The Walking Dead season 9, episode 9 review: Adaptation


The Walking Dead picks up right where it left off last year, with the death of Jesus and the fresh threat of the Whisperers.

After the events of “Evolution“, the Walking Dead group is utterly stunned by Jesus’ slaying at the hands of a walker disguised human. As they escape the cemetery with Jesus’ body, another goes after Michonne when her back is turned, and Yumiko’s archery skills come in handy.

Heading back to Hilltop, Daryl’s dog sniffs out the dead in the woods. Daryl traps them on a covered bridge and loosens a few arrows at their legs, exposing a Whisperer. Michonne cuts down another, while the remaining member begs for her life. With a herd approaching, Daryl takes the hostage with them.

The town is torn up over Jesus and immediately starts looking to Tara for guidance. The prisoner is thrown in a cell next to Henry, who has one more night in lockup for public drunkenness. The woman answers the interrogation questions, but no one is buying her pathetic helplessness.

Elsewhere in Hilltop, Siddiq fixes Eugene’s leg at the infirmary. Eugene’s recent close call causes him to open up to Rosita about his feelings for her. She appears to be dodging his advances when she rushes off, though she is actually experiencing morning sickness. Rosita reveals to Siddiq that he is the father, despite her recent sparks with Father Gabriel.

As Michonne prepares to head back to Alexandria, Daryl cooks up a scheme to get the Whisperer to speak honestly. He forcefully grills her in her cell, knowing that Henry would defend her. When Daryl can’t get anything useful out of her, he steps outside to eavesdrop on her starting to talk to Henry.

Finding Negan

In a community far, far away, Negan is strolling around like he isn’t a convicted mass murderer. Judith could have stopped him from leaving Alexandria, however their tutoring sessions has warmed her up to him enough to let him walk; he promises that he is done hurting people and she replies that she’ll shoot him if she ever sees him again.

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He crosses paths with a few infected and loses his food stash while fending them off. After he nearly becomes ill from some untested water, things start looking up for Negan when he finds a leather jacket that fits him perfectly. He does have to outrun several guard dogs (if only he had Lucille) until a biter is able to do his dirty work.

Negan visits the Sanctuary, which is a deserted wasteland. He finds comfort in seeing an old acquaintance, even if he is a reanimated zombie. He sticks around for a little while until he decides that this situation is not what he was looking for and ends his buddy’s brainless walker existence. He rides back toward Alexandria and, sure enough, runs into Judith, who shoots his bike. He hands over a borrowed compass and follows her back to his cell.

Symphony of awesome

When Jesus was out of town longer than expected, Luke and Alden embark on their own rescue mission. They connect over music and culture and start planning a duet for the fair since Luke plays kazoo and Alden is known for his singing.

After fighting off a few walkers, they spot a horde and need to move fast. Luke notices that Yumiko’s arrows seem to be forming a trail in the trees and they decide to follow it. When they cross paths with a zombie, Luke and Alden think it is business as usual – then it stands still and stares. Within seconds they are surrounded by men and women who look like the dead, but don’t behave like mindless walkers. Their leader steps up and pulls out a shotgun. Will Luke and Alden be the Whisperers second and third victims?

Weekly Walkaways

  • There is a sort of surreal quality to Negan’s encounters with Judith. It is strange that the only interaction he has during his entire excursion is with a kid. She is the only one who catches him scaling the walls and the one who shoots him down in the middle of the road. It could be intentional, to strengthen their bond, or maybe Greg Nicotero didn’t realize how implausible the combined two scenes would come off.
  • At first, Negan’s lonely road felt awfully familiar – the only other major Walking Dead villain went on a similar journey after a dethroning. Although, in this one chapter, we already can see how The Governor and Negan’s paths end in different places since Negan has given himself up to the little sheriff.
  • The culminating scene with the Whisperers is one of the most eerie in Walking Dead history. The protagonists have faced violent, evil opposition from other gangs and their dictators, however the infected people, as deadly as they have been, are still predictable and often outmaneuverable. Aside from jump scares, horror elements have been scarce. With the Whisperers, the psychological impression left by men and women who sew zombie masks over their faces is terrifyingly unnerving.
  • A thematic undertone in the episode are the characters’ pursuit to find their new place in the world. This is most evident in Negan’s story – Judith tells him that there is nothing out there for him and he has to literally see that for himself before he agrees. Then Daryl has to come to terms with reentering society after spending so much time on his own. And the entire Hilltop community is at a crossroads with the loss of another elected official. This directly affects Tara, since she has to quickly decide on her role in the town.
  • The MVP of “Adaptation” is Daryl for executing the plan to catch a Whisperer and subsequently planting the seeds to extract information out of her. Also his presence in Hilltop represents a sense of security with Jesus dead and Michonne traveling back to her home.

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The Walking Dead returns next week with “Omega” on Sunday, February 17th at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.