‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 9 Mid-Season Finale, Episode 7: “Evolution” Recap

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 8, mid season finale, Evolution, Siddiq and Michonne

[Image via Gene Page/AMC]

Here we are, at the mid-season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead! So, what happened? Did people die? Are walkers really evolving? Read on to find out more.

Here’s what went down in Episode 8 (titled “Evolution”) of Season 9 of The Walking Dead.

Everything is Awkward

Michonne (Danai Gurira) arrives at Hilltop and everything is horribly awkward. We get to see Dianne (Kerry Cahill) shitting her pants when they work out Michonne is among the small group arriving at their doorstep. Then we get to see her collect her shit enough to give the impression she is in control. And, it’s enough for Michonne to drop her weapons to show she means business.

Once inside Hilltop, the meeting between Michonne and Tara (Alanna Masterson) is equally awkward and I’m really starting to wonder what the hell went down over the last six years to create this sort of conflict between what was previously considered family. Even when Michonne catches up with Carol (Melissa McBride), there is still plenty of tension even though they seem to be genuinely glad to see each other. Although, there are some comments made that make me think that Alexandria is the reason why the Kingdom is falling apart.

CF: Really, this whole “I don’t trust anyone anymore” act from Michonne has really grown hard to deal with as there is no information about what happened to cause the three-way split.  And yeah: I got the impression that Alexandria was helping the Kingdom and whatever happened ’caused them to break away and leave them to rot.  I have a feeling Maggie probably pulled Hilltop away because of that as well. I do hope they get around to explaining this shit fast.

As for the new group that Michonne is bringing to Hilltop, Tara seems okay with that, so long as they prove their worth. But, it will all have to wait until Jesus (Tome Payne) gets back from trying to find Eugene (Josh McDermitt) anyway.

Interesting to note here too, all the angst seems to be directed at Michonne and not at Siddiq (Avi Nash). Which makes me think Michonne has had some kind of massive meltdown after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) disappeared.

CF: Michonne? Melt down?  Surely you jest!  🙂

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 8, mid season finale, Evolution, Alden and Henry

[Image via Gene Page/AMC]

Henry’s Shenanigans

Henry (Matt Lintz) is sad that he made his mother cry when she left him at Hilltop but that doesn’t mean he won’t jeopardise his position. Not even a day in and Henry is hanging out with the wrong kids after discovering that Enid (Katelyn Nacon) is shacking up with Alden (Callan McAuliffe).

After drinking moonshine with the group, they go out to play quoits with a walker that has fallen into a hole. Henry is not impressed and kills the walker. This pisses off the kids and they knick off, leaving Henry stuck in a hole.

And, it turns out, once Henry is discovered and rescued, that being drunk and disorderly gets you two days in jail in Hilltop. Oh, and he might even be shunted back to the Kingdom which won’t help public relations any either.

CF: This part was like so much filler that we could have done without.  And who’s cooking up the booze?

RT: Even if this is a set up for a plot line in the second half of the season, I’m still not interested.

CF: I actually think it is going to be a major plot line in the second half.  In the comic Carl comes to Hilltop to learn how to blacksmith and not long after her arrives he find two boys trying to rape Sophia, who is still alive and still likes Carl.  He ends up coming to her rescue and ends up beating one of the kids almost to death with a shovel.  This happens right before Lydia is brought to Hilltop, so I can see this as Henry’s setup as Carl’s proxy.  TWD is first showing us that these boys are assholes and Henry will probably jump in and save the one girl from the same fate that awaited Sophia.

RT: And, I assume that girl will be Enid?

CF: Or it could be the girl who was hanging with the mopes.  I got the feeling she took a liking to Henry and that could spell trouble for her.  Sophia didn’t have a boyfriend in the comic and one of the boys who tried to rape her sort of knew her, so I see it being the girl with the group and not so much Enid.

