We return to the world of The Walking Dead. It’s been a long hard road for Rick and company, and tonight offered us a new path for the survivors, but not one that was without tragedy.
The episode opens with something a little different from what we have seen before, a beautiful montage of imagery depicting loss and meant to remind us of stories past. We see a funeral. We see Maggie breaking down in tears at the loss of her sister. The whole scene wraps with a haunting shot of blood dripping onto a photo.
Let me say first off that the imagery and foreshadowing is wonderful. While a clear bait and switch at the audience expectation with the ending, it is still haunting and wonderful visually.
The groups decides to honor Beth by helping Noah reach his home, a town he says is safe and secure, with walls protecting the community. The group hopes to find a place they can settle there as well. We as the audience would hope for this, even though we all know better.
I know many are annoyed with the fact that some characters don’t appear in some episodes. However, it seems that with such a large cast, this is the most effective way for the writers to really focus on what this show is about; the individual development of said characters.
We have a split in the group as; Rick, Tyreese, Michonne and Glen accompany Noah to check the state of his home.
The scene with Noah and Tyreese in the car ride helps to convey Tyreese’s role as the gentle fatherly figure that he has grown into so well. Tyreese offers support and wisdom to Noah, who is clearly still upset about the loss of Beth. While it begins with Noah trying to assuage Tyreese feeling guilty, it turns quickly to Tyreese relaying to Noah that things go the way they are going to go, and you have to keep going, almost as if he is bringing up the idea of fate working in their lives.
While the group makes their way through the woods around the town they are welcomed by barbed wire, an empty lookout post, and finally a wall meant to keep out walkers.
At this moment, the hope is dashed as they find the town ripped apart, with houses looted (and appearing to have even been blown up or at least burned) a few stray walkers wandering the roads, and a definite feeling of a ghost town. Noah breaks down in tears, realizing that his community is gone, and most likely his family. Michonne, Rick and Glenn decide to see if there are any supplies they can use while Tyreese stays with Noah.
While it is sad to see such hope dashed, we all knew it was inevitable, as one of the main idea of the series is that the group can never be safe. This point is brought to the forefront and made even more heartbreaking when Glenn states none of them really expected the place to still be there. It is harsh to hear a character who began as one of the more innocent and even hopeful of our cast, has become so cynical, and is now only concerned with survival and his own group. As Glenn states the person he is now would not stop to help someone else, as opposed to the man he was in the beginning of this season, who risked his life to release a prisoner from Terminus.
Tyreese tries to get through to Noah, telling him about when he himself had lost hope, even wanted to die, but he didn’t; and because of that he was able to save baby Judith. He is interrupted by Noah rushing off towards what used to be his home. Tyreese tries to convince Noah not to go inside, but Noah insists, and so Tyreese leads the way.
Not a lot of time is spent dealing with how horrifying the scene in the house is. Noah’s mother lay on the living room floor with her head crushed. One of his brothers is in bed, eviscerated. The group in general seems to be desensitized to such imagery, and while Noah does mourn he is still shown to be able to move past this relatively quickly.
While exploring the house Tyreese becomes distracted, and then bitten by the second of Noah’s brothers who has become a walker. Noah manages to kill the walker with a plastic rocket ship to the eye, however it is too late to prevent Tyreese from being infected. Noah runs off to get help.
Thus begins what is probably the most interesting part of this episode (to some the entire series), we see the hallucinations of Tyreese as fever and infection begins to set in.
Its a bold choice by the writers, one that I am sure many will feel is pointless or too overt with its discussion of morality. I enjoyed the scenes myself, glad to see some familiar faces (Bob, Beth, The Governor, Mika, Lilly and Martin) and it gave us a clear view of Tyreese’s thinking, that he was a good man, who wondered about some of his choices (ex. letting Martin live after he threatened Judith, going to Woodbury in the first place) but deep down inside he knew that they wouldn’t have changed things and in the end he had a clear conscience. My only concern with this turn of events, was why they would choose to have a single child zombie be the thing that puts down a man we have seen decimate an entire hoard with nothing but a hammer, not once, but twice.
Rick, Michonne and Glenn discuss their next move. Glenn and Rick have all but given up on the idea they will ever find somewhere safe to live, and completely focus on survival. Michonne is quick to try and salvage some semblance of a goal, even if it is one as unlikely as Washington still being safe.
The scene does an excellent job of showing Michonne’s growth. As other characters have given up, and accepted that their lives will just be violence and hopelessness, Michonne has instead decided that they need to have some sort of chance or they might as well be dead anyways. It does an excellent job of showing her growth and making it feel natural.
The group attempts to save Tyreese, first by amputating his arm, then trying to rush him back to the others for help. Their escape is hindered repeatedly.
I found myself wondering if Tyreese may survive, as we are given a number of hope spots. It served a valuable parallel to the groups own thoughts, and questioning whether to give up or not. Despite every obstacle though the group refused to surrender. It was an excellent way to show that they may have their moments of despair and feeling no light ahead, but that they cant give up.
Sadly, it was not enough, and while the group may have rallied to seek some chance, Tyreese himself came to peace with the idea of moving on to the next life.
As they drove him away, trying desperately to keep him alive, Tyreese did not see Rick, Michonne, Glenn and Noah. He saw Mika, Lilly, Bob and Beth welcoming him and comforting him, assuring him it would be okay.
I have to admit when the car pulled over I knew Tyreese was gone, but I still hoped that the gentle giant had somehow survived. All in all it was a touching send off for the character, as we now see the funeral from the beginning was his, buried under a crude cross, with his trademark beanie to mark its place.
My only major complaint about the episode is that killing off Tyreese so soon after Beth felt like it took away a bit of the impact. These were two beloved characters, and having them die in as many episodes felt numbing.
While many of the more artistic elements (the opening montage, the hallucinations, the radio) were well done, I can not deny that at times it seemed very much a different show from what I have become accustomed to.
+ Good charecterization
+Beautiful and haunting imagery
+Return of some favorite charecters
-A little out of place at times with the usual show
-Lacking in impact with major character death
-Dissapointing way for Tyrese to get bitten