The Walking Dead 5.9 – What Happened And What’s Going On

I just like reminding everyone of how much I love Michonne. This is unrelated to the episode. ...OR IS IT?

I just like reminding everyone of how much I love Michonne. This is unrelated to the episode. …OR IS IT?

Hello hello!! Welcome back from the hiatus, the one where we questioned sticking with this ugly world, because everything good seems to get snuffed out. Well, at least we still have the moral compass that is Tyrese.


This is probably the most artistically directed episode in the entire series, and I really enjoyed it.  The opening is a series of images overlaid with haunting music, Father Gabriel’s soothing voice as a body–whose?–is committed to the ground as the women cry. So the question is: is this for Beth given the way Maggie is sobbing?

Through all of this we keep flashing on our group rushing in a panic intercut with a cheap painting of a small, modest, but lovely home, surrounded by autumnal flora. Until blood begins to pour out onto it, ruining it.

In case anyone needed the reminder: we’re in the Apocalypse, and there are no lovely homes anymore. None surrounded by attractive flora, only face-biting, moaning, shuffling fauna. We also see pictures of two small boys–twins–and they look like Noah. At first I thought it was Noah, that he had a twin, but no, they’re his younger brothers.

Done setting us up for a painful ending (is it Noah being buried?), we’re in the present where Our Group, minus Carol and Daryl because they’re re-acquainting themselves with each other, hey-hey! (let me have this), are driving Noah to his old “safe” community. They’ve been on the road a while, and they’re almost to the neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia.

Real talk? I got super worried about how on earth Morgan is ever going to track them to Virginia. Ha, I’m a nerd.

Because Rick understands more than Noah, he doesn’t just drive up to the gate and give two friendly taps of the horn to be allowed in. They pull over and join a car wreck–smart, because looters would definitely take their ride–and cut through the never-ending forest and through an entry-level security system of ropes twisting and stretching through the trees of the perimeter. Not bad, but it doesn’t go all the way around. Needs some surrounding pits with spikes in it.

Recon done, they hop on the main road to get to the entrance, passing a Grandfather clock, broken, in the middle of the road. Well, it appears time’s up for someone.

Glenn looks over the barricaded gate and it’s bad. It’s totally what Glenn expected, but Noah has to see it with his own eyes, bursting into body-wracking sobs and falling to the street at the site of all the dead bodies and burned houses.

THIS IS OMINOUS TO ME. No spoilers!!

THIS IS OMINOUS TO ME. No spoilers!!

This has to mean something: WOLVES NOT FAR was spray painted on one of the inner walls. Any thoughts? UNLESS IT’S A SPOILER! Remember, we’re not comic/graphic novel readers here, be cool about it.

Our group is smart and makes a sweep for supplies. ALWAYS MAKE A SWEEP FOR SUPPLIES. (Oh man, back at Grady with all of those Army tents? No one swept them for First Aid kits, ammo, blankets, Cram, Dandy Boy Apples…) Rick admits to Glenn that they’re here simply because Beth wanted it. Rick’s running low on hope, but high on honor. Glenn is fresh out of fucks to give for any of it, while Michonne is watching all of this and realizing they’re becoming nothing more than savages making do. She wants to light somewhere and recharge both in body and spirit.

Ty, babysitting Noah, continues the talk he had in the car as they drove. The world is awful in places, but not all of it. His father taught him to bear witness to it all as the “high cost of living.” He tries to reassure Noah that this–grand sweep to encompass the ruins of what was once a safe community–isn’t the end.

Ty? Maybe it should be.

Noah, because he is constantly reminding me that Everybody Haaaaates Chris, takes off running to one of the houses. Well, limping. He should be easy to catch, but Ty is tired, I guess. Noah’s run to his home, and it looks bad from the outside. The inside is even worse. His mother lays on the ground, dead for some time. Wow, is that gruesome. Noah covers her and whispers apologies as Ty goes off in search of the Walker he can hear in another room.

Kudos to the props and FX departments because Jeeeeeez.

Kudos to the props and FX departments because Jeeeeeez. Also, look at the flowers. The twin pictures of flowers, oho.