RT: True.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 8, mid season finale, Evolution, Negan

[Image via Gene Page/AMC]

That Awkward Moment When Someone Forgets to Lock Negan’s Door

We get to see a bit of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in Episode 8 of The Walking Dead Season 9. Even though he has been locked up all this time, the man is still a cunt. Poor Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is not only tasked with disposing of Negan’s shit, but he also has to listen to it. So, when he has to do this rather than head over to Hilltop where his girlfriend, Rosita (Christian Serratos), is located and injured, he is pissed, to say the least.

As a result of this, someone forgets to lock the cell door and Negan discovers this in the middle of the night when he is playing catch and his ball rolls outside the door.

CF: This is a major departure from the comic, where Negan was deliberately allowed to walk out.  And said, “Hold the fucking phone” when it figured it out.  Now, with the Saviors no longer a group in the show, I’m wondering if Negan is going to hook up with The Whisperers, which it always possible.

RT: I can’t see Negan wanting to moan around in a herd. Maybe he will try to find Georgie? That’s the sort of group I could see him wanting to manipulate.

CF: In the comic, he managed to get part of the old gang back together but it wasn’t the same.  Then Rick asked him for help against The Whisperers, which is another of Rick’s Plans(tm) gone to hell.  In the end, Negan fucks things up pretty much everywhere simply because it’s Negan.  I can’t see him helping out Daryl or Carol to do the same thing, so chances are he’s gonna hook up with Alpha and work toward destabilizing The Settlements.

RT: Ah, that makes sense.

AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Season 9, Episode 8, mid season finale, Evolution, walker

[Image via Gene Page/AMC]

So, are Walkers Really Evolving?

Now, about those walkers.

Daryl (Norman Reedus), Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Jesus are headed out and looking for Eugene, who they know — thanks to Rosita — is trapped in a barn somewhere. Daryl and his dog manage to locate Eugene pretty quickly but not before they notice some disturbing walker behavior. Mostly, the walkers are just milling around, which is not their normal M.O. However, they are also tending to double back and follow the group more closely than walkers normally do. In a sense, they are more interested in the living rather than just wanting to eat them.

When Eugene is found in a hidden room under the barn, he is all scared and talking about how the walkers have been coming by regularly trying to find him. He says they have evolved and it will be hard to evade them. The others are concerned but are most likely thinking that Eugene has finally snapped and entered crazy town.

CF: Which, with Eugene, wasn’t all that hard of a thing to have happen.  He and Morgan would have made a good team.

They help Eugene out of his hidey-hole and he manages to hobble between the others while they escape. Daryl ends up staying behind to distract the walkers so that the injured Eugene, who is slowing them all down, can be taken to safety. Using a bunch of crackers, Daryl throws them along the road that Eugene’s group didn’t take and waits for the herd to follow the sound.

Which, they totally don’t and Daryl is officially rattled now.

CF: I thought this was one of the best moments when Daryl is doing everything he can to get the herd to follow him and they instead keep going after the others: the look on his face was pretty much, “What is this fuckery?” Walkers not doing what they’re supposed to do can cause Daryl to lose his shit.

Meanwhile, Eugene, Aaron, and Jesus have found a creepy graveyard surrounded by a wall. They manage to get inside but the gate across the other side is stuck and they have to stay and fight the walkers rather than lock them in the cemetery.

They manage to kill some walkers until Michonne conveniently turns up. Rosita had told her where the barn was located and Michonne decides to help out. The new group, headed by Magna (Nadia Hilker), have also tagged along in order to show their worth to Hilltop. Luckily they all bumped into Daryl along the way and can now help out Eugene’s group. With Eugene pushing and Michonne’s group pulling, they manage to get the gate open. Jesus stays back to fight the walkers that are now approaching.

In the process, one of the walkers pulls a weapon and kills Jesus.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I’m not sure at what to be more shocked at, Jesus suddenly dying or the fact that Eugene was right all along.

The others are all losing their shit as well but, in the end, find a vital clue.

Those aren’t ordinary walkers. And, they haven’t evolved like Eugene thought, either. No, instead, they are regular people who are dressing up as walkers and milling around with actual walkers as a way to hide.

