TWD TBT: Digging Into the Themes of Episode 508 Coda
Bicycle Girl explores the meaning of the title of Episode 508 Coda in this TWD Throwback Thursday post.
Hello there, Dead Heads! It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for your weekly look back at an older episode of TWD.
If you read my Spaghetti Tuesday on a Wednesday sneaky mini TBT Thursday post yesterday, you know we’re set to talk about Coda. Or maybe you gathered that from that giant title up there.
SO…the first time I watched this episode I was too surprised by Beth’s sudden decision to make Dawn into the world’s biggest ever living voodoo doll with those surgical scissors and what happened afterward to truly digest the episode. And to be honest, it’s one I’ve never gone back, too.
But in preparation for a special surprise we’ve got coming up here at TWD Fansite (*suspense*), I gave this episode another look. What I was curious about was what the title had to do with the content of the episode. So here’s my take–
First Off What the Hell Is a Coda?
While people use coda to describe films and television shows, the term has its origins in music. Basically, a coda is like the final bit of a song. It’s a conclusion that differs from the rest of the piece of music that comes before it. In sheet music, when you see this symbol:
it means that when you finish repeating a section of a song for the final time, you move to the coda.
Remember that, guys–you repeat and repeat and then you go to the coda, the unexpected or different ending.
Grady Memorial Hospital’s Coda
Throughout the Grady episodes, we learn that Officer Dawn Lerner was the second person to be in command at the hospital. Before her was Officer Hanson, Dawn’s mentor, who she said the other officers lost faith in. Dawn describes what happened to him with the following:
They risk their lives every time they go out there. It has to be worth it. It has to matter. He lost sight of that. So he lost them. Beth, in this job you don’t need their love. But you have to have their respect.
When Hanson no longer had the respect of the men, Dawn killed him and took his place. But instead of making Grady Memorial better, she seems to have repeated what he did. She lost their respect, and it becomes clear during the episode that other officers like O’Donnell want her out.
It seems that things are set up to repeat again with another cop taking over and things continuing the way they once did; however, unexpectedly, Beth ends the repetition. I think that when Beth said that she “Understood,” she saw the pattern for herself and sought to end it.
Even though she failed to kill Dawn herself, Beth’s actions lead to Dawn’s death. The story of Grady ends in a different way, not with one cop killing the other and repeating the story. Beth was Grady’s coda.
Other Examples of Repetition and Unexpected Endings
The story of Grady isn’t the only part of episode 508 that reminds us of interrupted cycles or when stories are retold with new endings. Here are some other examples:
1. The Terminus Survivors
At the beginning of the episode, Father Gabriel walks through the place where the Termites had their Bob-e-cue. He finds Mary’s Bible and the remains of Bob’s leg. It’s a reminder that the survivors from Terminus were going to try and repeat their story and go back to their ways of being the butcher rather than the cattle. Rick and the others were their coda. They ended the chance for repetition with their sneak attack on the Termites and brought their story to a bloody ending that Gareth and his minions certainly didn’t expect.
We know from Father Gabriel’s backstory that when the members of his parish came to him for help, he kept the door bolted and didn’t let them in. He allowed them to eaten rather than put himself in danger. In this episode, the story seems to repeat as he runs to the church, now the one being pursued by walkers; however, Michonne does not leave him outside to die. She breaks the repetition by opening the door and risking her, Carl and Judith’s life for him. Surprisingly, he also changes the ending of the story, and in a rare moment of bravery holds the door to the rectory closed, telling Michonne
I’m not going anywhere until you’re gone.
3. The Second Ending
Even the ending of Coda breaks the repetition of the usual. We see the credits repeated as always but instead of the show being over, there is a final scene. The coda or unexpected ending shows Morgan arriving at the church, and we get a sneak peek of Episode 604 that none of us could have anticipated receiving.
So there you have it–my take on how coda ties into the themes of Episode 508.
Oh! Remember this symbol for a coda in sheet music?
Reminds me of the cross hairs of a gun. Not unlike the gun that Daryl used to bring Dawn’s life to a close and the story of Grady to its coda. Coincidence, maybe. But an interesting one.
One last thing guys–yesterday on Veteran’s Day here in the U.S., Ross Marquand who plays Aaron on The Walking Dead tweeted out to ask for support for a film being produced by veterans for veterans.
It’s called War at Home, and it’s a great project. If you guys would take a minute and check out their Kickstarter, I’d be grateful! Even if you can’t give, please share the site on Twitter, Facebook, etc., so we can spread the word! Click here for the Kickstarter and here to read Ross’ tweet for yourself or retweet it.
If you want to let me know what you thought about Coda, I’d love to hear! Tell me in the Comments. Hit me up on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and send me a tweet! And keep up with all the latest about The Walking Dead from TWD Fan Site by following us on Twitter and Facebook!