Season 5, Episode 8, Coda

Walking Dead Season 5 RickIt only took about 75 seconds into this week’s episode for us to realize exactly how far Rick was willing to go to protect the group.

How far would you be willing to go?

This season The Walking Dead has been begging the question, “Is it okay to kill someone to protect yourself or your loved ones?” We’ve encountered these moments several times. In the very beginning of the season when the group escaped from Terminus, Rick urged the group to go back and wipe out Gareth and the other murderers, ending their tyranny. But the group urged him to forget about it and move on. That choice eventually cost Bob his life.

Tyreese chose not to kill Martin, and that choice resulted in him eating Bob’s leg and returning to attack the group at the church.

And then last week, in Episode 7, both Tyreese and Daryl opted to go the peaceful route and offer a trade to Dawn instead of trying Rick’s stealth option and slitting throats. The plan backfired. Sgt Lamson died and Beth died. 82% of Talking Dead fans agreed Beth would still be alive had they gone with Rick’s Zero Dark Thirty plan instead of Tyreese’s Ghandi plan.

Which was right?

We probably could all debate about when it’s right to kill until we’re blue in the face (like an old-school Dawn of the Dead zombie). But in all honesty, how many of us are going to be put in a life or death situation where we have to choose whether to kill someone or protect our family?

Instead, let me ask a bigger question: what is the difference between Rick’s group and the other groups they have encountered? What makes Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Tyreese, Daryl… and the whole group noticeably “good”?

Think about that for a second. The Governor. Dawn. Dare I bring up Shane? What are some of the common denominators of these adversaries our group keeps encountering?

One word: selfishness.

Most of those leaders became corrupt with the sense of “what’s in it for me?” Maybe it even started with a sense of “what’s best for the group?” But those waters were quickly muddied.

How convenient when Shane killed Otis to save his own butt… I mean… save the medicine for the group.

Dawn’s said she was looking out for the best of the group, but she quickly became a tyrant, enforcing her own agenda rather than the greater good.

The Governor… well… need I even articulate? Dude cut off Hershel’s head!!!

Rick, however, proved himself once again at the end of the episode when he invited anyone to join their group. The same Rick that didn’t freak out when Tyreese and Daryl questioned his decision. Rick proves honorable and selfless again and again.


  1. Who is your favorite character so far in the Season? Why?
  2. What was wrong with Dawn’s leadership?
  3. What was your first reaction when Rick killed Sgt. Lamson?
  4. Why did he kill him?
  5. Was he right?
  6. What moral code is Rick living by?
  7. Is it working?
  8. What moral code do you live by?

Read the following passage from scripture:

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18, NLT)

  1. How does this passage say we should prove we understand God’s ways?
  2. What do each of the verses 14, 15 and 16 say about jealousy and selfishness? What is an example of what any of this can look like?
  3. What are some of the many ways James describes wisdom?
  4. How do Rick and his friends exemplify some of these characteristics?
  5. How do you demonstrate some of these characteristics?
  6. How can you exemplify these characteristics this week?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen's Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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