Spoilers: The Walking Dead Review
‘What’s Happened…’ is the exit story for another popular series regular
In keeping with season five’s largely consistent track record of quality, the first instalment of the popular zombie series’ second half subverts expectations by delivering another emotional rollercoaster of an episode.
Knowing that Beth’s demise will still be fresh in viewers’ minds, the writers of The Walking Dead (Fox) have constructed a story that plays with the expectations of their fan base right up to the devastating conclusion.
Picking up soon after the events of ‘Coda’, Andrew Lincoln's Rick (accompanied by a group of his followers) sets off to return Noah (Tyler James Williams) to his community. When they arrive to find no living survivors, Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) both seek to come to terms with their grief and settle on a mission to give their lives meaning. Noah is devastated by the loss of his loved ones and Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) rushes to his rescue, a decision with consequences that none of them could have imagined.
‘What’s Happened…’ is the exit story for another popular series regular. For a show that needs to provide inventive deaths for characters on a regular basis, Tyreese’s final battle with his personal demons is an effective one. Playing like a game of This Is Your Life (with a little help from his friends and enemies), Tyreese confronts the decisions that led to him getting bitten.
Coleman is at his most compelling, as his character realises it is his goodness that has led to his downfall. That Tyreese is haunted by ghosts from his past (Beth and The Governor are only two of the characters who feature in his hallucinations) only increases our sympathy for him as he fights against and eventually comes to terms with his own impending death.
At its best, the episode is an example of the series at its most ambitious, with the performers and production team working in tandem to deliver some of their best ever scenes, particularly in the final quarter. From the slow-motion showdown with the zombie horde (probably some of their most impressive special effects) through to the long distance shot of the group unloading Tyreese’s body, the conclusion delivers high-intensity action alongside the more tender moments.
It might be the end of the road for Tyreese, but this episode is proof that The Walking Dead is still at the top of its game. The remainder of this season seems set to offer a wealth of thrills and horrors for its viewers.