Fans of zombies and unbound misery rejoice – The Walking Dead is back, in all its gut-punching, heart-stomping glory. As you can probably tell, this writer is on a bit of a downer having watched ‘What Happened And What’s Going On’, the Season 5 mid-season premiere. If you thought events of mid-season finale ‘Coda’ were tear-jerking (if illogical), you haven’t seen anything yet.
With Beth having bitten the bullet, the group decides to honour her wish and return new recruit Noah (Tyler James Williams) to his home outside of Richmond, Virginia. As per norm in the world of The Walking Dead, however, things quickly go from bad to worse, punctuated only by the unintentionally amusing light relief of a hobbling Noah outrunning Tyreese (Chad Coleman).
Which brings onto (SPOILERS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T) Tyreese. Poor, poor Tyreese. The guy’s chronic inability to catch a break culminates in depressing fashion when he is chomped on – by Noah’s brother no less.
To say this came as a shock is an understatement; after the big climax of ‘Coda’, we were expecting the usual few days respite we usually get after a major death. Nope.
After so often wading into hordes of walkers armed only with a hammer, it seems a bit cheap initially to have him offed in such a casual fashion, although what follows is one of the strongest sequences seen in The Walking Dead to date. Ghostly figures of the Governer, Bob, Beth, Lizzie, Mika and Martin (replete with their individual death-dealing wounds) are reeled out, alternately reassuring and berating Tyreese for his life choices.
For a character who had been built up a lot in the past season, it’s a shame to see him killed off, but it makes sense. In his dream sequences, he makes it clear that he doesn’t regret his choices – which is why he’s gone. As we’ve seen time and again, the world of The Walking Dead changes people, and those who are resistant to this simply don’t survive.
The drama with Tyreese literally overshadows everything else. The group pays little heed to the servered torsos and legs discovered in the ill-fated Shirewilt Estates complex – but you can bet it’ll be revisited at some point.
As a standalone episode it is near perfect – coming full circle with a funeral at its beginning and end – although where it fits into the series as a whole is less clear. A tentative destination plan of Washington has been decided, but what happenes next is somehow more uncertain then ever. For all we know, another favourite will be offered next week. Strangely enough, it’s the uncertainty that’s keeping us watching.