Well, damn. When Andrew Lincoln recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how “weird” The Walking Dead was going to get, I had no idea how accurate that would be as the midseason premiere began last night. Weird, you say, Sir Lincoln? I think we can dig on that.
Speaking of digging—that’s exactly where we meet the gang as the episode begins after the loss of Beth. We imagine that’s exactly what they’re doing—burying Beth. Or are they? The images that open the episode are of two twin boys in photos, blood dripping onto a painting of that cabin in the woods where Tyreese and Carol once stayed, which leads to a smiling Mika and Lizzie, saying, “It’s better now.” There is a feeling of change, death, the past, childhood, and grave uncertainty. Noah says Beth was planning on going with him to Virginia, so the group decides, even though it’s a major long haul, they should probably give Georgia a rest and look for happier pastures up in VA.
Tyreese tells Noah about being a kid, afraid of the world and it’s scary news—watching horrible things happen on TV, turning it off or changing the channel. But after all of this, he knew he couldn’t tune it out, he had to be ready and aware, help in any way he could. His dad once called this “the high price of living.” Noah says he’s still got a mom and twin brothers back home. (Ah ha, foreshadowing indeed, you intro.)
By the time they get to their destination, they hide their car in the woods and make it to the wall where Noah’s family is hopefully still holding fort. Carol, Daryl, Maggie and the others are hanging back. Better to send one group ahead before the whole gang gets bombarded. This group knows they need a Carol hiding in the woods. The once-thriving Shirewilt Estates (Wiltshire Estates in the comic) is a ghost town. Tyreese passes a big Grandfather clock randomly sitting on the pavement. Is time on their side? Glenn peeps over the side of a big wall, but he just shakes his head. After Noah takes a look, he starts to wander off, visibly upset. The whole area looks deserted, but badly defeated. There’s some spray paint on a wall that reads: “Wolves not far.” Oh, great. Do they eat people? Probably.
Glenn, who seems on edge, having just smashed a CD into pieces, (I did that when I got over Hanson, it was heartbreaking) starts up a conversation with Rick about Dawn and Beth. Rick says he doesn’t think Dawn meant to kill Beth—he could see it. But he killed Dawn anyway, not for Beth, just because Rick is a complicated dude who can’t really explain why—but he knows that this trip was for Beth. She wanted to bring Noah back to his home, and they did that for her. Glenn still has feelings about this he can’t quite put his finger on. We’ll soon realize just how much repetition plays a major role in this mid-season opener.
Tyreese is watching over Noah, consoling him like a good friend. “This isn’t the ending,” he tells Noah. At that, Noah starts to get up and Tyreese is thrilled. “That’s it,” he says. But Noah just makes a mad dash—still wobbling badly from his injuries. Tyreese runs after him. They’re at the foot of Noah’s front door. Noah’s mom is dead on the living room and Noah talks sweetly to her as Tyreese goes into a bedroom and spots another body on the bed. In photos on the wall, he sees Noah’s twin brothers, smiling, having fun on the playground, at a game with Noah—and Tyreese smiles too at first, until his expression changes, and he’s completely glued on this photo of the twins, tears in his eyes. What does he see? Does he see himself as a little boy in that photo?
Before he has time to think, he’s bitten. Low and behold, it’s one of the twins, a young walker. Noah rushes in and without a second thought, kills his brother with a toy fighter jet. He runs to get help, but Tyreese isn’t in good shape. All this talk about being a kid, and here Tyreese lays dying, in a little boy’s bedroom. It’s not okay, but it’s so very fitting. The desk clock starts buzzing with news clips—we hear flashbacks from a time before walkers ruled the land and their groups were isolated, unexplainable—but there they were on the news, for people like Tyreese to hear. And he’s hearing it again, now. His eyes widen in horror, his face sweating—dude’s either letting all that zombie juice go to his brain or he just found some magic mushrooms in Noah’s little brother’s room.