Cassidy Frazee: Yeah, folks: read and ye shall learn. 🙂
Here’s what went down in Episode 9 (titled “Adaptation”) of Season 9 of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
This episode opens exactly where it left off in the mid-season finale, in the graveyard with dead Jesus (Tom Payne). The undead is mixed through with the new group (called the Whisperers in the comics) and surround Jesus’ people. The group manages to kill some of the walkers and drag Jesus out while locking the rest inside. However, as the group drags Jesus away, one of the Whisperers opens the gate.
Because this group never gives the fuck up apparently.
On the way home, the Whisperers continue to keep an eye on the group and as Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are talking — and, seriously, was there a moment between the two?! — a group of walkers approaches. Daryl does the smartest thing I have ever seen anyone do on the show and starts shooting walkers in the knee.
Those that are undead continue on. Those that are human yelp out in pain.
Most of the humans are killed after they start retaliating with weapons. Except for one teen who puts her hands in the air and surrenders.
So, now they have a hostage.
CF: First off, let me say that this part of the show really hooked me. I loved the reverence with which the group handled Jesus and was rather surprised that they didn’t make an explicit showing of putting him down at the end. (You had to be paying attention to see Aaron pull the knife away.) And then the ambush was fantastic. No words, just do the right things and get the job done.
The irony here is that in the graphic novel, Jesus was the one who captured and brought “the teen” to Hilltop. Times have changed.
Jesus Comes Home
The group returns to Hilltop with the body of Jesus and it is one of those reunions that is filled with joy and devastation. Rosita (Christian Serratos) and the others are glad that Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) has been safely returned. However, once the body of Jesus is seen slumped over a horse, there is anguish from everyone involved.
The burial is even worse, with everyone having a turn of striking a nail into his coffin. I seriously dare you not to tear up.
While the return of Jesus is a monumental occasion, there is plenty else simmering away under the surface.
CF: Greg Nicotero played this part perfectly. Then again–well, I’ll reserve comment for later. But there was so much reverence for his burial. And seeing the graveyard at Hilltop–these are people who remember those who died to bring civilization back. Such a powerful moment.
RT: I totally agree here Cassidy. There was so much more to the way they all handled Jesus than just what met the eye.
The Whisperer hostage is taken into a cell and interrogated by Michonne and Tara (Alanna Masterson). They get nothing out of the girl so decide to continue on in the morning.
Except Michonne is going home because she wants to warn her own community about the Whisperers. She tells Daryl to keep an eye on things and if the hostage doesn’t give up anything, then it’s time for her to say the permanent goodbye.
Daryl gives it another red hot go the following morning and Henry (Matt Lintz) who is still in a cell for drunk and disorderly, is telling Daryl to stop being so mean. Daryl gives zero fucks and continues to harass the girl for answers.
Of which she gives none.
Giving up, Daryl puts her back in her cell and leaves.
Doing the second smartest thing ever in Walking Dead history, he hangs around outside because it is obvious Henry is a dumbarse and ready to get tight with any girl his own age.
And that’s how we find out this girl’s name is Lydia (Cassady McClincy).
CF: First off, let me say that Daryl was doing more than harassing: he was gonna haul her outside and toss Lydia to the mob, after which she’d have gotten a party worthy of Gregory. But after seeing Daryl outside the window listening I started thinking, “I’ll bet that was an act.” Is it me or does it seem like now that Daryl doesn’t have to live in the shadow of another person *coughRickcough*, he’s actually come into his own as a character and isn’t just another redneck asshole? It’s starting to look that way.
RT: I totally suspect Daryl is bunging on an act to get the job done. And, yes, I totally agree, I think we might finally get something more out of Daryl now that Rick isn’t around anymore.
CF: Oh, and since Lydia is Carl’s girlfriend in the graphic novel, expect to see Henry take over that spot–something I called a while back. Without Carl being here we will, however, miss the scene where Lydia actually licks his open eye socket before… no, I’ll get into that later.
And I have to love Lydia as the actress playing her is named Cassady. She’s a sister of sorts.
