Synopsis of 5×09: After the loss of Beth, Rick takes a group with him to fulfill her mission of getting Noah back to his family in Richmond, Virginia. Unfortunately, things just go from bad to worse.
We’re back with the second half of the fifth season of The Walking Dead and we’ve got another change in direction and tone. After the sudden loss of Beth in the last episode, this one opens with someone ominously digging in the dirt interspersed with a number of confusing images – the prison tower, Maggie crying, Rick and Noah discussing Richmond, Gabriel praying, the train tracks to Terminus, pictures of twins, Lizzie and Mika.
After the opening credits, we find Rick in a van with Tyreese, Noah, Glenn, and Michonne. After the limited travel they’ve done throughout the rest of the seasons, they’ve suddenly gone five hundred miles to Richmond to check on Noah’s family. On the drive, Tyreese and Noah bond, with Noah telling him that the trade at the hospital was the right play, and Tyreese sharing some insight on his father.
When they get to the gated community of Shirewilt, it’s already been overrun by walkers. Noah breaks down and Tyreese volunteers to stay with him while the rest of the group scavenges for supplies before deciding on their next move. Rick explains to an upset Glenn and Michonne that this trip was for Beth. She had wanted to get Noah to his family and it’s only been seventeen days since they lost her, so the feelings are still raw. Tyreese treats Noah to another pep talk about grief and giving up, which spurs Noah on to find his house and his family.
Glenn tells Rick and Michonne about how he was thinking about what happened after the prison fell – Terminus, finding Maggie, losing Washington, losing Beth – and how he would’ve shot Dawn regardless of if it was right or wrong. Michonne thinks they need to stop and rest, in the metaphorical sense, because they’ve been out too long.
Noah and Tyreese make it to his house, only to find his mother dead in the living room. Leaving Noah to grieve, Tyreese follows a scratching noise and finds a boy dead in his bed. Unfortunately, Noah’s little brothers were twins and, while one was already dead, the other was a walker who took Tyreese by surprise. Before Noah can stab him in the head with a model plane hanging from the ceiling, his brother has bitten Tyreese’s arm.
While Noah runs off to get the others for help, Tyreese bleeds profusely all over the floor. This leads to him hallucinate a radio broadcast – read by Andrew Lincoln (Rick) in his native accent! He also hallucinates Martin, the man who threatened Judith and whom Sasha killed at the church. Martin talks about how everything could’ve been different if Tyreese had just killed him straight away. Before he can be guilted down that path, hallucination Bob shows up to let him know that Martin is spewing a load of bullshit.
Joining halluci!Martin and halluci!Bob is the Governor himself, reminding Tyreese that the bill has to be paid. The creepy girls, Lizzie and Mika, show up to tell him things are better now, arguing against what the Governor tells him. And as the Governor advances on him, he suddenly turns into a walker that Tyreese struggles to ultimately bring down.
Meanwhile, unaware of what is happening, Michonne is looking at Shirewilt and planning how they could stay in the gated community if only they fixed it up some. Rick argues that it’s not tactically sound as they find an open area in the wall that was broken in from the outside. Even more disturbing are the random body parts strewn about the grass in the area. If Rick won’t stay here, Michonne changes her tactics to convince Rick that maybe a trip to Washington DC to see how it’s faring is in order. Rick finally gives in to her plan as they hear Noah shouting for help.
In the bedroom, the radio is playing a song once more and it turns out that it’s hallucination Beth singing with Lizzie and Mika sitting at her feet. The friendly hallucinations tell Tyreese that it’s okay that he didn’t want to be a part of what the world is turning into, while Martin and the Governor argue that it’s not. There’s a heartbreaking monologue from Tyreese, who says it’s not over and explains how he overcame so many obstacles to get to this point.
Lizzie and Mika move forward to hold out his bitten arm and suddenly we’re shown the real picture. Rick is holding his arm, while Glenn holds him down, and Michonne quickly cuts off the bitten limb. They’re running with a disoriented Tyreese, trying to get him back to the rest of the group as he bleeds out. It takes a while to get him to the car, with Rick urging him to hold on interspersed with Bob telling him that it went the way it had to, the way it was always going to go.
As they get the car moving, Rick accidently hits another car they were parked near and a load of torsos with heads fall out onto their car. They have no limbs and are no real threat, but it’s a disturbing imagine nonetheless, one they don’t have time to dwell on. Tyreese is resting his head against the window when he hallucinates Beth driving the car, Bob sitting shotgun, and Lizzie and Mika in the back with him. He says, “Turn it off.” As they all encourage him that it’s okay. The car stops on the road, with everyone piling out of the vehicle and bringing Tyreese with them. At the end, we’re back to the beginning of the episode with Gabriel speaking over Tyreese’s grave…
I thought this was a solid episode, if not one that still lacked a forward momentum. I get it, we’re dragging our feet on moving the plot forward, but until we get every character-driven episode up to the caliber of this one, I’d prefer we sometimes remember what is supposed to be happening. It was a fitting end for Tyreese, who was always going to be too sensitive to make those hard decisions that the rest of the group no longer seems to struggle with (for better or for worse). Ultimately, the moral of The Walking Dead is never become the moral compass of the show because you will be killed off (Dale, Andrea, Hershel, Bob, Beth, and now Tyreese).