Published on February 10th, 2015 | by Bean0
The Walking Dead Review – Season 5 Episode 9 “What Happened and What’s Going On”
The Walking Dead is back after a nine week hiatus with a boldly shot episode, but I can’t escape the feeling that it’s treading old ground. At this stage, how could they not be? The issue always facing a show about the zombie apocalypse, where every episode is a fight for survival, is how to keep the theme fresh. As the characters lose more and more, the fight becomes a trudge and whether the zombies are on fire or covered in mud or all just torsos becomes less and less diverting. How do you keep the stakes high without exhausting everybody’s patience?
No other show on the air is required to be as adrenaline-coursing and energetically relentless. The Walking Dead’s premise gives it little leeway for taking downtime or meandering, and I imagine we’d be on it’s case in a flash if it did. But the room to manoeuvre creatively is vital for any narrative, and it more and more feels like The Walking Dead has tied it’s shoelaces together.
The manner in which the losses occur even remains the same – tonight’s Totally Avoidable Accident is as annoying as these incidents invariably are. Do you have time to look at photographs of dead children whilst scoping out a house of the undead? No, Tyreese, no you really don’t. Tyreese’s innocence earns him an ugly death, as it always was going to. I have literally been saying for years that this big bear of a man wasn’t cut out for the zompocalypse. Do I feel vindicated? No. I want some surprises, goddamit.
“What Happened and What’s Going On” must be given credit for choosing to express the loss of Tyreese with considerable grace and striking imagery. The cold open shows us what is to come, light and perspectives refracted to distort the true meaning of situations which come full circle by episode’s close. Close ups of spades digging earth are never going to be good omens in this show, but the conceit of allowing the audience to presume this is Beth’s funeral we are viewing is a choice made in true Walking Dead style; simultaneously respectful of the audience’s bond to character’s lost as well as a giant smack in the mouth.
Tyreese’s trippy slide into oblivion affords the show runners effective reminiscences in the shape of dead characters who had an impact on him. We are given the first glimpse of this with the weird-sister’s appearance in the cold open, a shot followed by a painting of a house being copiously bled onto. Cue theme tune! Oh dear. By the time Tyreese is bleeding out under a table, his thoughts and fears are manifested in Beth (put the guitar down), the Terminus douchebag from the shed in 5.1, poor old Bob and best of all, The Governor, demanding that the bill be paid.
The theme of homes lost or defiled, and the need for a little piece of anything safe and sound comes through loud and clear in episode 9; even the usually stoic and nomadic Michonne is willing to put down roots in this obviously compromised shit-hole rather than keep running. Our heroes are tired and who can blame them? They’re also getting sloppy. The inconsistent way the group is dealing (or not) with walkers belies their proximity to total burnout. It’s all very well being sharp-shooting soldiers when the shit has already hit the fan, but wouldn’t it be more logical to take out the walker in the car, and check the surrounding wreckage for future SNAFU’s?! Arrrrgh.
Other sections are unnecessarily clunky, due to the obvious loss of momentum the mid-season hiatus damns the show with. Suddenly there is the need for dialogue dealing in recap and exposition, which is a difficult sell at the best of times, let alone with Glen and Rick embracing the nihilism. As it is, the back-8 starts with a major character cull, just as the front-8 ended with the same. While Beth’s death felt like a horrible but quite likey outcome to an already difficult situation (hostage negotiations are never simple), losing Tyreese in the way we did, to another frustrating act of stupidity, only furthers the sense of inevitability. Just in case we missed the foreshadowing, the show signposts his deaths, giving Tyreese all the choice dialogue, and poignant perspectives and observations that he shares with Noah and his ghosts. Bob was right then – it went the way it
had to, the way it was always going to. Shame.
Review by Nina Clark
STRAY OBSERVATION: is that Andrew Lincoln doing his best RP news voice on the radio hallucinations?
Mark’s Zombie Connoisseur Corner will return next week!
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