CAUTION: Major spoilers abound from here! Get yourselves fully caught up before reading any further.
First Bob, then Beth, and now, Tyreese. These have been the major deaths so far in season five of AMC's The Walking Dead. Each one, arguably so, has been more devastating than the previous one.
There are numerous reasons why Tyreese's death in last Sunday's
(episode titled "What Happened and What's Going On) could potentially be felt by fans much more strongly than any of the other ones. But, I believe that there are two main reasons why: (1) It was almost completely unexpected. Sure, some fans have been predicting for a while now that Tyreese would be next on the chopping block; in fact, I was one of those fans. However, who knew that it would come so suddenly, especially after having witnessed Beth's death only one episode prior (during the midseason finale, "Coda")? That is actually the second main reason why Tyreese's death is so devastating.
Normally, the makers of this show like to keep us in suspense by separating deaths of major characters across multiple episodes. Prior to Bob's death in episode 5.03, "Four Walls and a Roof," the last major character death came in the infamous season four episode, "The Grove," where Mika was killed by her sister Lizzie, and then Lizzie was killed by Carol. After that point, who could have predicted 100% correctly that the next major character to fall would do so in season five, rather than in any of season four's closing episodes?
This show is known for its ability to keep us viewers guessing and guessing, until that one climactic moment ceases the guessing game with the utmost ferocity. In "What Happened and What's Going On," unfortunately, that moment comprised of Tyreese and his fatal mistake.
Factors that hinted at his impending demise
He was never willing to get his hands dirty, not even when it came to protecting himself against the walkers. If memory serves, it was during the season four premiere ("30 Days Without an Accident") in which he told his former girlfriend, Karen, that he did not like killing walkers at the fence. And then, later on in that season, he confessed that he did not like killing them at all.
He was even more hesitant when it came to hurting other people; after all, it was Tyreese who formulated the plan to try to get Beth and Carol out of Grady Memorial Hospital via a prisoner exchange, rather than just bombarding the place, as Rick initially suggested.
He was always trying to do the right thing, which is certainly very noble. However, in that brutal world, there are going to be times in which right and wrong may not necessarily factor into the equation (so to speak), at least not in the manner in which it would factor into the real world.
But ultimately, I don't believe Tyreese should be blamed for what has happened. Sure, if he had killed Martin (the Terminus resident he and Carol had abducted during this season's premiere), perhaps Bob might still be alive. But, as Bob pointed out to Tyreese during his hallucination, maybe that is the way it was always meant to be. He could never have been certain of the exact results his actions would cause. In the end, it wasn't weakness or uncertainty that got him killed, it was a moment's respite. And that moment serves as a cruel reminder to the rest of the group: it is best to keep moving forward and avoid stalling whenever possible.
So, why was it his time to go?
Well, in reality, it could have been anyone's time to go. But, I believe Scott Gimple (showrunner, and writer of last Sunday's episode) chose Tyreese because he wants to prove a major point about that zombie apocalyptic world - if a character is constantly fighting with himself/herself, then perhaps that character is ill-equipped for battling that world. And, it appears like the situation for the group will just continue to get worse, something that Tyreese might not have been able to contend with.
Promo for episode 5.10, "Them":
Life on the road is a difficult one, especially when the world is ravaged by the undead. As Rick continues to assert time and time again, they must be willing to do the unthinkable in order to continue surviving. Tyreese never seemed to be comfortable with this notion, and so he was always perhaps the most vulnerable character.
What will happen next?
Judging from the promo, the group has to resume their journey on the road. Now that Tyreese is no longer around, the group has lost yet another character who served as the moral leader of the group, if you will. This has been a horrific trend in the show, as all previous characters who served the group in the same manner were also killed.
If you recall, Dale was voice of reason for the first season and a half, until he was attacked by a walker. Then, once Hershel realized what that world really had become, he took over the role of moral leader. In fact, he lasted the longest - from the second half of season two until the midseason finale of season four. Ultimately, Hershel was brutally murdered by the Governor, who was then killed by Michonne.
There was no clear moral leader right after Hershel's death. It wasn't until Tyreese showed up again with Lizzie and Mika in "Inmates" that he started to exhibit signs of going about living in that world with a moral compass (so to speak) to guide him. He then solidified his stance as the moral leader in "The Grove," where he actually forgave Carol for killing his Karen in season four. It took a tremendous amount of fortitude to do that, since Tyreese really did love Karen very much. And, it was a move that both Dale and Hershel would certainly have applauded.
In regards to where the group stands now, it seems very likely that they will go back to adopting a "survival of the fittest" mindset, unless someone else can step up and remind the rest of the group that morality still matters. I get this feeling that Rick is about to turn into the dictator version of himself, as in the one we witnessed in season three. We have already seen his aggressive side this season - his vicious attack on Gareth, his plan to invade Grady Memorial with guns blazing, and his takedown of officer Bob Lamson. But when he starts taking action, his enemies better beware!
Do you think it was the right time for Tyreese to go?
Sound off in the comments section below about what you thought of not only Tyreese's death, but also everything that transpired during last Sunday's episode. Give me your predictions for what you think may happen next. But, please avoid adding comic book spoilers!
[All images from: Walking Dead Wiki, Screencapped]