This review is full of spoilers. In it’s essence, this episode was nothing without the spoiler. It must be discussed. If you haven’t seen this episode, go watch it now!
The opening scene was absolutely beautiful. The layering of imagery from seasons three to current was mesmerizing. It should have been obvious that we are looking at this through Tyreese’s eyes because we meet him in season 3; however, this fact becomes more obvious when Mika and Lizzie make an appearance. This narrows it down to Carol or Tyreese, but if it had been Carol, we would have also seen Sophia at the least.
The shots through the windows while driving were raw. It is rare when we get these camera angles in The Walking Dead. The most haunting scene, perhaps, was the skeleton with flowers growing through its torso. The juxtaposition of life and death is profound here.
“What happened and what’s going on” is a haunting line. On the trek to Noah’s mother’s home in Virginia, Tyreese tells Noah that when he was growing up, he never faced what happened or what was going on. The entire speech to Noah about opening his eyes, everything working out the way it was supposed to, and paying attention to the news was a moment that screamed, “This is great, but now that you are relating to someone and talking about what its like to be human, you are going to die!” The moral compass cannot live in this world.
When the group (Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Tyreese, and Noah) arrives at the fence of the gated community, they see it has been wrapped in wire. However, upon entering, they soon realize the place is gone. And not just gone, but its been burned out. The houses have holes in the roofs. A group raided this community. Noah has a visceral reaction to the scene, which would be anyone’s reaction. Tyreese stays with Noah in the street while the others go to gather food. Placing Tyreese with Noah was inevitable for what was to come, but it was also important because of everyone in the group, Tyreese is the emotional caretaker. It is important to see who Tyreese really is, through and through.
While Rick, Michonne and Glenn are gathering, Rick tells them he’s not sure it would matter if he killed or not. He wanted to kill Dawn at the hospital, whether or not she had killed Beth. Glenn admits that he knew this community wouldn’t be here anymore. They both determine that killing doesn’t matter. Michonne tells them they have been out here too long. This was a pretty pivotal moment for these three. Rick and Glenn have been here from the beginning. Michonne seems like she has, too. But none of them are the people they were. Michonne is rarely the moral compass, yet she proved here that she can be. Rick and Glenn however, used to be optimistic. Glenn used to be funny. Remember tha? This world has changed his morality, and we know it has changed Rick’s. The line between morality and immorality is getting thinner and thinner for Rick Grimes.
In a moment of optimism about how to make this community work for their group, Michonne finds a clearing. But in that clearing is a field of bodies that have been cut in half, and only their legs remain. Later, when leaving the community, Rick hits a trailer. The torsos and heads of the walkers have been in there, all with the letter “W” carved in their heads. At the community, Michonne walked past a sign that read “Wolves not far.” This is correlated, but at this moment, it is not clear how. Both scenes are grotesque, but a good reminder that there are worse people out there than our group.
Let’s get to what the episode was about. Tyreese’s journey to the other side was the bulk of it. This episode proved that the writers know how to take someone out. Typically, someone dies and we are forced to quickly move on, which is probably what it would be like if this were all real. This episode did an amazing job of appealing to the emotional angle.
Tyreese has had quite the journey during the apocalypse. And all that we have seen of him came to fruition as he lay dying in a little boy’s room. With a sign that read “Dead End” it was clear this would be room Tyreese would be killed in. He was bit by a little boy walker (or, as we put it, he got “Omared”- a reference to The Wire, a show Chad Coleman also starred on) while his back was to the door and he looked at images of Noah’s twin brothers when they were alive.
