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The Walking Dead - Adaptation - Review

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Before jumping into the mid-season return, I wanted to say just a few words about The Walking Dead fall finale. Am I alone in thinking that killing Jesus (Tom Payne) was a huge mistake? Talk about a squandered character! We finally get that beautiful end sequence of his amazing fighting moves – just to have him killed? “Evolution” was also notable for giving us some insight into how the various communities have been interacting – or not. Henry (Matt Lintz) demonstrates that he is an idiot by screwing up on his first day at Hilltop with both the other kids his age and the adults. The search for Eugene was great – but that ending…

The Walking Dead “Adaptation” was written by Corey Reed and was directed by Greg Nicotero. It’s definitely going to be most memorable to me for the episode that I started liking Judith (Cailey Fleming). Her scenes with Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) are truly the highlights in this episode. I’ll also admit that the Whisperers are pretty damn creepy in that final scene. I’m not sure that we’ve ever had a similar recap/voiceover, but Danai Guriria (Michonne) was a good choice – even if a bit of the dialogue was uncharacteristically cheesey. However, her statement that their splintered communities would have to unite seems at odds with the statement that Rick’s vision of the future lived on – his vision was for them to BE united. It also seems at odds with what actually happens in the episode – everyone is more on board with simply staying behind their own walls – or did I miss something?

The episode begins right where we left off – on Jesus’ (Tom Payne) dead face. Still a real misstep by the show. I had a faint hope that he wasn’t dead yet because he was still bleeding… but he’s really dead. The rest of the group managed to get away – but the whisperers are still following – and it is delightfully chilling to watch a “walker” do something like opening the cemetery gate.

And then we’re with Negan as he rediscovers his freedom. I thought it a nice throwback to Carl’s dream of Negan helping in the gardens for him to stop and eat a tomato. He picks up a shovel – because clearly no bats lying around the garden. He then invades Rick’s house – and takes Judith’s compass.

He’s dressed and ready to go – in fact he’s halfway up the fence when Judith shows up and points her gun at him. Negan tells her that he’s not going back, so she can just pull the trigger. He suggests that they both just go their separate ways, but Judith says no. That’s a heavy gun for a little kid to hold for so long too! Negan comes down off the fence and tells Judith that when he was locked up, Rick and Michonne told him that he’d be good for something – that he’d help people see that things could change – and they did! For everyone but him – Alexandria is a wonderland. Things haven’t changed for him – and he’s not been allowed to change. Judith insists that rules are rules and that there’s nothing out there for Negan – and damned if she isn’t right!

I loved that Negan confesses that Judith knows him better than anyone has in a very long time. He then promises her that he won’t hurt anyone, even if they try to hurt him… but he’s got to go! Judith lowers the gun – and Negan actually says thank you. Judith calls him on being in her room. He offers to give back the compass, but she tells him that he’ll need it to find his way – and he does. Back to her. She also tells him that if she sees him again, she’ll shoot – and she does. But I loved that she didn’t say that she’d shoot him – just that she’d shoot, which she does!

At Hilltop, Luke (Dan Fogler) tries to fit in. I’m really enjoying Fogler – his reactions to seeing Hilltop are perfect. We get a look at the new people in charge of Hilltop. Tara (Alanna Masterson) is being helped by Alden (Callan McAuliffe), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), DJ (Matt Magnum), and Marco (Gustavo Gomez). They discuss going out to look for the others and form a plan. They decide on two teams of two – one loop, no chances. Luke steps up to volunteer. The others hesitate, but Alden is willing to give him a chance – he knows what it feels like to be the new guy after all! Enid and Alden are adorable as she tells him to be safe. Of course, romance must mean one of them are doomed…

The others keep moving, heading back to Hilltop with Jesus body after gathering up the horses. Michonne fills Daryl (Norman Reedus) in on the new people – Judith found them and vouched for them – and so does she. Michonne comments that it will mean a lot to the Hilltop to bring Jesus back to them. Daryl apologizes to Michonne for not being able to do that for her. I really do like the way this echoed with his search for Sophia in season two. And Michonne is also sorry she couldn’t do it for both of them – she thanks him for trying… and after. Hopefully, we’ll find out about what that “after” means – and I’m betting it has something to do with the mysterious scars that they both have now.

