Why Were The Walking Dead’s Black Characters MIA Last Week?
In last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, new characters who were introduced in the mid-season finale were noticeably absent. Two episodes ago, in the mid-season finale a new, capable, seemingly moral Black character named Tyreese appeared as leader of a crew not so unlike Rick’s. Now Tyreese and his friends are being held captive by the main gang within the prison until they decide whether or not these new people can be trusted.
Tyreese was reported to be a power player in the show, one who is particularly competent both physically and mentally, in news that broke during the shows mid-season break. The hype continued to build after cast members gave us even more reason to believe a Black character would have a good story.
Danai Guirira (Michonne) gave in interview in which she said of the two new Black characters, “The stories of Tyreese and Michonne and Sasha and whoever else comes along are stories that are going to be very rich and complex. That’s what I look for. They’re on journeys, it’s about allowing the journeys to occur.”
The fans who have been following show news online have been expecting to see this development, particular Black fans. Tyreese and his crew appeared in the episode in which the show returned from its mid-season break, and appeared to be beginning the slow process of integrating with the main group.
It seemed like a new beginning was on the horizon for a show whose Black characters have been token representatives disconnected from fellow characters in the story.
Fans of diverse backgrounds, like myself, have been pleased with anticipation of Tyreese’s arrival after witnessing the anticlimactic life and death of T-Dog and then Oscar this season. It seems two Black men can’t exist at the same time in this vision of post-apocalyptic zombified version of Atlanta. Funnily enough it seems there may only be room for one Black woman as well. Michonne has been quiet since the mid-season finale when she faced off with the governor, and Sasha arrived.
Getting to the point, last week, with only a handful of episodes remaining in the season, Tyreese and Sasha were missing altogether. Not only were they not in the episode, but it seemed like they did not exist at all. Rick’s crew desperately needed to help to fight off an impending invasion. With Daryl gone, they needed backup. The words “We are weak without him,” came from Rick’s own crew.
Not once did they consider seeking help from Tyreese, or reference anyone else who was locked away. Rick’s crew was invaded by the Governor, a group of croonies, and an assembly of powerful automatic weapons. Lack of preparation was a big problem due to the unexpected attack. But it was clear manpower was a large reason for this.
With 4 episodes remaining in the season, is it possible for Tyreese and Sasha to really become a part of the show? Perhaps the plan is for them to continue developing into the next season. I just fear the possibility that our hopes have been set too high.
I fully understand that The Walking Dead is not a “Black” TV show. It airs on AMC, not BET. I do not expect Michonne, Oscar, T-Dog, Sasha, and Tyreese to all have juicy, important roles. However, I would like to see just one Black character with a satisfying story arc and enough humanity for fans to really root for them.