The Walking Dead Season 5 Episode 9 “What Happened and What’s Going On” Recap

walking-deadHi Everybody!

I am finally back in town after being out off and on for a couple weeks. After catching up on a ton of work and life in general, it’s time for my favorite and most important thing: catching up on my shows and getting these recaps to you all in timely fashion.

To make matters even better, The Walking Dead is finally back and all feels right again. A lot of people have love-hate relationships with this show, but at the end of the day it’s hard not to see that The Walking Dead is really doing something special for television.  The story itself and the high stakes, as well as the fate of the characters are often what keep those who have given up or aren’t as interested coming back. Because when a show you gave up on in season 3 just had its highest ratings in season 5…it may be time to come back. How could you not even want to sneak a peek? It’s that good.

Now even after all of that praise leave it to The Walking Dead to start off their second half with a punch and a trip. And by that I mean a literal trip. Director Greg Nicotero was definitely going for a mirage-y freaky kind of vibe. And it’s actually more of a double punch as we are all still mourning over the loss of Beth from the mid-season finale…with that said…

Our band of survivors lost another member, as we had to say goodbye to the lovable, peace-keeping teddy bear, Tyrese. However, with his loss we were able to revisit some other loved (and hated) characters.

I can already tell this is going to be a long one. Sorry folks.

We open with a montage filled with clips of our survivors, including a burial presided by Father Gabriel (assumed to be Beth’s), Maggie sobbing at camp, and a group led by Rick going on a run. These clips are also woven in with flashes of imagery of people and places that are mainly unknown. They include a photo of two young boys, a photo of a framed house, a sunshine drawing on pavement, Mika and Lizzie, trees passing by, skeletons, and abandoned broken cars. They really do not make any sense and sort of displaced me, but as the episode moved on and the timeline became clearer, it was evident that these were images seen from Tyrese’s perspective. The photo of the house begins to have blood dripping onto it, telling viewers that we were about to get dark. Shocker.

When Noah tells Rick that his plan was to go with Beth to find his family in Richmond, Rick thinks that it would be a good idea to help Noah fulfill this mission. It’s also a decision he made as a way for the group to honor Beth. She had wanted to get Noah to his family and they owe it to her to honor that. The whole gang goes on the trek but the ones that go to see if Noah’s family is still there are Rick, Glenn, Tyrese, Michonne, and Noah. It’s a really solid group and I was happy to see Glenn and Michonne there. Although it was clear that Glenn was not as happy since he breaks a CD he was staring at his reflection in. It’s a sign that he is not in a good place. Who Glenn sees in that reflection is not who he is anymore. It’s not who he wants to be anymore. Rick is communicating with Carol and the rest of the group at camp via walkie talkie.

On the way to Noah’s family we learn that while his father was dead, he still had his mother and twin brothers (most likely the boys we saw in the opening montage) before they were separated. Tyrese opened up to Noah a little bit as well saying that his father always made him and Sasha listen to the news so they’d always be aware of things going on in the world whether they are good and bad.

Now, history would have it that anytime a character really opens up chances are the end is near. At this point it could have been Noah or Tyrese that would bite the dust, but it was too soon to tell. When they pull off the road we see the skeleton and abandoned cars from the opening montage. The images are mainly things that are connected to this day. The puzzle is slowly being pieced together.

When the group approaches the gates of Shirewilt Estates, the community Noah’s family resided in, it becomes quickly clear that there isn’t anyone left. It is all destroyed homes and charred bodies. It’s overrun. Once they get it, Rick sees it fit to at least try to look around and see what they can use. Noah has broken down crying in the street. Tyrese, our human teddy bear, gives him a speech about how he has to keep on moving and that he can’t give up. Tyrese pulls ahead in the probably going to die tonight category.

“I was there for Judith when she needed me. I saved her and brought her back to her dad.”…“That wouldn’t have happened if I had just given up. If I hadn’t chosen to live.”