Magna (Nadia Hilker) tells Aaron (Ross Marquand) that she wishes she’d been able to know Jesus. Aaron confirms that Jesus was a good one – and insists that he shouldn’t have been “out there.” Eugene (Josh McDermitt) jumps in to apologize, but Aaron cuts him off, saying they all knew the risk of being out there – and maybe it was bound to happen. Aaron is clearly feeling guilty himself as he was encouraging Jesus to be out there.

When some walkers show up tailing them, Eugene – who always gets the best lines – asks “the living kind or original recipe?” This was a great scene as they go to find out on a covered bridge. Daryl shoots one in the leg – and gets no reaction, but when he shoots a live one, the guy collapses screaming and in agony – you can’t fake that!

We get a gorgeous hero shot of Michonne backlit outside the bridge. She draws her katana and one of the whisperers pulls a knife from his sleeve. She makes short work of him. One of them immediately falls to her knees and surrenders. She (Cassady McClincy) says she’s the only one – they’ve killed the rest. Michonne doesn’t believe her, but they don’t have any time with more walkers coming – and who knows if they are original or living? – so Daryl says they’ll take her with them.

Negan stops to have some lunch and sees his first walker in six years. I loved the look on Morgan’s face – did Negan think the walkers had all been taken out? It’s telling that his first blow with the shovel doesn’t kill the first walker and then he backs into another one – he’s lost his edge a bit – and he ends up losing all his food. The burnt walker in the back of the truck that Negan ends up pulling apart was a brilliant piece of work by the effects team.

Negan then stops to drink from a stream – and I immediately thought, did the water all suddenly become unpolluted during the apocalypse? And then it makes him sick. Easter egg that the clearing in which Negan throws up is the clearing in which he killed Glenn and Abraham. Would that act now make him physically ill? Is this another symbol of his change? Negan continues on – he’s down to just his t-shirt and jeans… and his shovel. So of course, he stops to go shopping!

The scene in the store is another nice throwback to the beginning of the series when Rick met everyone in the store. Tellingly all those people are now dead – and Negan finds the store empty – in almost every way. I loved Morgan’s reaction to seeing the body of the suicide. This is really some brilliant acting as he has no dialogue. He is clearly saddened by the sight – it’s another layer to the real Negan – or maybe the new Negan.

Negan finds a new jacket – another, more on the nose, indication of the “new” Negan – and a pack of wild dogs find him. He manages to break open a door – only to find a walker on the other side. He pushes the walker in – and we hear dogs crying. It’s hard to excuse Negan for sacrificing the dogs – but then it’s a dog-eat-dog world, right?

At Hilltop, the group arrives with Jesus body. I liked this scene as it was not quite slow motion, but there was no sound except the subdued music as the community realizes what’s happened and begins to mourn what they have lost. I’m still mourning the loss of Jesus too…

The community is also faced with the prisoner they’ve brought back. I was really happy to see Brett Butler (Tammy Rose) get a nice scene here as she confronts Tara about the prisoner – and the community’s acceptance of Tara as a leader. She tells Tara that Jesus trusted Tara, so Tammy will too – but there are clearly some doubts here. She also tells her that people are going to want justice for Jesus – and they are going to look to her for that too. Tara knows – and is clearly not completely comfortable.

Daryl is clearly not happy to see Henry (Matt Lintz) in the jail but just tells him that Jesus is dead. Michonne and Tara interrogate the prisoner, and the girl looks terrified – but just keeps on lying. She first tells them that all the others with her are dead. She tells them that none of them had names – that she isn’t lying about. Daryl stays outside the cell, and Henry presses forward in his to listen. Did anybody else want to punch Henry in the face for being so utterly stupid this episode?

The prisoner insists that they were good people when Daryl wants to know what the deal is with wearing walker skins. She says they did it to live – and they wouldn’t understand. She gets angry when she explains that they were just trying to see if they were good. Michonne immediately wants to know if they know about Hilltop – it’s immediately clear that they have been spying on them. The prisoner says she doesn’t know anything – nobody told her anything.

Tara, Daryl, and Michonne go outside to re-group. Tara says they’ll try again in the morning, but Michonne says they’ll have to do it without her – clearly, she’s got to get back to warn Alexandria. Tara gets it and thanks her for being there and helping. She tells Michonne she’s going to let the group stay – it’s her call now, but it’s what Jesus would have done.

