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REVIEW: The Walking Dead 5×09 “What Happened and What’s Going On”

The Walking Dead is finally back, but was it worth the wait? I can see this episode generating a lot of polarized reviews, though I have to say that I was impressed with what I saw. (spoilers ahead!)

In case you forgot what happened last time on The Walking Dead: Eugene admitted that he was lying about a cure in Washington, Beth gets shot in the head, and the main cast was joined by Noah, a young man who claims that his old neighborhood is a safe haven from the walker infestation. Therefore, part of the group decides to head there to seek shelter.

The episode starts off with the group digging a grave and paying their last respects for a fallen friend (presumably Beth). Afterwards, Rick, Tyrese, Michonne, Noah, and Glenn leave for Noah’s neighborhood and arrive to find it in ruins. However, there is something very odd about the destruction left behind. The area wasn’t overrun by just walkers. With the buildings torched and the bodies strangely mangled, it’s clear that something more evil was at work. There is one scene where the group finds a bunch of dismembered limbs scattered all over the ground with no torsos or heads to be seen. Very chilling, but in an awesome way.

When Noah discovers that his hometown had been destroyed, he breaks down and begins to cry. I don’t really buy Tyler James Williams‘s performance. I was iffy about his role in the previous episodes, and I was hoping he could change my mind tonight. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but shrug my shoulders and think, “Yeah, I don’t feel sympathy for this kid.”

Noah and Tyrese venture off to find Noah’s old home. While they’re off on their adventure, the rest of the gang explores and discusses Beth’s death. At one point, I noticed Glenn taking up a baseball bat. For anyone who has read the comics, this could be a huge point of foreshadowing. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I think Glenn picking up the baseball bat is a huge nod to the fans and a hint at what’s in store for the group.

The episode picks up the pace in Noah’s home when a young walker (hinted at being Noah’s zombified brother) bites Tyrese in the arm. Tyrese quickly starts to succumb to the bite and Noah runs off to get help. My favorite part of the episode is when Tyrese begins to have hallucinations. This is where Chad Coleman shines and brings out the true awesomeness of his portrayal of the character. I love how much they’ve developed Tyrese over the course of the series, especially in this season. Tonight’s performance was just mind-blowing.

It wasn’t just Tyrese who made the scene epic; we actually had some guest stars on tonight’s episode. Tyrese imagines Martin, the punk from Terminus who threatened to kill Judith, sitting across from him and taunting him. Next, a hallucination of Bob shows up to provide some comfort. It becomes a bit of a tug-of-war between the two halves of Tyrese’s mind. One half (Martin) is trying to tear him down and make him feel like Bob’s death and his impending demise were his fault, while the other half (Bob) reassures him and keeps him calm.

Beth, Lizzie, Mika, and the Governor himself also show up in Tyrese’s hallucinations. I expected Beth to make an appearance, and Lizzie and Mika popping up didn’t surprise me, but the Governor? I was really impressed that The Walking Dead managed to convince David Morrissey to reprise his role. I was even more surprised that it was in relation to Tyrese. If anyone should be hallucinating about the Governor, you’d think it would be Rick, Michonne, or even Tara. Either way, it was awesome seeing him come back to taunt Tyrese even from beyond the grave.

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It was upsetting seeing Tyrese bite the dust. The episode loops back to the beginning and we find out that it was actually his grave that was being dug, not Beth’s. Heartbreaking, right? My question is, what happened to Beth’s funeral? They completely glossed over it but dedicated part of an episode to Tyrese’s burial? A little fishy given that Beth’s death probably hit fans a lot harder, and most of them would have wanted to see her being put to rest.

“What Happened and What’s Going On” was not a perfect episode, but it was decent. Many people expected more from a mid-season premiere. I think we’re getting a little spoiled. After that explosive premiere we had back in October, it’s about time we slow things down a bit. I’m sure that the cast and crew know what they’re doing and that the rest of the season will be nothing but smooth sailing.

Final Grade: B +

+ Chad Coleman’s performance was outstanding.

+ I loved seeing the cameos from all the former cast members, especially the Governor.

+ The overall hallucination concept was well-executed and made for an entertaining episode.


– Not so much a negative of the show, but there were too many %$^$ing commercials!

– I’m not a fan of Tyler James Williams or his role. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t become a main cast member.

Extra Thought:

– As mentioned earlier, the crew finds a bunch of dismembered walkers that were missing their heads and torsos. When they find these missing body parts, we see that the letter “W” has been carved into their foreheads. I have no idea what this could mean unless it’s indicating that there is a band of rogues going around and leaving their marks on their victims.

What did you think of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? Was it better than you expected? Would you have preferred a more action-packed return? Let us know in the comments or on our Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!