Just when you thought The Walking Dead couldn’t get any more emotionally draining, What Happened and What’s Going On comes back to bite you on the bum – and boy does it hurt.
The Walking Dead is a stand alone show for many reasons, but perhaps most prominently for its dedication to change. Lets face it, when it comes to zombie apocalypses there isn’t much we haven’t seen before. But as fans will surely know by now, our beloved characters have come a long way, and, as is becoming abhorrently clear, it’s not necessarily for the best. If the theme of season five so far has been the threat of humanity, then part two of the show’s fifth season stint only reinforces this. Throughout the episode we are given gentle reminders as to just how far said characters have come: Rick, a loving family man who was a firm believer in giving everyone a second chance, admits that he would have killed Officer Dawn without a second thought. Glenn, renowned for his soft side and loving nature, is in complete agreement. Even Michonne, fan favourite thanks to her ferocious dedication to not taking anyone’s shit (being a complete and utter master of the blade does her some favours too), begins to show cracks in her stern exterior. Doing the decent thing simply isn’t enough anymore. Good is making way for evil.
“Don’t you want one more day with a chance?”
Which brings us on to Tyreese. After a long wait, the big guy finally got his episode. Sadly, it wasn’t in the form we were expecting, or wishing, it to take. Beth’s death struck a huge chord with the viewing audience in Coda, and it unsurprisingly left the characters shaken. It no longer felt like the good guys were safe. What’s Happened and What’s Going On presents us with a side to death that hasn’t been explored in the show’s history, and it makes for one of the most emotionally harrowing episodes so far. For the first time, death is seen as an escape – or perhaps more aptly a relief from the constant pressure of this post-apocalyptic world. In a chilling scene that sees the brief return of some of the most notorious characters in the show’s five season arc, most notably
bad boy that everyone was secretly rooting for The Governor, audiences are forced to consider that perhaps living is not the only viable option. Tyreese is almost begged by said characters to let go. And for the first time, we’re reluctantly willing him to let go too. Whether it was protecting Judith or being Carol’s much-needed support system, Tyreese has always had a solid role in preserving the group’s sanity. The very notion of him having to live in world that is deteriorating by the minute is an unsettling thought.
What’s Happened and What’s Going On has a distinctly different stylistic approach to its predecessors. Whilst it doesn’t become clear until the episode’s final sequences, the circular narrative serves to highlight just how penetrating death can be. A distinct lack of soundtrack lends a sombre atmosphere to the narrative that perfectly encompasses the growing emptiness the characters are surrounded with.
Although he did not deserve to die, Tyreese’s death was not in vain. He will be remembered for the sacrifices he made, and his honour will live on in their memories. One thing is obvious: this world isn’t deserving of Tyreese Williams.
Words by Sophie Mace.