And another one bites the dust.
Beth promised to get Noah to his family in Richmond, so the rest of the gang decide to do just that, to honor her memory. Tyreese, Rick, Glenn, Noah, and Michonne travel to the Shirewilt gated community. Carol has the others in another truck, and they will stand by to hear what the status of Shirewilt is. Therefore, we really don’t see anyone else in this episode.
Noah is devastated that, when they get to Shirewilt, the place is basically a ghost town. Many of the homes are burned out, corpses litter the streets, and a few walkers shamble about. Chillingly, there are a smattering of arms and bodies cut in half, with only the lower half to be found. Later, we discover that the tops of these bodies belong to walkers and were stacked up in a truck that was involved in an accident. Towards the end of the episode, Rick drives into the truck, spilling the load of upper bodies across the ground. All of the bodies still have the heads attached, and all are still chomping mindlessly at nothing.
Anyway, while Rick, Glenn, and Michonne do a quick sweep of the community, checking for supplies, Tyreese sits with Noah. He shares with him a story from his childhood, how his father decided that he and Sasha, in order to be good citizens, needed to be aware of the world, and would make them listen to the news, no matter what kind of atrocities were being reported. This leads Tyreese to talk about how he almost gave up and let the zombies take him, but he changed his mind, kept fighting, and because of that saved the baby’s life. This prompts Noah to stand, determined to see his family home one last time.
Tyreese goes in first and checks the house while Noah covers his dead mother with a blanket. Tyreese finds one of Noah’s brothers – twins – shuffling behind a closed door, clearly a walker, and decides to leave him locked in there. Instead, he goes to the other twin’s room, and finds his corpse stretched out on the bed. He is examining photos of the children on the wall when, out of nowhere, the undead twin stumbles in and bites Tyreese on the arm. His screams bring in Noah, who doesn’t hesitate to stab his little brother in the face with a toy plane, then runs to get help.
While Tyreese is waiting for help, he hallucinates Mika and Lizzie, Bob, the Governor, the hillbilly who tried to kill Judith (Martin, I think?) and, of course, Beth. It’s basically the equivalent of his life passing before his eyes. His friends tell him it’s okay, it’s better this way, you don’t have to be “part” of it; the Governor and Martin try to tell him he deserves this. Scattered throughout the entire episode are artsy little clips and flashes of scenes representing his time on the show – a literal “life flashing before his eyes” device. The prison, his time with Lizzie and Mika, baby Judith, the path to Terminus, et cetera. What he thinks is the girls pulling on his arm, trying to get him to join him was actually Rick and the team amputating his arm in an attempt to save him. Of course, he can’t be saved, and he dies in the van, on the way to meet up with the rest of the crew. And he has another long, repetitive hallucination, this time with just his friends, before he finally gives up and lets the disease take him.
Despite Tyreese’s streak of passivity and, well, wuss-ish-ness, this episode is about fighting. While Tyreese is dying, waiting for his friends to come back, a zombie attacks him. He fights mightily, not willing to go out like that. He even lets the walker gnaw on his already diseased arm so he can crush its head in. In his hallucinations of Martin and the Governor, he is basically standing up to them as they accuse him of bringing this upon himself. Martin suggests that if he had killed him, a domino effect might have changed this outcome, while the Governor seems to think that Tyreese didn’t earn his keep. In that sense, it is like he reclaimed his strength – even, dare I say it, his machismo – before his death.
There was a lot I liked about this episode. I liked the way they handled Tyreese’s death. He gets bitten in the first act of the show, so you know he will be dead by the end. It’s nice that the producers know they don’t have to – and shouldn’t – make each character death a sudden, shocking occurrence. This is a show where death is literally everywhere, so it is only natural that death will come a little more quietly. I also liked Tyreese’s funeral scene. It was simple, quiet, poignant, and not sappy. I especially liked the final shot of the episode: Tyreese’s beanie atop his grave marker.
But there was a lot I didn’t like, too. Namely, the “life flashing” stuff, a mixture of shots and scenes that combine flashbacks, hallucinations, and current events out-of-context. It permeated the episode, from beginning to end, and it was annoying. I also felt that Tyreese’s hallucinations could have been clipped down. After the first one, all the characters began repeating the same lines. It began to feel redundant. I think they were short on content for this episode, and padded it with extra takes of people like Beth telling Tyreese that it is okay to join them. Also, let’s take a look at time and travel. In five seasons, they were never able to leave Georgia. Yet it only took them one episode to go from Atlanta to Richmond, Virginia. On Michonne’s suggestion, Rick agrees that the team should continue on to Washington D.C., on the chance that there might be some form of society up there. And judging by the “next week on” teaser, they will probably make that journey by the end of next week’s episode.
You can check out that promo for Episode 5.10 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Them,” in the player below.