This seems to somewhat snap Noah out of his zone, but just as quickly as he’s done crying he has taken off towards his family home. Tyrese follows after him but somehow doesn’t seem to catch up, even though Noah has that limp. Once they reach the house Tyrese mutters my favorite line of the night: “Me first.” I’m not sure why this line stuck out at me so much, but I loved that even though Tyrese does not agree with the methods of many in this world he still is willing to take it head on and protect others.

Once inside they find Noah’s mother dead on the living room floor. It’s clear that she died with a swing to the head. It’s unclear whether or not she was already a walker when that happened, but I am learning towards no. While Noah covers up and mourns his mother Tyrese continues looking around.

He sees a walker behind a closed door (assumed to be one of the twin brothers) so he moves to the next room where the other twin is lying on the bed dead. Tyrese takes some time to look at the photos on the wall of the two twins, some with Noah and some with the family. Tyrese stares almost too intently at the photos as I thought he recognized something or someone. We will never be able to know though because the other walker escapes from the next room, most likely by a connecting bathroom, and bites Tyrese in the arm.

You know better than this Tyrese, clear the damn room first! Make sure that open doorway in the bedroom doesn’t lead to the room where the functioning walker is. C’mon man.

I’m going to pause the recap right here to give some of my thoughts on The Walking Dead’s decision to kill Tyrese. Was it a good call? Probably. Tyrese was never going to be the character that fans of the comic book were expecting him to be. In fact, he was quite the opposite. Not a badass but a sweetheart. Not a killer but a pacifist. He was not strong enough for the world and did not have much story left to be told. Too many opportunities have passed for him to have made a decision that would change his outlook on life.

Was it a good time to kill him? This is a tricky one. While I do think that Tyrese needed to move on from the apocalyptic world, I am not sure how I felt about them killing him off in the premiere. Many viewers were still mourning Beth who was just killed last episode. Also there is a small window of time needed to re-acclimate with the show and characters after the hiatus. It seemed rushed and out of place. While the episode does a great job honoring Tyrese through his turn and ultimate death, I can’t help but feel like the writer’s took an easy way out killing him so abruptly. I am happy that he found peace and escape but also was jarred at the same time.

Okay, let’s jump back in. This is where the episode starts to get really good.

Poor Noah comes in and has to see that his walker little brother just bit Tyrese and kills him with a model airplane. That had to have been tough for Noah but there was no time to even process it as he runs to go get Tyrese help from the others.

What have the others been up to you ask? They are pretty much foreshadowing things, talking about humanity, and their future as a group. While they are looking for supplies we realize again that Glenn is starting to go down a much darker path than we have ever seen with him. He also finds a bat that he uses for the remainder of the episode (this is an important note to some people).

He says that nothing matters anymore. It’s a heavy line coming from what used to be the lightest character on the show. I’m all for character development but Glenn’s sense of humor and spritely personality is really missed by me.

Michonne wants to stay and turn the estate into their camp, but Rick tells her that it’s not safe. All of her convincing and positivity may have been doing some good until they found a pile of disembodied corpses lying around. They’d been brutally mutilated, which is not a good sign for the message that she’d been going for. Gloomy Glenn is all like “see guys, nothing matters anymore.”

Michonne pitches DC one more time. Eugene may have lied about a cure but he is an intelligent man and probably picked the most worthwhile place to go to. Maybe they should consider it instead of roaming around in a pitiful existence. Rick actually agrees. He is okay with moving on. He just wanted to come here for Beth and Noah.

As they head back they hear Noah screaming for help as he’s fighting off walkers.

Tyrese is laying on the ground bleeding out when all of the sudden the radio turns on giving reports of stories that loosely relate to some of the things the group has gone through. It wasn’t immediately clear to me, but it is a hallucination. (Fun Fact: Andrew Lincoln is voicing the news reports). This is when it gets really chilling.

