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Line of the Week: Dawn's officer: "Where are your people?"
Sasha snipes an approaching walker.
Rick: "They're close."
With that heart-breaking ending it seems that we will need the mid-season break just to recuperate. At the end of the first half of the season we were forced to say goodbye to Beth, and without her the post-apocalyptic world just seems darker than ever. Raised by Hershel and trained by Daryl, Beth had come a long way from her suicide attempt in Season 2. With nice call backs to previous seasons, like her repeating the "I don't cry anymore" line, we are made aware of the progress she has made. Although her death may not have come as a surprise to the many people who speculated that it would happen, or to those who had it spoiled for them by the official Walking Dead Facebook page shortly after the show first aired in America, the final scene brought a tear to many of our eyes. It is with this that I must thank Emily Kinney for bringing the character of Beth to life with her fantastic performance throughout the duration of the show.
Beth's death was excellently portrayed for different reasons. Firstly, it perfectly captured the best part of her character: she dies to save somebody else, showing great strength and selflessness, plus she acted as a martyr to ending Dawn's inhumane system- fighting for the 'good' in humanity that she had always been a beacon of.
Secondly, the group's reaction to the losing her was utterly heart-breaking. The following scene where everyone begins to react to what has just happened was particularly poignant. Daryl, who we have seen spearheading the search for Beth, starts off this heart-wrenching scene by letting out a few whimpers that truly emphasise how much he cared for Beth. It is particularly resonant because it is rare that we see such vulnerability from one of our strongest characters and his reaction is very reminiscent of how he reacted to seeing his brother Merle as a walker. We do see the sadness and shock of the other present characters, but Daryl's reaction is the most affecting.
Then we see Maggie's reaction. After presuming that her sister was dead, somewhat explaining her unusual lack of concern about Beth's location after the attack on the prison, she had only been made aware of the fact that she was alive earlier in this episode. This made for a really emotional scene where we see Maggie's tragic realisation that her sister is dead. Her facial expressions really capture the quick turnaround from her sheer elation in thinking that she'll see her sister again into her utter despair as she realises that she won't see her alive. Furthermore, what makes it even more of a devastating scene is when you realise that the last time Maggie saw her sister alive was also the day that she saw her father killed. Lauren Cohan's performance here was so on point and really encapsulated the level of despair following the loss a loved one.
As the episode draws to a close the camera pans up from our broken group to show the ruined buildings of Atlanta, highlighting that the show is still taking place in the same cruel world as Season 1, but now the buildings are completely ruined, reflecting the state of the group. When the show returns in February, as shown in the credits segment, the group will begin to move towards Washington again. Although Eugene doesn't know the cure, it would appear that they are holding onto the hope that it will provide them with some sanctuary that Atlanta cannot. Perhaps part of the reason is that Atlanta has proved to be nothing but death and sorrow and now they need to move on and hope for the best, since hope is all that they have now.