** Major spoilers and some heartbreak ahead so if you’re not ready to face it yet stop reading here. Seriously. Save yourself the heartache. **
The Walking Dead is back, finally. After waiting more than two months for the mid-season premiere the Internet was on fire before the episode started as fans lit up social media. The stars of the show participated in a Twitter event before the new episode answering fan questions so fans were really excited when the episode started. Then they got sucker punched.
In a very abrupt time and place shift the episode opens with the montage that was seen in the two minute preview released by AMC a couple of weeks ago and the group on the road to Richmond to deliver Noah to his home. In one scene Rick is seen discussing why they need to make the trek for Beth because it’s what she would have wanted to see happen. As a memorial to her they will take Noah home. In the next scene they are on the road with Rick, Glenn, Tyreese and Michonne in one car and the others following. The groups are communicating by radio and Carol mentions on the radio that the group has come 500 miles, which puts them just about at Noah’s home.
A lot of speculation has been flying about the strange montage that was released a little big ago as a teaser for the new season. It has images of the prison, Woodbury, the train tracks to Terminus, and other familiar images along with some totally unfamiliar images. But of course because this is The Walking Dead all of the images are important and will fit into the story eventually.
The name is a play on a similar location taken from the comics, Wiltshire Estates. Even though it was a gated community with good fences it looks burned out and there are walkers and dead humans everywhere. Noah is devastated, and Tyreese tries to comfort him. While Rick and the others do a quick sweep to salvage anything the group can use Noah takes off to find his home. He feels like he needs to see what happened to his mother and his brothers. In the home he finds his mother’s body with her head split open. While he is looking through house to clear it of walkers Tyreese is attacked by one of the twins who is now a walker. Noah comes to help and stabs his walker brother in the eye with a model airplane. But it’s too late. Tyreese has been badly bitten on the arm.
Noah takes off running to find Rick and the others. Tyreese staggers and falls to the floor, bleeding badly. He begins to hallucinate as he gets weaker from blood loss and the fever of zombie infection starts. In his hallucinations he sees Martin, the Termite he should have killed in the cabin but never did. Martin taunts him saying that if he had killed Martin in the cabin the way he told Carol he did then Bob might be alive and all the others. Tyreese argues against that. He has other hallucinations all of which seem to indicate that he’s slowly slipping out of the world. The Governor appears, and Bob, and then Lizzie and Mika. Beth also appears, singing.
Tyreese has a battle raging in his head as he slips further out of the world, a battle of reason and morality and good and evil. Tyreese defends his inaction as his effort to hang onto the person that he is in the face of a world that has turned more brutal than anyone could have imagined. The Governor, who is another figure like Martin who is goading Tyreese, tells him repeatedly that Tyreese said he would do anything to earn their place at Woodbury and he didn’t do what was required. Lizzie and Mika tell him that it’s better now, where they are. The world they are in is better.
Noah has still not come back with any help. While Tyreese is struggling to stay conscious and is hallucinating he is attacked by another walker. He manages to fend off this walker by letting the walker bite his already bitten arm which buys him time to grab a crystal rock from a shelf and beat the walker to death with it. He falls back to the floor and he starts to see images, the images from the opening montage. He sees Woodbury, and the prison, and other images that stood out to him when he saw them. Tyreese starts to slip away from fever and blood loss. He sees the girls reach out to him and pull h his arm as if they are pulling him towards them. But that’s not real.
A Fight for Life
The pulling on his arm is Rick and Glenn, who have finally showed up with Michonne. In a panic Michonne uses her sword to cut off Tyreese’s arm. They were hoping that, like Hershel, cutting off the limb would prevent the infection from spreading and Tyreese could be saved. Tyreese rallies and starts to fight for his life. They bundle him in a blanket to try and stop the wound and rush him out to where they left the car. They struggle to keep Tyreese moving. He’s a big guy and they need to carry him because he is too weak from blood loss and shock to stay on his feet. They fight their way back to the car and get Tyreese inside. They radio to Carol and others that Tyreese is wounded and they will need to cauterize his arm when they reach the others.
But it’s too late. Tyreese no longer has the will to live in the world the way it is. The cost is too high, he feels. He is ready to let go and go on to a gentler world where the divide between right and wrong isn’t so great and where life isn’t such a struggle. Seeing Mika and Lizzie, Beth and Bob in the car with him instead of Rick and the others Tyreese slips away and fans watching collectively burst into tears. The one-two punch of losing Beth and then immediately losing Tyreese sent fans reeling and social media buzzing.
This was a particularly emotional episode, maybe one of the most emotional they have done. The show has never really explored the internal thought process of someone who is dying in this world and it was a fascinating and heartbreaking journey. In the show just 17 days have passed since Beth’s death and for fans it was much too soon to cope with another tragic death. Immediately fans began asking why he couldn’t at least have seen Karen on his way out to give him a little comfort. But seeing the girls, who he cared for deeply, and knowing they were at peace would have been a huge comfort for Tyreese.
What Happens Now
In the comics Maggie becomes despondent after losing Hershel and Glenn and tries to commit suicide. It’s unlikely that Maggie in the show would ever become suicidal because is a fighter to the core, but she hasn’t lost Glenn. The loss of Hershel and Beth has been hard on her but it would be out of character for her on the show to become suicidal. However that storyline might be shifted to Sasha, who has just lost her boyfriend and her brother. All of the remaining characters are in very dark places emotionally and according to Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero they are not going to be finding any hope anytime soon, although eventually they will.
The Alexandria Safe-Zone
Now it’s official that the group will be heading for DC. Since Richmond was a bust and cost Tyreese his life they are going to cross the last 100 miles to DC and head for the Safe-Zone. Judging by the previews from next week it’s going to be a hard journey for the emotionally and physically spent group. They will face at least one more villain before reaching the Safe-Zone and who knows what other tragedies could occur before they reach safety? One thing that this episode has made very clear is that the writers have taken the gloves off. While fans felt like what came before this was devastating the writers sent a clear message with this episode that fans can’t get too comfortable because people can and will die at any time.