The Walking Dead: Adaptation review S9 E9

It was probably silly thinking that The Walking Dead’s midseason premiere was going to immediately pick up the intensity and horror from the last episode. Still, Adaptation did a solid job of continuing the unnerving tone of The Whisperers arc.

Michonne, Daryl and crew escape the graveyard and take Jesus’ body with them. Aaron says he understands Michonne’s point now about staying where it’s safe. I feel like that’s the wrong morale of this Whisperers lesson.

Before they can get back to Hilltop, they’ve got to deal with some more walkers and Whisperers. I appreciate how Daryl immediately works out a quick walker/whisperer test by aiming his crossbow bolts at the knees. Walkers will keep coming while the whispers double over in pain. It stuck me that we haven’t really had a lot of moments where it was Michonne and Daryl leading a mission and it was bad a$$.

Daryl and Michonne keep one Whisperer alive — a teen girl — who tries to plead her innocence. Michonne and Daryl aren’t buying it, but wait until they arrive at Hilltop for a full interrogation.

the-walking-dead-adaptation review - michonne, daryl, eugene and aaron

As expected, Tara quickly rises up to the challenge of being the official leader of Hilltop. I wish we’d gotten more scenes of Jesus and Tara navigating leading the community to show his reckless side while she held things together. Of course that’s the kind of storytelling that would drag out for a season under previous showrunners so it’s fine that it was heavily implied.

Everyone’s rattled in the wake of Jesus’ death and Eugene decides to take the moment to try and profess his love for Rosita. The near declaration makes Rosita nauseous, which would have been an amazing reaction if she wasn’t just pregnant. But in a real soap opera twist, it’s not Gabriel’s baby, but Siddiq’s from their apparently very brief fling. Is there a way that could put Rosita in a good light? And would we viewers really care that much if Rosita just wasn’t with Siddiq in the first place? That makes a lot more sense than Gabriel anyway. Eugene overhears Rosita breaking the pregnancy news to Siddiq because no one believes in good solid soundproof windows anymore in Alexandria or Hilltop.

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Henry is still serving his time for being a moron so he gets a great seat for the Whisperer interrogation. Daryl can’t get much out of her and Henry pleads that Daryl doesn’t kill her. Hold on, this is the same kid who was raised by Carol???

Like Daryl figured, the girl opened up more to Henry and revealed her name is Lydia. This likely got comic readers all tingly, but that doesn’t mean much for me. How soon before Henry gets conned into letting Lydia out and becoming a Whisperer himself? Lydia repeats her mother’s mantra that everyone alive is a threat. That’s certainly one way to live.

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There wasn’t a compelling reason to make this episode super-sized. The Negan subplot felt like it was killing time. After he bashed in Glenn and Abraham’s skulls in, I’m still not quite ready to find Negan a sympathetic character. Sorrynotsorry. That meant his long journey back to Sanctuary only to find his lackeys have all fled and his secret stash of supplies were rat infested didn’t have the same level of oomph as this would another character.

It largely felt like a rehash of The Governor’s standalone episode when he was separated from his crew after the first skirmish with Rick and company. And the TV version of The Governor was far more sympathetic than Negan.

Clearly the writers are hoping Negan’s friendship with Judith will make him more likable as he playfully humors her posturing. This worked much better with Carl as it’s straining some credibility that big bad Negan is affected at all by this little girl. I’m still confused how Judith can just run off completely on her own with no one seemingly caring about her well being. Sure, she may be more confident than some of the adults, but that still won’t matter if a herd lumbers along.

Speaking of, Alden and Luke set out earlier to find Michonne and the others. Usually it takes a long time for newcomers to win me over beyond the they’re just here for cannon fodder phase, but I like Luke. He’s a regular guy who’s just trying to do right by his friends and his new allies. Luke recognized some of Magna’s arrows and finds a subtle trail in addition to another herd.

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But Luke notices something real odd about the walker in the distance and that’s long before he notices they’re surrounded. The walker marches over toward them carrying the arrows and a gun announcing the trail ends here. Not a bad way to wrap the episode.

Adaptation struggled with Negan’s walkabout, but definitely maintained the sense of dread and eeriness with the arrival of the Whisperers.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Photo Credit: AMC

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