by Transmute Jun
Warning: this review contains multiple spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 6.
A lot has happened since Rick blew up the bridge and was washed away. The problem is, we don’t know all of it. Something has happened to set the people of Alexandria on edge, to make them wary of strangers. The signs out front of Alexandria used to say ‘Mercy for the lost’. Now that is gone, and it was evident in the way the adults were wary of Magna and her group. Aaron used to go out to find others, to bring them back to the community, but now even he is uncertain about bringing in strangers. King Ezekiel notes that this upcoming fair is supposed to help bring the communities together, implying that they have become separated and no longer connected with each other as they once did. And we can see that the Sanctuary is completely gone, its remnants (led by Jed and Regina) living a life of banditry on the road (although Laura seems to have integrated herself in with the Alexandrians). Strangest of all is the X-shaped scar on Michonne’s back. It’s likely all connected, but how? Sayid says that he was accepted into Alexandria as a stranger, but that those were different times. I gather that these different times are one of the mysteries to be explored over the rest of this season, into the second half of season 9.
Whatever happened, it didn’t affect Judith as much as the others, or perhaps it affected her differently. She clearly understands the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, as seen in her conversation with Negan. I loved that he seemed to be manipulating her, and then she put him in his place, pointing out that his choices haven’t worked out so well for him. And Negan was enjoying it! Clearly, he appreciates his social interactions with Judith, and his window facing out to the street would make it easier for him to speak with whichever Alexandrians are so inclined to do so. Plus he had his haircut! I’m glad because that foot-long hermit beard was not doing anything for him.
We also found out that a new generation is growing up safe inside the walls. Not only is Judith running around, but we also saw Baby Grace (who is now Gracie and calls Aaron ‘Dad’) and an older Henry (now apparently prepared to take on Carl’s recently vacated ‘teen trying to find himself’ role) as well as the new Baby Grimes, who is a young boy. I have to wonder how much Michonne has thought about Andre as she raises her new son. I’m sure that will come up, since Michonne apparently has trouble putting the past behind her. We saw it when she was first introduced to the series, when she used her friend’s and boyfriend’s walker corpses as protection. We see now it in her intense grudge against Magna before even getting to know her, and in the way, she was speaking to Rick (and possibly Carl) in her room. I had been hoping that with this multi-year time jump we would be past the ‘grieving for Rick’ storylines, but it seems as if this still has a while to play out with Michonne’s character.
Daryl has apparently become the new hermit, living in a tattered tent and shunning civilization, such as it is. And yet, Carol knows where to find him and even brings Henry to him for training/seasoning. So clearly Daryl has not completely lost touch with the others, yet prefers to separate himself from them.
While Carol’s hair is out of control, it was good to see that she hasn’t lost her resolve, or her desire to protect those she loves. Carol lost Sophia because she couldn’t protect her physically, and Carol lost Lizzie and Mika because she couldn’t protect them emotionally. It seems like she’s willing to do whatever it takes not to lose Henry, whom she now thinks of as her son. I loved that it wasn’t her ring, but her love for Henry that sent her back, using Jed’s own match to destroy the bandit-Saviors. And let’s face it, Jed deserved it. It was just plain mean to demand Carol’s ring, a thing that has only sentimental value in the zombie apocalypse. So yeah, he got what he deserved, Carol-style.
Of course the other big storyline revolved around Eugene. I was pleased to see that he has finally picked up some skills. Maybe he’s not a badass like Carol, but he can easily step forward and take out 3-4 walkers without even blinking an eye. Maybe it has to do with that long mullet-braid that he has grown. Yet none of this apparently impresses Rosita, who has taken up with the Garbage Lady’s garbage. Okay, I don’t really think of Father Gabriel as garbage, but it does seem to be another odd pairing. And why is Gabriel interested in fixing and using the radio? In the comics, it was Eugene who pursued this hobby, it made more sense, given his intellect and scientific background. And Eugene and Rosita were also together in the comics, albeit not in a healthy way. It just seems as if in the show, Father Gabriel has stepped into Eugene’s role, pushing him out to the fringes. I felt badly for Eugene, watching him fumble around, trying to explain how he feels to Rosita. She knows, of course, but is trying to avoid it. Eugene has had a crush on her since the days when he traveled with her and Abraham, before they ever met Glenn. Yet I can sympathize with Rosita as well, wanting to avoid the subject rather than hurting Eugene’s feelings. I had to laugh when she was yelling, ‘Don’t make this weird!’ at Eugene, because I could from understand exactly where that came.
In the end, while he loves her, I don’t think Rosita is the right person for Eugene. I can only hope that he finds happiness elsewhere.
This episode also introduced us to the newcomers: Magna, Luke, Yumiko, and sisters Connie and Kelly. We could see hints of their personalities surfacing, and I especially enjoyed Luke’s speech about how they had nothing in common, but the nature of the apocalypse is that it brings disparate people together, because they need each other to survive. That’s pretty much what happened with the people in Alexandria, and is perhaps something they should remember. We shall see how these newcomers integrate into the established towns, seeing as how Michonne intends to make them Hilltop’s problem, by dumping them on Maggie’s doorstep (presuming that Maggie is still around).
Yet the real fun for readers of the comics was the introduction to the Whisperers, as heard by a horrified Eugene and Rosita. After a decade of walkers shambling randomly, seeming practically brainless, only acting on instinct, the idea that they can communicate, plan and hunt is terrifying. Hearing them speak in those walker voices was creepy, sending shivers down my spine the first time I heard it at Comic Con, watching the season 9 trailer, and still affecting me now. I won’t spoil what’s going on for those who have not read the comics, but you can be assured that this storyline will continue on into next year.
As usual, there were a few moments of ‘What were they thinking?’ Most notable for me was Eugene’s behavior. When he saw the oncoming herd, he called out to Rosita, warning her. Great, that’s what he should have done. But why did he bother to race down the ladder? Why not just stay on the top of the tower until the herd had passed? It would be of no threat to him up there. Heck, Rosita should have come up. Then Eugene wouldn’t have fallen and hurt his leg, and he and Rosita wouldn’t have had to cover themselves in mud and… and then they wouldn’t have known that this wasn’t an ordinary herd of walkers. So it just seemed a little too plot-convenient for me.
For those who play the AMC Walking Dead mobile games, this episode’s No Man’s Land seasonal mission shows Eugene and Rosita fighting walkers as they try to get away from the herd. Our World is also highlighting Rosita this week, with special infestations, each giving Rosita cards. Additionally, Rosita has a new upgrade ability and has increased attack speed all week.
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