Series Return

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Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The Walking Dead picks up its midseason premiere with a montage of what happened in the aftermath of Beth’s death, along with scenes that don’t quite seem familiar. Dirt’s shoveled. Maggie weeps. Gabriel leads a funeral. Images of a skeleton, a smiley sun painted on black top, train tracks leading into the woods intermingle the sequence, as well. A portrait of a house that looks suspiciously like the one Carol, Tyreese, and the girls stayed in is laying on the floor, being ruined by a steady drip of blood. Mikka and Lizzie are bloody and smiling, assuring us that “it’s all okay now.”

Noah talks to Rick about his and Beth’s plans to make it back home to Virginia. Rick decides that it sounds like a good enough idea, so the group sets out for Noah’s home. Also in the opening montage: they make it the whole damn way from Atlanta to outside Richmond, Virginia without much incident, apparently. In another show, that might feel cheap or like cheating somehow, but in The Walking Dead, peace happens when we’re not watching.

Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Noah, and Tyreese approach Noah’s neighborhood while Carol and the others are waiting further back. In the front seat, Noah admits to Tyreese, who is driving, that the deal between the hospital people and their own group was a good one, even if in the aftermath something bad happens. Tyreese acknowledges that, and has one of his heartbreaking, yeah-I’m-barely-hanging-on-but-I’m-hanging-on, no-quitters speech. He explains that his father always insisted on listening to the news on the radio, no matter how grim it seemed. In the face of all the hopelessness and loss, Tyreese is trying to live up to that standard, he explains. Noah appreciates the sentiment.

Rick is in the back, communicating with Carol via radio about what a relatively uneventful trip it was. Rick, being wise from that whole Terminus situation, wants to leave the car off the road and out of sight to approach the town on foot, scouting as much as they can before entering. Noah seems a bit incredulous, but he’s also anxious to get home.

After walking past the skeleton from the opening sequence, the group finds a wire fence set up as an outside perimeter. Noah’s pleased to see it. His people had planned to build something like that, he explains, but they hadn’t when he left. As they near the gated and walled community, the mood shifts as it seems a little too quiet. The sentry point at the entrance is empty. They bang on the main gate, but they receive no answer. Glenn grimly climbs up to look over the wall. He’s no less grim when he realizes what he’s seeing. Reading Glenn’s expression, Noah climbs up and over the wall before anyone can react.

The place has fallen. Houses got burned out and bodies are laying in the streets. There’s no walker swarm, which is good, because Noah breaks down (beside the sun-smiley-face painted on the black top) and can’t manage to stand or even lift his head to look at the wreckage. Glenn suggests a quick sweep for supplies before they return to the car and regroup to assess their new situation. Rick radios to Carol what they’ve found and tells her of their plan to return. Tyreese offers to guard Noah, who is still in shock and hysterical, and the rest of the group ventures out to look for anything of use.

Glenn is completely unsurprised to find the place in its current state, and tells Rick as much. Rick concedes that he didn’t have much hope, but he felt that, since taking Noah home was what Beth wanted ,the group should try to do so. They begin discussing the merits and drawbacks of killing Dawn

as they dismantle a Yankees collectable frame to pillage the shirt and baseball bat. Michonne overhears, and states that the group has been out on the road too long. She wants to fix the walls and perimeter and settle where they are.

Back at the entrance, Noah is still sobbing as Tyreese watches over him. He gives Noah another “things are the way they are, and they were never going to be any other way, you have to choose to live, this isn’t the end” talk. Noah’s moved, and accepts Tyreese’s hand to stand up. He then takes off running.

Of course, he’s running to his own house. He stands outside as Tyreese catches up to him, and explains that he wants to see his home. Tyreese tries to talk him out of it, but Noah won’t be swayed, so Tyreese at least insists on going first.

Inside the blood-splattered front door, a woman lays dead of a gunshot wound to the head. It’s obviously Noah’s mother, but Noah doesn’t weep as he knees beside her to cover her with a blanket in the still mostly intact living room. Tyreese hears something in the back of the house and goes to investigate.

He finds a child’s room and a corpse on the bed with its guts eaten out. (It’s been so long since we’ve seen your truly gruesome side, TWD.) Tyreese’s attention gets drawn to the pictures taped to the wall—pictures of children, Noah and his siblings. Noah mentioned he had twin brothers, but there appeared to be only one corpse in the bedroom. As Tyreese becomes lost in images of happy, skinny children at playgrounds, the other brother, who is now a walker, rushes up behind him.

And bites him in the arm.

I screamed. Tyreese screamed as well, as he struggled against the walker-brother. Noah rushes back the hall and tears the walker off of Tyreese, unflinching as he kills it with a blow to the head. Tyreese is holding his gushing arm, Noah orders him to stay put (like he would go somewhere) so he can bring the others back to him. With Noah gone, Tyreese attempts to stop his own bleeding and stares at the portrait of the house from the opening sequence.

