I love me some Walking Dead. I’ve been hooked since the pilot. It’s had its ups and downs, like any show. And I know nothing’s perfect, and we all notice the occasional mistake, but last night’s episode was chock full of flaws. Big, huge, unignoreable flaws (and I’m sorry, spoilers are unavoidable. If you haven’t watched yet, you shouldn’t be reading this.)
To begin with, although not the worst sin by far: the title. “What’s Happened and What’s Going On.” Sounds so much like a recap special I almost skipped it. Very funny, Walking Dead.
And I Would Walk 500 Miles
Right from the get-go, we see the group is again separated. Rick, Tyreese, Michonne, Glenn and Noah are in the car. Rick is talking to Carol on a walkie-talkie. All we learn is Rick’s group has traveled 500 miles. At first I thought the rest were following them, which didn’t explain why we never see them. Then I thought they were still back in Atlanta, so when Carol says “if we don’t hear from you we’ll come looking,” I thought, great, 500 miles and a day away? They’ll be walker chum long before you get there. But then at the end when they’re trying to save Tyreese, Rick yells at her to “keep Carl and Sasha away,” so I deduced they were camped nearby. My point is, in all three scenarios, you will never convince me that Maggie, who just spent half a season looking for Glenn, would ever let him out of her sight again. Not even (or especially even) for a little reconnaissance mission. Not gonna happen.
My memory is the worst you’ll ever encounter (which is part of the reason I blog) so it’s possible this was mentioned elsewhere, but why would Noah leave this gated, apparently secure, certainly swank little village to travel 500 miles to Atlanta to begin with? (See more under Home Sweet Home)
Forget walking 500 miles, how about running 500 yards? In which Noah manages to outrun Tyreese despite having a visibly pronounced limp. But that’s a very tiny nitpick.
No fancy heading here. The show has a long history of making otherwise constantly snarling, gurgling walkers conveniently silent sometimes. Which makes it no less annoying.
Only here it’s particularly egregious. Tyreese does everything right entering the house, pounding on the door first to draw walkers out; until he goes in the bedroom and becomes so intensely fixated on a picture of Noah’s brothers, for apparently no good reason, that one of them sneaks up on him. See below about newbies to the apocalypse.
Home Sweet Home
Meanwhile, Michonne is trying to convince Rick they should either try to rebuild the village’s defenses and settle down, or make a play for Washington. She has to argue her case much longer than you’d expect for someone who has proven themselves time and time and time again to be a valuable, capable, near indispensable member of the group, with a head on her shoulders good enough to survive a year alone with Andrea. Yet Rick looks at her almost patronizingly for just a split second, the little lady getting big ideas and whatnot.
Why NOT Washington, Rick? Just because Eugene lied doesn’t mean no one else has any ideas. I don’t understand why they’re still dancing around Atlanta anyway, where it seems the only survivors are Rick’s group and other groups that always turn out have some horrible secret practice to stay alive. Your first stop was the Center for Disease Control, and your logic and sense seem to have deserted you from there. Why not Washington? LISTEN TO THE LITTLE LADY.
Which brings me to…
They Cut the Power? But They’re Animals!
I’m still not sure how walkers knocked out the power grid, and the internet, and cellphone towers, and long-wave radio. But then I’d have to admit I don’t really know what keeps those things running even minus a zombie apocalypse.
Welcome to the season five mid season premiere, where it seems like seasoned characters have all been replaced with newbies on their first day of the apocalypse
Now we get to the nitty gritty. So. Much. Inconsistency. Let’s start with Tyreese’s attack. He’s bitten by Noah’s brother while zoned out in front of a picture of two strangers that he shouldn’t have spared more than a cursory glance. He’s gushing blood everywhere. Noah takes off for help without applying a tourniquet first (Noah was living in a hospital when we found him, boys and girls, where they brought victims in and presumably he observed people receiving first aid all the time). Tyreese sits and bleeds rather than applying his own tourniquet. Hi, I’m Tyreese and it’s my first day. Who are all these half-rotted people attacking me?
Noah takes so long finding help (in a space approximately the size of Woodbury) that Tyreese has time to hallucinate dead companions. One of them turns into another walker (again, who mysteriously ignored the first signs of life in the house). Tyreese goes for his hammer…drops it…grapples with the walker, shoves it back onto the bed..has a full six seconds (I counted) to retrieve the hammer about three feet away…but doesn’t. Has to fight the walker off again with his bare hands.
Tyreese is terrible at killing the living, a fact that’s as well established as how good he is at dispatching the dead (remember his suicide attempt by zombie herd that he walked out of?) To have us believe this level of ineffectualness, even given massive blood loss, is really pushing it, Walking Dead.
Noah finds the others, or rather they find him under attack, and Michonne takes her trademark katana swing at a walker’s neck. But oh no! It’s got a piece of rebar or something jutting out of its collarbone that deflects it. But instead of, I don’t know, trying again on the opposite side, or using one of a hundred other moves we’ve seen from her, she flails uselessly at it until Rick saves her. Hi, I’m Michonne. Why am I carrying this samurai sword?
Evidently Love Does Die
This brings me to the final, and worst, sin of this episode.
As I said, Tyreese is visited by six dead characters: Beth, Martin from Terminus, Bob, Lizzie and Mika, and The Governor. They talk to him while he’s bleeding in the house, and then all but Martin and The Governor take him away to the afterlife in the car at the end.
At first I thought it was a beautiful and fitting goodbye to the gentle giant that abhorred violence and was one of the last truly good, principled people left in the world.
Then Tery asked, “Where’s Karen?”
Too right. The person it makes the most sense for him to see, the person he was ready to kill for, the person whose reappearance would have delivered another enormous, gut-wrenching blow that the show is so good at; nowhere.
As I brushed my teeth to go to bed, I worked myself more and more into a fury over it.
Okay, everyone who visited him had obvious evidence of how they died, and no one wants to see a charred, blackened Karen crawling into the room. Except in the car they were all whole again. Next.
Maybe the actress had scheduling conflicts? But I’m picturing literally 20 seconds of screen time — maybe she’s driving instead of Beth, she looks back and smiles at him lovingly. How long would that take to shoot? Don’t even have to fly her in, do it in a studio and use that CGI that looks so good blowing walker heads apart.
I Googled, and found an interview with Chad Coleman. His two excuses were both lame: a) maybe Melissa Ponzio wanted too much money to do it (I had no idea she’d become such a big shot she could make demands on one of America’s hottest franchises), or b) the Karen thing was “played out” and these six people were fresh in his mind. Which means he forgot the script, which opens with him describing wanting to kill to avenge her, later he describes wanting to die after losing her, and later still The Governor sneers at him for forgiving Carol so easily for killing her. She’s ALL OVER THIS EPISODE. If she were any fresher in his mind, she’d be alive again.
That’s it then. It’s a shame too, because the episode has lots of beautiful imagery, with a stunning wrap-around funeral sequence, and the most attention Tyreese has ever gotten. It just seemed like a lot of dumb things had to happen, and a lot of established character traits had to be ignored, to make Tyreese die.