"Adaptation" is the ninth episode and mid-season premiere of the ninth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundred and twenty-fourth episode of the series overall. It premiered on February 10, 2019. It was written by Corey Reed and directed by Greg Nicotero.
In the cemetery, the group proceeds to kill the Whisperers and walkers around them and Aaron prevents Jesus from reanimating. When more arrive they're forced to carry Jesus' body away and lock the gates. As they leave, a Whisperer reaches through the bars and opens the slide bolt.
In Alexandria, Negan sneaks around the garden and steals a shovel. He breaks into Judith's room, looks at one of her drawings and then takes her compass. At dawn, he puts on normal clothes and begins to scale the fence, before Judith stops him with her gun. He laughs and suggests they just go their separate ways, but she doesn't budge. Negan climbs down and Judith reminds him there's nothing out there for him. He promises not to hurt anyone and she finally relents, promising him if she sees him again she'll shoot.
On the road, Michonne tells Daryl they're bringing Jesus back to Hilltop so everyone can have closure and thanks Daryl for helping her with everything. Suddenly, the group notices a small group of walkers nearby. Daryl corners them on a bridge and uses his crossbow to see who are Whisperers. He hits one in the leg and the man falls down screaming in pain, attracting walkers to him. The rest try slowly escaping to the other side, where Michonne is waiting for them. They draw their knives and attack, but Michonne and the rest kill them with ease as the final Whisperer gets on her knees to surrender. Daryl rips off her mask, to reveal a girl begging for her life. Michonne angrily questions her about her group. The girl claims that she is the last one left and that they killed everyone. When more walkers show up Daryl decides to take her with them.
In the woods, Negan strolls around and kills some walkers. He then drinks from a river, before spitting the water out. He notices he's in the clearing where he killed Abraham and Glenn and looks down, remembering his actions.
In Hilltop, the group arrives with Jesus' body and the captive girl, causing the whole community to react in disbelief. Tammy tells Tara that the Hilltop will now look to her for leadership, reminding her that includes getting justice for Jesus. Tara affirms she understands.
In the cellar, Daryl throws the girl in a cell and tells Henry that Jesus is dead. Michonne rips off the girl's blindfold and exclaims "No more bullshit!"
Meanwhile, Negan rummages through an abandoned clothing store and finds himself a black faux-leather jacket. Suddenly, three hungry dogs show up, forcing him to hide on top of a shelf. He runs outside and throws a walker in to escape from the dogs.
Elsewhere, Luke and Alden bond over music until they discover one of Yumiko's arrows on a tree. They kill some walkers and Luke suggests they follow the arrows to find their friends. They spot a herd nearby and ponder their next moves.
Back at Hilltop, Michonne, Tara, and Daryl interrogate the girl. She claims to not have a name and that her group were just good people trying to survive. Michonne asks if her people know about Hilltop but the girl begs to be left alone. Outside, Michonne tells Daryl and Tara she's heading back to Alexandria. Tara agrees and tells her she's going to allow Magna's group to stay because it's what Jesus would have done. Michonne tells Daryl that she know's the girl is lying and secretly reminds him that he "knows what to do" if the she keeps refusing to talk.
In the infirmary, Siddiq relocates Eugene's knee and leaves to grab a bandage. Eugene tells Rosita he was scared she was dead and tries confessing his love but she runs outside saying "I can't." Rosita vomits and Siddiq follows to ask if she's ok, but she reveals she's pregnant with his baby. Eugene looks horrified as he listens from inside. Nearby, Daryl scolds Henry for behaving stupidly and reminds him he has one more night left in the cell before he can be released.
Meanwhile, Negan returns to the Sanctuary. He finds everything abandoned and encounters one of his zombified Saviors, Richie. Negan ironically commends Richie, calling out that he's "loyal to the end".
Back in Hilltop, Aaron apologizes to Michonne for doubting her, affirming that Alexandria is self-sufficient enough without Hilltop. Michonne apologizes too and then informs Daryl that he should stay at Hilltop to help Tara and suggests he lead the effort in questioning the girl to ensure they don't lose anyone else.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan sits alone in his council room, when Richie suddenly stops banging on the door. When Negan investigates, he discovers that Richie was distracted by other walkers. Negan enters the courtyard and kills all the walkers, except for Big Richie, whom he leads back to the door. Inside, he looks at Judith's compass and smiles, thinking about their conversation. He then decides to kill Richie and leave.
