WALKING DEAD RECAP: As I Lay Dying (S5:E9)
Open on a montage… What, does someone need training already? No, not that kind of montage. This is more like a memory, or maybe a fever dream. Someone’s digging a grave—something we’ve seen plenty of since the zombie apocalypse. Twin boys we don’t know. A framed painting of a house. Hey, that’s the new kid, Noah, and he’s crying. So are these his memories? No, there’s that new preacher dude from The Wire, Father Gabriel, giving a eulogy. And the old prison from seasons back.
Okay, we’re not supposed to be able to make sense of this yet. Fine, I’ll go along for the ride. Speaking of, it’s road trip time! Rick wants to take Noah back home to the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, where maybe there’s a walled community where everybody can retire and plant a garden and wear purple or whatever, safe from the outside world.
More random images. Remember those blonde twins? The train tracks to Terminus. And that painting of a house now has blood pooling on it. That can’t be good.
Now we’re on the Road with Rick, Michonne, Tyrese, and Glenn. And Noah, of course. Noah’s got his guilt going about Beth’s death, but Tyrese offers only fatalistic comfort: “It went the way it had to, the way it was always going to.” To cheer things up, Tyrese tells Noah about his dad always making him listen to radio news reports of war and other atrocities he was too young to understand, much less do something about. We’re all powerless in a pointless world, I guess is our theme tonight, or at least it’s Tyrese’s theme. Would some traditional family travel games be too much to ask for? “I spy with my little eye something gray… It’s my haze of existential despair that chokes my soul.”
Are we there yet? Are we there yet? I guess we are, because Rick pulls over next to wrecked car with a trapped zombie in it, and everyone gets out. We wander through the woods for a bit because… when approaching a walled conclave of desperate post-apocalyptic survivors, it’s best to sneak up on them? And now we’re crossing over another road, so I’m not sure why we’re not still in the car. Whatever, Rick Grimes knows better than me, I’m sure. But to me, it just feels like they’re begging someone to ambush them, either zombies or Noah’s hometown crew.
Except it’s getting pretty clear that no one’s around. No one alive, anyway. They get to the wall of Noah’s community, and Tyrese peaks over the top. Oh shit, Noah knows by his face it ain’t good. Noah takes a look for himself and starts to freak out.
The gates aren’t doing anyone any good now, so Rick and crew open them. Inside, a couple of zombies take notice and start shuffling them their way. Michonne easily dispatches them with her sword as Noah collapses in the middle of the road.
“You’re with us now,” Tyrese tells him. That’ll mean something to him later, I’m sure, but right now he’s trying to cope with the loss of his family.
Rick radios Carol to say, “It’s gone.” But as long as they’re here, they figure they ought to hunt for supplies, so Rick takes Michonne and Glenn to ransack the nearby suburban homes.
Tyrese stays with Noah, giving him a rather poorly timed and tone-deaf “choose to keep living” pep talk. Noah responds by bolting.
Rick and his crew kind of wander aimlessly, searching nothing in particular, and have a stilted conversation about Beth and murder and vengeance. It’s pretty clear the writers don’t have dick for them to do this episode and this is just filler between Noah/Tyrese scenes. They can be safely ignored for the next half hour.
Noah is standing in front of his own home when Tyrese catches up to him. They go inside, against Tyrese’s better judgment. OH HI MOM! Or what’s left of mom. Most of the back of her head is missing. Noah tends to the body while Tyrese explores a noise that sounds like it could be a zombie or could be a baby, or maybe a baby zombie.
In a child’s bedroom, there’s another body lying on the bed. Noah mentioned having younger twin brothers, and this is clearly one of them. Tyrese sees a photo of the twins pinned to the far wall. He steps closer… narrows his eyes… mesmerized.
AND HE’S FUCKING BITTEN BY A ZOMBIE.
The dead twin on the bed is now gnawing on Tyrese’s arm. Fuck you, show, I liked Tyrese. Noah comes running in to destroy the zombie, then Tyrese sends him running from the room to get help.
Tyrese is alone. The room is quiet. There’s nothing for him to do but look around at the old toys and dingy furniture. The painting of the house is on the floor collecting his blood. It’s all very surreal even before the hallucinations begin.
The radio news comes on… In some third world country, someone’s massacring civilians.
Martin–remember him?–is sitting on the bed, taunting Tyrese. Playing the “what if” game. If only Tyrese had done things different, how many more people might still be alive now? “Domino shit,” he calls it.
Bob–remember him?–is there, reassuring Tyrese. “It went the way it had to, the way it was always going to.” Cold, fatalistic comfort. The only kind Tyrese has left.
Then, it’s the Governor, being angry. I know your remember him.
Now it’s the twin blonde girls, being nice.
No, wait, it’s the Governor again, yelling, attacking—
FUCK IT’S NOT THE GOVERNOR IT’S ANOTHER ZOMBIE!
The zombie’s already on top of him, wrestling with him. Tyrese offers up his already-bitten arm to the zombie in order to get his good arm free to grab a weapon. The zombie peril is no more, but Tyrese is double-bitten now. Does that matter? Is that a thing?
Okay, we can’t 100% ignore Rick and crew because among them they decide they should still check out Washington, DC, because even though the alleged cure turned out to be bullshit, there still might be some outpost of humanity left in the nation’s capital. As soon as that’s settled, they hear someone screaming for help. It’s Noah, who’s managed to stumble upon a nest of zombies. His new friends quickly rescue him, and he tells them about Tyrese.
In Tyrese land, the radio is still reporting on the horrors of war. The blonde twins are there, along with Beth, who’s playing a guitar.
“It’s okay,” one of the twins assures him. “You don’t have to be a part of it.” Apparently he looked very worried there might be some sort of post-mortem karaoke.
Martin and the governor aren’t so kind. They tag-team him, calling him blind, blaming him for being too soft.
Tyrese ain’t gonna take this shit. “I know who I am. I know what happened and what’s going on,” he growls. “It’s not over. I’m not giving up.”
The twins are proud of him. They take his arm, gently, comfortingly—
Yeah, it wasn’t the twins. It was Rick and Glenn holding his arm out while Michonne hacked it off.
Tyrese is dimly aware of being dragged out of the house. There are more zombies between the failed conclave and the car, but Rick and crew make short work of them. Soon they’re speeding off for Georgia again, warning Carol over the radio to be ready to cauterize Tyrese’s wound.
As the car speeds down the interstate, the radio is buzzing with news of rebels and war crimes and the weight of the world.
“Turn it off,” says Tyrese.
“You sure?” Bob asks.
The twins understand. “It’s okay now,” one says.
“It isn’t just okay. It’s better,” Beth adds.
We return to Father Gabriel’s eulogy, knowing now the meaning of the montage… the twin boys, the twin girls, the painting, the grave… and I can’t say any we’re happier for it. But I suppose it happened the way it was always going to.
Holy shit, this is still a comedy site I’m writing for, right?