The-Walking-Dead-What-Happened-and-What-Happens-Now-Review-e1423534529946Tyrese sees previous characters both beloved and hated appearing before him. The show did a great job with keeping this under wraps because I was completely blown away by the reveal. These are deaths that he has been harboring a little bit of guilt over for one reason or another. There’s Martin, who tells him that if he had just killed him instead of lying then maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation because Gareth wouldn’t have known where to find them. Bob appears telling Tyrese to ignore the fool and that all things happen the way that they are supposed to. We also get Mika and Lizzie and an amazing cameo by David Morrissey as The Governor. I was not expecting that one.  It all feels complete when we hear the light strums of a guitar as Emily Kinney as Beth is there as well singing a song. It was a nice touch.

It’s safe to say that some of these people are dead because of decisions that Tyrese made or that Tyrese is where he is now based on the decisions that he made. At one point the Governor gets in Tyrese’s face throwing spite and accusations but his hallucination turns out to be another walker in real life. Tyrese fights him off and ultimately drops his hammer. That was a tough part to watch as the hammer slowly falls to the ground. Tyrese has also fallen. He tries to fight off the walker but the only thing he can do is offer up his bitten arm for the walker to bite AGAIN as he searches for a weapon. He is successful and retreats back underneath a desk.

As the ghosts continue to speak to him, Tyrese makes one final chilling speech to The Governor.

“I know who I am. I know what happened and what’s going on. I know. You didn’t show me shit. You? You dead. Everything that you were is dead.”

When the Governor brings up Carol and the fact that he forgave her after killing his girlfriend Karen, Tyrese still doesn’t back down.

“I didn’t turn away. I kept listening to the news so I could do what I could to help! I’m not giving up! You hear me?”

It was a beautiful scene and wonderful acting by Chad Coleman who truly deserved such a moment. He has received so much flack for his character that it was so nice to see him put all of his acting chops into that powerful concluding monologue.

Rick, Glenn, and Michonne are fighting off walkers to get to Noah. Bob, Beth, Mika and Lizzie are all talking to Tyrese now. They are trying to get him to come to the other side with them, where it’s better. As the sister’s pull on his arm to come with them the scene abruptly changes to Rick and the gang pulling on his arm and amputating it – a technique that has worked for them before.

walking-dead-review-5-9The group tries to escape while carrying a dying Tyrese. Now, Tyrese is no small dude. They really struggle while trying to get him out but manage to do so. Once they reach the car, Rick accidentally runs into a van where all the remaining remnants of the walkers they saw earlier were. Heads galore.

After that, it’s a peaceful ride back for Tyrese who looks out the window of the van. We then get pieces of all of the clips and imagery we had been seeing. The puzzle makes sense. It’s a montage of how Tyrese got to where he was. The prison, Woodbury, the tracks to Terminus, the girls, the twins’ photo, the trees. As the camera pans out the radio is back on again we realize that Tyrese is hallucinating once more. He is riding in the van with Bob, Beth, Mika, and Lizzie. His final words of the episode are “turn it off.” It’s meant to be for the radio. He doesn’t want to her what’s going on anymore and ultimately it’s also his decision to turn off his life.

He decided to ultimately die. It’s not clear whether he could have fought to stay alive, but I imagine yes. However, he knew he could not live in this world anymore. He passes away peacefully in the company of his friends. RIP Tyrese.

We come to find that the burial at the beginning was not for Beth but was actually Tyrese. They all scoop dirt onto his grave beside a cross with his beanie on top. I got chills seeing that beanie on the cross. It was such a defining piece of the character. Sasha was heartbroken to have lost both of the men she loved, but she is strong and I think she will move on with that strength. I wish that I could say the same about Maggie, but unfortunately I can’t.

I think that the show and the writers may not have honored or portrayed Tyrese as decently in the show as they could have, but I do believe that they turned that all around in his death. It was the most meaningful and moving death of any of the characters. We were able to get into his head and see what the change to walker is really like. We were able to see him come to terms with the life he chose to live and whether or not he could continue that path. It was beautiful storytelling.

I will miss Chad Coleman. The interviews and podcasts that I’ve heard of him truly show how much this show meant for him and it’s a shame he couldn’t have become more. I will not necessarily miss Tyrese, but will be interested to see how his death and ultimate absence will affect the group.

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