In Hilltop, a funeral is held for Jesus and everyone takes turns hammering the nails in his coffin. Daryl looks in sadness, before rushing back to the jail to demand that the girl reveal her identity. Henry tries to intervene but Daryl shuts him down. He slams her against the bars and asks if she comes from a place with walls. She tells him that places like Hilltop never last and her mom told her they needed the dead to stay safe. He raises his knife to her and demands why her people killed his and she says they were always going to, that's what they do. She tells him it's just her and her mother left, but he calls her a liar before dragging her towards the exit. She begs for her life and he lets her cower back in her cell. He then reminds Henry of his place and warns he'll stay in that cell until he realizes it. After he leaves, the girl thanks Henry for saving her and introduces herself as Lydia. Outside, next to a window, Daryl listens to their conversation.
On the road, Negan drives a motorcycle, but comes across Judith standing in the middle of the road with her gun raised. She shoots, causing him to crash. She says a lot of people are looking for him. He gives her back the compass and says he wants to return to Alexandria because she was right; there isn't anything out there for him. Judith then escorts him back to Alexandria.
In the woods, Alden and Luke spot a walker staring at them motionless. Suddenly, they get surrounded by several Whisperers and the leader tosses them one of the arrows they’ve been following, points a shotgun at them, and says, "Trail ends here."
- Richie (Alive, Confirmed Fate; Zombified)
- At least 6 unnamed Whisperers
- At least 1 unnamed dog (Off-Screen)
- 5 unnamed Saviors (Zombified)
- 1 unnamed Hilltop Colony resident (Confirmed Fate)
- First appearance of Lydia.
- First appearance of Alpha.
- First appearance of Richie. (Zombified)
- The title of the episode, "Adaptation", comes from Lydia claiming her mother's belief that they have to adapt to the world by wearing the walker's skin.
- It also refers to Negan having to adapt to the outside world after being imprisoned for several years.
- This episode marks Norman Reedus' 100th appearance on the TV Series, making him the second actor to achieve this mark after Andrew Lincoln.
- This episode was made available for streaming to subscribers of AMC Premiere on February 3, 2019.
- Rosita reveals to Siddiq (with Eugene listening in secret) that she is pregnant with Siddiq's baby, having had a relationship with Siddiq before she got with Gabriel.
- The spot in the woods that Negan visits and kneels down at is the same area where Glenn and Abraham were brutally executed at in "Last Day on Earth" and "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be".
- The Whisperers disguises are not foolproof, like the trick with the walker guts. When Daryl shoots one in the leg, his screams break his disguise and the real walkers turn on him like has happened when someone covered in walker guts draws attention to themselves.
- The Sanctuary, which was previously stated to have gone bust in "Who Are You Now?," is shown to be completely abandoned aside from Richie and five zombified Saviors. The courtyard is now covered in weeds with empty boxes still standing where the residents had tried to grow crops. The main room is littered with scattered pieces of furniture, mostly overturned and has pools of standing water.
- Though he doesn't appear, Earl Sutton is briefly mentioned by Daryl who tells Henry that Earl has ordered that Henry must finish out his two night sentence for his conduct before Henry can be released.
- When Negan is escaping over the fence the beige shirt he is wearing is the same shirt that Rick can be see wearing in "Warning Signs".
- This episode marks the return of Marco, who had been absent since "A New Beginning".
- It is revealed that the Hilltop only suffered one casualty during the six year time jump, seeing as one additional gravestone has been added to the cemetery.
- Daryl and Michonne killing Whisperers on a bridge is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 133, where Jesus fights against them instead.
- Lydia surrendering is adapted from Issue 134.
- Daryl and Michonne sparing Lydia and taking her to Hilltop is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 134, where Jesus spares her instead.
- Negan's journey in the outside world is adapted from Issue 174.
- Rosita revealing to Siddiq she's pregnant is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 141, where she reveals this to everyone in the Alexandria dining hall instead.
- Eugene overhearing Rosita's pregnancy news is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 141, where she tells him instead.
- Rosita and Siddiq's fling is a nod to their affair in Issue 141.
- Daryl interrogating Lydia is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 135, where Jesus interrogates her instead.
- Henry and Lydia talking to each other is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 135, where Carl talks to Lydia instead.
- Alden and Luke being held at gunpoint by Alpha is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 132, where Dante is held at gunpoint instead.
- Alpha telling them that "Trail ends here" is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 132, where Alpha tells Dante not to move instead.