CF: I did like the unveiling.

The episode ends there and we will all have to wait until next year to find out more about these mysterious people.

Except, no we won’t, because Cassidy is our resident expert on the Walking Dead comics and can tell us HEAPS about this new group 😉 However, you will have to keep checking back to find out more as Cassidy is currently asleep and will read this recap tomorrow morning 😉

CF: Good thing for you my insomnia kicked in and I was up at 3:30, because you’re getting me now!  It’s one of those rare times when I just happen to be awake at the same time as Rachel…

First, The Whisperers. As we discover these people learned long before that it was easier to “blend in” with the dead and live off the land and not actually let the dead find them because, well, they’re not dead. They are the ultimate survivalists who go back to a more primitive time in human history so they can get closer to their animal nature.  They are crazy territorial–which becomes a huge feature in the comic–and a conflict begins between the Settlements and The Whisperers, mostly due to a lot of bad decisions on both group’s parts.

For the second half of the season, Samantha Morton plays Alpha, the leader of The Whisperers.  Ryan Hurst, who played Opie Winston on Sons of Anarchy, plays Beta, the second in command.  And Cassady McClincy plays Lydia, Alpha’s daughter and, if they follow the comic, Henry’s future love interest.  And if you watched the promo for the second half of Season 9, you’ll get a peek at these three.

 

We get a couple of views of Alpha, though not of her face.  This is the first, as she’s walking through a pack of Whisperers that have arrived at Hilltop.  And yes: in the comic she is completely bald, so it’s good to see they’re sticking with that look. (Please excuse the quality of the photos as I took screen shots right off the promo.)

 

And here she is at the gate with Daryl coming out to speak to her.  I have a feeling Daryl is going to end up doing a lot of the things Rick did in the comic, as he was the driving force to get the Settlements to go up against The Whisperers.

RT: Yeah, I can totally see Daryl filling that spot too.

CF: Let’s hope he does a better job than Rick.

RT: If he shuts up and hangs out with his dog, mostly, it could totally work.

 

CF: This is Lydia, probably in the Hilltop jail.  In the comic she became Carl’s girlfriend and eventually his love interest–yes, Carl lost his virginity to her when he was 14, but it’s mostly because she was really taken with his empty eye socket.  Her capture becomes a major part of the conflict and their relationship a major character change for Carl–which will likely fall to Henry now.

 

And this is Beta, the second in command and total bad ass. In the comic Beta was well over seven foot tall, making him a real terror in one-on-one combat.

 

And SPOILERS FROM HELL! I’m going to invisotext my comments after the picture below:

 

SPOILERS! (Highlight text after this point to see) This is likely Beta going “undercover” at the Kingdom Fair. This is a major incident in the comic and will lead to a lot of changes to the show if it’s played out the same way.  I don’t expect to see this until near the end of the season. (End Spoilers)

RT: Those spoilers are awesome! And, yeah, that totally seems like an end of season thing.

CF: The Whisperers and the war that follows will likely become the major plot line for Season 10. After that?  Well, we know AMC is changing things up from the comic, but I imagine we’ll start seeing the movies after that point and learn about the Helicopter People and Georgie, who are probably one and the same.  Because they are probably part of The Commonwealth and the major antagonists that follow The Whisperers.

RT: Thanks so much for all this info Cassidy! Once again, you always deliver 😉

CF: Now, a few of my thoughts on the episode:

This episode was directed by Michael E. Satrazemis, who directed my two favorite episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, Laura and Close Your Eyes. In fact, a lot of the end of this felt a lot like Close Your Eyes, with the weather becoming a major part of the scene.  He’s also directed several episodes for The Walking Dead, including Slabtown (where Beth first wakes up in the hospital before Gimple has her killed in one of the most lame-ass departures for a character ever) and Try (where Rick beats up Pete, aka Porch Dick), but is most famously known for his first directorial effort with The Walking Dead, The Grove, which still has people wary about looking at flowers when they’re around Melissa McBride.  While this episode was good, it wasn’t as outstanding as I’d hoped for and continues following a trend that’s happened with TWD of late, where their mid-season and season finales don’t pack the same punch as they did once.  The one thing that made this outstanding was the death of Jesus, which I totally did not see coming–

