The Walking Dead is one of the best things on TV right now. In a medium that is inundated by a plethora of been-there/done-that flesh-eating properties, it is the only one among them that keeps itself fresh and continues to be worth watching. It’s an almost perfect storm of great casting, stellar acting, top-notch writing and directing, and outstanding production values. But it seems like every time we come to one of these season/mid-season finales like the one that aired Sunday night, I go through a bout of depression which has nothing to do with the fact that it’s going to be a while before the show is on again. And I tend to wonder if I’m going to be able to continue. For me, this last one was the worst one yet.
WARNING: Spoilers after the jump.
TWD has never been shy about killing off much-loved or seemingly important characters, characters that most people would consider off-limits. I think I’m finally coming to accept that no one is safe. Not Glenn, not Carl, not even Rick is immune to the Sword of Damocles hanging over every single member of AMC’s zombie apocalypse masterpiece. I think what happened to Sophia was probably our first big clue that the show runners weren’t pulling any punches. But then we lost Dale. At the time, I intellectually understood the decision to raise the stakes in that manner, but I honestly thought it would be a long time before we lost anyone important again.
Man, was I wrong.
Losing Andrea and then Hershel a couple seasons ago was tough. Really tough. But I was able to push on through, and I attribute that fact to one character, really.
A recent blog post I read about Sunday’s episode described the actress who played Beth, Emily Kinney, as “effervescent.” I thought it was a perfect descriptor. In a show that is one big depression-fest, week after week, Beth was a bright center that made us feel there was still some beauty in this desolate world. For a long time, she was able to retain a modicum of her youthful vibrance and, dare I say it, innocence, even when the Governor did what he did to her father.
The story arc between her and Daryl last season was beautifully written, and Kinney’s performance (Norman Reedus’s, too, for that matter) was a pleasure to watch. And when Beth was taken, I felt panicky and wanted season five to start immediately so I could see her be rescued. When the first episodes aired, I kept saying to myself, “Okay, now where’s Beth? What’s going on with Beth?” despite the fact that what was happening with the “main” group was pretty darn intense.
But now that the first half of season five is done, I feel like Fred Savage’s character in The Princess Bride, telling his grandfather that he read the book wrong, that Wesley couldn’t be dead. This show seems bent on continually killing my soul, and I’m not so sure it’ll recover this time. Beth was off-limits! She was my angel. And now I don’t know if I can go on without her.
Even the cast is having trouble with this one. Watch Emily Kinney talk about the end of Beth. It’s actually pretty touching, seeing her connection to the character.
I say I won’t be able to go on, but, of course, I’ll keep watching. There are still characters I love. Glenn for one. Mischonne, for another. Daryl, too. I’m even starting to become attached to Tyreese quite a bit (probably means he’ll be dying post haste).
But losing Beth is proving to be tough for me. I know it’s just a TV show, but that’s the thing about good story-telling. It brings you in, and you become a part of it. It’s almost as if there really is a zombie apocalypse going on somewhere in the world, and these characters are our friends, our family, fighting the fight out on the front lines. I’m sure some people won’t get this, but others will. Some of you will be right there with me.
But such is life. Bad things happen to good people. And all we can do is accept it and move on. But I’m sad. Losing Beth was like losing a little sister or something. I feel like AMC is going to have to do something big next season, something to help me believe that everything can somehow be alright, even in a world full of walkers. Just, please, The Walking Dead … please stop killing my soul. Just for a little while.
RIP Beth. You’ll be missed.