WARNING FULL SPOILERS
The Walking Dead staggered back onto our screens this week and in a surprising turn of events chose to use this post-break opener as a teary farewell for Tyreese. What made the death of Tyreese more shocking than the timing of it, was in the manner in which it was done. For such a physically large character you’d have thought he’d go down in a shower of hammer wielding mayhem but instead a simple bite on the forearm from a child was enough to finish off the big man. One thing the series is trying to warn us about is that everyone will make a mistake at some point.
Looking back at events prior to this, the episode, as a whole, was a brilliantly crafted edition of the season so far. Director Greg Nicotero has something of a gift for re-establishing the series each time it returns to our screens, he’s been responsible for both the season premiere and February re-opener for the last two seasons and has handled the challenge expertly each time. Here he plays a clever trick in the first couple of minutes with what is perceived to be a sequence of events following on from the aftermath of Beth’s demise but subsequently turns out to be events yet to unfold.
Some of the keen viewers out there may have noticed a big hint to this early on when Noah cut his head on the barbed wire – he had that cut in the opening montage, therefore what you were seeing in the first minute had to be from a sequences of future events. I’ll admit I didn’t notice it until the second viewing, mainly because it was bugging me why the show took a moment to highlight something that didn’t have any significance later on.
Fans of the comics would have noticed a couple of other hints to potential upcoming events, no spoilers for our TV only readers but the significance of wolves dotted around the estate (which may be a rebrand of something else) and Glenn picking up that baseball bat are worthy of note (should the show follow the comics that is). Another subtle hint, this time for Tyreese’s fate, was the ‘Dead End’ sign hanging on the door of Noah’s brother’s room, also the radio clock appeared to be stuck at 5:09 – as in season 5 episode 9, and like the broken grandfather clock outside, Tyreese was out of time.
One thing you have to congratulate writer Scott M. Gimple on is the way in which he placed Tyreese and Noah’s conversation about their fathers into the action early on. Normally when a character’s death is imminent there is a orchestrated interaction or sometimes a redeeming apology from a character which boosts the emotional impact when they die a few scenes later. Here, Gimple manages to place this in quickly so we feel like it’s a way for us to get to learn more about Noah than increase our fondness of Tyreese.
That being said, the real writing talent manifested itself during the ‘Tyreese FM’ climactic segment that brought back good and bad ghosts to haunt Tyreese into the afterlife (fun fact, it was actually Andrew Lincoln’s voice on the radio in his normal accent, oh and he was reading a report about events in Rwanda not the initial zombie outbreak reports that you may have thought it was, horrifically similar though). Personally, hearing Beth sing would make me want to use every once of strength to stay alive but then seeing her drive without looking at the road would’ve made me think I was a few moments from death anyway so I guess Tyreese letting go was only natural. Lori must have been giving Beth driving lessons back at the prison with that sort of attention being paid to the road ahead.
Speaking of driving, what’s with the torsos in the back of the truck? They appeared to have W’s carved into their heads as well – a hint for wolves or something else? We’re not quite sure at this stage. One thing is for sure though and that’s what Andrew Lincoln said the rest of this season would be – “f****** nuts”.
Going by this opener he wasn’t kidding.