It’s hard to know where to begin. Rick and Co. have been through a lot this season. They lost Beth, a shining beacon of hope in a world gone mad, in the midseason finale. This week they lose another. Hold onto your butts as we take a look back at one of the best episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ in years. As always, the following episode recap may contain spoilers and bad taste, reader discretion is advised.
We open with a rather artistic, Norman Rockwell acid trip of blood, family, and lens flares that would make J.J. Abrams proud. The tears are flowing as our group of survivors buries one of their own. Beth’s death is something that will be difficult to overcome. We see Rick and Noah talking about Beth and Noah’s home town in Virginia. Beth wanted him to get there. She was going to go with him. It had walls, was well stocked, and sported 20 or so good people. It’s time for a road trip. For Beth. Overall, it is a strange opening and its tone tells you right away that something is off. I found myself sitting uncomfortably on my couch, the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention as the opening credits rolled.
It’s a road trip. Five hundred miles and counting without incident. We see Tyreese lamenting about fate and duty. There has always been horror. His father taught him to face that horror with his eyes wide open. Noah is hopeful. He longs to be reunited with his mom and brothers. About two miles out Rick calls a stop. Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Tyreese, and Noah are going to walk from here. Rick radios Carol to hang back with the others while they check out the town. Noah is excited as he leads the group through the wooded approach. They come upon Shirewilt Estates. It’s quiet. The place seems abandoned. Glenn scales the wall of the once picturesque gated community. A shake of his head indicates the loss. Noah climbs up the other side and is aghast. Burnt buildings, corpses littered across the road, and a few Walkers are all that is left. Well, that and a bit of graffiti that seemed to stand out to me. “Wolves Not Far.” We’ll see what that’s all about later on I’m sure.
Noah, taking in the destruction, loses his shit and falls to his knees sobbing. He has lost everything. Michonne seems shaken as well. She takes out her frustration on some Walkers. Rick and Glenn talk about this place. How they came here for Beth. This was for her, though it could have been for them too. They talk about the toll of losing Washington, and then losing Beth right after they found out she was still alive. It’s a lot. They talk about Dawn and how they would have killed her, even though it was clear she didn’t mean to shoot Beth. Everyone wanted to kill her. Hell, I would have shot her and I’m not living in the zombie apocalypse.
Tyreese talks to Noah about survival and not giving up. He apparently strikes a chord because Noah snaps out of it and starts running, much to Tyreese’s chagrin. He follows after. They arrive at Noah’s old house. Tyreese insists on going in first to check it out. He knocks, makes some noise. Nothing but silence. He enters, followed by Noah. The two discover the corpse of Noah’s mother. It looks like her death was a violent one. We’ll come back to that. Noah covers her up with a blanket. It’s a sad, sobering moment. Tyreese checks out the rest of the house. He comes to a bedroom. There is a young man on the bed, long dead. Tyreese looks at some family pictures. One is of a young Noah and what looks like his twin brother. Probably the corpse on the bed. Tyreese is so absorbed by these mementos of Noah’s youth that he doesn’t realize he is not alone in the room. Apparently he didn’t hear me scream at him to turn around either. The younger brother is upon him before he knows it, biting him forcefully in the arm. Noah comes rushing in and puts an end to the undead threat with an airplane to the eye. Too late, the damage is done. Thor is down.
Tyreese has lost a lot of blood. The bite was deep. The radio plays and we get a sense that Tyreese is caught in a fever dream, hallucinating. The radio guy talks about the events leading up to this moment. The outbreak. Cannibalism. Violence. Growing up Tyreese’s dad would always leave the radio on so the kids could hear about all the happenings in the world. He taught them it was important to face the world with your eyes open. So you could see the atrocities and help those less fortunate. The hallucinations rev into high gear when Martin makes an appearance. He’s all “I told you so” and it’s all your fault. Then Bob shows up with some counter points to Martin’s argument. Then the Governor chimes in. Yeah, even ghost hallucination Governor is cool as all get out! He’s a dick. But damn if David Morrissey doesn’t have an incredible screen presence. But wait, there’s more. Tyreese’s creepy ‘This is Your Life’ continues with Mika and Lizzy! But the dream is cut short when another Walker joins the party and attacks the already weakened Tyreese. He fights him off, offering up his already bitten arm to buy some time before he could brain it with a geode. So. Much. Blood.
Michonne really wants to make this place work. There are walls and fences and hope and stuff. Rick explains that there are no sight lines and the forest backs right up to them. They would never see an attack coming. Here look, that’s just what happened. They walk outside and see the damaged wall. It was busted open from the outside, and it doesn’t look like it was done by Walkers. Oh and there are a ton of legs littering the area. Yup, lots of death from the waist down but nary a torso to be seen. We’ll come back to that too. Glenn is still talking about Dawn and how it doesn’t matter who killed her. Michonne, having seen the forest for the trees says why not Washington? Eugene might have lied but he did the math. Washington might be their last best chance. It’s better than just making it. This is what just making it looks like. Don’t you want one more day with a chance? And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom! Wait what? Where was I? Oh yeah, the group was making a pitch for Washington. Rick agrees, Washington seems pretty neat. And if not, they’ll find something else.
The group hears screaming. It’s Noah! They rush to him. He’s pinned under some fencing with Walkers chomping at the bit to claim the second survivor of the episode. Not today. It’s a pretty cool action sequence in an episode that has been so intense and emotional up to this point. It’s a chance to let off some steam. And it was cool to see the look on Michonne’s face when she tries to behead a Walker only to have her sword glance off a piece of rebar sticking up from the Walker’s shoulder.
More hallucinations, this time with a soundtrack provided by Beth! She’s singing away about going home. I miss Beth. Judith cries. Tyreese doesn’t have to be a part of it anymore. There are so many ghosts. We continue to spiral down the rabbit hole of Tyreese’s addled mind. More Governor. This is all there is. How could you forgive the woman who killed the woman you loved? It’s over. Tyreese has had enough and finds the strength to stand up to the Governor. He knows who he is. The Governor is dead. Everything he was died with him. He forgave her because it’s not over. It’s not over! Tyreese is defiant. He has had his eyes open and helped where he could. It’s not a world he could last in, but while he was there he made a difference. Tyreese is hurting and I am crying. The Governor fades and Mika and Lizzy take Tyreese by the hand. By the bloody, oh so bloody hand. Reality cuts in – Rick and Co. are there pulling out and bracing his wounded arm as Michonne lops it off in one practiced slice. The race to save Tyreese is on!
It is a race. The group is struggling with a hallucinating, stumbling Tyreese. He’s a big man and getting him out to safety is a chore. Especially with all the Walkers around. We see some more great action scenes and fantastic slow-motion Walker kills. As they continue to fight and rush Tyreese out of there we hear Beth’s move on song. It’s extremely effective. The car gets stuck in the mud. Rick floors it and the car launches out, slamming into a truck, knocking it’s door open. Out spills a bunch of hungry torso Walkers! Guess that answers that… and raises a bunch of other questions. The wolves are not far indeed. More Hallucinations. This time all that remain are the positive aspects. Beth, Bob, the kids. The radio is playing, but it’s time to turn it off. It’s time. It’s OK. It’s better now. The car stops and Tyreese is laid out. Rick is visibly angered. Michonne does what needs to be done. We go to the funeral again. We now know it wasn’t Beth’s, but rather Tyreese’s. Dirt is placed upon the fallen warrior and we say farewell to one of our own. We end on a makeshift cross, affixed with Tyreese’s signature hat and not a dry eye to be found. You will be missed.
The race to the end of the season is on and ‘The Walking Dead’ came out swinging. How much more loss can our heroes take? Only time will tell. What did you think of this week’s mid-season premiere? Find your voice in the comments below.