The Walking Dead: What Happened and What’s Going On.

Photo from: IGN

An apt title for an episode that grounded us in past tragedies, confronted the viewer with the meaning of many deaths on the show and also firmly planted the idea that tragedy is everywhere, ongoing, oppressive and that willpower, perseverance and a strong moral compass are the essential survival tools in this world.  When the show opens, viewers are immediately confronted with the loss of Beth as a montage of the group laying dirt on a coffin is spliced with images of a perilous journey.  Noah explains that the plan for him and Beth was to travel to Noah’s old group, hoping for the best.  Without many options the group decides it’s worth the risk.  The opening sequence ends with Mika and Lizzie, covered in blood, saying “It’s better now” and then blood oozes from an unknown source onto an idyllic portrait of a cabin in the woods.  Although the show likes to deviate from the comics when it wants to, there were some serious hints at future episodes filled with death.  Yes, death is coming.  Spoilers after the jump.

We all know what the group was going to find when they reached their destination.  So did the group.  It was only an option because there were no other options and they felt some obligation to Beth to get Noah to his home.  Honestly, in this universe there is probably no better group than these people for Noah to have been with for the realization that his entire family was dead.  Everyone left in Rick’s group has experienced tremendous personal loss and they have all experienced loss together.

Upon the realization that the town has been overrun the group quickly gets to the process of raiding houses for resources while Tyreese stays with Noah to console him while he processes the loss.  Tyreese shares with him that he had felt weak before and almost gave up, but in not giving up and choosing to live he was able to save Judith and return her to Rick; that although it feels like it, the death of his family is not the end and will find meaning and purpose.  Pretty good guy, Tyreese. Noah decides he has to know for sure and sprints to his house to see his family and confirm their deaths.  Tyreese should have talked him down, but he decides that he will go in first and keep Noah safe.  Naturally, one of Noah’s undead twin brothers decides that he is going to sneak up on Tyreese and bite him in the arm.  This is when the episode takes a surreal turn.

Noah realizing that Tyreese has very little time darts out of the house to find help and Tyreese is left to wrestle with memories and ghosts that taunt him or coax him into death.  He begins having audio hallucinations of a time before the walkers ruled the land and their existence was mysterious and anomalous. You see the painting of the cabin in the woods.

The radio blurts of military forces of “The Republic” being overwhelmed.  First, Martin shows up to jest “Told you it was gonna be you.  You’re the kind of guy to save babies.”  Furthermore, he basically blames Tyreese for the deaths of all of his friends citing his inability to kill Martin as the first domino to fall in a series of tragedies that culminated in him being bitten.  Suddenly the story of Tyreese saving baby Judith becomes a little more ominous.  Then Bob shows up to tell him that “This is how it is supposed to be,” unavoidable, as if it was a positive fate.  Bob was bitten at the food bank.  Surely not every death can be attributed to Tyreese lie that he killed Martin.

The Death of Tyreese.  Holy hell.  I did not see this coming so early on.  I knew that we would lose more characters this half of the season, but so early and such a beloved character was crushing after the death of Beth in the final episode of last season.  There are some important aspects to note about his death.  This is the longest death scene in the history of The Walking Dead.  The entire episode hinged on Tyreese floating between the world of the living and that of the dead.  This speaks to a concept addressed earlier: Willpower and perseverance.  In this world, the death of every character is inevitable.  Sometimes you are surprised, sickened and saddened by the death of a character; sometimes you actively root for the death of a character, tapping into your own pits of sadism and hoping that the Governor or Gareth get what they deserve.

Every death has a meaning.  You could trace the death of Tyreese back to the prison, or back to the farm, or back to Rick killing Shane.  Every action is linked and fated in someway to have an outcome on each of these characters.  Ultimately, what Tyreese teaches us is that there is a profound meaning and dignity in not giving up, in pushing forward while knowing that death is most certainly there to greet you in the end.  We can only hope that the group hears this message and continues to push on.

HOWEVER.

Barbed wire and baseball bats.  Bisected zombies with letters carved into their foreheads.  The producers of this show love dropping bread crumbs and if this means what I think it means for the show, we haven’t seen anything yet.

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