Eugene Continues To Be Weird
Now that Eugene has returned, he has decided there is no time like the present to admit his undying love for Rosita. She responds by running from the room and puking.
Which is a legit response but she is also preggers. And, that is all good and well except apparently the baby is Siddiq’s (Avi Nash) and not Father Gabriel’s (Seth Gilliam).
And now Eugene has just overheard all of this…
CF: The big changes here from the GN are (1) at the time Rosita admitted she was pregnant, she was married to Eugene. Ah, yup. And (2), we never found out who the father is because… well, because.
Negan Goes On A Roadtrip
The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead saw Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) realise his cell door was unlocked. In Episode 9, he waltzes right out of there, stocking up on supplies as he goes.
He takes his damn time about it, though, and gets sprung by Judith (Cailey Fleming) as he attempts to climb the fence. Pointing a gun at Negan, Judith tells him it’s time to go back inside. Negan, being the guy he is, negotiates with Judith. After promising her that he won’t hurt anyone, she lets him go.
Negan is a creature of habit and immediately sets about looking for a leather jacket, which pisses me off. I had kinda hoped Negan would turn over a new leaf after escaping and would try something new. You know, like not being a douche canoe.
But, oh no, he heads straight for a menswear store and picks out a new jacket. Unfortunately for him, the store also contains a bunch of wild dogs and he nearly gets savaged before escaping.
After that close call, Negan continues on his way and finally winds up at the Sanctuary. Doing his whistle, he seems to think his legion of followers will just mooch on out of the rafters and everything will be back to normal.
After six fucking years.
One guy has remained. he’s a walker, though, but at least Negan has someone to talk to now.
Oh, wait, scrap that, he got distracted by a walker group and ambles off.
In the end, Negan realises that there is nothing left for him at the Sanctuary and returns back to Alexandria.
Judith, being the badass she is, captures him by blowing out a tire on the motorcycle he’s driving.
She is also alone. Because Judith.
CF: I get what they were going for here: Negan is a creature of habit and once out of jail he’s gonna go hunt up the old posse and get the band back together. Kinda sucks that he didn’t know Carol just killed off what remained of the Saviors–then again, that’s probably a good thing because given their state, they likely would have killed Negan the moment they saw him.
Negan can’t help but be a douche. It will be interesting to see how his character arc plays out, because shit with him at this point gets pretty strange, even for Negan.
And Judith Grimes is the new bad ass on the block. I wanna see her pull out her mini-katana and go to work.
RT: I think Judith does an excellent job of filling Rick’s place. In fact, she does it much better at the moment, IMHO.
Now A Threat Has Been Identified, A New Group Is Sent Out To Find Out More
With the realisation that there is a dangerous new group outside the walls, the first thing Hilltop decides to do is send someone else out to check it out.
Because people hiding among the undead are going to be so easy to find.
Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Luke (Dan Fogler) head out together and they discuss the upcoming fair. In the process, they discover a seriously wicked walker who has accidentally stepped in another walker and now has a bitey walker head attached to its foot. They also find some arrows and follow the trail until they walk right into the trap laid by the Whisperers…
CF: The Whisperer we meet at the end is Alpha. And we saw in the previews that we’ll get and up close look at her next week as she brings her people to Hilltop to speak with Daryl.
This episode was a gem. I was really struck by not only the tightness of the pacing–something The Walking Dead has famously fucked up time and again–but the mood was letter perfect. Characters didn’t seem like they were acting: it was all effortless and solid. Maybe it’s just me, but it does seem as if there’s been an overall improvement in the episodes since Rick did this vanishing act. Probably because we’re no longer watching Rick’s story: we’re watching the ensemble’s story. And we’re better for this.
RT: I am actually really excited by this episode, for the reasons you’ve stated. Everyone is wandering out of the shadows and becoming their own characters that hinge on their own decisions and not Rick’s fucked up ones.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Episode 10 (titled “Omega”) on Sunday, February 17. AMC lists the following synopsis for this episode.
“A captive or a refugee? A new arrival at the Hilltop opens up about the leader of a group of mask-wearing savages. A search party sets out on a daring mission to find two missing friends.”
[Featured image via Gene Page/AMC]