“I know you look at me and you just see another dead girl. I’m not Michonne, I’m not Carol, I’m not Maggie. I survived and you don’t get it, ’cause I’m not like you or them. But I made it! And you don’t get to treat me like crap just because you’re afraid!”
Dear The Walking Dead writers,
Back when Beth Greene said those words, it felt as if she was talking to the audience. An audience that would immediately put in doubt her presence in an episode with the series’ most famous character, who would immediately say she didn’t deserve to share screen time with their beloved Daryl Dixon. An audience that would probably be angry by the time she said those words that she wanted to grieve the way her father had grieved when he lost his son and his wife (many people think of several Hershel and Beth parallels, but they seem to forget after the walkers in the barn were shot, Hershel went off to a bar to drink, and I don’t see anyone calling him out about that.)
It turns out, those words were the start of what I believe is the most emotionally manipulating and extremely unsatisfactory Walking Dead storyline up to date.
Here is what you guys decided to do with Beth Greene:
You gave her a big episode with one of the most successful members of the cast and brought her to the front and center. You highlighted her hope, her inner strength, her ability not to take shit from anyone. You made Daryl Dixon open up to her like he hadn’t opened up to anyone before. You cemented the base of what seemed would be a romantic relationship with said character. You had her kidnapped and taken away from him. You built up an entire storyline revolving around her where she proved, once again, that she was not useless and not a burden. That she was smart, she was strong. She was a survivor.
And then you killed her. Not just killed her. You killed her without a proper reunion with the group she believed in the survival of. You killed her by having her make a decision that made no sense whatsoever. That was completely out of character for the character she had turned out to be. That was completely out of character for the rest of the characters in the scene, who didn’t even attempt to stop her from stepping towards Dawn. “I get it now” were empty words because Beth had caught up on Dawn’s bullshit way before the moment she wanted Noah back. Her death was not heroic, because it was mind-blowingly stupid for you to believe the audience would buy the same girl who had elaborated an escape from the hospital would think stabbing a bulletproof vest-wearing woman on the shoulder was a smart decision.
I have no idea how you finished writing this script and thought “he he he we’re SO SMART, aren’t we going to SHOCK everyone?”
Because yes, you did shock me, with your crappy writing.
I am no screenwriter, but as an audience member, I cannot understand why would you go to such lengths to write a story that leads up to someone’s survival just to kill them for shock value. It is not smart, it is not “realistic”, it’s contradicting yourself for people to cry, for people to have something to write about when the midseason finale is over. But does it honor you as a writer? Not at all. It shows you are not above emotionally manipulating an audience. That you are not above killing women for manpain (we’ll get to that in a second), that you are not above shitting all over your own work and calling yourself “a genius.”
And the worst part here is Beth Greene’s death was in no way about her. Hell, many of the things that happened to her in season 4 were not about her. We saw her pick the Washington DC spoon, but she never found out the group was heading there. We saw Noah tell her about Richmond (ASZ?), and now she will never get to go. We saw Rick put his sheriff hat on her and name her “the new sheriff in town” but their parallels end now with the scene where she wakes up at the hospital. We saw everyone’s reactions to her death, but we didn’t even see her dead body until Daryl came out of the hospital carrying her dead weight, just in time for Maggie to see it. By the way, can you explain how, in the time this episode happened, Maggie’s group had time to go back to the church from wherever the hell they were, supposedly hours away, find out the group was at the hospital, then drive all the way back to Atlanta? Do you know how time works?
The aftermath will be a regressing, angry, depressed Daryl after losing someone he’d been looking for (yawn, Sofia? Merle? How many times are we going to have to deal with grumpy, whiny Daryl? Is his manpain more important than a character’s life? Apparently yes!) and a broken Maggie, who had already accepted Beth was most likely dead — given the fact that she never once mentioned her, even after Daryl confirmed that she was, in fact, alive– and got her hopes up just to have them torn down.
There were so many other places to take Beth: she could have demanded respect as a valuable member of the group, who was no longer willing to be just Judith’s nanny. You could have dealt with the aftermath of the reunion with her sister. The opportunity for both of them to grieve Hershel. You could have had the audience see Daryl Dixon fall in love and, yes, most likely experience loss when she died, because everyone dies in The Walking Dead except for maybe Rick, Daryl and Carl. You could have explored the dynamic between Daryl and Carol and their friendship with Beth there, and make the distinction between the two types of love he felt for each of them. You could have deepened the friendship between Carol and Beth, and explored the guilt Carol would feel after thinking they couldn’t save people anymore, only to have Beth save her. You could have had her die in battle, as any other character would, with some actual meaning, not this.
What you did to Beth was also a real low blow to suicide attempt survivors. A few episodes before her death, in Slabtown, you had Dawn tell Beth that her suicide attempt made her weak. It made her a burden. Someone people had to carry and keep out of danger. Those words resonated with the audience, those words made the audience want to watch her survive. It made the audience want to see Beth outside of the hospital, with her family, handling herself just fine.
And instead, she got killed by the exact same person who told her those things by making a dumb mistake that was more suicidal than anything.
What a lovely message to send.
There is nothing that can bring Beth back (although there are petitions out there, you have a shit-ton of spoons coming your way, and the science side of Tumblr explains there are ways to survive a bullet to the brain) but the way she was killed said a lot about where The Walking Dead is going and where you want these characters to go, and I no longer want to go there with them.
So to you, The Walking Dead writers, I say: