The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead | Season 9 Midseason Finale Recap: “Evolution”

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The Walking Dead | Season 9 Mid-Season Finale Recap: “Evolution”

Rob Cesternino and Jessica Liese recap season 9, episode 8, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead entitled “Evolution.”

  • TrentC

    Henry/ Enid
    Anakin/ Padme?

    Rodney, Gage and Addy = zombie fodder hopefully.

    Foggy graveyards at night with the undead walking? I love Hammer Horror.

    Although I agree with Jessica’s take about Jesus dying being a good part of the narrative, I didn’t like the actual mechanics of the scene. Jesus heroically stands alone against the horde to save everyone and gets outmoved by a guy sewn up inside a zombie-suit. Jesus deserved more it seems.

    Michonne must have done something really bad to piss everyone off. Did you notice Carol gave Siddiq a big hug when they arrived and not even a handshake for Michonne? Maybe part of that mystery is something that they played up quite a bit during the first part of the season and have forgotten now. Michonne’s new Charter of Rights.

    I hate to predict this, but when Dianne asked if she could travel with Carol, the moment had this odd moment of gravitas that may point towards her death. New character Yumiko is proficient with the longbow, do they need two?

    I don’t know how to feel about this season. I had the same question as Rob, what are the goals of The Whisperers? To walk real slowly with zombies all day, mumble like Daryl and occasionally kill the only other humans left in the world? We’ve lost Rick, Maggie, Jesus, Morgan from the show, we’re running out of ass-kickers for sure.

    I thought for a moment Negan would go back into the cell, lock it and they say to Gabriel it’s proof of his rehabilitation. Which would only be exciting if it’s all a long con ploy to acquire his freedom and kill lots of people in the future.

    This episode had Gimple’s paws all over it. I liked some of it but certainly don’t look forward to TWD: The New Generation if it’s filled with people like Henry, Rodney, Gage and Addy.

    Thanks to Rob and Jessica for all of the podcast coverage and interactions, definitely improves the watching experience.

    • J-me not Hi-me

      I had the exact same thought about Diane. I actually said to my husband “This is the most dialogue she’s ever had: they’re totally killing her.”

      • TrentC

        And that haunted look she gave Carol when asking about the ride. It comes from The Phone call.*

        *The Phone Call – When a producer or writer from TWD contacts you by phone for the first time. Results in imminent death for your character. Also known as the – Clean Up Your Resume Call.

  • Lance Davis

    Bravo to Tom Payne, for publicly voicing his frustrations of TWD’s handling + underutilization of his character, Jesus. That took a lot of grit to put that out there in the media, but at least he was being honest. While reading his interviews in the exit press, I couldn’t help but think that he was basically voicing a lot of the same frustrations and problems long-time fans of the TV show have had in general; especially during these last few seasons of TWD series run. The show still has so much promise overall, but seems to constantly undercut itself with poor choices on how to handle characters + meander through unnecessary plot threads over the years. TWD builds up all this goodwill a lot of times during the run, only to squander it by rolling under the dumpster and leaving fans to wade through the slog they create + poor storytelling that TWD self-inflicts on themselves. The show can be a grind to get through, and it sometimes personally wears me down as a viewer a lot of the time.

    So I could only imagine what it was like being Tom Payne; especially after he commented on spending all that time training for the role to pretty much just stand in the background and have nothing to do @ Hilltop and basically let it all go to waste. I echo what Jessica said on the podcast, it was REFRESHING to hear that, particularly from a main cast member. He pulled no punches calling out the sub-par writing, development, + arch of his character on the show and I respect the Hell out of that. We rarely ever read or hear something like this from the cast (past + present) because they are usually too busy spewing out propaganda for the show to sell us on how AWESOME + SURPRISING the upcoming season will be for the audience. Even in any press with Lauren Cohan and the ongoing issues both camps have there with contracts etc, all parties seemed to remain politely neutral. Tom Payne wasn’t necessarily trashing the TWD, but there was some not so subtle swipes he was making at the Writers/Producers.

