So5xE09: “What Happened and What’s Going On”
The Tribe is back together but inevitably broken after the losing Beth in Slabtown. With not enough time to grieve, the group is forced to continue moving in order to find food and safety. It seems the troubles of the Tribe are, once again, focused on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with physiology and safety being of the utmost concern. This episode reiterates that things go “the way [they] have to, the way [they] were always going to”, but what does that mean for the members of our tribe? Will they find shelter? Will the group retain their emotional fortitude to continue roaming the lower United States in search for friends, family and a home? Are there such things in a post-apocalyptic world?
spoilers ahead sweetie…
As the Tribe has discovered over the last few months, there seems to be no “sanctuary” on this path they travel. Noah convinces Rick that Beth’s last wish was to accompany him to find his family in Virginia, but as soon as the group reaches Noah’s hometown, they are greeted with a familiar sight. Burned down houses, walkers roaming the streets and not a living person anywhere to be found. Noah is, of course, devastated, but it seems he and Michonne are the only one’s really surprised by this turn of events. Hope is a hard thing to come by in the zombie apocalypse, and for Michonne, finding it and losing it is a cataclysmic feeling. The psyche is delicate to external circumstances, and before connecting with the Tribe, Michonne experiences a mental break that had her wandering the forest with her jawless, armless walker boyfriend and brother. Luckily, she developed a companionship with Andrea, then Rick and Carl, and her mind began to heal as she discovered value in herself as well as others. It is not surprising that she is desperate to find a home, and is the one to develop another long-term plan for shelter. She suggests continuing on to Washington because she knows “you can be out here too long” and without some sort of social order, the group may eventually “go dark” (to use a Dean Winchester term). For the Tribe, this means losing hope, losing meaning and dispassionately killing those even the living who break the group’s “biblical” rules. To retain a sense of purpose, Tribe members must open their hearts, develop relationships and trust, but by doing so, they subject themselves to weakness, to pain and eventually, to loss.
For Tyreese, the struggle to maintain a purpose to continue on after losing came in the form of baby Judith. It was an ironic joke at the beginning of the season, “Nanny Tyreese”, but we find that without that little girl, Tyreese might have given up long ago. He admits to Noah that he had suicidal thoughts, but he knows that Judith would not have survived without his care. His encouragement reminds Noah the importance of not just survival but of finding people to care about amidst the suffering of their dystopic world. Unfortunately, Tyreese is eventually doomed because his empathic instincts are stronger than his walker-killing instincts, and he is bitten by Noah’s baby brother-turned-walker as he stares at images of Noah’s dead twin brothers on the wall. It is interesting that, for the first time since Sheriff Rick’s Lori hallucinations, we receive abstract imaging and lucid hallucinations from the mind of one of the Tribe members.
Tyreese begins to hallucinate, and the conflicting values that run through each member of the Tribe become even more pronounced as we see him struggle with his own, personal demons. He always wanted to help, and that is “what’s happening and what’s going on”, but he also has deep-seated regrets that involve forgiving Carol for murdering his sick girlfriend and not killing the man who ran back to Terminus and told them their position at the church. Tyreese argues with himself, projected in his mind as the Governor, the hillbilly he didn’t kill (but his sister did), Beth, Lizzie and Mika, and Bob. There is no doubt as to the veracity of the warring values within Tyreese as we continue to watch him deteriorate, until finally, the Governor is gone and he is surrounded by those that he cared for but died (Beth, Lizzie, Mika, Bob), The sounds of the radio, which has been silent for so long, reminds us and Tyreese of the words of his father, guiding him to do what he could for others to pay the “high cost of living”. The Tribe is broken, the Tribe is without home, but what they do have is each other. In the coming weeks, we will see if that will be enough to keep them alive and together.
xoxo The Collectiva Diva