The mid-season finale of The Walking Dead concluded Sunday, and fans witnessed the death of a beloved character in Episode 8 of Season 9, titled “Evolution.”
This article is full of SPOILERS for the popular zombie drama, so for those of you who don’t want to know what happens in the episode “Evolution,” you should probably stop reading now.
“Evolution” opened with a large herd of walkers in a clearing moving in a strange way that Jesus (Tom Payne), Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) said they had never seen before. The three were out in the area looking for a missing Eugene (Josh McDermitt).
Later, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) tries to convert Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), which he, of course, resists. Father Gabriel leaves after the exchange, shaking his head. He finds out that Rosita (Christian Serratos) is at the Hilltop after leaving the jail and that she’s been injured.
Michonne (Dania Gurira) travels to the Hilltop with the group. Once they arrive, they talk to Tara (Alanna Masterson), and she says that Magna’s (Nadia Hilker) little band can stay. But if they want to “stay” at Hilltop, she said, Jesus will need to make the final call. They will “need to earn their keep,” she added.
Carol (Melissa McBride) asks Michonne why she isn’t going to take part in the community festival. And, after hearing her out, Carol asks her to change her mind. Michonne indicates that won’t be very likely, and it is apparent from the interaction between the two women that something has gone on between Alexandria and the Hilltop before the time jump.
Life is interesting at the Hilltop among the younger populace, too, beginning with young Henry (Macsen Lintz). The teenager is having difficulty coming to terms with living and doing an apprenticeship with blacksmith Earl (John Finn), and he is additionally encountering some angst by falling for Enid (Katelyn Nacon), who currently has a boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Father Gabriel begins to lose his patience with Negan. He tells the imprisoned man that he’s upset because Rosita is injured after he sent her out, and because he’s been told he has has to stay behind at Alexandria to watch Negan’s cell.
Rosita wakes up and tells Michonne that Aaron, Daryl, and Jesus have no idea what they are dealing with, and she proceeds to get out of bed to help find Eugene.
Daryl’s dog leads the three men to a clearly shaken Eugene, who has hidden out in a cubby hole in a barn. Eugene tells them he injured his leg, and that the walkers he and Rosita encountered are acting strangely. Eugene explains that he heard them whispering among each other. When the men don’t believe him, he tells them that they are evolving and that Rosita will corroborate what he heard.
The group of men then flee the approaching zombie herd.
Henry makes things worse by leaving and getting drunk with friends. They play with a zombie in a pit and Henry jumps in and incapacitates it by stabbing it in the head. He’s later thrown in jail for disorderly conduct, and Earl tells him he will speak to Jesus about the possibility of getting released early.
Negan hits the jackpot and breaks out after a distracted Father Gabriel carelessly leaves the door to his cell open. It will be interesting to see in the second half of the season if Negan is going to change for the better or if he is going to go hunt for Lucille and wreak havoc on his captors.
Daryl, Aaron, Jesus, and Eugene find themselves in an eerie, fog-filled cemetery fighting for their lives against what they think are a herd of walkers. Unbeknownst to them, their assailants aren’t actually walkers. Because of that, all attempts to round them up are to no avail.
Michonne and Magna arrive to help, and Daryl, Eugene, and Aaron make it to safety through the rusted gate the ladies managed to open. However, Jesus says, “I’ve got this,” and stays behind in the cemetery to keep the herd at bay. He displays some epic moves and kills several of them with his sword. The moves would be effective against a regular herd, but these aren’t regular walkers.
One of the “walkers” moves swiftly and grabs Jesus from behind. The assailant then stabs him in the back so hard the weapon protrudes through his chest. The killer then tells him, “You’re where you do not belong.” Jesus bleeds out and succumbs from his wound.
Daryl then shoots the assailant with his crossbow and investigates the fallen figure closer. After calling Michonne over to come see, he glimpses some stitching. He peels back the mask and finds out that it’s a man wearing zombie skin as a suit.
Enter the Whisperers, and the group now know they face a new enemy.