Michonne is trying to show Rick and Glenn that the breach in the wall can be repaired. Glenn and Rick rebuff her, but they follow her to the opening, anyway. Upon closer inspection, the other side of the wall’s littered with the lower halves of bodies, while tire tracks lead away from the breach. It would appear that the situation within Noah’s community ended with more than just a walker herd getting through a perimeter weakness.

Glenn picks up the earlier discussion, saying that it doesn’t matter who killed Dawn, because Dawn killed Beth and there wasn’t going to be any other way to deal with her. Frustrated, Michonne again tries to talk to her partners about finding a place to stay. She suggests Washington. She knows that Eugene was lying, of course, but there was a reason that he figured out that D.C. was a good place to get to. They’re only a hundred miles away, she reasons. And, given that they’re standing just outside a burned-out gated community, at the edge of the woods and knee-deep in bottoms-down dead bodies, Rick seems to think that she might have a point.

At this point, they hear Noah’s screams and run to find him.

Meanwhile, Tyreese is having his own reflective bleeding-out hallucinations. First it’s Tigers Fan to mock Tyreese for not killing him when he could, and goad him about all the terrible things that happened because of Tyreese’s weakness.

Bob appears to call Tigers Fan’s bullshit, but his voice of reason is quickly drowned out by The Governor’s own set of taunts. Remember, he asks, remember when Tyreese said he’d do whatever it took to earn his keep? But Tyreese betrayed him, and that debt is still owed. Tyreese and Bob try to defend Tyreese’s actions, but The Governor looms closer.

Wait, that’s not The Governor, that’s a walker! Tyreese snaps out it just in time to catch the snarling thing before it starts chewing on his face. He holds back the walker, but it takes quite a bit of force to repel an adult, stable walker like this one, and Tyreese is already bit and bleeding. In the struggle, Tyreese shoves his already-ruined arm into the walker’s face for a moment of reprieve. It’s just long enough for Tyreese to grab what looks like a quartz geode from an adjacent bookshelf and stab the walker in the brain. Sobbing, Tyreese collapses again, watching the blood from the walker drip and pool on the portrait of the house. A radio broadcast sounds, the voice of the British reporter warbled by FM static as he describes heartbreaking news story after heartbreaking news story.

Lizzie and Mikka appear, assuring him that they’re okay now, and everything will be fine if he wants to let go. Beth stops by to sing about a struggling man who’s gotta move on. Tigers fan and The Governor continue to sneer at him, this time for forgiving Carol for Karen’s murder, but he refuses to accept their abuse. Bob encourages him as he stands up for his actions, because forgiveness and fighting through the mess is all anybody has anymore. He rages, and collapses again. Mikka and Lizzie grab his arm, compelling him to come with them.

Except it’s not Mikka and Lizzie, it’s Rick holding out his arm while Glenn chops it off. The group works to try to slow the bleeding and move him back to the car as quickly as they can. All the shouting and walker-activity has, of course, attracted more walkers, so the group fights through the oncoming handful of undead as they struggle with moving Tyreese. After a few close calls, they make it back to the car, where Rick radios to Carol the situation and warns her to keep Sasha and Carl away upon their return.

The Suburban they were riding in has become stuck in the soft forest ground, and the tires spin uselessly. Rick attempts to rock the car between forward and reverse to free it from the mud. The tires catch, and the truck lurches forward in the wrong direction, knocking into one of the wrecked vehicles they hid the truck behind. The vehicle’s knocked open and the top halves of all the corpses from just outside the breach in the community wall rain down onto the Suburban.

There’s no time to even access that situation, though. Rick manages to get the Suburban moving and they race to meet up with Carol and the others.

Tyreese, who remained dogged by more radio broadcasts, Tigers Fan, and The Governor while the group was transporting him to the car, is more peaceful now. Bob reappears, taking Michonne’s place in the front seat. “Are you sure?” he asks.

Lizzie and Mikka appear in Glenn’s place, reassuring him that everything is fine now. Beth, who is driving the car but not looking at the road, encourages him to let go if he wants to.

Tyreese hoarsely whispers, “Turn it off”, and the whirring static of the radio ceases.

The truck is barreling down the highway, but it suddenly brakes and stops. The group exit immediately, pulling Tyreese from the back seat and laying him down on the road. From a distance, we watch the group close around him, then slowly stand back. Michonne draws her sword.

Dirt’s shoveled. Gabriel is giving a funeral service as the group stands around the grave being dug at the beginning of the show, weeping. They each shovel a scoop of dirt into Tyreese’s grave, a shaking Sasha going second to last before Rick steps in to complete the task.

The show closes with a shot of the crude wooden cross and stocking cap that mark the grave.

I assume that this show was dedicated to everyone who thought that Beth dying was too sad.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night At 10:00 pm on AMC