After a midseason finale that featured the tragic death of a beloved character, The Walking Dead is back to continue the second half of what has been a superb season.

Is it good?

This is weird, man…

The episode’s cold open felt like an overly ambitious film student project filmed with really good equipment. It makes sense later, but at the moment where blood started spilling on that picture of a house, I fully expected a cursive ‘FIN’ to slam cut onto the screen.

Rick must be using a Fitbit, too.

Thank goodness that in this post-apocalyptic hellscape, Rick and Co. can still find plenty of gas for their cars and AA batteries for their walkie-talkies. The group is on the road to somewhere and Tyrese is doing his usual philosophical speechifying, this time to Noah.

As they close in on their destination, Rick decides that it would be best to approach it on foot. I guess there is a strategic advantage to going through the likely walker-infested woods, but I personally would have insisted on staying in the car.

Either way, the group safely reaches their destination, which ends up being Noah’s old neighborhood. The place is in pretty rough shape; dead bodies and debris are everywhere. At least someone was thoughtful enough to have mowed and edged all the yards and put up a sign that said ‘Wolves Not Far.’ Did they mean zombie wolves? Because I gotta be honest, I’d kind of love to see that.

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Editor’s Note: I wouldn’t. ::changes into fresh pair of underwear::

Zombie wolf image courtesy of Zynnya.

Awkward Family Reunion

Noah has a complete meltdown over seeing his old stomping grounds ravaged by the same zombie apocalypse THAT HAS CLEARLY AFFECTED THE REST OF THE WORLD. In his defense, though, he’d been locked away in Dawn’s hospital for a while. It’s also understandable how someone might irrationally hold out hope that their home would somehow survive as a coping mechanism.

So did Rick buy into the ‘Noah’s Ark’ theory, too? Nope. He explains to Glenn that their trip there was his way of honoring Beth’s desire to get her friend home…which seems like a colossal waste of precious gasoline. He also admits that he wanted to kill Dawn after she shot Beth even though he could tell it was an accident.

Considering some of the things that he and the group have had to do to survive, this doesn’t seem like much of a revelation. Seriously Rick, don’t beat yourself up about it— we all wanted you to kill her, too.

But I digress… Tyrese starts speechifying again when Noah can’t take it anymore and runs off. Actually, he just saw his house (which is still a good excuse). I tell ya, for a kid with a busted leg, he moves pretty damn quick. After catching up to him, Tyrese tries to convince Noah not to go inside. When that doesn’t work, he asks Noah to let him go first.

Upon entering the house, Noah finds a woman (I’m assuming it’s his mother) lying on the floor with part of her head caved in. As he covers her with a nearby sheet, Tyreese becomes transfixed by a picture of Noah with his brother…

…who busts out of their room and takes a big bite out of Tyrese’s arm. Noah finally makes himself useful and jams an F-16 model airplane into his brother’s head, but not before Tyrese’s arm has surely been infected with all manner of zombie germs.

Noah runs outside to get help while Tyrese begins to hallucinate about people from his past. The Detroit Tigers Hat Guy, Bob, and even the Governor show up to give varying viewpoints on his impending death. One of those visions evens turns into a real walker and tries to attack him.

Run faster, Noah

Back outside, Rick, Glenn, and Michonne are still scouting the area. Maybe it’s the nice houses or the continued landscaping services, but Michonne seems hellbent on them staying here. Rick doesn’t like it because of the trees blocking their lines of sight…and the severed bodies littering the outskirts of the neighborhood.

Okay, that’s pretty weird. Zombies aren’t real big on using knives and even if they were, it would take quite a bit of effort to cut through flesh and bone like that. Perhaps we have another group of psychos that Rick & Co. need to watch out for.

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As if this gruesome revelation wasn’t bad enough, Glenn starts talking about how nothing that they do matters— killing people, settling down, finding ritualistically mutilated human corpses— it’s all just another part of their day to day survival that could end at any moment. Then Michonne drops a huge bombshell: She thinks they should listen to Eugene’s plan to go to Washington.

Ugh. Seriously? Because listening to Eugene worked out so well before, right? C’mon, Walking Dead writers. Michonne is way too smart for that. Not Rick though; he totally agrees with her.

Before this scene could enrage me any further, Noah FINALLY gets within shouting distance of the group (guess he used up all his speed the first time).

Oh, that’s just mean…

Back at Noah’s House of Hallucinatory Horrors, The Governor continues to taunt Tyrese about how he never fulfilled his promise to do whatever it took to survive. Minka and Psycho Lizzie (!) also show up along with Beth and her guitar. They join Bob (wow, this living room is getting really crowded) in telling him that it’s okay to die now and be at peace.

Then Minka/Lizzie grab hold of his bloody hand and start rubbing it. I got scared for a minute that Ghost Lizzie was about to do something weird and disturbing, but the vision of them turns into Rick holding Tyrese’s arm taught while Michonne slices it off.

