After a real-life time jump of a few months, Season 9 of The Walking Dead is back. Let’s see how life with our Rick and Maggie-less characters are now that The Whisperers have made their presence known, shall we?
Thanks to a few timely arrows from Yumiko, our team of Michonne, Daryl, Eugene, Aaron, and the other character you and I don’t really care about escape the graveyard along with Jesus’ body.
On the way back to Hilltop, Michonne and Daryl have a heart to heart about missing Rick. Later, they are attacked by walkers and Whisperers. Daryl begins capping them in the leg to see who’s undead and who’s not (I say shoot ’em all in the head to be sure, but whatever). They end up capturing one of the Whisperers and pull off her skin mask, revealing a scared teenage girl.
Hints, Lies, Allegations Left Unsaid
The group brings their prisoner and Jesus’ body back to Hilltop and a lot of very sad residents. Tara and Daryl try to interrogate the girl, but she swears she doesn’t know anything. (I’m wasn’t buying it–and neither was Daryl).
Later, Michonne explains to Daryl that he needs to be the one to not only decide the prisoner’s fate, but also lead the Hilltop because
he’s a main character he’s the best judge of character she knows. When Daryl goes back to interrogate the prisoner, Henry (the drunk kid who got tossed in a cell a while back) starts yelling at him to leave the girl alone. After looking like he might really execute the prisoner, Daryl does leave…and eavesdrops from outside as the prisoner reveals her name to Henry: Lydia. For those of you who are comic readers, you know why that’s a big deal.
We also get to find out that Siddiq knocked up Rosita, all while Eugene overhears things and cries about how his creepy self can’t spit any game.
Negan meets his match and savior
You might have forgotten about Negan escaping from jail at the end of episode 8, but he totally did. He uses the opportunity to stalk through Michonne’s home, takes a compass from Judith’s room, and begins his great escape–only to be stopped and held at gunpoint by little badass Judith Grimes.
After Negan promises not to hurt anyone, however, she lets him go (and keep the compass). Before he leaves, Judith warns him that if he ever returns, she’ll shoot him–and that there is nothing out there in the world for him.
From this point, the episode gets padded A LOT with Negan wandering around and enjoying his freedom–although “enjoying” might be a bit of an overstatement. After seeming to be invigorated by the fresh air and sunshine, the rust from his jail stay shows up when a walker almost gets the jump on him and ruins his supplies.
Later, while shopping for new clothes, he’s attacked by a gang of dogs. He manages to escape without harming them (although a nearby walker apparently became a brilliant close-quarters combatant and killed them all).
Negan finally ends up at the Sanctuary, where it becomes clear that things will never be the same. After saying goodbye to a zombiefied old friend of his, he heads back toward Alexandria and the safety of his jail cell (on what I believe was Daryl’s old bike). His ride is violently interrupted when Judith shows up in the middle of the road and shoots his bike, sending him careening off onto the shoulder. Never mind how Judith knew to be in that exact spot at that exact time–it was a pretty cool scene.
And to be fair, she had warned Negan she’d shoot him if he ever tried to come back. Once again, however, she relents, allowing him to return to Alexandria and to his cell.
While Alden and Luke are out looking for survivors, they begin to discuss the possibility of putting together a musical act. They also find a bunch of arrows that they think are from Yumiko. Turns out they were actually a trap set by the Whisperers, who surround them. The episode ends with Alpha (the leader of the Whisperers) training a shotgun in the direction of the best post-apocalyptic band to never play a show.
This was a really great 30 minute episode. The problem is that it was almost an hour and 15 minutes long. Aside from an excessive number of commercials, most of the padding seemed to come from Negan’s walkabout, which at times stretched on endlessly. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan as much as the next person, but his facial expressions can only hold my interest for so long.
There were a lot of great character moments, though, particularly the stuff with Luke/Alden and Judith/Negan–although it’s going to be hard to keep thinking of Judith as “Little Ass Kicker” if she keeps getting coerced into not shooting the guy who wasn’t even supposed to be out of his jail cell in the first place.
The Michonne and Daryl stuff felt a little forced. Either there’s something from the time jump we missed, or it’s simply a matter of main characters being most comfortable in each other’s orbit.
As far as the Whisperers goes, they sure do look cool, but that’s about all we’ve got at this point. Maybe they will be portrayed like they are in the comics, maybe they won’t. Until then, it’s still not clear whether they–or this season–will be cool.