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Beth Shouldn’t Have Died

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Inspired by Beth’s death last night and California couple detained in Qatar despite acquittal in child’s death (Joby Warrick, Washington Post 12/01/14 page A4).

Beth shouldn’t have died last night, and in my much better alternate ending, she doesn’t! (Read it below and let me know what you think.)

 

“Coda: The concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.” – Oxford English Dictionary

 

The death

Of Beth

Made me sad,

And a little mad.

 

It didn’t make sense for her to be dead.

(Read how I’d have ended the episode instead.)

***

I was saddened by Beth’s death in last night’s Walking Dead episode, and not just because I liked Beth as a character. I’m sad because I think there was another way, more true to Beth and the other characters…a better, more organic, and more meaningful resolution of the narrative arc, i.e., a much better coda. Here’s what should have happened instead.

 

Dawn: “Oh, one more thing. Noah stays. He wasn’t part of our deal. He owes us a debt, and he still needs to pay it off. That’s our rule.”

Rick: “Do you want to know what our rule is? Our rule is that if you’re willing to risk your life for someone in the group, you’re part of the group, and that means that we’re all willing to risk our lives for you. Noah made it out of your little prison hospital, but he risked his life to help us save Beth. Every single one of us would risk his or her life for each other, and we each have, many times. That’s not only how we’ve survived: it’s what gives our survival meaning. That’s why we go on. That’s what makes us strong, and that’s why every single person who’s attacked our group is dead. (Cut periodically to Dawn’s and the others’ faces while Rick is talking to show their reaction to his words. Dawn’s and the hospital group’s faces show a mix of fear and awe. Rick’s group show’s resolution and commitment.) Now, I don’t care about your rule, I only care about our rule. Noah is not staying here with you. That wasn’t our deal. If you and your people want to fight it out so that you can force Jonah to stay here against his will, fine, but every single one of you better be willing to die, because you will all die, either right now by our hands, or when the rest of our friends come back to finish you off. And by the way, the ‘rotters’ didn’t get your friend Bob. He tried to get away. I told him to stop running, but he didn’t, so I killed him. (Addressing the others in the hospital group.) And we’ll do the same to every one of you who doesn’t walk away right now, or who raises his or her weapon against us. This is your last chance to walk away and live. Decide.”

 

(Slowly, one-by-one and two-by-two, the members of the hospital group all leave, until Dawn is left standing there alone, staring angrily at Rick.)

At that point, either Dawn backs down and walks away too (both we and know she’s done as a leader), or she goes for her gun, at which point Darrel shoots her in the head (my preference is the former, but in terms of the group dynamic and the narrative arc, there’s no big difference between those two outcomes). Then, the group would have just walked out, and Beth and Maggie would’ve been reunited.

If the show’s writers really wanted her dead, it would’ve been better (and more organic) if a few more of Dawn’s cops had stayed to back her up, there’d been a gunfight, and she’d been killed. (With her dying breath, she’d have thanked Rick for standing up for Noah. “We came to rescue you,” he’d have said tearfully. “You did,” she’d have responded. That would have been more consistent with the characters and narrative arc than what the writers wrote, but my original ending where the group faces down Dawn’s bullying and wins is better.

Why? First, it’s a nice parallel with the opening scene. Officer Bob didn’t heed Rick’s warning, and he paid for it. But more importantly, it provides a powerful mid season finale answer to the question that many of the characters and the story as a whole have been asking throughout season five (indeed, throughout the series): What’s our purpose? What’s the reason for living? Is there more to live than just surviving another day? Is it worth living? Why bother?

Rick’s speech would answer that question forcefully and elegantly, and it’d fit perfectly into the Grady Hospital story arc.

Life is worth living, and they reason they are strong, is because they have each other.

And what does I mention that California couple in Qatar, besides the nice poetic alliteration? Three reasons: First, I just happened to be reading that article when I thought of my alternative ending, and my reaction did help inspire my alternate ending for the mid season finale. Second, when possible, I always try to add a little hard news to my blog posts. Third: We are Americans, and that should mean something. I’m not saying that we should go full-on Walking Dead on the Qataris, but we need to make it clear to them (as I’m sure Sec. Kerry is doing) that we want our people back, and that we’re not messing around.

***

Here’s Beth’s final scene. Isn’t my ending so much better?

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