With one week to go before The Walking Dead’s midseason finale, the final pieces have been set in place for an explosive confrontation between Rick’s gang and Dawn Lerner’s hospital crew—a guaranteed-grisly spectacle that, according to people in the know, will be “pretty deadly.”
“Crossed” featured Rick, Daryl, Sasha, Tyreese, and Noah strategizing over how to take Grady Memorial and extract Beth and Carol (who’s still unconscious). Rick suggests a Woodbury-esque sneak attack on the hospital and lays out a meticulous strategy relying heavily on timing and luck. Every cop and staff member must be engaged in their regular routine for Rick’s plan to work and bloodshed is inevitable—which, of course, makes Tyreese (designated softie of the season, R.I.P. Hershel and Dale) instantly uncomfortable.
Rather than storm the hospital, Tyreese says, the group should take a couple of cops hostage then set up a trade with Dawn. “Everyone goes home,” he says, as if that’s a thing that’s ever actually happened.
Of course, Tyreese’s plan immediately goes awry. The gang does bait two officers with Noah, but another car comes tearing in and whisks them both away. Rick’s group manages to flag them down, only to hear that this particular batch of cops also wants Dawn out. One officer proposes yet another plan: Release the cops and let them get rid of Dawn, and in exchange, they promise to let Beth and Carol go. Someone Noah deems a “Good Cop” interrupts, however, and endorses the group’s plan to negotiate with Dawn. Good Cop claims to have nothing in mind but “peaceful resolution”—which are basically this show’s code words for “DOOM/DEATH/DISASTER.” And sure enough, the guy smashes Sasha’s head against a window and bolts after the others have left for the hospital.
Meanwhile, Beth is working from inside the hospital to secure the drugs Carol needs and to keep her hooked up to an IV drip. Back at the church, Carl and Michonne are babysitting both Judith and Father Gabriel, the latter of whom breaks out of the church, disturbed by the violence he’s seen take place inside. (Along the way, he accidentally embeds a nail in his foot, which is not symbolic at all.) Maggie yells at Abraham and Eugene appears to wake up after getting his lights knocked out for lying to everyone about knowing how to stop the zombie virus. And Glenn, Tara, and Rosita spend the episode, um, learning to fish.
Which brings us to next week’s big battle. Who will make it back out of the hospital alive? Let’s review our most burning questions leading into the midseason finale.
Could Dawn Lerner be one of the good guys?
Beth’s bottle episode earlier this season, “Slabtown,” established that Dawn, if nothing else, is an asshole. She’s unpredictable (you never know when she’ll slap you in the face), cruel (she left Noah’s father to die because he would have put up more of a fight about becoming a hospital slave), and has a sickening habit of turning a blind eye to her officers’ abuse of the wards.
But Dawn’s actions are motivated by a form of desperation. Her hold on her position at the hospital—and thus, her survival—is tenuous and she knows it. Assertions of dominance over the wards, Dr. Edwards, and the other officers are pretty much all she has left. And remember: In her own twisted brain, this whole hospital operation is for the sake of humanity’s “greater good.” Without those pressures on her, who knows if she’d be a decent human being?
In a moment of apparent sincerity, Dawn admits to Beth in “Crossed” that she is stronger than she thought, then gives her the key to the drug locker containing the medicine Carol needs (of course, Dawn is also the one who ordered an officer to cut Carol off from the hospital’s machines). Dr. Edwards warns that Dawn is not acting out of the kindness of her heart—but then again, Dr. Edwards is shady as hell, too. He tricked Beth into killing an innocent man for him in order to keep his own position at the hospital secure.
Ultimately, Officer Dawn does terrible things in the name of “the greater good.” Dr. Edwards does terrible things in the name of himself, though he at least also hates the evil cops. Which do we trust?
Where the hell is Gabriel going?
And with a giant nail in his foot, too. The man is as resourceful as a Pet Rock and still too squeamish to kill walkers himself—at least, not the ones with shiny gold crosses hanging around their necks. He couldn’t possibly survive on his own in the woods.
It seems unlikely that this is the last we ever see of him, however. In the comic books, he sticks around at least until the group reaches the Alexandria Safe-Zone. There is the off chance he materializes at the hospital and saves the day (LOL, I know), but my money is on him going full circle and ending up back at the church. Probably crying, definitely sweaty.
Who will die?
Someone is certainly going to die next week. It could be more than one person. Or it could be none of our protagonists—though Norman Reedus preparing for shooting the episode by crying for an hour on top of an apple crate suggests that, at some point during the midseason finale, Daryl gets very, very sad.
The obvious candidate seems to be Beth, who has been absent from the show’s main storyline for so long now that booting her off entirely is a logical way to provide a midseason finale shock while keeping the story intact. Her character arc has taken her from fragile and suicidal to tough and cunning—giving her a final, grand gesture to accomplish at the hospital would be a fitting send-off. Also, it’s hard to imagine Daryl crying over, say, Sasha’s death. Beth, his beloved partner in arson, would make more sense.
By that logic however, Carol is also being floated as a possible casualty of the episode. She’s already on the brink of death after being hit by a car and has been taken off the hospital’s life support machines. And her epic, star-turn episode last week, “Consumed,” could be construed as the type of character-glorifying hour the show sometimes does right before killing a person off. I’m still mad about them doing this to Merle and I would be even madder about them doing this to Carol, but this is The Walking Dead. No one is safe.
And then there’s Noah, the newest (and thus, most expendable) member of the group. Though Noah is likable, his death wouldn’t have much of an emotional impact this early in the game. It’s much more likely that Noah will stick around with the group after they leave the hospital and embark on whatever adventure comes next. Which is a good thing, because Tyler James Williams is a joy to watch.
Will Greg Nicotero ever top the AMAZING melted zombies in this episode?
I want to say “no” because they were gruesome and terrifying and perfect, but this is the guy who somehow topped Bicycle Girl, then Well Zombie, then zombies-with-blood-coming-from-their-eyes, then zombies-on-fire. The man cannot be stopped.