So we had four big story threads: Rick and company sneaking their way to the hospital, Beth working to rescue Carol from inside, Father Gabriel freaking out and fleeing the church, and Abraham and Eugene waking up from their respective dazes as their compatriots find water and supplies and...friendship? Season Four saw so many of these characters broken apart, and it was so exciting to see them reunited. But while their unity runs deep, this whole season has been about them rebuilding those bonds. It’s magic to see Rick and Daryl working in tandem, and having Daryl being the one to tell Rick to slow his roll. It was great seeing Tara, Rosita and Glenn filtering water together. Even Carl didn’t completely get on my nerves! Okay, he only had one scene and Father Gabriel was barely paying attention to him, but still.
But we’ve known for a long time that The Walking Dead can do tense action well. Here, it’s doing it in service of a ton of really gripping story and character development and that’s what’s made season five so magical and different here. This is a top-five drama of the year to me, at this point, unless they really screw something up next week. And I don’t think they will. Of course, I’m making it sound like “Crossed” was some delightful celebration of friendship and frolicking. It was actually a fantastically tense hour with a well-telegraphed, but still perfectly executed ending that saw Sasha knocked out and havoc about to break loose in Slabtown.
Cruz: Now that we’ve both had a chance to get over our initial, gleefully expletive-filled reactions to the episode, David, it’s time to take a quick moment to celebrate/lament the upcoming mid-season finale. Wednesday—the day AMC sends us the new episode in advance—has become my favorite television day, so I’m genuinely sad that I’ll have a zombie-shaped void in my week until February. We can’t even parse much from the title “Coda,” which just means the concluding part of a work (it’s one step removed from Breaking Bad titling its last-ever episode Felina, an anagram for Finale). But one possibility to consider: The show seems to promise an end to some storyline, not a narrative midpoint or a lazy, obligatory cruising-to-a-stop.
This penultimate episode exceeded its task of setting up a taut prelude to winter’s curtain closing, and it did so with elegance and heart. I always find myself most impressed with episodes that cover a lot of ground action-wise while reserving space for cinematic touches. I’m thinking particularly of that cold open, which ended with the Father Gabriel’s impotent whimper-screams, beads of sweat on his face and visions of hell in his eyes as he attempted to scrub the blood from the church floorboards.
“Crossed” effortlessly united its trio of storylines, fortunately skipping a lot of painful and unnecessary exposition (yep, Noah’s part of the church group now, we’re told via a quick shot of him limping around outside, wide-eyed). As for your grand unified theory, David, I’m inclined to agree: I had become so used to seeing the characters in terms of groups (“the church group,” “the D.C. group,” “the Woodbury group,” “the prison group”) with a collective purpose, that I’d often forget to care about them as individuals. If you had told me a year ago that one day I’d happily watch Rosita, Glen, and Tara filtering dirty river water, I’d have grabbed a walker skull by the bloody eye-sockets and cold cocked you with it.