AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 8: “Evolution”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Stradivarius” – click here
* Season 9 returns in 2019!
A giant horde of walkers – “130, 140 of ‘em” according to Daryl (Norman Reedus) – are crossing a field. Daryl, Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Jesus (Tom Payne) notice the abnormal movements of the herd— they’re not going anywhere particular, they’re circling in the middle of the field. But wait… is that someone wearing zombie skin in there? Pay close attention. Are those the Whisperers?
Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is down with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) trying to help him meditate. The prisoner’s not feeling it today. Doesn’t stop the priest from trying anyway. Negan seems content with his surroundings after accepting he’ll never see the outside of his prison. Gabriel says “a life needs to have meaning.” Except he’s talking to the guy who’s been Nihilist No. 1 since the zombie apocalypse. Know your audience, dude.
Michonne (Danai Gurira) and her pals have reached Hilltop. She’s already aware that Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) gone AWOL. Might make it easier for the newcomers, to be honest. Or maybe not. There’s a division between the communities. What exactly happened in those six years?
Michonne and Siddiq (Avi Nash) are treated like anybody else when they arrive at Hilltop, having to forfeit weapons. Again, Magna (Nadia Hilker) and her friends must do the same, too. Tara (Alanna Masterson) lets Michonne know what’s been going on re: Rosita (Christian Serratos) and the still missing Eugene (Josh McDermitt). And things are COLD, man. This is one hell of a change from how things were— Rick (Andrew Lincoln) left a massive void, and whatever went on over the time jump has near irreparably changed so many old relationships. Even Carol (Melissa McBride) doesn’t look overly happy to see Michonne.
Part of whatever’s changed is Michonne, who has become incredibly guarded against everyone and everything. She and Carol do catch up, yet there’s an apprehension about them both towards one another. Carol reminds her old buddy of a community that once existed between all of the survivors. Michonne only sees “broken world” dividing them.
In the fields, Daryl detects the herd coming their way, as the wind carries the sound and draws them. He, Jesus, and Aaron use a temporary distraction to get ahead of the walkers, at least for the moment. The numbers are growing, as well. Jesus sees there are well over 140 walkers now.
Henry (Matt Lintz) is at Hilltop doing apprentice work as a blacksmith. He’s got eyes for Enid (Katelyn Nacon), only to see she’s already got herself a dude. So he mopes, until a bunch of other young Hilltop people befriend him. We’re seeing a generation of kids who’ve basically only ever known the post-zombie apocalypse life. At the clinic, Rosita wakes up frantic, telling Michonne and Siddiq their friends have “no idea what they‘re dealing with” in terms of the horde— she knows something ain’t quite right.
“We‘ve all lost something“
In a barn, Daryl, Aaron, and Jesus find Eugene hiding out under the floor. Poor dude has a dislocated knee. Not only that, he knows the horde’s different. He says the zombies were “whispering to each other.” This startles the men, though he assures them Rosita will tell the same story. Eugene believes it’s zombie evolution.
We’re getting a scene reminiscent to one from Fear the Walking Dead when Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) was invited to party with other young people in her community. Henry goes with the Hilltop friends, drinking a little. After that they’ve got something interesting to show him. They’ve got a zombie in a pit they dug out. They use it to play a game similar to horseshoes. One guy even pisses on it. Henry isn’t into that shit, so he jumps in and kills the thing. He later ends up in a cell overnight, getting him in trouble.
Negan notices the wind rattling his cell and starts getting some ideas. He opens the door— it’s unlocked. And he steps outside, free for the first time truly in ages. Shit. Where do you think he’ll go first?
On the road, Daryl splits off from the group while the other two take Eugene back home. He’s trying to lure them off the trail again. He uses a firecracker to make some noise, and the dog helps with a few barks. But for some reason, the horde keeps turning back towards the other way, heading in its original direction. Someone’s steering them. Elsewhere, Aaron, Eugene, and Jesus go through a graveyard, only to get caught inside while walkers pile in not far behind. They’re unable to get Eugene over the wall and the horde are headed right for them, so the lads prepare for a brutal fight. Aaron and Jesus make a great team after training so long. After a moment, the whispers of the zombie horde gets louder, frightening them all. Luckily both Michonne and Magna arrive to try helping them out of the graveyard. Jesus battles the living dead while his friends make an escape.
And just as Jesus is about to go with his friends, a zombie lurches out of his sword’s way, then stabs him right in the back. NO, NO, NO!!!! This changes so much for our group, who’ve got terrifying people to contend with now that they’ve seen what’s going on out in the world. Daryl notices something else. He cuts a zombie skin mask off one of the walkers they killed, discovering a person underneath. More whispers in the distance surround our group at all sides.
“You are where you do not belong.”
HOLY SHIT! A great mid-season finale. Although Father Gore’s mourning Jesus. Just as he and Aaron were becoming an ass kicker duo, too. My heart! Either way, it serves the story well, and introduces the Whisperers fully in such a crazy way. Definitely leaves viewers with hope for the series. This was a huge pick-up in quality compared to the last couple mid-season finales over the years. Now we’ve got to bite our nails until 2019. Can’t wait to see The Walking Dead return!