In one of the rooms he passes is a young boy, mostly eaten and totally dead. It’s one of the boys from those photographs, which are taped to the wall, absorbing Ty’s full attention because how sad is it that twins died this way, you know, and that must have been really hard for this family and HOLY GREMLIN SKITTER WALKER THERE’S THE TWIN CHOMPING ON TY’S ARM NOOOOOOOO!

Noah rips a model airplane from the ceiling and brains his little brother to get him off Ty. Okay, so Noah is responsible for Beth’s death, and it’s not looking good for Ty, so is this the way the show balances that debt out? Hmm, I don’t like it. (I do like his character, mind you.)

There’s an old radio in the room that Ty can hear (that’s never good) describing a violent rebellion in a soothing British voice. Is this Ty’s memory of how it all went down? Meanwhile, Ty is BLEEDING OUT and I just…

Protip time. Tourniquet: a life-saving hug for your vascular system! Tear off that long-sleeve from your shirt and wrap it around the limb, a few inches above (towards the body) the wound. Tie the sleeve ends as you would a shoelace, but before tightening it, slip a sturdy pen or pencil (or ruler, etc) in the center of the knot. Tighten the knot and if the bleeding continues, twist the pen, tucking the end under the tourniquet to hold in place to increase pressure.

We’ve now hit the full on hallucinations portion of our bleeding out, where Ty is confronted by Ball Cap Termite, Martin, and Bob, playing both devil and angel on Ty’s shoulder for giving up or letting go, respectively. The Gov makes an appearance–representing how deep Ty’s naivete runs, I think. Remember how Ty was all “Tenpenny Towers seems perfectly lovely!”?

I like the juxtaposition of living things among the dead in this shot.

I like the juxtaposition of living things among the dead in this shot

The Gov is pissed with Ty not pulling his weight and runs at him but SCREW THIS HALLUCINATION SHIT I’M ACTUALLY A WALKER!! Ty snaps out of it and literally drops the hammer trying to hold off the Walker, finally feeding the Walker his bad arm so he can get a weapon and bash him good. Well, it was good knowing you, Ty. This can not be good.

The Walker falls onto a chair, blood pouring out of its mouth onto that painting we saw before. Yep, nothing good remains pure, nothing wholesome is left untainted in this world, and that’s always been Ty’s weakness: holding onto the past as if they can reclaim it. I say weakness because of the world they live in now. I don’t think you can have such a glass half-full approach anymore.

Meanwhile, Michonne wants to repair the breach so the group can stay here, but strategically it’s just a bad idea. I mean, there’s forest all around obstructing the view, the perimeter is broken in too many places, there are bottom-halves of torso strewn about… Wait, what? Just a whole bunch of waist-downers in a bloody pile? What the hell was going on in this joint?

They all decide that yeah, maybe going on to D.C. is a good idea because if anything, there will probably be some sort of military infrastructure to lean on.

OKAY. If that’s true it’s going to be one of two things. One, hyper-PTSD rape-bots like 28 Days Later or two, Brotherhood of Steel, hoarding technology and assets and making them their bitch.

But hey, a cot and three hots, right? *tugs neckline*

As they dispatch the last of the Walkers in town, there’s a moment where Michonne’s katana blade bounces off a piece of rebar stuck in the Walker’s neck. Now, let’s get real: that would have wrecked that blade. But okay. Noah finds them, drags them back to where Ty is bleeding out because he doesn’t believe in vascular hugs of LIFE SAVING, THIS IS BASIC FIELD MED WORK, YOU GUYS.

Back in “low oxygen to the brain” land, Ty now sees Beth singing “a struggling man has got to move” as Mika and Lizzie point at the flowers. The Gov says he’s weak salt for forgiving Carol about Karen’s death. Well that’s not how Ty sees things, okay? He’s still good, goodness isn’t over and done with, and that’s why he saved Carol. Ty says he’s not giving up.

…on goodness, because I think we all know he’s giving up on living. He lets the girls take his hand, but it cuts to Rick holding his hand, stretching his arm taut as Michonne brings her katana up and down, cutting his arm off in one fell swoop.

PROTIP: CAUTERIZING WOUNDS. First, this should be used only in extreme situations like blood loss during the zombie apocalypse. So they’ve whacked off his arm. Let’s get that stump to a red hot skillet or stove top. Use clean gauze to wrap and cover the seared stump, try not to gag over the inticing smell of long pig, and then wrap a clean sleeve of material over that to further prevent bugaboos from getting in (because they will). Now, we have five days to stave off the inevitable systemic infection with some good old antibiotics, and we’ve got Ty back up and at ’em in a week.

