We’ll just get this out of the way right up front: if you didn’t watch last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, STOP READING NOW. Something big happened, and we’re going to talk about it in depth. Unless you don’t care, there are going to be serious SPOILERS beyond this point if you haven’t caught up with the mid-season 5 premiere. You’ve been warned.
The group is still reeling from Beth’s (Emily Kinney) untimely demise at the hands of Dawn at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, but The Walking Dead is a harsh master, and the Scott Gimple-scripted midseason debut, “What Happened and What’s Going On,” piled yet another tragedy on top of the already fragile survivors. While trying to do the kind, human thing, helping out Noah (Tyler James Williams), Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) found himself on the wrong end of a walker bite and is no longer among the living.
It was a shocking death, especially right on the heels of the previous one. Between Beth and Tyreese, those were the two characters who seemed to have the strongest grip on who they were and their own humanity, even if it was a struggle sometimes. In the wake of these tragedies, it will be interesting to see how these events impact the rest of the survivors. And though he may not have pulled the trigger himself, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is still responsible for the latest death, but maybe not in the way you expect.
As the ghost of Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) says in the episode, it had to go down like this. Talking to TV Line, Coleman revealed why. He said:
The reason why I’m not alive is everyone circles around Rick. My ideology and philosophy doesn’t fit. So I wouldn’t stay, anyway. I would have to tell my sister, if you feel like this is the way to do things, then I’m just going to go off on my own and find some like-minded people. But they weren’t going to go that route, because the show is focused on Rick. [Aside from that,] the creation of Daryl, more than anything else, is probably the reason why I’m not on the show. I was [Rick’s] right-hand man [in the comics].
Tyreese is no longer with us in the comics, and hasn’t been for a while, but since right off the bat, many fans have noticed that Daryl, a character that doesn’t exist in the source material, largely served the role Tyreese filled. Coleman seems well aware of this, and it’s cool to hear him honestly talk about this discrepancy.
The Tyreese we finally meet in the show is a much different animal from the original incarnation. He is, or was at this point, more introspective, more torn by the horrors he’s endured, lived through, and even perpetrated. Though this interpretation has its own merits, and developed his own thing, he always felt like he might not be long for this world. Granted, this is The Walking Dead and no one is ever entirely safe, but Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl feel like they’re unkillable at this point.
So goodbye, Tyreese, you’ll be missed. Maybe Daryl can find some moonshine and drink to your memory.