And that leads me to a little bit of a bitch about this episode. If you hadn’t picked up on it, there was more going on between Aaron and Jesus that just meeting and learning how to fight. In the comic Aaron was stabbed and nursed back to health by Jesus, which eventually led to these two admitting they had feelings for each other.

That’s because, in the comic, Jesus was gay.

I’ve been waiting to see if anything was going to come of this and when I saw Jesus and Aaron “sparring” I thought, “Okay, they’re finally going to go there.”  And I was really getting excited to see these two together because it’s obvious that Ross Marquand and Tom Payne have great chemistry together.

So what happens? They kill Jesus.

I get it, actors move on and Tom was looking for other opportunities.  But for fuck’s sake, once more The Walking Dead sets up the possibility of a couple of LGBT characters having a shot at romance, but just like before they decide to Bury Your Gays instead of letting the relationship follow it’s course. And now Aaron has lost the possibility of happiness again over the course of like eight years. Hell, Rick and Michonne got to have a kid–although Rick wasn’t around to see him born, though we know Rick will probably get to meet his son at some point in the future.  But what do Aaron and Tara get? To meet once a month for the Dead LGBT Lover’s Support Group and wax on about how they ain’t even been kissed in years and they don’t even bother masturbating any more ’cause they’re worried their fantasies will be killed as well?

RT: I think, with the way Aaron reacted, there is some hint that they were more than sparring buddies. However, I, too, am majorly pissed that AMC has gone down this path once more.

CF: I was totally catching the vibe in the previous episode that Aaron and Jesus were meeting up for a lot of other reasons besides learning to fight.  I think this will come out when the show returns.

RT: This is what I figure too.

CF: I know, I’m likely making too much out of this, but goddammit: the main straight folks do seem to get a little happiness now and then but the poor token LGBT people get whacked before shit gets heavy.  And in Jesus’ case nothing was even said about his sexual orientation, while it was discussed in the comic. And I worry for the future because–and Spoilers, Bitches–if you hadn’t picked up on the vibe from the previous episode, Magna and Yumiko are developing a relationship.  In the comic Yumiko was a lesbian and Magna was bisexual and while they were on the road heading for The Commonwealth Magna finally admitted her feelings to Yumiko and, well, that was that.

RT: Jesus’ sexual orientation was mentioned once in a conversation he had with Maggie. However, since then, it has never been mentioned since. And, yes, I am also very concerned for Magna and Yumiko 🙁

CF: Magna and Yumiko play a big part in the story of the Settlements making contact with The Commonwealth, so I hope they don’t die before then.  Now, word of warning: pay attention to whomever Magna gets close to out of the main characters.  In the comic, it was originally Andrea who didn’t care for Magna and as time went on Magna and Andrea became sorta friends–and then Andrea got bit and died.  Oh, and she was also married to Rick at the time.  So like, if you’re a main WD character who’s name begins with an M, perhaps you shouldn’t get too chummy with Magna.  😉

RT: Haha! Can you imagine Michonne’s resting bitch face if this plays out? ‘Bitch, you got me bit!’

CF: So I say I worry because is that going to play out on TV the same way it played out in the comic?  Or, because AMC maybe sees Magna and Yumiko as temporary players, does that mean one or both are going to Dance with the Reaper really soon and just keep working that Dead Lesbian Syndrome because why the fuck not?

Given that my own romantic endeavors pretty much suck I love seeing good LGBT couples in various forms of entertainment.  Unfortunately, I ain’t gonna find that on The Walking Dead. And until I do, I’ll just keep bitching.

 

Season 9 of The Walking Dead will return to AMC next year.

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