After weeks of surviving with only The Librarians and Galavant to get me through my Sunday television watching, one of my favorite nights of the year came around again. The Walking Dead returned to grace our television sets, kicking off the second half of the fifth season. While I could have found other shows to snark about during the interim, there’s just nothing quite like the joy I get from watching brutal zombie killings while also watching brutal decision-making. It’s like the perfect set of nutrients for my particular flavor of snark.
Given where we left off with the mid-season finale, clearly we were destined to be able to sit back and relax a little bit, right? I mean, they just killed off Beth. For anyone who will later be watching this season in a zombie binge will have earned a bit of a respite, so this episode will clearly not carry any sort of trauma. Um, yeah, about that. See, the people behind The Walking Dead don’t actually care about that. After all, as far as they’re concerned, the audience just got a break, and there was a clear need to ramp things up right away. They pick up the action with the group having traveled 500 miles to get to their next destination (placing them much closer to Eugene’s wishful D.C. thoughts), and, well, let’s just say that Talking Dead got to once again have a special surprise cast member on the couch. That almost always means that someone we’ve gotten to know won’t be with us any longer, so let’s step into the episode, and see what happened as we began to learn “What Happened and What’s Going On”.
5. Rick Grimes
Admittedly, this time around, Rick’s bit of foolishness is almost understandable. After all, he just pulled his whole group 500 miles away from where they had been, all because of a hope that there could be something there. Mind you, that hope was based on what Noah had explained of his former home, but given Rick’s knowledge of communities (Woodbury, Terminus) it seemed that odds were good that there would at least still be people behind that could either provide shelter or a challenge to his group’s survival. In some ways, it was almost like a role-playing group who had out-leveled their previous zone. Either you get to sleep inside the inn for a while and recover, or you get to face tougher enemies worth more experience points. So what was Rick’s stupidity this time around? It came up in his conversation with Glenn, about whether or not either of them thought that Noah’s place would be safe. Rick admitted he didn’t, but also said that pretty much the only reason he made the trip was because it’s what Beth would have wanted. Um, dude, own up to your own decisions. Don’t throw the dead blonde singing girl under the bus one more time. Especially with your own misgivings about Shirewilt.
Much like with Rick above, it’s a little hard to fault Michonne too terribly much for her foolishness. However, it seemed unfair to make the entire list about Noah (although it could have been done), with only one exception. Michonne’s moment happens shortly before she, Rick, and Glenn get pulled back by Noah’s screams (more on that in a bit), while they’re working a perimeter sweep of Shirewilt. Despite the fact that the community already fell once, and fell quite spectacularly given the state of the buildings we see, Michonne talks about wanting to make a go of things there. Yes, the Ricktocracy is probably better equipped to deal with walkers if the walls would get rebuilt, but it isn’t until Michonne gets near the tree line and she sees how bad things actually are for them that she relents. Thankfully, this dumb moment is quickly followed by her smartly pointing out that Eugene, while a terrible liar, is smart enough to know that just maybe Washington D.C. would have a safe area. She even convinced Rick, although I’m sure proximity more than her insistence that they couldn’t stay outside forever played more into his relenting.
On to the meat of the episode, and the real heroes of this list. First off, we have Noah’s moment shortly after the big bite, where he runs off to find Rick, Glenn, and Michonne, leaving an injured Tyreese behind. Admittedly, Noah must have thought that Tyreese was safe in the house now that they cleared out the inside walkers, and there was really no other way to get the group together (how big was Shirewilt, anyway?), but he probably should have stayed a little closer and just tried yelling for them. Or maybe the group should have worked out some signal before leaving Tyreese and Noah behind at the front gates to scavenge. But is that Noah’s biggest dumb moment in this particular exchange? Nope. It’s also clear that Limpy McLimpsalot not only left Tyreese behind, but he didn’t take any sort of weaponry with him. Given that the man was able to stay a few steps ahead of Carol and Daryl, you’d think he would have a slightly better survival instinct than that.
2. Noah (again)
So, if Noah appears on this list first for running off after Tyreese was attacked, what could possibly trump that? How about everything he did that caused this particular turn of events. I don’t actually fault Noah for collapsing into an emotional mess when he realized that his hometown was destroyed. That just makes perfect sense, especially given how much hope he was pinning on being able to return there and help take care of his mother and brothers again. The only real immediate result of his breakdown was that it split the party, but if he’d just stayed put, everything would have been fine. But no, Noah won’t stand for making sense (again, distraught, I know, but these people have enough smarts to survive somehow, even through tremendous grief) and shortly after he and Tyreese are left alone, Noah gets up onto his gimpy leg and takes off at a full run. Tyreese, clearly not a good runner, lumbers after him, and Noah leads him on a wild goose chase back to his home, because he just HAS to see the decaying corpses of his family. I mean, getting closure makes sense and all, but it would seem like, in a world as overrun with terrible as the world of The Walking Dead is, you probably could have gotten the closure you needed by seeing the burnt out husks of buildings dotting the streets you used to play in.
Oh, Tyreese. It honestly seems a little harsh to even add you to this list this week. However, the opportunity to do so is clearly running out, and, well, you really did get a beautiful episode to go out in. There’s no way that a little internet snark can take away any of those moments. I mean, watching your internal monologue with some of the most influential people to cross your path was pretty powerful. And it really did showcase the fact that you really didn’t fit in this world, which both Martin and The Governor alluded to. You kept wanting to see good in people, and you didn’t want to be directly responsible for the deaths of anyone that still had a chance, and that may have caused more turmoil and strife for your group than anyone could have wished. But man, you are terrible at situational awareness. How else would you explain staring at a wall of pictures, knowing full well that there was at least one walker in the house (and quite probably two, given that the body you saw in the room didn’t have any obvious head wounds)? Listen, Lizzie was told to look at the flowers, but you didn’t have to state at the photographs. You would’ve been just fine if you hadn’t gotten wrapped up in the beauty of what came before.
And that wraps up our return into the world of The Walking Dead. We’ll be back next week for “Them”. Based on the previews, it could be a Sorkin-inspired episode, with a lot of walking and talking.