As The Walking Dead returns with episode 5.09, What Happened and What’s Going On, the survivors seek safety in a gated community, we encounter some old friends (and enemies), and we say goodbye to someone we loved. Welcome back to the fight — and if you’re not okay with spoilers, please stop reading now.
We begin with a haunting series of snapshots: A grime-streaked window, first Maggie and then Noah in tears, a graveside service, a framed picture of a house. A flickering quality to the light in these shots suggests grief — which we assume, at this point, is for Beth.
Noah and Beth had a plan, you see. They were going to return to Noah’s family home, in a leafy neighborhood that was once well fortified against attack. When the survivor group finds the place, Noah climbs over the gate and collapses in tears. “It’s gone,” Glen sighs to Carol over two-way radio, as zombies wander the quiet streets.
Noah. This isn’t the end. – Tyreese
Tyrese accompanies a grieving Noah to his home, but protectively insists on going inside first. The body of Noah’s mother is just inside the front door; as Noah kneels beside her to say goodbye, Tyreese explores the house. He can tell there’s a walker behind one of the closed doors: the shadows of its feet bump and shuffle in the silence.
Inside Noah’s brothers’ room, a small body lies on a bed. Tyreese moves closer, drawn by the photos of the brothers pinned to the wall next to it.
This is his fatal mistake. The walker that was once Noah’s kid brother lunges from the closet, and sinks its teeth in his arm.
Meanwhile, the others are foraging for supplies. While Michonne and Rick discuss the possibility of staying here (“It’s in a forest,” argues Rick. “No sight lines.”), Glen finds a baseball bat. He turns it in his hands, and we see a new darkness in his eyes.
You knew this place wouldn’t still be here.
You didn’t? – Rick and Glen
Tyreese, gripping his wounded arm, is in an entirely different place now. The radio in the dead boys’ bedroom has turned itself on; a male English accent reads a news story about a roving band of terrorists. Worse, Tyreese isn’t alone anymore.
I tried to tell you, man. It was gonna be you. You’re the kind of man who saves babies. –
The ghost of Martin is there with him. As are the creepy kids from last season, Mika and Lizzie. And gentle Bob. And — worst of all — the Governor.
As old One-Eyed Psycho Ghost Governor barks insults at our poor wounded friend (“You have to pay the bill!”), Tyreese slips further away. Now Beth is here too, strumming a guitar and warbling “Struggling Man.” Gotta move onnnn.
Does it get any worse than this, Basketcases? A zombie bit you in the arm, a girl won’t stop singing at you, and you need to pay a serial killer?
You? You dead. Everything that you were is dead. – Tyreese to the Ghost of the Governor
Fighting back against his phantom tormentors is brave, but it’s too late for Tyreese. Despite the best efforts of his friends in the survivor group, despite his own determination (“I’m not giving up!”), it’s too late. His friends get him to the car and speed off … but it’s too late. Rick in the driver’s seat becomes Noah; the radio is again broadcasting the terrorist story.
“Turn it off,” Tyreese says to Noah, and that’s when I know it’s over.
That view out the grimy car window in the opening scene: Tyreese sees that sky, those trees, in his last moments. The graveside eulogy is for him; the grave is his. It’s all so beautiful, and so horrible, and so true.
I loved Tyreese. I loved that he was the kind of man who saves babies. I would have rooted for him to the last scene of the last season, and I wish the world of The Walking Dead were a world in which someone like him could survive. But he hated that world, and I don’t blame him. I’d hate it too.
Final episode thoughts:
- I evidently did not love Tyreese enough to spell his name correctly until this very recap (when I had to look up the character to remember the actor’s name). Thank you, Chad Coleman. I loved our friend Tyreese, and I’m sorry it took me so long to nail the spelling of his name.
- I’m also not great with song titles. Thanks, Deb, for the name of Beth’s downer of a song; I’ve edited this post to reflect the change.
- Gutsy move for the Walking Dead: Killing off two major characters (first Beth, now Tyreese) in two consecutive episodes. This tells me that none of the survivors is safe — perhaps not even Rick.
- Ballcap Hayseed is as much of a dead asshole as he once was a living one. I’m glad he got killed. I hope it really hurt.
- “Never trust any gated community.” I said this to my family members when the survivors’ car rolled up to the big gate of Cannibal Estates, or whatever the hell that subdivision is called. My warning stands.
- Michonne had some nervous moments in the final zombie faceoff. Who expects to have to fight off a zombie with a couple pounds of rebar sticking out his neck? I certainly do not!
- Blog note for next week: I have two memorial services to attend between February 13 and February 16, one of which is out of town. The next recap may be late. Thanks for your understanding, friends.