The Walking Dead Episode 9.8 ‘Evolution’ Review



A small rescue mission braves a dangerous herd in their hunt for a missing comrade, only to discover a surprising threat that could doom them all.

Welp, we’ve reached the mid-season finale, which usually means that a main character must be sacrificed to the television rating gods. Let’s read on to see how it went down this year, shall we?

Awkward Homecoming

When the new group arrives with Siddiq and Michonne to the Hilltop, it becomes immediately clear that Michonne is persona non grata, especially when Carol won’t even give her a hug. Michonne doesn’t help things by saying that she has no interest in participating in the big fair between all the communities.

Later, Henry and Carol have a tearful farewell as he begins his apprenticeship to become a blacksmith. He also has eyes for Enid, but his hopes are quickly dashed when he see her kissing Alden (ugh, seriously Enid?).

Fortunately for Henry, there are some other kids his age to hang out with, including another cute/cool girl. Unfortunately for him, the boys in the group end up being kind of douchey. After getting drunk on moonshine, they take him out to a hole they’ve dug where they torture a captured walker. Despite being drunk (and still ticked about Enid), Henry jumps in and takes down the walker, alienating his potential frat boy clique, but likely earning some respect from the new girl (and for himself). Henry then goes back to Earl and Tammy’s house and apologizes for running off to get drunk with his new friends, who mostly turned out to be tools, anyway.

Yes, it truly does seem as though society may be returning to its natural state.

Meanwhile, after Siddiq apologizes for keeping his community outreach efforts from Michonne, Rosita wakes up and reveals that Eugene is stashed away in a barn…and that the search party they sent out has no idea what they’re dealing with.

Pushing the Preacher

For any of you who still think Gabriel hasn’t redeemed himself for earlier seasons, he is now responsible for Inmate Negan’s care, which includes changing his bedpan. As you might imagine, Negan uses every opportunity he can to get under Gabriel’s skin. When Gabriel hears that Rosita is at the Hilltop…and can’t see her because he has to be Negan’s warden…it causes him to unleash some surprisingly profane anger.

Maybe this distracted the preacher enough to not lock the gate properly. Or maybe Gabriel left Negan’s cell unlocked on purpose. Whatever the case, Negan eventually figures out that the door is open, gives a smirk, and walks outside.

Careless Whisper

Here’s what you all really came here for. I mean, we all know why the zombies are acting weird (and why they kept circling around looking for Eugene instead of shuffling on by), but it’s still fun to watch this play out…except for the part where Dog almost got him and Daryl killed. That was both frustrating and terrifying. But as we know, these walkers aren’t actually walkers.

Before the big reveal, though, the group is chased by what they think is an oddly focused group of zombies into what appears to be a graveyard with a dedicated fog machine. Just when it looks like all hope was lost, Michonne and a couple of the newbies show up and started kicking ass. And speaking of kicking ass, we finally got to see Jesus do all that cool karate stuff they kept showing in the trailers for this season while he delayed the walkers so everyone could escape. Everything seemed to be under control until the last walker actually ducked Jesus’ attack and stabbed him while whispering “You are where you do not belong” (I think).

Aaron understandably freaks out at seeing his friend get killed. Everyone else rushes back in and kills the seemingly super-mobile walkers. Afterward, Daryl peels the face off the one that killed Jesus to discover it’s just a regular human underneath. It’s an interesting discovery to be sure, but the information’s value looks to be short lived as more whispering human walkers surround the group.

The Verdict

Well, the show certainly isn’t great again, but it’s definitely better than it’s been in a very long time.

While most of us knew by this point about The Whisperers, this episode and the ones leading up to it did a fantastic revealing their existence in a way that still felt organic and exciting. Negan’s time behind bars has made him more interesting than he’s been in years. Michonne’s friction with the other communities adds an interesting backstory to explore along with a great springboard to explore new conflicts and dynamics between the characters.

And hey, how nice was it to have a somewhat unexpected and jarring character death? I hate losing Jesus, especially after how awesome he looked taking out all those zombies, but aside from this being the midseason finale, I truly did not see his end coming.

Yes, the story with Henry is dull, especially when you’ve got way cooler conflicts happening on either side of it. And no, I still don’t think the show has completely solved it’s problem of padding things out once the narrative direction has become obvious.

But for the first time since Season 6, I’m not only looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next, but also enjoying the journey to get there.

 

The Walking Dead Episode 9.8 ‘Evolution’ Review
Is it good?
The show actually pulled off a surprising/jarring character death.
Even though most of us knew about The Whisperers, they way they were revealed this season has been masterfully executed.
Michonne's conflict with the other groups provides a great springboard for exploring new dynamics between the characters while exploring more backstory.
The story about Henry's teenage angst feels like treading water compared to the other storylines.
8
Good