.) But it started to happen.
Suddenly Michonne had a history. The way she broke down holding Judith was gorgeous. Suddenly Carol wasn’t just the abused woman who lost her daughter, she was the only person willing to put her money where her mouth was. Everyone talked big game about keeping the prison safe, but Carol fucking DID IT. And people disagreed with her methods, she got herself banished from the group as a result, but she did what she thought was necessary to save lives and she did it alone (and what an awful, lonely job that must have been) and she did it without expecting anything. Maggie was more than just Glenn’s wife and Hershel’s daughter. She became a leader, a pillar of strength. And Beth.
Beth tried to kill herself.
Beth Greene tried to kill herself. This was one more time I hated Andrea, but one time I was genuinely fascinated by something the show was doing. Suicide hadn’t really been addressed, but it had to have been common. The world ended, people were sad, people with a lot of physical and mental illnesses might not have been able to go on. People killed themselves, they had to. And Beth tried it and regretted it and then it was never spoken of again and I went back to being disappointed.
Until season four. Until Still when Daryl threw it back at her. I maintain that Still is one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen, but it also finally gave us buckets of character development for both Daryl and Beth. She had passed through a really dark place, even if only for a short period of time, but no one saw it like that. They saw a stupid little girl who tried to commit suicide and she called them on it. They saw a silly little idiot who braided her hair and wrote in journals and sang in the prison, and they didn’t see the only person in that goddamn prison attempting to hang onto her humanity. Surviving wasn’t enough for Beth. It would NEVER be enough for that girl.
So she not only survived her attempt, but she came out on the other side of it determined to do more than just be in this world. She wanted to try to be happy wherever possible and I could get into all the ways in which that woman changed Daryl Dixon, but let’s be honest and just say this: without Beth, he would not have picked up that book on surviving child abuse. He and Carol have an incredible, important bond, and I think Carol will be instrumental in his healing, but without Beth, he wouldn’t have taken it.
She learned from Daryl. She learned to track and to hunt, to shoot. She learned how to be stronger and harder, but she never lost that all important spark that made her the goddamn light of that show. Daryl needed that. He ran until he physically couldn’t anymore to get that back and he never once gave up. They launched a rescue mission because he needed to get her back.
And then they killed her.
It’s not even her death that upsets me so much. I understand the idea of it in a way. She was a light. She was fucking sunshine and they wanted to remind us that it can all be yanked away, which I think is bullshit. I think a show in a world as awful as this one needs that light in order to be compelling — it’s why Maggie and Glenn are so important, it’s why those moments of humour end up being funnier than they should be — but clearly the writers felt otherwise.
So it’s not even entirely about the fact that she’s dead, it’s how it was done. She survived, she thrived, she got stronger. She came away from a suicide attempt and then they had her essentially commit suicide anyway. For what? A character no one really gives a shit about? I could have come to like Noah. I DID like Noah for what we knew of him, but he was too new and too minor to have Beth Greene kill herself over.
Everything about Coda was pretty poorly done, to be honest. The pacing was off and I was mostly just bored and disappointed, but then Beth stepped up to Dawn with a tiny pair of scissors and… I don’t understand. Beth isn’t stupid. Beth trained with Daryl. Beth was clearly shown getting stronger and more willing to do what it takes to survive and she… stabbed Dawn in the shoulder with a tiny pair of scissors? She is NOT THAT GODDAMN STUPID.
If Beth was going to go out, she deserved better than a fucking botched assassination attempt that ended up with her accidentally being shot in the head. She stabbed Dawn IN THE SHOULDER. I don’t buy it. That girl is smarter than that.
And then who steps up to kill Dawn? Of course it’s Daryl. Beth couldn’t even have that. You couldn’t even give Dawn’s death to her, it had to go to Daryl. Because man pain. So you gave us this incredible female character who had strength and grace, who cried and was vulnerable, who threw tantrums and who comforted others when necessary, who stepped up and threw herself into loving people with all her heart, who was real and nuanced and gorgeously written, and you reduced her to fodder in another man’s story.
There’s already speculation online that she was just grazed or that maybe they’ll give her Carl’s comic storyline where he gets half his head blown off and still survives. I want to be wrong about everything I’ve said here. I want to eat my words so badly, but I don’t want to hope for either of these things because I don’t want my feelings to be crushed all over again. I don’t want to hope and yet a little part of me is hanging on because Beth Greene deserves so much better than what she got Sunday night.
At best you gave her a cheap death for shock value. At worst you fridged her, Gimple.