In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap for the mid-season premiere, the survivors discover their latest enemy in the Whisperers and Negan makes his escape from Alexandria…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
After more than a two month hiatus, ‘The Walking Dead’ returned on Sunday night for the back half of season 9 while introducing the latest villains on the series.
The Whisperers are major players in the comic books — a group of people who wear the skin of the dead over their faces, walk amongst the dead and lead herds of zombies in whatever direction they please while doing a lot of damage to whoever they meet along the way.
The last episode before the hiatus saw the first real encounter between the survivors at the Whisperers after Jesus was killed during a fight in a foggy graveyard during a rescue attempt to find Eugene after he and Rosita were stalked by this mysterious new group.
The mid-season premiere picks up in the aftermath of Jesus’ death as the communities brace for impact with this latest enemy coming after them while Negan finally escapes his jail cell in Alexandria and attempts to return to his old life.
This episode also comes on the heels of the shocking news that Danai Gurira aka Michonne will be leaving ‘The Walking Dead’ during season 10, which will debut later this year.
Gurira’s exit marks the latest major cast member to leave the show after Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes) was written off the series last season and Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) left the show earlier this season. Lauren Cohan (Maggie) also left ‘The Walking Dead’ earlier this season, although she’s left it open that it’s possible she could return.
With Gurira only expected to stick around for a few more episodes in season 10 and Tom Payne (Jesus) now gone as well, it appears ‘The Walking Dead’ will be treading a lot of unknown water going forward. It’s worth mentioned that all five of these characters — Rick, Carl, Michonne, Maggie and Jesus — are still alive in ‘The Walking Dead’ comic books and play major roles in virtually every story going forward.
How ‘The Walking Dead’ television series will handle those characters no longer being on the show will be interesting to say the least.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘Adaptation’…
Whispers in the Wind
In the aftermath of the initial encounter with the Whisperers, Michonne, Daryl and the rest of the group retreat out of the cemetery while taking Jesus’ body with them as they escape the latest deadly enemies they’ve faced.
On the way back, Michonne talks to Daryl about how he tried to search for Rick’s body after he was “killed’ six years earlier and the guilt he felt about never finding his remains to give him a proper burial. Daryl’s guilt over Rick’s death is what ultimately led him to becoming a hermit on the edge of the communities.
Michonne also seems to reference Daryl’s sacrifice, which might explain those surgical scars that each of them have on their backs but no further explanation about what actually happened.
Along the way to the Hilltop, the group continues to encounter that same mysterious herd that was following them and they are finally able to corner a small group of them inside a covered bridge. After killing the zombies and two of the Whisperers, Michonne unmasks the last living member of the group — a young girl who we will later learn is Lydia, daughter to Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers.
After arriving back at Hilltop, Daryl and Michonne take Lydia to the basement holding cells where they also find Henry, who is still serving out a sentence for getting caught drunk just hours after he arrived there for an apprenticeship. Daryl and Michonne tie the girl to a chair and begin demanding answers but she insists that she’s the last one alive and they just killed the only remaining people from her group.
As the interrogation continues over the next day, Lydia begins revealing bits and pieces of information but she’s still obviously lying and not actually telling Daryl and Michonne the truth about the Whisperers or the true number of people in her group.
Lydia tells them that her group knows the greatest enemy are the living and that’s why they use the dead to protect them. She also says places like these with walls surrounding them always end up falling and that’s why her group just lived out in the open amongst the dead.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Jesus’ death, Tara ends up as the de facto leader of the Hilltop but Michonne tells Daryl that he needs to stay behind to help her. Daryl has been living out on his own long enough and now the communities are going to depend on him and his strength, especially with a new enemy haunting the surrounding areas.
Michonne says that she has to ride back to Alexandria today to warn her people about the oncoming threat of these Whisperers.
Eugene is also recovering at the Hilltop following his harrowing experience outside the walls and that’s when he decides it’s time to finally profess his love for Rosita. Rather than hear him out, Rosita rushes out of the room and runs outside where she proceeds to vomit.
Probably not the reaction Eugene was hoping to get from her.