We get another great scene between Michonne and Daryl – the two who have least lost their edge. Michonne points out that keeping the prisoner there is a risk – and they both know it. Daryl says he’ll get her to talk, and Michonne points out that he knows what he has to do if she doesn’t – clearly she means kill her.

Alden and Luke get to know each other as they search and ride. Alden suggests Luke play music at the upcoming fair and admits that he’s been known to sing – when he’s had enough to drink. Luke is ready to form a band! A two-man band to go with his earlier quip about being two-hand Luke. They find one of Yumiko’s arrows. And we get another super-cool walker – this time it’s a walker with another one’s torso stuck to its foot. When they find another arrow, Luke is convinced that it’s a trail – that Yumiko was leaving – at least he was half right…When they see a herd, Alden determines if they get caught on the other side of it, they’ll be out there until morning. Luke leaves it up to Alden to decide whether they continue or go back. Of course, their orders – one loop and back – were clear…

Eugene gets his knee popped back in by Siddiq (Avi Nash) with Rosita’s (Christian Serratos) help. When Rosita gets up to get Eugene a glass of water, we get an even more painful scene than poor Eugene having his knee popped back in – more painful for Eugene anyway. Once again, he tries to profess his undying love for Rosita. Rosita cuts him off to run outside and throw up. I thought it was a bit over the top as a reaction to poor Eugene, but we quickly find out it’s worse. This is one of the worst plot developments yet.

Siddiq follows Rosita outside concerned that her throwing up is a side effect of her concussion, but she assures him that she’s fine. We get a close up of Eugene’s face as Rosita tells Siddiq that she’s pregnant with his child – apparently, they had a fling before Gabriel. Really, Rosita? Now we can feel sorry for everyone she’s had “fun” with – and Eugene. Again, the reaction shot from McDermitt is terrific. Will he finally give up on her? Or will he offer to marry her? Please let him move on!

Daryl takes Henry out of the cell and wants to know what he was thinking. Henry admits that he wasn’t. Daryl isn’t letting him skate on his punishment though! Good for you Daryl. Henry apologizes and says he knew who he was at Kingdom, but he’s looking for his place at Hilltop. It seems like he could have started with who he was at Kingdom as that’s why he’s there. And this was another stupid development. I assumed at first that when Daryl put Henry back in, it was as a plant – to act as good cop to Daryl’s bad cop – but clearly that wasn’t the case. I am yet to be impressed by Matt Lintz, but that may be because of how stupid and irritating Henry is…

Negan finally makes it back to Sanctuary – home sweet home. He’s replaced the shovel with a pipe = but it’s still not Lucille. I was sure he went to sporting goods at the store looking for a bat. We get a number of really terrific shots here. There’s a crane shot of the dead crops that wouldn’t grow where Negan had planted so much death. There’s another great backlit shot of Negan coming in the doors to his old balcony – there are cobwebs everywhere – it’s not the pulpit that it used to be because he has no more audience. His whistling falls on an empty – and derelict building. Negan finds his secret stash destroyed – except for his motorcycle. He finds one loyal follower – Richie – who is now a walker.

Aaron and Michonne pack up to head home, and Aaron tells her that she was right. He didn’t want to see it, but they have everything they need at Alexandria and Hilltop has everything they need. They need to protect themselves – by staying inside. Of course, this is guilt speaking. Aaron is still mourning the loss of Jesus – and is this yet another thing we are being deprived of? Were they – or would they have been – a couple? Aaron can protect himself by staying within the walls of Alexandria where he will never find – or lose – another partner. But this is also at odds with Aaron’s conversation with Jesus in the previous episode when they talked about before when they used to go out looking for people.

Daryl sleeps in the hayloft – because Dog picked it! Michonne points out that Alden and Luke should have been back by the morning – could be something… or not. Michonne tells Daryl that he knows what he has to do with the girl. Daryl wants to know why it’s even up to him. After all, by Michonne’s own logic, Daryl isn’t a member of any community. But that’s also an asset for him. She points out that Daryl is the best judge of character she knows. Michonne points out that without Maggie or Jesus, Hilltop needs him. Tara is smart – but she shouldn’t do it alone – Tara isn’t strong the way Maggie, Jesus – and Daryl are.

Michonne points out that bringing Jesus back will help the community move on – not struggle as she and Daryl have with no closure on Rick. Of course, with the announcement of Gurira leaving next season, this sets up for her to transition to the movies. Michonne charges Daryl with doing whatever it takes to keep Hilltop safe going forward.

