Warning: Spoiler Alert
So, last week we learned that Officer Bob was a super-liar and knocked out Sasha in an attempt to get away. A noble effort, probably, but if the two things looking for you are the walking dead and Rick Grimes you are probably not gonna get far. Rick manages to get to one of the abandoned cruisers to chase Bob as he flees. He gets on the PA assured by a cop and orders Bob to stop. Bob keeps running.
This is a mistake.
Rick again gives the order to stop, but Bob shows no sign of slowing. So, Rick punches the gas and rams Bob, who goes flying into the air. I can’t understate the Walking-Dead-goodness of the pullback shot: Bob, with his hands still restrained, catapulting into the air in the kind of arc that NFL kickers dream about. His head and shoulders pitch forward as his legs kick frantically behind him. He hits the concrete with startling speed and a bone-squishing splat.
He’s not dead, though. Rick exits the car to approach the bald, twitching pile of bones. Bob, gasping, pleads for mercy with a final warning about Dawn and the kind of person he’s up against. It’s almost adorably naïve, these words being spoken to Rick, and it probably would be if they weren’t coming from a man with a broken neck. Bob would have lain there, sniveling all day, if Rick’s Colt Python hadn’t shut him up. At the very least, he was kind enough to shoot him in the head as the walkers advanced.
As satisfying as Bob’s death is, it may change things with the hostage negotiations. Daryl and Rick discuss as much, and decide to pose the question to the remaining cops. The cops are suddenly willing to play ball, even though they were against the plan before Rick used their coworker as a crash test dummy.
Back at Grady, Dawn has taken Beth as her personal ward. It’s clear that Dawn thinks she’s bonding with Beth, but it’s equally clear that Beth is trying to figure out just exactly what kind of crazy she’s dealing with. Dawn reveals herself to be a near-human, clinging to party lines and cliché-cop-rhetoric because she thinks she only has to be strong until the national guard arrives.
The situation at the hospital isn’t improving, though. The cops continue to abuse the wards and Dawn continues to allow it. Except, she’s getting pretty weary of dealing with her problem-child cops. That Beth has eliminated two of them hasn’t gone unnoticed, by her or Beth. Dawn tries to play the concerned leader as Beth sulks by the elevator shaft, but Beth isn’t convinced. She tells Dawn plainly that Dawn’s worldview is completely skewed, that no rescue is coming, and that she better get a grip because this is as good as it’s going to get. Dawn continues to attempt to inflict some Stockholm Syndrome on Beth, but that spunky little blonde won’t buy it.
As Dawn is confessing to helping Carol, they’re interrupted by another dirtbag cop. He threatens, they have a showdown which further reveals that Dawn is pretty damn unbalanced, and a struggle ensues that ends when Beth pitches him down the elevator shaft that feeds the ground-floor walkers.
Later, Beth and Dawn are attending to an unconscious, not on life support but presumably alive Carol. Dawn ruefully admits that Beth reminds her of herself when she was young. So full of fire, so headstrong. That all might be true, but every word out of the woman’s mouth builds a further case that she’s a few bullets short of a clip.
Speaking of people not functioning at full capacity: Gabriel, still limping from the rusty nail he took in the foot, staggers away from the walker he couldn’t kill last week and approaches the school where the Termites had camped. The walkers are still hissing and clawing at the glass doors as Gabriel begins to pick through their abandoned belongings: a backpack, a Bible belonging to “Mary B”, an Bob’s half-cooked leg, still on the improvised grill. He really studies it, too—he kneels close, taking in the blackened skin and rotting flesh, crawling with wriggling maggots. Once he’s had his horrified fill, he kicks the grill, sending the leg flying.
The walkers inside the school manage to crack the glass doors, spilling through the broken window and staggering towards Gabriel. Gabriel, for his part, runs terrified back to the church. Good job, Gabriel. Draw the swarm of walkers back to your shelter, where there is a baby. Michonne and Carl hear the commotion as Gabriel screams for help. The walkers are on him as he pounds at the door. Michonne, with Judith strapped to her back, breaks down the barrier they’d nailed to the door in the previous episode.
They pull Gabriel inside, but their defense against the oncoming walkers is a bit clumsy. Carl manages to shoot a few, and Michonne dispatches a few with her sword, but they’re forced back to Gabriel’s office. Good thing Gabriel made that hole in the floor to escape from. He’s so good at the zombie apocalypse.
Once they’ve escaped the church, they begin assessing the damage and securing it again. There were only a dozen or so walkers in the group Gabriel drew to them. Carl manages to impale some on the pipe-organ poles they made around the front steps. They secure the remaining walkers in the sanctuary of the church and wait outside. I’m assuming that they’re waiting for Rick and everyone to return to help them take care of the remaining dead.
They’re in luck, though! With Eugene at least conscious again, Team GREATM decided to return to the church. Abraham drives the fire engine directly into the stairs leading to the church’s door. It’ll help them clear the church somehow. It’s a brief but straightforward reunion: Eugene is a liar, but Beth is alive, so let’s go to Atlanta and help them retrieve her.
Outside Grady, Rick and the crew are setting up to alert Dawn to the situation and negotiate the hostages. Tyreese and Sasha have a talk as they study their sniper points, about life and death and Bob and that Termite that Tyreese didn’t kill. Tyreese may still have a soft heart, but Sasha maintains that she’s not capable of that kind of thing anymore.
Rick has made his way to the lot that his snipers are covering and approaches a patrol car. He introduces himself, not only as the holder of hostages, but as a law enforcement officer. Cop culture dies hard. The conversation is tense, but appears to go evenly, and an exchange’s arranged.
Beth dresses in the clothes she got kidnapped in, plus a pair of surgical scissors inside her cast. She wheels Carol, with Dr. Elliott behind her, towards a hallway in the hospital. Dawn and several other officers wait for Rick and his hostages on the other end of the hallway. Weapons holstered, the exchange’s brokered. Rick’s hostages respond when Dawn inquires about the missing cop, in tight, specific sentences. Dawn seems to consider their words carefully before conceding to the swap. All parties get exchanged.
Then, Dawn says that she won’t let them leave without Noah, because she is a crazy person and you can’t negotiate reliably with crazy people. She needs a ward, and with Beth gone, she’ll need someone to take his place. Noah relents, but Beth is distraught. She hugs Noah as Dawn glares at the two of them. She can’t help but remark that she knew Noah would be back.
Beth, incensed at Dawn’s gloating, meets Dawn’s glare. And, with a quick remark about how she finally understands, she stabs Dawn in the chest with the surgical scissors. In return, Dawn draws her gun and shoots her through the head.
No Daryl reunion, no Maggie reunion, not so much as a few words spoken while Carol was conscious. Rick shudders, but Daryl doesn’t flinch as he grabs his gun and answers Dawn with a bullet through her own brain. Everyone draws their weapons, but Officer Lady Cop calls for a ceasefire. She tries to explain that everything is OK, now that Dawn is gone, and that everyone is welcome to say with them if they’d like.
Rick, stunned, informs them that this is not the way his group lives, and that he’s leaving with anyone who wants to come with him. That he doesn’t shoot them all and burn the building to the ground shows just how reasonable he remains. Michonne and the others reach the hospital just as Daryl, openly weeping, carries Beth’s body into the parking lot. Maggie collapses, and that’s all we’ve got until February.
Midseason finales do not bode well for the Greene family, it seems.
As a minor consolation, the episode’s remaining moments show Morgan finding the school and then the carnage at the church. He places his own things on the altar and lifts a prayer to the crazy-mystery-character gods, presumably thankful that he’s managed to stay alive on the show for as long as he has.