The big day is finally here. After months of waiting, “The Walking Dead” returns to AMC Sunday at 9 p.m. EST. The hit series went on hiatus in late November, leaving fans on the edge of their seats after the death of a major character. Before you jump into the second half of Season 5, refresh your memory with a quick recap of the drama that went down in the midseason finale.
The midseason finale, episode 8, found Rick (Andrew Lincoln) trying to negotiate a hostage exchange with Dawn’s (Christine Woods) group at Grady Hospital. Dawn’s crew, consisting of police officers, captured Beth (Emily Kinney) in Season 4 and was keeping her against her will. Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) finally managed to track Beth down, but Carol was struck by one of the Grady Hospital vehicles before they could put a rescue mission into place. Daryl returned to camp with Noah (Tyler James Williams) -- another Grady captive, who Beth helped to escape -- and revealed they had to rescue not only Beth, but Carol as well.
Noah knew from experience that Dawn wouldn’t just let two people leave her group. Rick’s batch of survivors hatched a plan to get their hands on a few of Dawn’s officers and set up an exchange for their people. Unfortunately, one of the officers wasn’t willing to cooperate: Lamson (Maximiliano Hernandez) tried to escape after getting captured, but Rick plowed him down in a car before putting a bullet in his head. However, Lamson’s death led the other two officers in the possession of Rick’s posse to cooperate.
With the hostage exchange put in place, Rick’s miniature army entered Grady Hospital. They smoothly swapped both officers for Beth and Carol, but things turned sour as they were about to leave. Dawn wanted Noah back and wasn’t going to let Rick’s crew go before she got him. Rick argued that Noah wasn’t part of the deal, and Dawn’s officers begged her to forget about Noah. However, Dawn couldn’t let that happen. Not wanting to look weak, Dawn demanded Noah’s return.
To keep the hostage exchange from going south, Noah agreed to stay with Dawn. But Beth wasn’t willing to let Dawn win. She went up to Dawn and stabbed her with a small pair of scissors she had hidden on her person. In the blink of an eye, Dawn shot Beth in the head. Before Dawn had a chance to say anything, Daryl put a bullet in her head.
Elsewhere, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) traveled to the school grounds where the Terminus group set up its camp. He wanted to see the place for himself, and was horrified to discover Bob’s (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) maggot-infested foot still attached to their makeshift grill. His timing in visiting the location was unfortunate because a horde of hungry walkers managed to break out of the boarded-up school building and chase after him.
Father Gabriel, injured from stepping on a nail, managed to make it back to Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) at the church -- but the doors were locked. He begged them to let him in, and they did just in the nick of time. However, they couldn’t keep zombies out of the building. With one of them grabbing baby Judith, the group escaped through a hole in the floor that Father Gabriel made. Michonne tried to lock the walkers in the church, but there too many of them. The situation was looking grim, but Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and his crew roared up in a fire engine.
With Michonne, Carl, Father Gabriel and baby Judith reunited with Abraham’s group, they drove to Grady Hospital to find Rick and the others. They arrived just as they were walking out -- with Beth’s body in Daryl’s arms. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) collapsed on the floor, heartbroken about losing her sister.
The midseason finale concluded with a clip of Morgan (Lennie James) at Father Gabriel’s old church. Although the timing was unclear, the walkers trapped in there were long gone. As he was about to leave the building, he discovered a map to Washington on the floor -- and Rick’s name scrawled across it.
Episode 9, the midseason premiere, will find the group taking a “slight detour.” According to the synopsis, their new location “might prove to be the solution they’ve been looking for.”
Watch the new episode of “The Walking Dead” Season 5 when it is shown on AMC Sunday, Feb. 8, at 9 p.m. EST.