Not a lot of things happened in "Crossed," the episode before next week's mid-season finale; it's clear that most of it is setting the stage, especially since it checks in with everybody in the group for the first time in a long time to see how things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong for each of them. Fun!
The main business is obviously Rick and the others' plan to rescue Beth and Carol from Generally Idiotic Hospital, but "Crossed" intercuts this by updating the stories of all the disparate parts of the group. Here's what they're all up to:
At the Church — Carl and Michonne board up the church in a very smart preventative measure while Father Gabriel tries to clean up some of the blood stains left by the slaughter of the Termites. Carl tries to get the increasingly panicky Father Gabriel to choose a weapon to defend himself; Gabriel picks a machete, and then immediately uses it to pull up the floorboards and crawl under the church to escape from the people who butchered a group of unarmed people in a house of God. (Of course we know the Termites are pure evil, and obviously Gabriel was told the same, but of the people he actually saw commit heinous murder, it was Rick and the others.) Upon exiting the church, Gabriel immediately steps on a nail and is attacked by a zombie wearing a cross necklace; Father Gabriel somehow manages to see neither of these things as a sign from God.
At the Firetruck — Abraham is still in an emotional lockdown. Glenn and Rosita catch fish with a makeshift net. Eugene wakes up at the verrrrrry end of the episode. Tara finds a yo-yo.
At the Hospital — Dawn continues to be a goddamned mess. See, one cop thinks that Carol's too messed up to waste supplies on, but Beth pipes in with the very valid point that "If you aren't trying to help heal people, why the fuck are you even running an evil hospital." This somehow forces Dawn into ordering Carol be taken off her meds, which she somehow blames on Beth, but then she gives Beth the key to the drug cabinet so she can try to save Carol. Dawn says Beth can't get caught because… I don't even know. Somehow Dawn's policy is to let everyone tell her what to do, ostensibly in order to be in charge, even though if she were in charge people couldn't tell her what to do. She's an idiot. Anyways, Beth gets Carol her drugs, but Carol doesn't wake up.
That leaves Rick, Daryl, Tyreese, Sasha and Noah — who's very willing to stick it to the assholes at Generally Idiotic — to figure out how to rescue Beth and Carol. Rick's ready to form an all-out assault that requires crackerjack timing and a map of the hospital drawn in the dirt, but Tyreese suggests luring a couple of the cops to them by firing a few rounds in the air, capturing them, and offering them to Dawn in a trade of hostages. Rick thinks it's risky, but Daryl agrees with Tyreese; Rick, having dissolved the Ricktatorship long ago, consents.
It comes close to working without a hitch — they fire the guns, two officers come a-runnin', they ambush 'em and tie them up — until another police car comes with another cop, who manages to rescue his fellow hospital officers for about five seconds before Sasha shoots out his tire and… actually, all you need to know is that all three officers are captured, and Daryl and Cop #3 have a surprisingly brutal, genuinely tense fight in a parking lot of napalmed, half-melted zombies trying to bite them. Daryl wins when he rips off a zombie's head (using the eye sockets as a handle!) and bludgeons the officer withit.
One of the officers, named Bob (the still mourning Sasha's ears prick up at this) is one of the good guys, according to Noah; Bob tells Rick how to negotiate the irksomely incapable Dawn. They head off to confront the hospital in the next episode, leaving Sasha to watch the prisoners. The episode basically ends with Officer Bob telling Sasha a sad story about a friend he saw melted and zombified on the pavement outside, Sasha agrees to shoot it, and Bob, hands tied behind his back, manages to slam Sasha's head into a window, knocking her out. I assume Bob is still a good guy, but he's also still a member of Team Hospital, and obviously he's not going to stay captive if Sasha's going to be stupid enough to fall for his story.
And that's the prologue for next week. Not a ton happened, but even in its slowness it ratcheted up the tension nicely in pretty much all locations but the firetruck — it was a calm before the likely storm of the mid-season finale, but in a way that still heralds all sorts of shocking, horrible, and very possibly depressing events coming up in the mid-season finale. And man, I do mean depressing — Norman Reedus, Daryl himself, said that the midseason finale made him cry for an hour, so… yeah. I don't expect everyone's going to make it to 2015's mid-season premiere.
• Some delightfully gruesome zombies this week. Obviously, the real highlight was the parking lot full of napalmed zombies literally half-melted to the asphalt; they all look like rotting, overcooked hotdogs. But an honorable mention goes to the zombie Father Gabriel pushes onto a small stump that impales her stomach, because as she tries to crawl after Gabriel she basically disembowels herself. Awesome.
• I should also mention the fight in the melted zombie lot again between Daryl and the bald officer, because it was genuinely tense — basically, although the zombies were stuck in place, there were basically dozen of chomping zombie mouths all around Daryl and the cop, and one wrong move would have been deadly. Daryl accidentally put his fingers in a zombie's mouth when grasping for something to bludgeon the cop with for just a second! Just some really good choreography and planning in this scene.
• Man, I'm a sucker for a scene where someone ineffectually tries to clean blood off a floor.
• Tara dubs the firetruck squad Team GREATM, after the first letter of everyone's name. Notice how I refused to call them GREATM in this recap.
• If anyone can give me an explanation how three zombies/people got stuck under one fallen pole I'd love to hear it.
• AMC has a pretty great behind-the-scenes video on the napalmed zombies if you're so inclined (and have a strong stomach).