With only one more episode to go in 2014, "The Walking Dead" used the penultimate episode to set up what could be a big showdown at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Spoiler alert: The following contains details from "The Walking Dead" Season 5, Episode 7, entitled "Crossed."
Last week we saw the tumultuous way in which Carol and Daryl met Noah and how Carol was separated from them and taken to the hospital where Beth was still held captive. This week, we saw the beginning of Rick and company's rescue mission, the aftermath of Eugene's secret being revealed to Sgt. Abraham's group and just how far Father Gabriel will go to try to rid himself of guilt.
Here are the four main takeaways from Sunday night's episode, "Crossed."
1. Schemes, Schemes, Schemes!
As the titled suggests, there were quite a few deceptive maneuvers in this week's episode, starting with the plan for rescuing Beth and Carol. With Carl, Michonne, Father Gabriel and baby Judith back at the church, Rick takes the rest of the group to Atlanta and lays out his plan to silently ambush Dawn and her cops by sneaking into the hospital. While that plan may or may not have worked, Tyrese suggests they take a couple of the officers hostage and do an even exchange. Rick persists, but Daryl breaks the tie and they go the kidnapping route.
This involves having Noah act as bait. He shoots his gun near the perimeter of the hospital, waits for two officers to roll up on him, and lets them detain him until Rick's group corners them with guns and a simple message: "You do what we say, we don't hurt you."
Second, Beth uses her own clever scheme to get medicine to Carol. After hearing an officer tell Dawn they should disconnect Carol from her machines to save power, Beth intervenes. But undermining Dawn in front of her subordinates doesn't go over well, and she tells him to see if Carol can recover on her own. Dawn's feelings toward Beth have softened, even though she retains her tough, no-leniency exterior, and she gives Beth the key to the medicine locker so she can find what she needs to save Carol without anyone noticing.
After asking Dr. Edwards what he would give a car-accident patient, Beth slips a fellow orderly a handful of berries in the hallway. He then proceeds to "choke" as officers rush to "save" him, all the while Beth is sneaking epinephrine from the locker. She administers the drug to Carol, holds her hand and tells her that she's there. But still no sign of awakening.
The third big scheme of the night was the only really frustrating one. Of the three officers who Rick's group took hostage, one named Lampson seems to be on their side. Noah tells Rick that he's "one of the good ones," and Lampson offers to help out by explaining the nuances of Dawn's personality before they try to make the exchange. He comes off as a good guy, particularly to Sasha when she hears that his first name is Bob. It isn't until Lampson starts relating a sad story to Sasha about his former coworker dying while trying to evacuate survivors (a classic "it could have been me" sob story) that things start to get suspicious. Sasha, still vulnerable after losing her boyfriend, offers to help him by shooting his now-zombified friend and putting him out of his misery. Just as Sasha prepares to take the show, Lampson headbutts her into the glass window and leaves her unconscious as he runs away.
2. Daryl Wins 'Walker Kill Of The Week'
Seriously. Did you see that? When Dawn's backup arrives to check on the first two officers that Rick and co. took hostage, a gunfight breaks out and a chase to recapture them ensues. Daryl lags behind, checking for the third officer who he suspects is waiting to ambush them and ends up getting ambushed himself. This officer means business and pushes Daryl's head near two half-melted walkers on the ground. Just when you think Daryl is about to buy the farm, however, he has the nutty idea to stick his FINGERS into the walker's EYEBALLS, rip its HEAD off and throw it at his attacker's face. Now that's a new one.
Rick shows up with a gun just in time for Daryl to slip out of the officer's grasp. Rick's ready to pop a cap in this guy after what he witnessed, but Daryl says "three is better than two" when it comes to hostages. It's a smart move, especially knowing that Lampson later escapes, but Rick's face says what we were all thinking: Are you SURE you don't want me to kill this guy?
3. Father Gabriel, Abraham And Sasha Are All Emotionally Destroyed
You could say that Father Gabriel's guilt is eating him alive (sorry) and despite receiving a pep talk from Carl about learning how to defend himself and some further counseling from Michonne to explain that the things they do are worth it, he still hasn't seen the light (sorry again).
After scratching and rubbing a bloody stain on the floor for a while, he retreats to his office to "lie down," but by "lie down," he really means use the machete he was given to rip up the floor boards and escape without Michonne and Carl noticing. This leads to him stepping on a nail (ouch), wandering out into the woods with no weapon (dumb) and deciding not to kill an oncoming walker because she was wearing a cross. Things don't exactly look great for this guy.
Meanwhile, Sasha is still grieving over Bob. She's depressed, distracted and not exactly in prime rescue-mission shape, as evidenced by her being tricked by Lampson. Tyrese tries to help out, reminding her that he's been in her shoes, except Sasha actually got to say goodbye to her lover before he died. She's upset that she wasn't able to put Bob down herself, which is a crazy thing to feel bad about. She's lucky to have her brother with her -- the only other person who can say that is baby Judith (if she talked).
And then there's Abraham. Remember when he fell to his knees at the end of "Self Help?" Well, he basically doesn't leave that spot for this entire episode, except for menacingly standing up to Rosita at one point and forcing Maggie to point a gun at him so he didn't punch anyone else's lights out.
When Tara, Glenn and Rosita take a surprisingly pleasant field trip to a creek for water, Maggie stays behind and watches Abraham and a still-passed-out Eugene. Maggie tries to get Abe to snap out of it, telling him to get over himself because they all lost something when Eugene's secret came out. She gives him water and asks if he really wanted her to shoot him earlier. Abe says he said he thought he did, poor guy, just as we hear Eugene waking up. We have to wait until next week to know Eugene's true condition or if Abe really has come out of his trance of disappointment.
4. Life Hacks Galore!
One of my favorite parts of the "The Walking Dead" is seeing how they use old materials to get by. This episode was full of clever uses for things, like turning the church's organ pipes into a spiky barrier for the front door, or using the mesh liner of a walker's jacket to catch a fish. When Maggie realizes that Eugene has been baking in the sun, she uses a ladder and blanket from the fire truck to create a makeshift awning.
The most impressive life hack came from Rosita, who made a water filter out of a plastic bottle and pebbles, something Eugene taught her. She gives me hope that her character will be sticking around after explaining that she met Abraham (after he had already run into Eugene) and he was the first person to ask her for her help since everything went down. She and Glenn have a tender moment when they catch the aforementioned fish. Now that D.C. is no longer the destination, no matter what happens with Eugene or Abraham, she's part of their group now.
Oh yeah, and Tara found a yoyo! Not really a life hack, but imagine how entertaining that would be at a time like this -- and if she somehow finds a way to use it as a weapon, even better.
In a sneak peek at next week's midseason finale, we see Father Gabriel walking around the schoolyard where Bob was tortured by the cannibalistic "Termites." It's unclear whether he'll be making it back to the church, but we can expect the rescue mission in Atlanta to move forward. The health of Carol, Eugene and Sasha are all in question, and Lampson's escape raises new questions about who they can trust. What are your predictions for next week?