We're back, with the new walking dead! Let's review. Sorry for lateness. According to my girlfriend, waking up at 2:30 in the morning to pirate the episodes in my country isn't normal behaviour, so I tried watching it on TV a day later. It probably won't be happening again.
The survivors search for the missing Eugene, which leads them into direct contact with the whisperers, who have been hunting them using a herd. Jesus is killed, and the whisperers reveal themselves. In other stories, Henry joins the new teenagers and gets drunk, locking himself in jail. Michonne and the others arrive at the Hilltop and reunite to a not too happy meeting with the others. Gabriel is tormented by Negan talking about Rostia with another man, which leads to Gabriel not locking the door - Negan escapes.
The show finally rediscovered its' horror roots! A clostrophobic, tense and scary episode, the whisperers could not have revealed themselves in a better way IMO. While this episode had a mixed bag of side-stories, the core focus was on the whisperers, and that was the right decition. The impact of this episode is bound to propel the rest of the story forward in a way that will make for some great TV. The Hilltop finding a new leader, the groups coming back together and dealing with that drama, and the wildcard of Negan being back out there makes it feel like anything can happen again, and that's a great thing.
I'm splitting it up into storylines, not inderviduals.
- Daryl / Aaron / Jesus - the spearhead of the story was with these guys. I have to say I'm quite impressed with how the show takes it's three 'alpha males' on a rescue mission, but when you think about it, all three are developed and unique characters with flaws and quirks, not to mention two of them are gay. I feel like in the earlier seasons the characters we a lot more simple, especially big strong men who did all the fighting. These three are different, and all have pre-existing relationships and drama with eachother that I liked to see, especially when they all worked together. Jesus' death is sure to impact the others a fair bit, so looking forward to seeing Daryl and Aaron's stories this next half.
- Michonne and the Hilltop - I'm hoping the viewers are not kept too in the dark about what happened between the communities. Withholding information is never great, and I feel like it will begin to become jarring if we don't find out what happened soon. The X scars are making for a great mystery, but I feel like the storyline is made at a diservice to Magna's group as they are treated with hositlity for no real reason. I'm sure the beef will be cool, but I want to see it.
- Henry and Co - This is the storyline that is keeping the episode back from being a classic. We meet the new teen cast, and Henry digs into a storyline that will last the rest of the season. I'm not sure if I'm feeling it just yet, mainly because of Henry's acting (they keep mention how much of an idealist / big heart he has, but I'm honestly getting the opposite vibe) and because of the fact that Carl's storyline is being literally given to someone else. I would rather Enid got it as we know her way more, and it feels more rewarding. Or, Carl's story was split across multiple characters to be a little more subtle. Regardless, I hope Enid gets more to do. It seems Addy may be comic Sophia, while Rodney is probably Josh (spiked) and Gage may be Brandon Rose. I think a teenage storyline makes a lot of sense, so I'm all for it if the actors can pull through and we can get some twists on the classic Carl storyline.
- Gabriel and Rostia - An interesting line came from what Negan heard Rosita talk about. While it could just be a way for Negan to get under his skin, comic readers know this nod is probably going to become a major storyline, and also sets up Rostia for death on the pikes. While Siddiq makes sense as the baby daddy (if she does end up pregnant), I don't think it really fits his character. I think a way more rich choice would be Eugene. It would make sense she might sleep with him (he probably brings back memories of Abraham, and they are each other's oldest friends) especially as Eugene was trying to confess his feelings for her a couple of episodes back. It's also a neat twist on the comics, and would pit Gabriel and Eugene against eachother, aka science vs religion.
- Negan - Negan escaping in such a way was a suprise for sure, as I did not expect it so Early. I think the whole Staying in the cell to earn trust thing is gonna be skipped (because there's no Rick to gain trust with) and he'll go on soem side adventures on his own, reclaiing lucille from the tree, and going to the sanctuary to see its' fate. I don't think he's going to kill Alpha this season, but I think he might save Daryl from Beta. If this is his redemption, then we'll explore his personal life some more too. The finale would probably see him either get captured by the whisperers, or find a very angry Gage who will take him there. I can see Alpha dying season 10 mid-season finale.
- Magna's group - They got the short straw this episode, but earning their keep will definately get them some levirage with the Hilltop, and is their journey into the centre of the group, so to say.
A section deserving of itself, i'm sure there's bound to be split opinions on if Jesus should have died or not. I personally don't mind it, and it would have been a huge shock if the internet had not spoiled it for me. At the end of the day, Tom Payne is right in his interviews. The dude was doing training every week for fights he never got. Across his four seasons, he only really existed to connect the dots, and not much more. His seasons eight and seven storylines are paticularly bad in my opinion. I can't really remember much he did apart from fight Morgan, argue with Tara, and slide down a big pillar one time. Had Tom Payne knew what an impovement season nine would have been, do I think he would have decided to stay? Yeah, 100%. But had he left, they finally gave us the Jesus scene we wanted and the actor deserved. Think about had we had that all the time! In my opinion, out of all 24 Jesus episodes, there's only two good ones. His first, and his last.
I see people complaining about all his storylines that have been lost. While IMO he isn't too integral to the story, there was finally opening up space for him, and the teasing of a relationship with Aaron was verging on queerbating, but the specifities of the actor leaving omit that controversy. I think Tom Payne made a mistake leaving when he was finally getting more to do, but as the interview states, he was ready to leave as far back as season eight, so can't blame him for wanting out.
The actual method of death was cool, althought it would have been cool to see the sword go right through him for added horror. It wasn't signposted too heavily which is always nice, but also not out of the blue completely.
I think the theme this week is new beginings. Everybody in the show is starting a new phase in their life, and having to adjust to change. Magna's group have a new home, Tara will be left de-facto leader of the Hilltop, Henry begins his new life with new friends, Carol begins her life without her 'son'. Negan begins his life as a free man. It's about change, and how sometimes the changes in our life are out of our control, kinda like the state of the show, having no control over actors leaving, but charging forward anyways.
Winners and Losers
- MVP this episode - Jesus
- Most improved this episode - Jesus
- Please give more to do next episode - Judith (she's just disapeared!)
- Worst Player this episode - Henry