Negan revisits his “boardroom” – it’s just not the same without a board. He then sets up his own living quarters. Finally, he heads out into the yard, and swinging the pipe like a bat easily takes out the walkers this time. Richie has wandered outside – and he’s the only one that Negan doesn’t kill. It’s clear that his homecoming wasn’t what he’d anticipated. He looks at the compass, with JG scratched into the back. When Richie finally comes back in, Negan kills his last follower – and tells him that it’s just not working out.

Hilltop buries Jesus, and I loved Siddiq laying his hand on Aaron’s shoulder as he passed him – another confirmation of the relationship between Aaron and Jesus. Daryl is ready to go back to the interrogation on his own. He tells her that if he drags her up there now, the crowd who just buried a good man will want justice – they’ll want her dead. He then slams her up against the bars, and there’s a lot less crying this time. She finally tells him that there were 10 of them (still a lie). Henry, stupidly, tries to interfere – have Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) taught this kid nothing about the actual world?

She also tells him that they wore skins to blend in and didn’t have names – or at least they did, but they didn’t use them. Daryl tries to find out how long they’ve been out there, but she gives a non-answer. She also says that the dead protected them as they blended in, so they protected the walkers! Daryl wants to know if they had a camp, walls. She tells him that walls don’t keep you safe. She and her mom saw places like Hilltop fall again and again. And you had to know at that moment that her mother was going to turn out to be Alpha (Samantha Morton) – the leader of the Whisperers. She tells Daryl that she barely remembers before, but her mother does.

When Daryl puts his knife in her face, she finally tells the truth – they were always going to kill them. It’s us or them – the living are the threat. She still refuses to give a number and goes back to crying, telling Daryl that it’s just her mother left – one woman alone. Of course, Daryl knows Carol and Michonne, so clearly, he can’t possibly think that even if there is only her mother, one woman alone is still a threat!

Daryl knows she’s lying and threatens to drag her out and give her to the crowd. Henry keeps telling Daryl to stop because she’s just a girl. Daryl gives Henry crap for interfering, but then goes off and leaves the two prisoners alone. I was sure that this was a set up. The girl thanks Henry for saving her. I still think that Daryl intended for Henry to act as good cop and get Lydia talking. We see Daryl eavesdropping outside.

Negan is driving his bike down the road and Judith steps into the middle of the road and shoots – just like she promised. I loved the hero shot of her – hat from Carl, gun from Rick, and katana on her back from Michonne. Here’s a kid who has a much better sense of the world at even half Henry’s age… Negan goes down hard. Judith tells him that a lot of people are out looking for him and that she told him there was nothing out there. He agrees that she “sure as shit did” – and it’s hilarious that she calls him on his language because she’s a kid – while she’s holding a gun on him! Negan doesn’t quite apologize but says he likes to swear in front of his friends – “people who know some shit.”

He gives her back her compass and thanks her for letting him borrow it. It’s a bit on the nose, but it did show him the way and lead him back to her. He tells her that he’s going back to Alexandria even if it means the cell because there’s nothing outside it left for him. Past going back, he doesn’t know what happens. She lowers the gun, and he smiles as he finds her.

There’s a brief scene between Enid and Magna as they wait for Alden and Luke to return. We learn that Magna’s relationship with Yumiko and Enid’s with Alden’s are both new. Magna reassures Enid that Alden is in good hands with Luke – and I really think it’s the other way around, but I guess we’ll find out.

Luke and Alden continue to follow the arrows – and it’s a trail. It’s a trail set by the Whisperers. It’s creepy as hell when the “walkers” stop moving and just stare. But then Alpha is there – with a shotgun – and tells them the trail ends “here.”

My guess is that Alpha knows Hilltop has her daughter and she wants to trade Alden and Luke for her – at least, that’s what I’m hoping. Of course, she doesn’t need both of them to trade… Will Luke be able to talk his way out of this? Alden has experience at being a prisoner – and talking his way out too. The show has done a great job creating this new, creepy threat, but the show also needs to take a step back from killing off the good characters before they even get a chance at a decent storyline. I loved the Negan/Judith and Michonne/Daryl scenes in this episode. What do you think of the Whisperers? Are you still bitter about Jesus’ death as I am? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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