Last night was a sad one on AMC TV′s mid-season finale of ″The Walking Dead″ as Beth March, played by Emily Kinney, dies. She was killed during the prisoner exchange at the hospital, turned fascist-police state, in Atlanta. Beth′s final act was to attack Dawn, the leader of the police, by stabbing her with a pair of scissors. Dawn reacts instinctively, if not deliberately, and shoots Beth in the head. Daryl Dixon avenges Beth, gunning down Dawn, and then carries the crumpled body of Beth out as her sister Maggie breaks down emotionally. How did our band of survivors reach this point and what lies ahead for them?
Since the fall of the prison in Season 4, Beth had grown up quickly. In Season 2, she was still in total denial over the Zombie Apocalypse and when faced with its reality, attempted to slit her wrists and commit suicide. But as Rick Grime and his group began to turn the prison into a safe refuge, Beth slowly transformed into a useful member of the team. After the Governor attacked the prison and the group was scattered, Beth was with Daryl Dixon, played by Norman Reemus. The adventures of Beth and Daryl were many as they fought zombies and grew together in camaraderie. Perhaps the best of which was when they went on their search for booze as Beth wanted to have her first drink of alcohol. But their partnership was cut short when they were separated during a zombie attack. Beth was somehow taken by a mysterious car with a cross on the back window. Daryl tried to follow on foot, but it was hopeless. Beth was gone, her fate unknown.
Then, as Season 5 began with Rick, Daryl and the rest fighting their way out of the clutches of the Terminus cannibals, hope for Beth was renewed as Daryl and Carol spotted the car with the cross. They followed it to Atlanta. Meanwhile, we learn in the ′Slabtown′ episode that Beth was alive, but trapped in a hospital in Atlanta, run by some rather obnoxious police. Their society was based on repayment for being saved and cared for. The ′Wards′ owed the ″Police′ for everything, and were forced to perform whatever labor was required. The disobedient were brutally punished.
Beth made one friend there, a fellow ′Ward′ named Noah, whom she helped escape from the hospital. Noah runs into Daryl and Carol as they scout out the situation. At first, they are advisories, but Carol convinces Daryl to keep Noah alive. A good move since he knows Dawn and her police quite well. As they prepare to make a move, Carol is accidentally hit by a police car and is taken to the hospital. Just in the nick of time, too, as Beth was preparing to murder the doctor in a kamikaze attack. But when Beth saw Carol being wheeled in on a stretcher cart, Beth aborted her plan. If Carol was around, then perhaps others from her group were, too.
Daryl and Noah return to the church where Rick and his group had been staying at. A plan for rescue is devised and most head back to Atlanta, leaving Michone, Carl, Baby Judith and the Father Gabriel behind after fortifying the church. I won′t spend much time on the nutty priest, just saying he is the sort of person who sour a lemon with a single glance. Thanks to him, the church is overrun by zombies. Luckily for the others, Abraham and his party return just in the nick of time. When Michone tells Maggie that her sister is still alive, the whole gang boards their fire truck and head for Atlanta.
In Atlanta, Rick first wants to do a surprise attack on the hospital, killing all those who may oppose them. But Tyree and Daryl convince Rick on another plan. Capture a couple of cops and exchange them for Beth and Carol. The plan may have worked, too, until Officer Lamson decided to trick Sasha and make an escape. Rick runs him over and shoots him. They still have two cops to trade and both police agree to claim the Lamson was killed by zombies. A meeting with Dawn is arranged.
At first, things look good. We see Beth change from her ′Ward′ clothing back to her own outfit. Carol is in a wheelchair being moved. Lt. Dawn and her police are ready to receive Rick and company. The exchange goes well until Dawn insists that Rick′s group gives up Noah. Rick refuses but Noah agrees to return to his life of slavery. This upsets Beth who decides to strike out and attack Dawn with a small pair of scissors she has hidden. Dawn reacts and shoots Beth from the lower jaw, blasting Beth′s head apart, splattering Rick and others with blood and brains. Dawn stands frozen in her own fear, knowing that she has done wrong. Rick hestitates in shooting Dawn, but Daryl does not. He guns her down in pure rage. Officer Shepard, one of the hostages, keeps the other police from responding, preventing a blood bath. Rick offers freedom to any who wish it and Noah changes his mind and leaves with them.
The next to final scene is that of Abraham and the rest arriving at the hospital, killing a few zombies as they make their way to the entrance. At first, all are smiling as Rick leads his team out. Maggie rushes forward in joy, but then stops suddenly when she sees Daryl carrying Beth in his arms. Maggie collapses as her face turns to total sadness. The others share in her grief as the two groups merge. Following the commercial break, we once again are treated to seeing our old friend, Morgan, who has arrived at the church. First, he wound up at the school in town where the Terminus cannibals had cooked Bob. At the church, Morgan finds it full of dispatched zombies. But he still has time to say a prayer and leave an offering of a gooey candy treat. Morgan then finds the map that Abraham had left for Rick, marking the route to Washington, DC. He also sees the message Abraham wrote, ″…the new world will need Rick Grimes.″ Now Morgan knows that Rick is still alive and he is hot on his trail.
I was sad to see Beth killed. She would have been a good romantic hook-up for Daryl, though I suspect that many ′Dead′ fans want to see Daryl and Carol as a couple. Oh well, we′ll see what happens next. The show returns in February and spoilers show Maggie still crying, somebody being buried with Father Gabriel presiding at the funeral. Of course, we also have Rick and others still fighting ′The Walking Dead′.