What They Say:
What Happened and What’s Going On – After facing recent trials, a slight detour may offer the solution that the group has been seeking.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Like past seasons, the fifth season of The Walking Dead has its admirers and detractors, but the first half of this season has largely worked really well for me with what it did. Though it could have kept the Terminus story going for the whole season, things wrapped up quickly and we got the cast thrown to dealing with an array of things. And even though there was a lot of distaste for the Beth storyline, I rather enjoyed seeing a different kind of pocket of survivors and that they ended up staying in the city, which was a welcome change of pace. Everything came to a head towards the end with the loss we had and the way it made an impact on everyone on top of their own various survival experiences. The show has plenty of places it can go from here, with how the books have provided plenty of angles to pursue, but mostly we’re in this position agai of the group being out in the wilds and having to decide what they really want to do next.
After all of those events, the cold open here naturally goes for something a little somber as the show deals with some burying going on, which is always a creepy thing with this series that plays to the bigger point in this episode. There’s plenty of reason to give the show grief over how Maggie handled their separation this season, I kept coming to the mind of that it was just being handled off screen. There were other things taking the primary focus so that worked for me. What this whole encounter may bring to the forefront though is that the group learns that Beth was going to go to Virginia with Noah as he talked about where he was from there and how they had a wall. Not a lot of people, but small and protected and something that made them feel safe.
The journey to Richmond is one that’s certainly interesting as we get some solid dialogue and character material between Noah and Tyrese while everyone else listens in and we get to see some of the tension that’s gripping Glenn these days. As they get closer, they shift to walking rather than driving so as to go in as quietly as possible, which again reinforces the smart moves that the group does manage to make most of the time in living in this modern world. There’s plenty of caution in what they do, though Noah is a bit more upfront about just going there because he doesn’t really expect there to be problems and his desire to get home to see his mother and twin brothers is strong. While the place is secure, it’s not one that lasted in the end as the small community fell to fires and lots of bodies all around. You can imagine it being a pretty good place to hole up overall, though not for a long term solution as it was impossible to truly secure and supplies would run out fast.
While the place is lost, it’s a bit of a symbol for the core group of the things they lost and the hope that they had in that there might be something out there. They’ve all lost things to be sure, but it’s been a hard time recently, with finding out about the truth of Washington, the fear of of losing themselves as they saw some of those that had gone crazy back at Terminus in the storage containers and other pieces of it all. They’ve been on the move since the fall of the prison for awhile now and they’ve all had a number of things happen to them, but there’s a weariness to it all as well that’s seeping into them. Michonne shows it the most and seeing that kind of weary nature from her is particularly painful to watch as she’s bordering on real mental exhaustion when all is said and done. And to bring Noah into the fold, showing him coping with the loss of this place and finding his mother there after she had turned just further cements it on top of his siblings.
But the bigger loss here is that while Tyreese and Noah investigate the house to give him the closure he needs, Tyreese gets caught off guard and ends up getting a big, nasty bite taken out of him in the arm. While we lost Tyreese in the comics ages ago, and it doesn’t surprise that we’d lose him here in this series as well, it’s definitely something that I find unfortunate because the character here never really had the impact or presence that he did in the comics. He’s had some good scenes here and there, but as a whole I wanted a lot more out of the character than we got. It is interesting to see him here as he starts having some delusions of madness with those that have died before appearing before him, which is really intriguing since they get the Governor back for a moment, but also the kids, Bob and more. You know what he’s going through so you can explain it away, but it’s still pretty neat to see it unfold like that.
Michonne’s breakdown as it goes along is certainly interesting as she first tries to get Rick to think that this is a place to try and build up and figure out how to survive in. But the more they go through parts of it, where there was a break in the defenses, it’s made clear that something else was going on here that made it far worse and problematic. But it also makes it clear that they can’t stay there as it is indefensible overall. What it becomes is a rather impassioned plea on her part for them to not be so bleak as they’ve become after everything but rather to grab onto a bit of hope. And that hope is still Washington DC, even if Eugene lied, because it still makes the most sense. Even more so because they’re just a hundred miles from it and having that slim chance of hope can give them what they need to keep going on rather than just aimlessly going place to place.
Having Michonne’s time contrast with what Tyreese is going through definitely works well as his spiral as he inches closer to death is all about him trying to justify his existence. To not be like some wanted him to be, to just kill and do the hard things, but rather to do the harder things by being compassionate, by forgiving, and moving on because the world needs that more than anything else now. That they do this with him listening to or arguing with these other figures is really fun to see, especially when it shifts to what’s really going on as Rick and the others are holding him down so Michonne can slice his arm off and try to save him. The whole thing goes in some pretty big ways in the final act with lots of walker action, tension and a sense of dread that really works well in being stylish in a way the show hasn’t been most of the time. A montage of violence from the past playing out, all as we see Tyreese’s life comes to an end itself. Fitting in that kind of really awful way.
Everyone has a different set of expectations when it comes to what they want out of The Walking Dead. What I find is that the show largely hits what I want as I’m not looking for a constant walker festival, though I thoroughly enjoy the creative ways they deal with it. What I want, and what I get, are what’s some very engaging character drama set against a very terrible backdrop of how the world is. While I can totally get behind the frustrations many will have in that this is the first story to tell after coming back from some big events in the mid-season finale, I really, really enjoyed what we got here as we went through the end of a main character in a new and creative way. Which isn’t exactly easy considering the number of main characters lost so far. Hopefully with a new focus coming to the forefront with Washington again, and hopefully with the group all together the next time around, I’m excited to see where things go next.