We all knew The Walking Dead’s midseason finale was likely to have a very human body count, and that definitely proved to be the case. We lost a major character from the show, one who’s been a part of Rick’s group for several seasons, and even though many had correctly predicted what was coming, it will still take a huge emotional toil on The Walking Dead’s weary survivors. Furthermore, the actor who’d spent several years bringing that character to life wasn’t happy when it was time to exit stage left.
Spoilers for last night’s mid-season finale below!
In spite of Rick’s efforts to get Carol and Beth back from Dawn and her group, things took an ugly turn when Beth tried to snuff Dawn with a stolen pair of scissors. Dawn reflexively shot Beth in the head, and before anyone could stop him, Daryl took his revenge and shot Dawn down. Thankfully cooler heads then prevailed, but the damage was done, and we were left with the survivors reunited, just in time to mourn a friend.
Actress Emily Kinney played Beth for four seasons, beginning with the 2011 episode “Bloodletting.” Obviously the death of her character is no small thing for her, both because she’s been inhabiting Beth for so long and because it means leaving the surrogate family of The Walking Dead’s cast and crew behind. Speaking to TV Line, Kinney said that she found out about Beth’s impending death back in August, when showrunner Scott Gimple broke the bad news to her before any of the actors had seen the script for “Coda.” Unsurprisingly, she was “very sad” at the news, and Kinney even got choked up just recounting the story to TV Line. She said:
I think the writing throughout has been great, but I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I think the Beth character, in particular… more could’ve been done with a teenager growing up [in that world]. I did not see it coming at all, especially this season. It’s weird, because I would’ve been OK with [this happening] in the second season or the third season, when I was like, ‘Oh, maybe this character is coming to a close. What else is there to do with her?’ But now I feel differently… I feel like there was still so much more to [explore], like, what could have happened with Daryl?
No doubt the Daryl/Beth shippers are inconsolable today, but the Daryl/Carol contingent may be high-fiving while smoking victory cigars and firing crossbows at things. In a way, the pointlessness of Beth’s death is very realistic, because people do stupid things that prove to be fatal all the time here in the real world, and death catches most of us by surprise, whether it’s knocking on our door or those of the people we love. But with Beth six feet under, we’ll likely never get an answer of exactly what the relationship between Daryl and Beth could have been. Was it purely a big brother/little sister thing, or would it eventually have turned romantic? Kinney doesn’t have any more answers than we do. She told TV Line:
They never really told us what it was supposed to be… I think it was a situation where they were getting to know each other. First, they were just trying to get along at all, because I don’t think that they saw each other’s point of view very well. And then as the story went along they maybe became friends, and I do think that it started to sort of go, ‘Oh, what more could this be? Could it keep going into something else?’
The Walking Dead will return from hiatus on February 8, 2015.