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‘The Walking Dead’ recap: season 9, episode 9 ‘Adaptation’

Originally filed Sunday, February 10, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Judith Grimes is now the voice of wisdom at age nine on this show now that the rest of her family is dead (or literally flown the coop).

When Negan gets ready to leave Alexandria for the first time in six years with a shovel and a compass (stolen from Judith’s room), she stops him, gun pointed. She warns him there’s nothing out there for him. He humors her, promises he won’t bother them again and convinces her to let him go.

And off we go on the Adventures of Negan. At first, he’s kind of happy to be “free,” a fine sunny day in the apocalypse neighborhood. His little snack break rest, though, is interrupted by a walker, then another. 

Quickly, he gets thirsty again and drinks out of a dirty creek. After throwing that crap up, he rips off his outer shirt, hot and distressed. He finds a clothing shop to hang out in to grab a jacket, but packs of dogs chase him out. 

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He eventually makes it to the Sanctuary. “Home sweet home,” he says to himself. Except home is now just a barren space dripping in emptiness. Oh, there’s Richie! “Loyal to the end,” he says. But Richie is now a walker. 

Negan now has a stick as a pale substitute for Lucille. He sits at the table of his old meeting room looking bereft. He goes out, kills some walkers, spares Richie, then changes his mind about staying. There’s no food there. There’s nobody to lord over. 

He soon grabs a motorcycle with gasoline in it (huh?) and returns to Alexandria. Judith shoots at him as he approaches and he slides off the vehicle. He is bruised but not seriously injured.

And the best lines of the night happen:

“I told you there’s nothing out there,” Judith says.

“You sure as s*** did,’ Negan mutters.

“Language! I’m a kid asshole!” Judith responds.

On the bright side, Judith gets her compass back.

Question: will Alexandria stick him back in his 10x10 cell or make him useful? 

***

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: (Gene Page/AMC) (Gene Page/AMC)

After escaping the walker/Whisperer combos from the mid-season finale, the survivors (with a dead Jesus in tow) go back to the Hilltop to bury their leader.

But now they know there is a group of folks masquerading as walkers, rendering any meeting with a future one unpredictable.  

“Living kind or original recipe?” as Eugene asked this episode when they see a few. 

With a batch crossing the bridge, Daryl tries a new tactic. He hits one in a leg with an arrow from his crossbow. It doesn’t react. He hits another one and the Whisperer screams in pain because he’s alive. The actual walkers then attack him. A second Whisperer tries to attack Michonne with  a knife. She kills him. 

A third Whisperer surrenders. It’s Lydia, the daughter of the leader Alpha. She acts all scared and lies her butt off about being alone. Daryl and Michonne, suitably suspicious but hungry for information, take her to the Hilltop to interrogate her.

Once there, we see the Hilltop residents including Tara, Rosita and Enid, react to Jesus’ death. There is a massive leadership void at the Hilltop. Maggie is gone, working on an ABC drama (well, the actress is). Jesus was the temp leader. Now that he’s dead, Tara effectively takes over -- until Michonne convinces Daryl to become the de facto Hilltop leader instead. 

Neither Michonne nor Daryl can get much out of Lydia, the Whisperer. So Daryl goes it alone after Michonne leaves to go bakc to Alexandra. He threatens to kill her if she doesn’t spill the beans. After saying she was alone once her two companion Whisperers were killed, she admits under duress that there may be “ten” Whisperers, clearly a low-ball number. 

Lydia says Whisperers live among the walkers and are itinerant. And then Lydia’s following statement sounds like an odd rebuke of Donald Trump, whether it means to or not:

“Walls don’t keep me safe. Places like this don’t make it,” she said. “They never make it. My mom and me saw it over and over. I barely remember the world before this but my mom told me how it was changing, how we had to change with it, how we needed the dead to keep it safe. We were never alone.”

“Why did you kill our people?” Daryl asks. 

“We’re always going to kill you. It’s just what people do now.”

Lydia’s dark, nihilistic attitude does not bode well for any future interactions between our survivors and the Whisperers. 

At this point, Daryl is about to kill her but Henry - still imprisoned for his drunken escapades and trapped in a neighboring cell - convinces Daryl not to off her. Why? Because he sees she’s just a kid and oh so innocent.  With Daryl eavesdropping outside, Henry befriends Lydia, who is about his age. Hormones trump sense. 

***

Dan Fogler as Luke, Callan McAuliffe as Alden - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 9 - Photo Credit: (Jackson Lee Davis/AMC) (Jackson Lee Davis/AMC)

In the meantime, Luke and Alden were out hunting for the group including Daryl, Michonne, Jesus and Aaron who had gone searching for Eugene. Yes, a search party for a search party. 

They seem to get along famously.

Luke, after he and Alden dispatch two walkers: “Two-man band. Symphony of awesome!”

But then they meet up with the Whisperers and game over. Samantha Morton’s Alpha speaks her first words: “The trail ends here.”

So our two friends are now prisoners. 

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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