The Walking Dead Episode Review: Evolution

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 9 mid-season finale that first aired November 25, 2018.

Synopsis: Daryl (Norman Reedus) leads a mission to rescue an injured Eugene (Josh McDermitt), who has taken shelter in a barn while trying to escape a herd of walkers. As the group makes its way to Eugene, the begin to notice odd behavior from the herd and, eventually, discover a new threat to the survivor communities.

Review

Other than putting up some Christmas lights outside (and finally putting the lawnmower away for the winter), my wife and I wound up having a lazy day yesterday. And, largely as a result of that, actually had time to watch an episode of this series as it was airing.

After seeing this episode, my overall opinion of it is a bit mixed. There were some things I found I liked about it. But, at the same time, there were plenty of things I wasn't a big fan of either.

I'll start with my likes. One of the big ones was the introduction of the Whisperers. I haven't read the comics so I don't know a whole lot about this group. But, a bad guy that takes refuge inside walking dead herds is definitely intriguing. And, while I do question the conveniently-timed thick fog that seemed to appear out of nowhere, I thought the way the show introduced them was pretty cool.

At the same time, I'm glad to see the series is finally giving Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) a new chance to shine. It was great to see him escape from his cell (though I am curious whether it being left open was really an accident) because, as I've said before, he is a character that brought a lot of charisma to a series that has lacked it. I can only hope the series isn't just teasing us.

As far as my complaints go, they are geared more toward the overall series and aren't necessarily specific to this episode. But, one thing I did find this episode succeeded in doing was confirming what I've been saying for a while - there are just too many characters.

Jesus (Tom Payne) being the first to fall to the Whisperers should have been a shocking, heart-wrenching moment. Instead, I just don't think it had that much of an effect on me. The reason for this is I've always felt that character was a bit wasted in this series. He seemed like he should have had a much bigger role in everything but, because the show is watered down with so many other characters, I don't think he ever reached his full potential. As a result, when he was finally killed, the writers were only killing off a glorified extra.

Heck, even in his final episode, his screen time was kept to a minimum because we had to get updates on Henry (Matt Lintz), Negan and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Perhaps the introduction of the Whisperers is the opportunity this series needs to "thin the herd" a bit when it comes to characters, something I think it failed to properly do when the Saviors were introduced.

I'm also wondering when the series will take the time to give us a little more of a summary about what happened over the past 5 years. I have the gist of it. But, there just seems to be gaps. For example, why does Hilltop not trust Michonne? I get there was some tension with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) because of the decision to leave Negan alive. But, even at the peak of that conflict, she was never asked to disarm before entering their walls, as was the case in this episode. There has to be more to that story and I think it's time to reveal it.

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Final Opinion

Overall, I thought this was a good episode. I am still undecided about where the series is heading, however, and am hoping the writers will take advantage of the Whisperers being added and use it as a way of getting rid of some of the surplus of characters this series has collected so it can focus on just a few.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 11/26/2018, StevenHelmer
 
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