While Noah ran to get help, Tyreese went through limbo with a bunch of really creepy hallucinations. Martin, Bob, The Governor, Lizzie, Mika and Beth were all with him and they all made it clear how they felt about his decisions. Earlier in the episode, Tyreese told Noah that if he hadn’t decided to live, he wouldn’t have been able to save Judith. In this moment of his own death, he grapples with what he has left in this life. They all had words of wisdom; Martin had some deep revelations. Had Tyreese killed him, would any of this have happened? Would Bob be dead? Would Tyreese be dying? It’s like the darkest timeline in Community, but ya know, not funny. The most swaying arguments came from the girls, and Bob, who told him that it is better where they are. Usually, I wouldn’t listen to Lizzie, but they all brought up a great point; is this really living?
These scenes were done incredibly well. The back-and-forth played with my feelings. Is Tyreese going to die? Is he going to live if our group can cut off his arm? Even after his second bite, it seemed like Tyreese still had a choice. He tells The Governor he knows who he is, he knows what happened, and he knows what’s going on. This is a pivotal moment for Tyreese’s psyche. He knows what he must do. And if the audience didn’t get that Tyreese was doomed, the most telling thing that he was was Beth’s song, in which she sings, “I’m struggling now and I gotta move on” and the visuals of the clocks, denoting time, or rather, lack there of. The layering of this song, the British radio voice (voiced by Andrew Lincoln), added to the hallucinations and images Tyreese was seeing were very worthy of a few tears. Good job Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero, because you fellas know how to make me cry.
The group takes Tyreese back to the car. They must open the gate, letting in a small horde of walkers. Choosing to do this scene in the slow-motion view from Tyreese’s eyes was brilliant. The gun-fire from Rick’s gun paired with the killing of the last walker coming toward Tyreese was disturbingly beautiful.
The high-quality camera work and cinematography continued as the group gets Tyreese through the woods and back to the car. It is sort of a backwards replay of what we have already scene several times throughout the episode. Beth’s song continues to play as we see Tyreese’s body being carried by the skeleton with flowers, and the trees whizzing by. Once he is in the car, he begins to hallucinate again. He asks for the radio to be turned off. This time, he only sees Bob, Beth, Mika and Lizzie – all the ghosts who told him that dying was ok. In this moment we know that Tyreese has made his peace with letting go.
Noah, in my opinion was the cause of Tyreese’s death. I understand being upset about your family being dead, but had he waited for the group to get back to the meeting spot before he ran to the house, Tyreese may still be with us.
We begin and end the episode with Tyreese’s funeral. Father Gabriel holds the service while each member of the group puts dirt on his grave. Father Gabriel pauses at the word “heaven” in his speech and then repeats it. There are times that The Walking Dead has a religious tone to it, and this was a moment that could be taken as such. Tyreese was a sensitive man. He’s the guy who saves babies. If there is a heaven, that’s probably where he is.
What I appreciate most about this episode is how it played with my emotions, but didn’t give in to what I (and I would like to think everyone else) wanted. It was silly to think Tyreese could live through that. It would have been living in denial to think he could live. I will miss Tyreese greatly, but I respect the writing team for saying that it was his time to go.
Relations to the comic books:
-Glenn and a baseball bat. This is certainly intentional and is foreshadowing what is to come very soon in the TV series. At the least, Neegan is coming.
-The gated community is called Shirewilt. In issue 8 The Walking Dead comic series, the group finds a community called Wiltshire. They stay there for a brief time.
-Glenn is often the spotter and gatherer in the comics. He started out this way in the show, but that went away pretty quickly. It was nice they had him go back to this role.
-Michonne cutting off Tyreese’s arm with her sword is significant. In the comics, The Governor kills Tyreese with Michonne’s katana, much like Hershel was in the TV series. Using her sword to cut off his arm was a good way of bringing the show back to the comics.
My only gripes about this episode are:
-Why is Glenn with this group instead of Maggie after the death of her sister?
-How did the zombie twin brother make it out of the room with the closed door? Unless Noah let him out, this isn’t possible.
Hush Comics gives “What’s Happened and What’s Going On” an A for taking a break from the survival aspect of the apocalypse and focusing on what living during the apocalypse means.
All images belong to AMC.