Or… we can force him to run along to the main entrance, letting him fall onto the spray-painted sunshine in the street while the group clears the main gate of Walkers (oh man, this just ratcheted the tension up and off the charts, right?)–



–continue racing to the car that they parked in the woods after the string maze, spin the tires in the muck for some added tension, wait, no, that would be the car lurching into one of the wrecked cars where all the top-halves of those bodies spill out, chomping and teeth clacking and SERIOUSLY WHAT HAPPENED HERE? Then Radio Carol to prepare amputation recovery triage, hear Ty tell “Bob” to turn off the radio where he’s been listening to the ugliness of the world dying all around him because he’s seen enough, okay? That’ll do, Pig.



We have a very “welcome to Heaven where your loved ones are waiting” moment, and then the car pulls over and everyone spills out. I like that we don’t see them putting a bullet in his head or stabbing him, because that would be too much. He was a good man, he lived by a code until the end, and his impromptu funeral is appropriately sad and shocking, Sasha barely able to wrap her head around this enormous loss.

Rick puts Ty’s knit hat on an impromptu cross, and we say goodbye to kind-hearted, gentle giant Ty. But he’s with Karen, now.

How awesome is Melissa Ponzio for replying to my tweet? And seriously, having Karen there--the last person who loved Ty and who made him feel whole again--would have been too devastating. [gross sobbing]

How awesome is Melissa Ponzio for replying to my tweet? And seriously, having Karen there–the last person who loved Ty and who made him feel whole again–would have been too devastating. [gross sobbing]

So welcome back, Show? Are you about to hit Game of Thrones levels of destroying me? BECAUSE IF MICHONNE DIES, IMMA RIOT.

I’m guessing this episode is going to be polarizing–you either loved the slow pace and artistic endeavor (I did) or you didn’t feel it was necessary because you’re dead inside. And seriously: learn how to make and use a tourniquet, survivors, sheesh!

Click here for the next episode, THEM

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  • Karen

    I loved this episode, and am sad that Ty is gone. But he went out how he wanted to – keeping his compassion intact. Glad he’s with the good guys now – Bob, Beth and the girls. And I’m sure he’s with Karen as well.
    I, too, wondered why they didn’t cauterize that stump right then and there, instead of trying to get Ty back to Carol. They all need basic first aid lessons.
    I’m thinking you don’t have to worry about Michonne for quite a while. I think she’s on TPTB’s long plan.

  • KatyHart

    I really just feel so bad for Sasha right now. Losing the two men she was closest too so close together.

    (Right there with you wanting good things for C&D and wishing Karen had been there.

    • I don’t think Sasha can even process how tremendous the loss is that she’s had, you know? It’s been her and her brother from the beginning. But then, the only person who still has family at this point is Rick and Carl. :(

      I would have been BAWLING if Karen showed up with a kind, gentle smile for Ty. Then again, from a story-telling perspective, I think that would have made it a no-brainer for him to let go. She would have needed to be saved for the very last, maybe driving the van or sitting next to him in his hallucination.

    • What happened to my reply?! UGH. Anyway, it was something along the lines of me flailing at you in complete agreement. :)

  • I do love that Ty stayed true to himself for his entire stint. He never faltered in his beliefs from the moment we met him, although he came close. TYRESE!!


  • kiki

    I’m so angry that Tyreese died mostly because he was my favourite, just a gentle, kind, good dude in the middle of the apocalypse. Who is gonna take care of Judith now though??

    That and my friend and I were literally discussing pre-Tyreese getting bit how the show has five black main characters and how it seemed to have ditched the thing where they’d introduce a new black character into Rick’s gang, and then kill off an old one. so Noah/Chris joins and Tyreese dies like NAH. NAAAAAAAAAH. I’m sorry. I’m really upset about this, because I liked Tyreese a lot.

    I liked the slow, tense pace too. it was a nice change of pace.

    • Aww, I’m sorry that you’re so unhappy. :( Any time a show offs a favorite character (especially one who has served as the moral compass for a season and change, now) they take a huge risk. And to be fair, they introduced Noah and killed off Beth.

