AMC’s The Walking Dead is back. After a three month break the excitement for fans (including me, of course) has been building the past week and yesterday, we were finally graced with episode nine of series five – What Happened and What’s going On (not a great title, but we’ll forgive the writers for this one). A reflection episode of sorts, this new installment focused on just a small number of the group (an interesting choice considering we’ve been away for a while) and reminded audiences of the adult nature, severe violence and emotional tone that now engulfs the popular series.
I recently commented, in an article I did for Screen Relish (bit of self promo, forgive me), that The Walking Dead had graduated from Freshman to Senior in its excess of brutality and elevated dark subject matter (lets remember zombie fare isn’t always the most serious of stuff). What Happened and What’s Going On exemplifies this change perfectly. This is represented by the episodes editing, which deserves an applause; stylish and cinematic, unusually haunting and even a little scary. Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, Greg Nicotero, and co’ have stepped up their game and continue to provide audiences and fans with some of the best television in recent years.
The narrative is pretty simple this week – Rick, Glenn, Tyreese, Michonne and new boy Noah travel to Richmond, Virginia in the hope that the walled community Noah‘s family were inhabiting is still there. As you guessed, its not. What unfolds is an episode that reflects on what the group have gone through so far, and how it is individually effecting them. Chad Coleman as Tyreese is at the centre of the brilliance of this weeks drama as he struggles to come to terms with the ever-rising number of events that have de-humanized those around around him. With a return from some of the characters who are responsible for these happenings, the surrealist, dream-like aesthetic of this newest offering from The Walking Dead team is an introduction for the trials that will unfold for the group in episodes to come.
The only criticism would be the divide of the group. With focus only on five characters, favourites such as Abraham and Daryl were certainly missed and an episode featuring the entire cast has been scarce for some time. With a shock exit and a stellar return, fans can rejoice that The Walking Dead is back on our screens.