The Walking Dead is back, and the threat of the Whisperers is still new. With so many changes ahead, characters must start adapting. Here’s our review of “Adaptation”!
The midseason premiere is appropriately titled “Adaptation,” and the episode puts forth different paths for the characters as well as describes their new enemy. It makes sense to break this down by how everyone needs to adapt to their new situations.
The episode picks up with Michonne, Daryl, Aaron, Yumiko, Magna, and Eugene in the cemetery while walkers and Whisperers surround them. They manage to get Jesus’ body and themselves away from the herd, but not before seeing several other Whisperers in the group.
It’s becomes more apparent after they fight a second group of Whisperers on a bridge that they’ll need to adjust their fighting style. From a distance, and especially in the dark, Whisperers and walkers are too similar. It’s only until they see the weapon in their hand that they know what to do.
Daryl opts for shooting bolts into non-essential body parts first, and this exposes one Whisperer who is then eaten by walkers around him. The other Whisperers see no point in hiding at that point and reveal themselves and their weapons stashed up their sleeves.
The way they fight has to change fast, and they must be even more aware of their surroundings than before. Despite Michonne’s hesitance to team up with other communities, they’ll also need to communicate a lot better until this threat is resolved.
At several points, Michonne makes the comments that bringing Jesus’ body back is very important to the people of Hilltop, and it may garner them some goodwill again.
Then we have Alden and Luke who set out to search for Michonne’s group. Guys, this couldn’t have been more of an obvious trap unless Admiral Ackbar jumped out from behind a tree and yelled, “It’s a trap!”
Who follows strategically placed arrows in trees? Y’all deserve Alpha’s shotgun at this point.
After Jesus’ death in the midseason finale, the Hilltop must decide who is in charge, and it looks like it might fall straight into Tara’s lap. That’s not a problem since her taking over most leadership duties was alluded to in the midseason finale.
Tammy Rose even confronts Tara after they take the Whisperer into the jail cells at Hilltop. She tells Tara that they all looked to Jesus, and now they’ll look to her, and they’ll want justice for what’s happened. This seems to be a far cry from their reaction to Maggie killing Gregory at the start of the season.
Tara tells Tammy that she knows this, and goes downstairs with Michonne and Daryl to interrogate their new prisoner.
Later, after Aaron tells Michonne her isolationist mindset is the best way, Michonne tells Daryl that Hilltop needs him, especially after Jesus’ death. Tara’s a good leader, but she can’t handle it all on her own, and he’s the best judge of character she’s ever met.
Which begs the question, who didn’t listen to Daryl in the past about someone? Is that why they ended up with scars?
Michonne also believes that Daryl will do what it takes to protect Hilltop.
“What we did, bringing Jesus back, will help them move on. After that, it’s about doing whatever it takes to not bury more.”
This leads us into what Daryl’s character will be doing now. He doesn’t participate in the initial interrogation with Lydia (Whisperer prisoner/Alpha’s daughter). Instead, he observes the girl, and only after Jesus’ funeral does he go downstairs to get answers.
Even in those moments, Daryl knows what works and what doesn’t work with Lydia right away. He even sees that he’ll get more out of her if he lets Henry do the questioning. She’s not going to break for their rough approach because she’s been trained not to, but she’ll spill out a version of the truth for Henry to get him to help her later.
That’s why Daryl goes outside and sits by the window to listen to them talk after he leaves.
I love that we’re getting back to the Daryl we knew earlier in the series. The writers are showing us just how good Daryl Dixon can be. We’re also seeing the father figure side of Daryl, too. Aaron foreshadowed Daryl’s character shift into this paternal guide in 9A, and it’s playing out in his relationship with Henry at Hilltop.
He keeps him locked up to serve his time. He tells him hard truths about who he’s going to end up becoming if he doesn’t learn to mind his business.
I also have a theory that Daryl could be RJ’s dad. I mean, honestly, Rick Grimes’ significant other sleeps with his best friend and conceives a child AFTER his second fake death?
The series would never be more on brand if this happens. I know it’s a long shot, so please ignore my randomness.
Who Negan was vs. Who Negan is now
He tells Judith before she lets him jump the wall, that everything has changed for everyone but him. He needs to see if there’s anything left out there, and Judith lets him go.
This is the most problematic turn on TWD. Negan’s a sociopath who rapes and murders people, but here we are eight-ish years into captivity, and he’s reformed. This episode takes us on a journey to show us Negan isn’t who he used to be, going so far as to have him kneeling and vomiting in the clearing that he murdered Glenn and Abraham in back in Season 7.
Now, he didn’t get a sudden crisis of conscious. He drank some bad water from a creek. This image brings back too many visuals from that episode, though, and Negan doesn’t regret doing any of those things.
We see Negan find a new leather jacket (miraculous) and make his way to the Sanctuary. He sees it’s destroyed and everyone gone. After he kills the leftover walkers and his old Savior pal, he leaves and heads back to the ASZ. Negan has walked through his past and killed it in this episode.
Judith, who let him leave at the start of the episode, appears in the middle of the road and shoots at Negan, causing him to wreck his bike. They have another conversation about what he’s doing, and this time he tells her:
“You were right. I got a good look outside my ten by ten, and there’s nothing here for me. Not anymore.”
“So you go back? Then what?”
“I will let you know when I know.”
One thing is absolutely certain, I don’t think anyone ever anticipated having to PR the shit out of Negan when he came in during S7. I know in the comics he plays a big role in the conflict with the Whisperers, but his character bonds with Carl, not a ten-year-old Judith.
Also, who’s watching these damn kids? This is the second time Judith’s been out somewhere without adult supervision. She’s most definitely Carl Grimes’ little sister.
Peace to War
One thing Daryl learns from Lydia is something we’ve known since the CDC. Times of peace and comfort are temporary. They’ve made it this far, but sometimes someone new needs to spell it out for you.
“Walls? Walls don’t keep you safe. Places like this don’t stay safe.”
She goes on to tell him exactly what their plan has always been:
“We were always gonna kill your people. It’s us or them.”
Michonne and Daryl apologizing to each other for not being able to find Rick, but Michonne thanking him for trying…and after. Whatever “after” was. Maybe it has something to do with those matching scars? Or supporting her pregnancy with RJ? Please see my theory on RJ’s dad above, too.
Rosita running away from Eugene, who’s about to confess his love, to vomit in the yard. When Saddiq tries to comfort her, she tells him that she’s pregnant. Apparently, they were an item before she started seeing Gabriel. Oh my!
What did you think of “Adaptation”? Are you excited to see more of The Whisperers?
The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 9/8c.