Warning: This recap for the "Crossed" episode of The Walking Dead contains storyline and character spoilers.
It's not just you: This was a relatively low-key installment of The Walking Dead. But if it lulled you into thinking next week's midseason finale will be anything but action-packed, brutal, and emotionally crushing, you've been duped — as duped as Rick and his friends were in the aptly titled "Crossed."
"Heartbreaking" and "tragic" are among the words several TWD cast members have used to describe what happens when Rick and company face off against Officer Dawn and her Grady hospital crew in next week's ominously titled "Coda," and this is the wicked path that gets them there.
At Gabriel's Church
Sasha's chopping up the pews, Tyreese is dismantling the church organ, and Daryl is carrying the organ pipes outside and staking them in the ground. Gabriel Stokes is freaking out (because that's what this character does... that's pretty much all this character does) about the building, but as Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha, and Noah — he was the one who followed Daryl out of the woods — prepare to go to Atlanta to rescue Carol and Beth, they're making the church as safe as possible, since Carl, Judith, and Michonne are staying behind.
Once Rick and his friends hit the road — he declines Michonne's offer to go in his place, saying he feels he really owes Carol — Carl and Michonne barricade themselves inside. Gabriel continues to fret, trying to scratch blood off the floor with his fingernails. When Carl offers to teach him how to use a weapon, because he's going to need to know how to use one, he chooses a machete, then pleads illness and locks himself in his office.
He's not sick, though; he's in there using the machete to tunnel his way outside. The man who continues to harshly judge Rick and the others — despite what he did to his own congregation just to save his own skin — then sneaks away into the woods, until an encounter with a walker ends with him unable to kill her. He slinks back towards the church; will he now accept that other people have sacrificed, whether by choice or otherwise, so he lives? Or will he continue to have a 'tude about those who do what they have to do to survive? More importantly, will his cowardice bring danger to a member of Rick's group?
At the Fire Engine
Eugene's still unconscious, Abraham's still kneeling on the ground in dejection, and Rosita tries to make her boyfriend drink some water. He angrily steps to her, and Maggie draws her gun and threatens to shoot him if he doesn't get back on the ground. He does, and Maggie stays behind with him and Eugene while Glenn, Tara, and Rosita head off to replenish the water supply.
Little else happens with this faction of the Grimes gang: Rosita reveals that Eugene taught her how to strain water with cloth so it could be boiled to safely drink, and then shares that she met up with Abraham and Eugene in Dallas and joined their journey to D.C. after Abraham expressed appreciation of her skills. Glenn and his posse use some lining torn out of dead walkers' jackets to make a net and catch a fish, and Tara finds a yo-yo in a backpack.
And Eugene finally starts to stir... but his murmurings sound like gibberish. Could Abraham's brutal attack on his one-time BFF leave Eugene with permanent damage?
At Grady Memorial
Beth is keeping her eye on Carol, but when she publicly challenges an officer who tells Dawn they should stop wasting resources on her friend, Dawn orders the plug pulled on Carol to save face. "You just killed that woman," Dawn tells Beth.
But when they're alone, Dawn tells Beth she's stronger than she gave her credit for initially, and she passes her the key to the medicine cabinet. Beth grills Dr. Edwards about what drug will help Carol recover, and he tells her — but warns that if Dawn gave her the key to the meds, it wasn't out of the kindness of her heart.
Beth uses a handful of berries to bribe another ward to create a diversion so she can sneak into the medicine cabinet and get the 5mg of epinephrine Carol needs to ease her blood pressure and allow her to heal. She's successful, and after she hooks Carol up to the IV drip, she grabs her hand: "Carol, it's Beth. I just wanted you to know I was here."
Note: Epinephrine, aka adrenaline, doesn't "ease" blood pressure; in fact, it does the opposite. Did Dr. Edwards just deliver another dose of fatal drug misinformation to Beth?
In the ATL
Rick and the rest have arrived in Atlanta, and, thanks to Noah's knowledge of the hospital's inner workings, Rick's planned an aggressive, guns-blazing attack on Grady, during which they will free Carol and Beth. Tyreese has an alternative, more conservative idea: What if they lay down some fire near the hospital to draw a few of Dawn's cops out, then take them hostage and trade them for Carol and Beth?
"I get it. And it might work," Rick says. "This will work."
"Nah. That'll work, too,' says Daryl, who, emboldened by his adventure with Carol in Atlanta, confidently disagrees with Rick and helps convince the group to go with Tyreese's idea.
Noah is responsible for the gunfire that lures a pair of Grady cops outside the hospital, and they capture him, only to be handcuffed themselves when Rick and the others come out of hiding. Officer Lamson, who Noah tells Rick is a good guy, recognizes that Rick used to be a cop, from the way he talks and carries himself.
But before the discussion can continue, another white-cross car comes barreling towards them with the driver firing an automatic weapon. Lamson and his partner, Shepherd, dive into the car and it speeds away until Sasha lands a bullet in one of its tires. The car wipes out in an open area where skeletal walkers have melted to the pavement, and after a battle between Daryl and the third Grady cop, Licari, Rick and his crew round up the three Grady-ites and take them to a warehouse to prep the launch of their rescue mission.
At the warehouse, Shepherd says their plan won't work because Dawn is unstable, and she's aware that some of the officers want to oust her and put Lamson in charge. Shepherd says their best bet is to turn the Grady officers loose, so they can return to the hospital and take Dawn out themselves.
Lamson disagrees. "You can make this work," he says. "But you gotta be able to talk to her. I've known her for eight years. I know this woman. And my only interest is peaceful resolution, not dying, and sleeping in my bed tonight. So please, let me help you. Please."
Lamson continues to ingratiate himself to Rick and the others, and bonds with Sasha, who's in a fragile state after Bob's death. He tells her he recognized one of the rotters outside. The guy is out there, Lamson says, because he was sent on a mission in Lamson's stead. Sasha offers to deliver a mercy shot out the warehouse window to Lamson's friend, but she makes a major mistake. While she lines up the shot, Lamson rushes her from behind and smashes her head into the glass window. She's knocked out cold, and he takes off running.
Everyone should have heeded his advice: Know who you're talking to. How did Lamson know Rick was a cop? Was Noah telling the truth about Lamson being trustworthy, or is he in cahoots with the Grady-ites? What was Edwards's motive for giving Beth bad medicine advice for Carol? It's clear Rick and his friends have been crossed... but how far does the conspiracy go?
* This is the first Season 5 episode that has featured all of the main cast members.
* Daryl gets the award for DIY-er of the week. While on the ground being pummeled by Grady cop Licari, Daryl desperately looks around him for anything he can use as a weapon. There are also skeletal walkers chomping at him; why not just stick his fingers in one of the walkers' eye sockets, rip its head from the rest of its body, and beat Licari about his head with it? Neither Martha Stewart nor MacGyver could have been more resourceful.
* Maggie to Abraham: "Get over yourself. You're not the only one who lost something today. It's never going to get any better than this." Maggie's loss of hope (maybe she is grieving the loss of her sister in her own way?) seems like some ominous foreshadowing. She later asks Abraham if he wanted her to shoot him earlier when she pulled the gun on him. "Thought I did," he says. "But I didn't."
Now share your feelings with the group, Dead-heads: Do you think one of the major characters could die in the midseason finale? Who are you most worried about? Beth and Carol, despite both having proven themselves to be tough and capable, are obviously in danger with kooky Dawn at Grady, but there have been hints all season long that Tyreese may simply be too humane to continue doing what has to be done to survive in this world. Is it possible one of these viewer favorites doesn't make it into Season 5B?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.