I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, because I don’t imagine y’all actually memorize my posts or anything: part of the reason that these recaps run the day before a new episode airs is that I am a cord-cutter. I get The Walking Dead through iTunes, meaning that I pay $45 or whatever it is at the beginning of the season and then I watch the shows a day later than everyone else. I can’t watch a new episode before Monday night unless my wife and I get up godawful early in the morning (which, I’ll admit, we’ve done a couple of times) and so it’s just not possible to get a post up before Tuesday, at which point we may as well wait until Saturday.
What this means is that I have to be careful to avoid spoilers on Sunday night and through the day Monday, mostly meaning that I need to stay off of Twitter. And, well, last week I forgot, meaning that I went into this episode already accidentally knowing the one thing that you did not want to know going into this week’s episode.
So when I tell you that this was the best episode of the show in a very long time, I expect you to understand that that’s what I thought when I went in knowing what was going to happen. That’s a big deal. This show sorta relies on shock value, right? Spoilers should be a big deal.
Not this time. This episode was amazing. I really ought to just stop writing now. That’s all the recap you need.
Well, okay, I gotta make fun of some stuff, too. I guess I’ll write the post.
(Spends 25 minutes fighting with iTunes)
The episode starts off… weird. “Hallucinatory,” as one of the actors– Andrew Lincoln, maybe? described it. Shovels digging. Maggie and Noah crying. Lots of running through parking lots we’ve not seen before. Gabriel performing a funeral service. And lots of family photos. An inexplicable solar panel just sorta sitting out in the middle of a mown lawn, which is a shot I just don’t get at all. Wait, Mika and Lizzie? Clearly a little older than the last time we saw them? And covered in blood? “It’s better now,” OldMika says. And a picked-clean skeleton that shoulda been eaten by now, all over conversations about moving on, finding a new place, and getting Noah home, all over sad music. The final shot is a framed drawing of a house, with blood dripping onto it.
Opening credits. That was weird.
Back from the credits. Rick and Glenn are in a car with three black characters– Tyreese, Noah, and Michonne, so right away you know Noah’s not coming home. Rick radios back to Carol, basically letting the viewers know that these five are all we’re seeing today. There’s lots of somber talk about getting Noah home and Tyreese’s upbringing, which apparently involved lots of Tyreese’s dad forcing him and Sasha to listen to the news.
They drive past a burnt-out barn– and I mean burnt-out, the top looks like it’s been hit with a grenade or something– and they linger on it just long enough to let you notice the word “Wolves” painted on the side, but even freeze-frame on my computer hasn’t been quite enough to see what’s underneath that. There are more words.
Tyreese says the title of the episode, too. Awful early for that.
They pull off the road, so that they can approach Noah’s… what, subdivision? through the woods, and park next to a couple of crashed cars, also (again, inexplicably) in the woods. One has a walker in it, which they ignore, then they walk past the skeleton again from the clips at the beginning.
The place is surrounded by what looks like cord but is apparently some sort of wire, since Noah manages to cut his forehead on it. Rick asks about spotters or snipers, and Noah responds that sometimes they put a dude on a truck.
There’s no dude on a truck. Glenn hops up and looks over the fence. It’s not good. At this point it becomes clear that Glenn is just never, ever going to manage facial hair:
Also, they walk past a grandfather clock in the middle of the damn road.
Noah hops the fence. Everyone follows. And… yep. The place is gone. Burned out, again– this place hasn’t been zombied to death, it’s been attacked. And we get another reference to wolves, over Michonne’s shoulder.
Noah collapses in the middle of the road. Michonne isn’t quite collapsing but she looks almost as upset and distraught as he is. More establishing shots of the town, which is called Kraftwood Park, apparently. Tyreese says he’ll stay with Noah while the rest of them do a quick sweep. Rick radios back to Carol.
“We made it,” he says. “It’s gone.”
Michonne’s not in a good place right now, and Glenn and Rick talk about Dawn. Rick admits that he knows she shot Beth accidentally and that he wanted to kill her anyway. (Actually, this is the better “God, you’re just never growing a beard” scene, because Rick is bushy as hell.)
Back to Noah and Tyreese. Noah decides he just has to check his house out– which, y’know, you can’t really blame him for, right? He gets up and runs off. And Tyreese, whose legs both work, can’t catch him. C’mon, Tyreese.
More somber conversation between Glenn and Rick, and the show starts openly screwing with our heads as Glenn picks up a baseball bat. It’s the second association of Glenn and baseball bats this season. Stop it, show. (Don’t get why this is a big deal? Uh… don’t worry about it.)
Noah finds his house, and Tyreese somehow just now catches him. The guy barely has two working feet. C’mon, Tyreese. He agrees to check out the house. Conveniently, the front door is busted wide open. There’s blood everywhere. Not good.
