The Walking Dead – Season 9 Part 2 Review

TWD S9 P2

How does The Walking Dead function without Rick Grimes? Well, not too badly, as it turns out. While the series certainly feels like its missing a central character to focus on, there are enough interesting characters and plot left that when combined with an interesting new enemy to face, it’s led to a good few episodes of TV. Not perfect by any means, but good. Let’s take a closer look.

Synopsis:

Six years have passed since Rick’s apparent death, and people have moved on… but not in the way he or his definitely dead son Carl would have liked. The communities are splintered and acting on their own, a fact that becomes potentially deadly when a new threat arrives…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

TWD S9 P2 4

It’s several members of the cast… in the snow! That’s new!

Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – Daryl has isolated himself in the wilderness, still convinced he’ll find Rick some day… after all, his body was never found right?

Michonne (Danai Gurira) – Michonne went through a similar phase as Daryl, but a rather nasty encounter with a deadly group put things into perspective as she took charge of Alexandria…

Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) – Judith is still just a kid, but due to growing up in the post-apocalyptic world, she’s non-plussed about gunning down zombies to save the innocent…

Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) – Carol has found peace once again, settling down with King Ezekiel, the two adopting Henry as their own. That being said, this peace is going to be hard to keep…

Ezekiel (Khary Payton) – King Ezekiel is the only leader left who wants to truly unite all of the settlements in the area. This is due to their lack of food as much as to help the settlements help each other…

Henry (Matt Lintz) – Henry has seen a lot in his young life, but now he’s in his teens he just wants to help out his settlement, “The Kingdom” by learning new skills…

Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) – Negan has spent the past near-decade in a small jail cell in Alexandria. This experience has began to wear him down, his arrogant and obnoxious attitude taking a hit, especially when talking to the young Judith Grimes.

Paul “Jesus” Rovia (Tom Payne) – Jesus has found himself the new leader of the Hilltop settlement, after Maggie left for places unknown. It’s not a role he feels comfortable in, and he often thinks about leaving it all behind…

Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) – Tara is beginning to find herself as the defacto leader of the Hilltop, now Maggie left and Jesus is less than thrilled with the role. She may find herself in charge quicker than she thinks…

Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) – Eugene is the cowardly type with an amusing way of speaking, but his knowledge of technical things can come in handy.

Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam) – Father Gabriel is not the most strict member of the cloth, but then given his surroundings it’s not really surprising…

Alpha (Samantha Morton) – Alpha is the leader of The Whisperers, a group of travelling survivors who use walker masks and outfits to blend into the herds of the undead and even guide them. She has a sick idea of love for her daughter Lydia…

Lydia (Cassady McClincy) – Lydia remembers very little about the old ways of life, all she’s really known is a life of walking amongst the undead, pretending to be them because its “their world”, always afraid her mother will beat her again… Nice!

Plus more!

The Good:

TWD S9 P2 1

Yikes! Then again, you should see her with the mask off…

While I don’t think the combination of Daryl, Michonne, Judith and Carol can replace Rick as our POV lead protagonist, the series didn’t suffer too much in his absence. Daryl can do the reluctant leader thing, Michonne is doing the “not sure which path in right” thing, and Judith is an actual Grimes complete with hat and gun (though more on her later…), so his role has at least been sort of split up and kept. Carol is just a fun character to still be around… for most of the series.

The main threat of The Whisperers is good, and different. I did wonder how there could be a new group they haven’t encountered before after nearly a decade in the same area, but the idea that they move in herds of walkers means they obviously just wondered into their territory after many years. Alpha is thoroughly unpleasant as an antagonist, all Southern child beater and with a stare that’ll kill, and the way they steer zombies around and impersonate them makes them relevant again.

The side story of Carol and Ezekiel’s adopted son Henry falling for Lydia, the daughter of Alpha, was… sort of good. I assume in the comics this role fell to Carl and that would have had more impact than not relevant cast member who’s thrusted into being the son of an actual beloved one. Still, it gave a personal touch to the storyline, though that storyline has already ended…

I’ll mention Episode 15 here. Throughout the episode we see characters being happy as a fair between all the major settlements goes on, but we also see Alpha in disguise and taking people away, including Ezekiel. It was really tense, great writing and directing… until the final five minutes. I’ll get to those in the first “The Bad” paragraph…

Episode 14 was the standout of this half-season, focusing on what made Michonne lose faith in strangers. She let an old friend and her children into Alexandria, then they turned out to be a murderous group of “survivors”, leading to a horrible (but well shot) scene where Michonne had to katana down a bunch of children and teens in order to save Judith. It was harrowing, but good TV!

Episode 16 was also good, as the survivors… survive a harsh blizzard, and learn to trust people they don’t and all that jazz. Negan was the star here, including a scene where he ran after Judith in the snow. The relationship between those two has been fun to follow, especially an earlier episode where Negan, after being in prison for over half a decade, escapes only to surrender himself back as he realises he just can’t hack it any more.

Other highlights include Jesus’s sudden death in the mid-season finale when he tried to martial arts kick a zombie, only for it to turn out to be a person in a zombie mask (a.k.a. a Whisperer, but we didn’t know that! … unless you read the comics, I guess?) and a hand-to-hand fight between Daryl and Alpha’s large right hand man Beta in an abandoned building.

The Bad:

TWD S9 P2 3

Oh… oh! Oh no it’s… erm…. Them! Yikes, am I right? …. am I?

Episode 15’s cliffhanger was the reveal of several heads piked on a hill to signify a border that can’t be crossed to where the Whisperers are. This was dramatic as everyone started to freak out… except I couldn’t tell who half of them were! I got Henry, that’s was clear, and the teen with the glasses, but I missed Tara completely, being confused when someone mentioned Hilltop needing a new leader again on some message boards… A good cliffhanger, ruined by bad effects.

Speaking of which, at the end of Episode 16 there was a mysterious radio call that was supposed to be a big shocker, but I couldn’t make out what the voice was, so it had no effect. I believe it’s supposed to be Maggie, but … *shrugs*

Judith is… not great. She’s got that child actor thing where she tries but she can’t emote anything, she just comes across as someone reciting lines, and her attempts at sarcasm and wit just don’t land. “Little girl who is actually a bad ass shooter” isn’t one of my favourite tropes anyway… She’s not one of those few actually good child actors, that’s for sure.

Why did they kill Carol’s new child and have her go all miserable and completely revert backwards? She was showing proper character development, and now it feels it was all wasted. As for Daryl, it would be nice if he actually SHOWED character development! He’s still the same barely talking loner he was in Season 1, and he’s supposed to be the new protagonist?!

There is a love quadrangle thing going on with Eugene, Rosita, Siddiq and Father Gabriel, with Rosita being pregnant, Saddiq being the father but with Gabriel taking Rosita in to raise the child with, and Eugene being in love with Rosita but now unable to act on it. I… just don’t care, and it’s given so little screentime and attention that I don’t feel I need to! Negan making fun of the whole situation was a highlight…

Overall Thoughts:

TWD S9 P2 2

Dawwww, ain’t she cute? Shame about the acting…

The latter… two thirds of Walking Dead’s ninth season was good, it had a strong central threat and some good scenes, but there was definitely a sense of missing something, with no lead character feeling like someone I could invest in. I guess this falls somewhere in the middle, but there were some great episodes worth you time mixed in…

3 Star Watch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s