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Episode: 509
Airdate: February 8, 2015
Directed by: Greg Nicotero
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Frank Darabont (creator); Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard (series of graphic novels); Scott M. Gimple (written by)

With the shocking (if not terribly surprising) and heartbreaking end to the first half of Season 5 already over two months in the rear-view mirror, it’s just about time to pull out the zombie survival kit and get ready for the latter half of the season. Starting this coming Sunday, we’ll get to see what the group decides to do, following the climactic events at Grady Memorial Hospital. I suppose it’s only appropriate that the episode is, in fact, named “What Happened and What’s Going On.” While I’m not going to go too far with prognostications here (and frankly, a knowledge of the comics would seem to be largely irrelevant for the most part, what with all the changes already made by Gimple and co.), I will have a look at the preview videos already released, and analyze the first two minutes of Episode 509, released two days ago (February 3) by AMC. Click through for the videos, and my commentary.

<<Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 9 “What Happened and What’s Going On” includes promotional material from AMC, discusses recent episodes, and will speculate on future events.>>

Sitting down to write this preview article, I`ve had to go through the last few episodes again, and I still can`t entirely get over Beth`s death at the end of the mid-season finale. No, she wasn`t one of my favorite characters, and no, I`m not terribly surprised that she went, but the manner in which it happened blew me away (pardon the pun). It just seemed so…unnecessary. This is not to say that the deaths in TWD are always “necessary” per se, but they do almost always seem to serve a purpose. The other main group death this season so far – Bob Stookey – served to show us just how evil the Hunters were. Previous deaths did so with The Governor (Hershel, Andrea, Merl, the list goes on), or to showcase the difficulties within the group (Shane, Dale) or the dangers of adapting to the new world (everyone else early on). Here, however, we have an already solved situation (Beth is going with the group), but for some reason, she needs to lash out at Constable Dawn. I know – it’s to make a point regarding Noah’s agency and right to choose how he’ll live – but the fact that she had already stowed the surgical scissors away means that she intended to attack Dawn from the beginning, with no knowledge as to what might happen during the exchange.

And ultimately, what does her death serve to prove? That Dawn was set in her ways? That understanding came to Beth, but that this understanding entailed her death? The Grady Memorial storyline was done at the point she was killed. That she – or someone else – had to die in the mid-season finale is not something I’m questioning. There is, after all, a certain blood price the fans have come to both dread and expect. However, wouldn’t it have perhaps served the show going forward better if it had been a death incurred in liberating Beth? Or, even more interestingly, something unrelated to Grady, post-rescue, hinting at things to come? Oh well, moot points all. Here’s a brief video AMC released yesterday summing up the situation the group currently finds itself in:

 

Note that on the whiteboard you’ll see behind Scott Gimple, there is what appears to be an episode brainstorm. Act 4 says, “Michonne writes email to Darryl,” followed by beneath in large red letters: (Note: This is all fake). Very cheeky, Mr. Gimple!

Michonne is confused by the episode synopsis. "Where was I going?"

Michonne is confused by the episode synopsis. “Where was I going?”

Now let’s take a look at what to expect this Sunday. The episode synopsis over at IMDB reads: After all the recent trials that the group has faced, a slight detour might be the solution they’ve been looking for. “Detour” indicates that they already have a direction in mind, but as we know, they don’t. While there was movement toward D.C. early in the season, that has been somewhat kiboshed by the big reveal regarding Eugene’s actual credentials. So if they have no set goal, how can they have a detour? The magic of television synopsis writing! What it does tell us, is that they will at least be moving somewhere, and we find out where that is in the trailers.

The first Promo is more a tease than anything else. It’s titled Surviving Together, and it’s a fairly straightforward moody piece with the team walking through a misty forest, and fighting unseen foes. Here you go:

 

Not a lot new. The group looks grimly efficient, but that’s to be expected. No happiness in Whoville at the moment.

The next trailer is called Another Day:

 

A bit more meat on this bone. It opens with Rick in matter-of-fact mode: “We do what we need to do, and then…we get to live.” I suspect pragmatism may be the catchword for the remainder of the season, as the group has had a series of nasty surprises, one after another, since the Governor’s second attempt to take the prison (or even earlier, if we count the swine flu outbreak). You don’t get beaten down this much without it affecting every choice you make, every action you take. Next, we see Daryl in a barn, lightning flashing on his face as he closes the doors. Then, a series of shots on roads, in day and at night, as they deal with hordes of walkers. Michonne looks on with a tinge of disgust at the ground carpeted in walker parts, her own handiwork I suspect. After a couple more flashes, we see Tyreese standing over Noah, apparently comforting him, saying, “It’s not over, this isn’t the end.” Does this mean we’ve arrived at Noah’s family’s place? I suspect so, and what they find isn’t what Noah was hoping for. After a brief strobing shot of Abraham, Maggie, and Glenn (with everyone else mixed in) trying to hold a set of doors closed, we get Michonne, looking as though she’s a little in shock, saying, “Don’t you want…one more day with a chance?” We see Tyreese trying to stand between Noah and a house, Rick on a road covered in viscera with a red glow in the background, Glen firing at something, Sasha looking ready to fight – loads of quick shots, indicating a pretty frenetic pace to the new half-season.

Next is the initial teaser trailer, released back at the end of November:

 

Michonne’s voice-over, “We’re a hundred miles away. What if it’s someplace we can be safe? It’s a chance, instead of just being out here. Instead of just making it,” is followed by Rick, saying, “We’ll be okay. Because this…is how…we survive.” The voices play over several quick cuts. One of the first has Noah walking dejectedly toward an open door, Tyreese with him. We see blood splatters on the inside of the door frame. I’d lay money on this being Noah’s father’s house, and it looks as though everyone in the gated community has been killed. Other scenes suggest this too, when we see the group trying to hold back plywood gates that have already had the locks knocked out of them, and running from a horde of rampaging walkers. There’s the requisite Daryl looking moody shot, and then Rick by firelight. I think they’re doing this because the fire works well with Rick’s Grizzly Adams beard, and of course, we’re all familiar with the old ghost stories around the campfire trope.

The beard fairly glistens in the light

The beard fairly glistens in the light

In a nutshell: Rick and co will be heading north toward Richmond, Virginia, Noah’s hometown and where he hopes to find his family still safely holed up in their walled community. This, then, would be the “detour” mentioned in the plot synopsis – although, to be fair, it is more a destination and less a detour. Perhaps this is more used in the sense that this will be the group’s first foray outside of Georgia/Alabama. Heading somewhere new is a good idea – at least for the show – but with Noah’s compound appearing to be a bust, based on what we can see from the trailers, don’t expect them to sit in one spot for too long. Could Eugene’s logic behind heading toward D.C. have any sway once more, now that his lies have been exposed? One thing’s for certain: the production team has a huge job in front of it, trying to maintain what has been, in my and many others’ opinions, the best season of The Walking Dead so far. Here’s hoping they get it right moving forward.

As an added bonus, here’s the first two minutes of Sunday’s upcoming episode, provided to you without comment. Enjoy!

 

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