So that’s where the opening came from!

From there, it’s a mad dash to get Tyrese…somewhere. I’m not sure what Rick thought they could do for the poor guy. This wasn’t like when they had to cut Hershel’s leg off. Aside from him barking through the walkie to Carol that they would need to cauterize the wound, I’m not sure what medical and surgical tools they would have used to treat their friend’s amateur amputation.

But Rick’s got bigger problems to worry about now. Walkers have started lumbering towards them, which gives us a really cool slow-mo fight scene from Tyrese’s viewpoint (that also looks a lot like a Call of Duty cut scene). When they get into the car, the tires spin out a bit before it rams into a truck…full of severed and still animated walker corpses with W’s carved into their foreheads. Once again, kind of weird. But there’s not time for that plot point–we have to save Tyrese!

As they barrel down the road, however, it’s clear that Tyrese is not going to make it. As the opening scene plays out again, we see that he has made peace with his end…and that the body they were burying was his.

Verdict

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not a huge fan of Tyrese. I feel like his philosophical speeches are a little tiresome and repetitive. That being said, however, I still think he deserved a better death than this.

Look at the last couple deaths we had on the show. Both Bob’s and Beth’s were organic ends to a tragic arc. Tyrese’s just felt completely random, like it was put in there to shock us and warn the audience that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! I suppose that’s more accurate for a world like one the show takes place in, but from a narrative standpoint, it’s not very satisfying.

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To make up for this, they had Tyrese’s final moments narrated by a fake radio broadcast, hallucinations of people from his past, and a final round of philosophical ranting. If you’re going to make a death in The Walking Dead universe raw, real, and sudden, then keep it that way. Otherwise, the coincidence of Noah’s undead brother biting Tyrese just feels like a cheap exit ramp onto the cameo boulevard.

Also, what the hell are Rick and Michonne thinking? “Eugene is a completely lying asshole, but maybe he was on to something?” Seriously? Give me a break…

The episode did have some good moments, like the slow-mo walker battle. And despite my derision of the cold open, I really liked how it wrapped around to end. Also, how about that weird development with the halved torsos and the ‘wolves not far’ sign? Is that what the W’s carved on some of their heads was for? My guess is that it has something to do with my favorite villain from the comic book series.

Speaking of that, did anyone else catch Glenn using a baseball bat? Those of you who read the comics definitely did. Sends a bit of a chill down your spine, doesn’t it?

So yeah…some pretty cool moments and easter eggs, but not enough to save this episode. Let’s hope things pick up from this point forward and give us something else to be scared of besides zombie sibling and preachy ghosts.

The Walking Dead: Season 5, Episode 9 "What Happened and What's Going On" Review
Some very cool individual moments, particularly the slow-mo zombie fight.Nice easter eggs hinting at something much bigger and scarier in the future
Tyrese's death is supposed to be random and brutal, but it ends up being a prolonged and tortured existential crisis acting as a stage for a few cameos.Now we're taking advice from Eugene? Seriously? Someone get Rick and Co. a DVR so they can watch the episode where he admitted to being a shameless liar.
5Overall Score
Reader Rating 7 Votes
4.8
  • Aggro Crag Spelunker

    Although “walker” animals would be cool, I believe the reason that won’t happen is because this infection is limited to humans. Ironically, sort of like a reverse rabies.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      I was just being facetious…although zombie wolves would be cool 🙂

  • Being a little harsh, aren’t we?

    In this context, I am only referring to your discontent with the trip to DC.

    If there is anywhere you would want to be on the East Coast during something like this, it would be DC… I think this is the point that Michonne is making…why Rick agreed. It’s a cheap plot-twist, perhaps, but it doesn’t discredit the idea.

    Now, had they said “Harrisburg” or “Buffalo”…we would have a huge problem.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      That’s the thing though–I wouldn’t want to be anywhere NEAR the east coast during a zombie apocalypse. The population density alone would scare me. I understand the eastern United States is where the series takes placed, but moving towards on a population center on the advice of The Mullet just seems dumb (or like you said, an excuse to move the plot forward).

      • Agreed re: the unfavorable population density.

        I actually thought they would’ve already gone West by now, but if they’re going to stay, or try to find adequate shelter there, DC is the place to be (ala US Government)

  • occasionallylucid

    Nick–
    I agree that this was not one of TWD’s better efforts. Tyrese’s drawn-out death was a little too metaphysical and philosophical for me. Beth playing the guitar–that is just too much.
    Could “Wolves” as in “wolves not far” just be another name for Walkers? We already have also them referred to as Biters and as Rotters.
    The severed bodies and limbs suggest that the neighborhood was not overrun by Walkers, but rather, bymarauders like those Rick & Co. already have faced.
    No derision for the cold open from me, Nick. I was one of the best.

    • RamblingBeachCat

      I’m thinking that the Wolves are tied to a group that will be tied with one of my favorite characters from the comic series.