AMC‘s The Walking Dead What Happened & What’s Going On TV Show Review. The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 9: ‘What Happened & What’s Going On,’ might have seemed like an odd way to kick off the second half of season 5; but the odder bit would be the kind of context likely to have the episode make perfect sense. It was for the context I came up with, anyway.
“Welcome to Purgatory. Reservation?”
“Only the ones I always carry around – like ‘em, or not.”
“Care to hear our recommendations?”
“I’ll be hearing from my entourage, at the bar, before being seated.”
“I’m sure you’ll choose wisely….”
‘What Happened & What’s Going On’ initially seemed like it picked up where the mid-season finale left off. In a way, it did; but it was mostly something else. Anyone paying attention should know that even a glimpse of the Samuels sisters (Brighton Sharbino, Kyla Kenedy) is a harbinger of some heavy happenings, coming down the pipeline, and that somebody will be tripping wrecking balls. Given the make-up of the episode’s players, the target should have been obvious. Given the logical assumption, that the show had already filled its martyr quota, however, the target’s fate might have also been obvious; but that logic did leave us guessing.
Well, given the age we live in, it shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to name names, at this point. Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) spent much of the episode confronted by his winnings & failings, presented by the specters of friends & foes, alike, in order to either make the grade, or be condemned for them.
-But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The form, to the episode’s function, came from the real legacy of Beth’s (Emily Kinney) passing. Acting on her previous pact with Noah (Tyler James Williams), Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Glenn (Steven Yeun), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Ty, had set out to return him to his home town. This was no mere sentimental outing. If Shirewilt Estates, just outside Richmond, Va, turned out to be the secure, walled-off community that Noah had left behind, it was to be as good a destination as any, for the entire group.
By now, Rick has settled on approaching all potential safe-havens as hostile hard-points; but upon finding the community overrun, it was Ty that tended to Noah, while the others went about salvage. This was where the episode unhinged from its own established reality, and delved into its more fevered peripheral bits – for better or worse.
There may have been something of a leap in logic, regarding how Ty was given the seat of honor, for a round of Defending Your Life; but the script really wanted us to get to that point, after which, logic really wasn’t supposed to matter.
The question of whether Ty was too far gone, physically, took a back seat to a question of how far gone was he, in terms of sense, morals, and spirit. Of course these were questions he was asking of himself; but they manifested in the form of a field tribunal – made up of friends & foes – deliberating on whether he deserved peace of mind, or guilt, over everything that had brought him to that point.
The ‘defense’ included Beth, Lizzie & Mika Samuels, and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), which (apart from the sheer creepiness of the beckoning sisters) amounted to just about what you’d expect, from beckoning dearly departed. The prosecution, on the other hand, got to chew the scenery, one last time, to exalt their world view. Mr. Too Far Gone, himself, the Governor (David Morrissey), was the picture of a demon on furlough – representing the flaws in Ty’s reason. As a more personal foil, however, it was Martin (Chris Coy) that served to illustrate the flaws in Ty’s logic.
The plot, to which Ty’s reckoning was moored, revolved around Rick & Glenn addressing their slow boil descent, into becoming just another band of Reavers. The problem was that they weren’t the least bit self-aware of this. Well, Michonne was, and as the last true Road Warrior to join the group, she wasn’t having any of it. Where Rick & Glenn mulled over the fine points of sentiment & killing, in the protecting/ losing/ honoring of their own, Michonne insisted they get away from being on the road too long, and finding a place to foster their humanity. That discourse taking place amid evidence of deliberate – even ritualistic – mutilation of Walkers, in & around the estates.
The Noah homecoming plot ran parallel to the Tyreese reckoning; but once the effects, of Ty’s injuries, took hold, there was no point in keeping to any kind of timeline. There was also no need for a heavier plot. In this deliberation at Purgatory – where Ty’s entourage was asking him to recount his time on the road, in order to choose how he leaves it – the irrelevance of time & space made disparate images, quotes, and faces amount to a full summary of his run on the series.
Near full, anyways; noticeably absent, from the conscience cavalcade, was Karen. It was her murder – which first sent Ty into his rage spiral – that was alluded to, in the Governor’s indictment of Ty, for having forgiven Carol (the murderer).
Still, I’d say a pretty full account was taken – both for & against going out with a high head – of Ty’s contribution to both the group, and the series. One could argue that his closing scene was played strictly for the heart-strings; but I found it a fitting way of connecting his experience to where season 5.2 officially began – in the car, and on the road – thus making the experience that much larger than the episode, itself.
“Have you decided on your life’s course, then, sir?”
“I’ve decided who’s coming with me, to the next round. That should say it all.”
“Indeed it does, sir. If you’ll follow me….”
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