As it turns out, Rosita is actually pregnant but the baby doesn’t belong to Father Gabriel, who was revealed to be her new boyfriend back in Alexandria. It seems Rosita was ‘having fun’ with Siddiq at the Hilltop for a while prior to her new relationship starting and he’s the father of her child.
Eugene overhears all of this while sitting in his hospital bed, nursing his wounds and still longing to be with Rosita himself.
As for Daryl, he decides on a new course of action to get the information out of Lydia.
He leaves her alone in a cell with Henry sitting across from her and the two of them end up chatting and that’s when she finally reveals her name. Outside the building, Daryl has been listening through a vent as he begins to out more information about this group known as the Whisperers.
It’s worth mentioning, in the comics Lydia becomes a romantic interest for Carl but it appears the show will be replacing him with Henry as these two grow closer as the season moves forward.
The Great Escape
After finding a way to escape his cell at the end of the last episode, Negan makes his way through Alexandria, stocks up on food and supplies along with a compass that he steals from Judith’s bedroom before making his way to the wall.
As he begins his climb to freedom, Judith draws a gun on him and tells him to stop because there’s nothing out there for him.
Negan pleads with her that while he may serve as an example to everybody else in the community that civilization still exists and that the guilty can be punished without being brutally murdered, he’s spent more than six years in that jail cell with nothing to look forward to and no hope that he’ll ever leave that 10×10 room again.
Judith finally decides to let him go but warns him if he ever shows his face near Alexandria again, she will pull the trigger.
Negan leaves the community and makes his way back to the Sanctuary — the place he once ruled with an iron fist.
Unfortunately in the aftermath of the rest of the communities thriving, the Sanctuary has fallen and crumbled. There’s nothing left inside except a few corpses and the last remaining remnants of Negan’s once mighty empire.
After seeing what the world looks like without him, Negan decides to return to Alexandria but as promised Judith was waiting and she fires a gun in his direction as he rode a motorcycle back to town. Judith tells Negan that she warned him there was nothing out there for him and he finally agrees.
The two of them prepare to return to Alexandria together where he will apparently stay as a prisoner for the rest of his days.
Obviously, we know that’s not exactly true because with Rick gone, Negan is serving as something of a father figure to Judith and that relationship will undoubtedly flourish as the Whisperer War is upon us from this season going into the next.
The Trail Ends Here
Prior to Daryl, Michonne and the rest of the survivors returning to the Hilltop, the rest of the members of the community are concerned about the search party including Jesus that went out hunting and never returned.
Alden decides to lead his own search party for the search party and he’s joined by Luke, one of the new members of the community who just arrived there recently. Luke wants to pitch in and help as much as possible and this is his way to offer a hand.
He’ll regret that decision by the end of the episode.
As the two of them head out to begin looking, Luke finds an arrow stuck in a tree that had to be fired by his friend Kumiko. He recognizes the arrow right away and believes that she may have been leaving a trail for them to follow and find them.
Along the way, Alden tells Luke about the upcoming fair that the communities are having together very soon and even asks if the former music teacher could play something while everybody gathers and reconnects during this important function between Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom.
Alden and Luke continue to follow the arrows and it’s looking more and more like a path was set to lead the search party to somewhere in particular but not where they were opening to end up.
After retrieving the last arrow, Alden and Luke spot a walker coming towards them but rather than stumbling forward like every other zombie — this one stops and looks directly at them. A moment later, Alden and Luke look around and they’ve been surrounded by zombies on all sides.
Finally, the person closes to them reveals a double-barreled shotgun and tells Alden and Luke that they followed the trail just as intended — and the trail ends here.
The person behind the mask is none other than Alpha — the leader behind the Whisperers and the primary antagonist going forward this season. It’s also worth mentioning that in the comic books, that community fair is what ultimately sparks the war between the survivors and the Whisperers after several key characters are murdered.
It’s impossible to know how close the show will stay to the source material but this episode seemed to hint at the fair being the major event in the season finale and that could set up the Whisperer War for season 10.
‘The Walking Dead’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on AMC.