Yeah, definitely not good, as the very next shot is of a black woman’s corpse lying on the floor in the living room. It’s one of the grosser things we’ve seen this season, and this season has featured napalm zombies. Her head is bashed in, but it’s not clear if she was zombified before she died. It’s Noah’s mom, obviously. He takes it surprisingly well, actually.
Tyreese leaves Noah with his mother, exploring the rest of the house. There’s clearly a walker behind one of the doors, and they’re using “kid walker” sounds– one of Noah’s twin brothers. The other is on his bed in his bedroom, partially eaten. It’s not clear what killed him. There are photos on the wall, the same photos we saw at the beginning of the episode.
And Tyreese gets lost in them for a minute– just long enough for Noah’s other little brother to bite him.
Holy shit no. This was not supposed to be the episode Tyreese died in. No goddamn way.
Noah is useful for the first time in the entire series, killing his brother immediately with, of all things, a model airplane, and then, somewhat less usefully, says he’ll get everyone else and runs off. Maybe, I dunno, a tourniquet first? Before the running away. Maybe.
Hallucinating while you’re dying has got to suck. It’s got to be even worse hallucinating while you’re dying when your hallucinations are making fun of you. “You’re the kind of guy who saves babies,” Martin says. We hear a radio, describing the massacre in Rwanda. (Trivia fact! The voice is Andrew Lincoln, using his actual accent.)
The party continues. Bob! You’re dead too! And the Governor!
And then Mika and Lizzie, who tell Tyreese “it’s better now,” like we saw in the beginning. “It’s NOT BETTER NOW,” the Governor says, who seems awful pissed about it. He leans into Tyreese, and… turns into a zombie! A pretty fresh one, too! Uh-oh. Tyreese can barely fight the thing off, leading to this moment, where he deliberately shoves his bitten arm into its mouth to keep it away from the rest of him, eventually managing to beat it to death:
Meanwhile, Michonne is doing her best to make this bombed-out nightmare a new place where they can live. She’s grasping at straws, talking about cutting down trees and using them to build walls up. Right around then they find a broken place in the wall and a field full of zombie arms and legs. Just the arms and legs. And it sort of breaks her a little bit. She tries to convince Rick and Glenn to go to Washington anyway. They’re only a hundred miles away!
(Oh, did I mention this? They’re finally out of Georgia! We got an establishing shot earlier; I didn’t say anything about it. Only took five and a half damn seasons.)
Rick agrees to go; I think he may only be doing it to give Michonne a shred of hope. And then they hear Noah screaming; dummy has managed to get himself trapped underneath two zombies. There’s an awesome bit where Michonne tries to take a zombie’s head off and is stopped by a length of rebar jutting out of its shoulder. Noah tells them Tyreese is bit, and they run off.
Back to hallucinationsville. Where Beth is back, explaining all the set reports that she’d been seen filming for the second half of the season. She’s playing her guitar and singing. Lots of creepy shots from the beginning of the episode and oh man Tyreese does not look good.
I’m not going to get into the details of the hallucinations; the interesting thing is that of the now several dead people in the room the only one who appears to be trying to keep Tyreese alive is the Governor. Everyone else is all “It’s better now” and “it’s okay” and oh hell they’re there and oh crap Michonne just took his arm off.
(I’m being flippant here, but just trust me: this whole bit is amazing. And Tyreese says the name of the episode again. And I have just the tiniest bit of squee, as one of my predictions has come true already, if not the way I thought it would.)
And there’s a mad race back to the car:
And, suddenly, we realize that that wasn’t Beth’s funeral we saw at the beginning of the episode. It was Tyreese’s. The whole race back is interspersed with the same scenes we’ve seen over and over again since the beginning of the episode. Shots of a still-alive Martin saying “It’s definitely gonna be you and the kid.” Shots of Sasha, stabbing Martin in the neck over and over again.
And Tyreese dies in the car, hallucinating a suddenly not-bloody-anymore Bob and Beth and Mika and Lizzie, who are telling him it’s okay, as Andrew Lincoln intones gravely about Rwanda in the background. And the car pulls over, and the pull him out and lay him down in the road, and Michonne pulls her sword out of its sheath.
Oh, but not before they manage to ram the car into those other two wrecks I mentioned earlier. Turns out? One of ’em is full of zombie torsos. With W’s carved into their foreheads.
Here’s the thing, guys: I said after the last episode that the hospital storyline hadn’t earned the right to kill a character, and if we start that arc from when Beth disappeared it took over half a season to get to. This death? Came out of nowhere, and the episode absolutely earned it. I went into this episode spoiled. And it was the best episode of the season by far. This shit was heartbreaking, and to be honest I wasn’t even a big fan of Tyreese as a character going in.
And that’s before we get into all of the layering of future storylines that they did; the Wolves are not something from the comics, so I’ve got no idea what’s coming there.
Great, great, great episode. Is it Sunday yet?