      BUT STILL. I HEAR YOUR PAIN, KIKI. He was a good dude and too good for this ugly world. I do like that he lived and died not compromising his goodness, and going out after helping someone. He’ll definitely be missed.

    • Christa

      My husband and I were talking about that too! It’s like as soon as a new black guy shows up, the existing black guy may as well pull on a red shirt right then and there. I’m with you, though – I LOVED Tyreese and, of course, everybody haaaaates Chris.

  • Colleen

    Our show is back! And hey-ho, it’s back to breaking our hearts immediately! I loved this episode. I loved the poetry and philosophy, and I loved that they gave Ty a gentle emotional death where his friends came back to get him. (Zombie bites aside).

    I do not love that there is no more Ty.

    Can we just take a minute to worry about Michonne? She’s kind of pointing to be the new moral compass, and that’s kind of a dangerous spot on this show… Hershel, Beth, Ty… Let the riots begin! However, I loved her a million times more for pointing out to Rick that they have been out there too long.

  • Lee No

    Wow, that episode. I love how it all (the pre-credits seqence, the burial…) came together in the end. A nice touch would have been to introduce Ty’s news-listening background in an earlier ep, so it wouldn’t feel like it’s introduced solely to wrap things up neatly.
    From the moment Ty told Noah “I want to live now” I was sure he was a goner.
    And how great was it to have David Morrissey as the Governor again? I miss his gravelly voice and mad acting skills (not that everyone else on the show isn’t outstanding!).
    “The Wolves are near” was so creepy. And the torso-heads all had a “W” carved on their foreheads. Maybe a new gang? But what was the point of chopping them up and then just leaving them there? Is it just – as the tie-in with the British news-voice would suggest – just escalating violence? Or did they want to use the corpses for something (territory markers?) but were ambushed by walkers and had to abandon the van? I have no clue.
    Sometimes, like in this episode (no spoilers, don’t worry :)) it’s especially frustrating to be the only person in my circle of TWD friends who read the comics. There was a foreshadowing moment that literally had me shaking with fear. It just goes to show how brilliantly they construct and foreshadow their story arcs in general. When we eventually get there in the show, I will point out all the awesome foreshadowing they did!
    Also, I love how Michonne is the most “normal” one now – “Hey guys, let’s get to safety, find a good place” whereas even Glen is like “LIFE IS MEANINGLESS”. The group dynamic always shifts quite dramatically.
    Great recap & survival tips ;)

  • Eddie H

    I kept telling my wife throughout the episode that he needed to tourniquet his arm. As soon as he got bit and dropped to the ground I said “Quick! Find something to make a tourniquet before you lose your strength!” When the amputated his arm and still didn’t do anything to stop the bleeding other than drape a blanket on him (and what the hell is that supposed to accomplish anyways?) I knew he was fucked. I actually felt vindicated when he died because at least it was realistic. In what was a great episode I felt it a little bit of a waste that Ty was just allowed to bleed to death.
    Also, Noah is cursed. If I was in the group, there’s no way I’d let him hang around me.

    • Eddie, I appreciate your understanding of the importance of a damn tourniquet. YOU WILL BE ONE WHO SURVIVES. And lol at the blanket as some form of first aid. NO PUT HEAVY PRESSURE ON THAT DAMNED STUMP! Are they maybe so worn out that they didn’t realize no one put a tourniquet on him? Did they do the, “I thought YOU did!” dance of shame afterward? Well, they should have.

      And ha, I’m with you on Noah. Either the writers don’t know what they’re doing as far as setting him up to fail, or it’s on purpose. In which case, UH OH.

  • AmyJhnsn

    I can’t believe I didn’t see Tyreese’s death (or you know any character in addition to Beth) coming. I mean, hello, Serenity Book/Wash. HELLO. I should have known better that everyone wouldn’t be safe in 5.9 just because we lost Beth in 5.8. But I was still like OMG NO when super-fast mini-Noah came in for the chomp. NOT COOL. NO.

    I was so mad that they didn’t off his stump somehow. They’re not dumb, and they’ve been through this before. They saw how close they came to losing Herschel due to blood loss, and they knew they were going to have to carry Tyreese a lot further than they had to take Herschel, and Tyreese had already lost a lot of blood before the amputation. Could they not have holed up where they were and had Carol come to them? Or something? UGH.

    I did love how they filmed that part, though, with the girls holding Ty’s wrist/arm in his hallucination and then it really being Rick and co. It was quick and shocking and so powerful.

    • I almost wonder if because Tyrese always presented as such a strong, powerful human that they simply FORGOT? Because I cannot understand it. CANNOT. I said in a different comment that maybe they each thought the other had put a tourniquet on him.

      BUT. ALL OF THAT ASIDE, this was simply a beautifully shot episode as you said. Powerful, intense (omg, that Walker coming for him towards the end and Rick missing the head on the first shot!), and deeply emotional. It’s going to feel numb for a few episodes, I think.

  • LEE!!!! THE WOLVES ARE NEAR–TORSOS HAD A W IN THE HEAD?!?! I didn’t catch that! I was so horrified by them just existing that I didn’t take in that detail!! I’m going to have to make myself watch it again just to pick up on that.

    Oh my gosh, the idea of using the torsos for something. WORK WITH ME: what if there were pits dug around the perimeter filled with those top halves? Almost like they’re planted? I mean, you’ll just be creating new Walkers if they don’t get completely devoured, but I’m thinking the type of person who cuts a body in half and makes plans for them isn’t necessarily a high-thinker. IDK, BUT WOW. I like your “the van was filled, then attacked, being abandoned” theory. That holds water with me, too.

    I’m so happy to have you comics readers not spoil me, and then walk me back to significant moments we TV show watchers wouldn’t have picked up on! That’s so wonderful when a show honors its hardcore canon fans, but in a way that doesn’t confuse new watchers like me.

    OMG, Glen is ALL OUTTA FUCKS TO GIVE. (Which sucks for Maggie, HEY-O! I’m a terrible person, hahaha.)

  • It really was a beautiful and poetic episode, wasn’t it? And we needed a moment to remind ourselves of the importance of humanity in all of this, but O! what a heavy price to pay.

    Moral Compass = WORST JOB EVER in the Z.A. I think the saving grace for her, though, is that she’s gone full circle, picking up hardness and discarding unnecessary emotions (fear, jealousy, etc) along the way, where Hershel tried to maintain his stance from the beginning, same with Ty. Beth needed more time to realize how dangerous people were to save herself from the fate she met, so I’m a little more confident that Michonne won’t bite it. I mean, the woman had armless/jawless men on chains as pets. :D


    • Colleen

      Armless/jawless men on chains. God I want to be Michonne when I grow up!

  • cindergal

    Laura! Our show is back! And I am back, a day late but better late than never, I guess. Poor Tyreese! Too precious for this zombie apocalypse /Supernatural reference. I figured he was going to die at some point this season, because the cast is getting too big and they
    have to make room for Abraham and company now. But to have it happen the episode after Beth dies? You are an evil genius, Scott Gimple.

    Iloved the direction of this episode, too. My beloved Greg Nicotero said he wanted it to feel like a Terrence Malick film and it did! Except I really don’t care all that much for Terrence Malick films, but Iguess I like them with zombies.

    I continue to love and adore and girlcrush Michonne. Sometimes you can be out here too long was
    heartbreaking, because, yes. She sees what it is doing to her family and she’s so desperate to get them somewhere safe.

    And yes, WTFwith those corpses cut in half? And the wolves are not far? Creepy! We’ll find out, I guess, according to Mr. Nicotero. Eventually…

    • I always get excited when I see Greg Nicotero is helming the ep. What’s funny to me about the whole Terrence Malick bit is that every indie director I’ve worked with here in Texas is OBSESSED with him and try to ape his long shots, the over-exposure, hell, even the lighting TM prefers, so it was very comfortable for me to watch even if I was giggling a bit.

      I love how solid Michonne is. She has seen some shit, and she’s dealt with most of it all by herself, and now that she has a family again, she’s all the better to toughen out this new world–stronger than most. I LOVE HER.

      HI CINDY!!!! I’m so excited to get the back half of this season. It’s been amazing, imo, so I hope they maintain that level of filmmaking they’ve achieved so far.

  • Christy EllaNoise Morrison

    I knew it was coming!! Ty was too sensitive for this world.

    • He really, really was. Goodness and someone who stops to think and examine as much as he does can’t survive in this world