    Overall I’m still onboard with TWD and will ride this thing out through the high-highs & low-lows since I’ve been with this thing from the start, and I want to give new showrunner Angela Kang a chance to clean up after Gimple to see where she takes the story moving forward. but it has become more + more grueling to get through some of these episodes caring, which is sad to me, because I used to be SOOOOO stoked on Sundays for TWD and what it was all leading too, + what was going to happen with certain charcters; but nowadays my attitude is so blase about this program that I find it more and more difficult to stay fully invested as a viewer.

    Sorry if this comes off sounding like I’m just going on a tirade + venting, or crapping on the show, I’m really not trying to pile on here, but I needed a place to get some of my thoughts off my chest + I felt like this would be the proper forum especially since I really dig the Hell outta this show at certain points when they get it “right” and everything is clicking.

    Regardless, with all THAT being said, Shoutout to Rob + Jessica on doing a great job breaking down the season in entertaining fashion! I always enjoy listening to the podcast as a companion piece to go with the episode, and you two are usually spot on with your takes, and being on the same page with all my general thoughts + takeaways from each episode. Thank you + Keep up the good work!!!

    I will move it along now….

    • Charles Bikle

      If they hadn’t wasted so much time with the Garbage People and Henry and kept the pacing tighter, there would have been more for Tom & the other cast members to do on the show.

    • TrentC

      “Which is sad to me, because I used to be SOOOOO stoked on Sundays for TWD…”

      Well said. Now the hour goes by and it feels like pieces on a board moving around in circles and where they end up depends on who production is removing from the show.

      This season felt like it had so much promise at the outset and for me, the last few episodes just reconfirm that old treading water feeling, but with new faces.

      If we look at the pivotal scene where Daryl takes Rick on a faux-bike ride and they fall into the sinkhole (that’s how the writers refer to the pit), it was really just a contrived bit of writing to prevent Rick…from preventing Maggie, from killing Negan. It’s gone so far now past the characters fighting the zombies, then fighting other humans, now have to fight each other.

      Rick getting rebar’ed and Jesus getting Whisper’ed don’t give me a sense that people in the zombie apocalypse can die at any time. It gives me a sense of 10 minutes in the writer’s room to force round pegs into square holes.

    • aardvarkratnik

      It’s a really stupid show, based on a really stupid premise, it’s out of ideas and has run it’s course. Time to pack up and ride all those horses off into the sunset.

      • Stylez

        Lol yah zombies what a stupid premise

      • Bry_Lander

        The premise was evident from the beginning – so why watch a series for 9 years (and listen to podcasts about the series) that was based on a “really stupid premise?”

        • Bruce Pierce

          Yes but the premise is now worn out and repetitive. I listen to the podcast to hear what others think of it, that does not mean that I have to buy into every stupid thing the show does without question.

          • Bry_Lander

            The remark was about the premise of the show only. The premise of a ZA is great – the execution of it by the writers on TWD has been awful at times.

  • Charles Bikle


    With Tom Payne now gone, there are ALMOST as many cast members abandoning the show as there are (former) viewers.

    At this rate, pretty soon, there will be nobody watching or acting on the show and Rob & Jessica will be recapping a test pattern.

  • aardvarkratnik

    Why are there still Zombies at this point anyway? After so much time has passed they should have rotted and dehydrated to the point that they’ve fallen apart and there’s nothing left but bones scattered all over the place.

    • Pink Pearl

      I read some mathematical extrapolation based on the number of zombies in the world versus the average number killed by each survivor that says they should have been eradicated within the first year.

  • Charles Bikle


    On a side note, I think the idea of the Walkers actually “evolving” and being able to speak, is a WAY more interesting idea than the actual one.

    Like the “Garbage-People”, I don’t see how the “Whisperers” actually became a thing; how did the first Whisperer actually sell this idea to his/her acolytes ?

    • Stylez

      You should watch Z nation then. The walkers evolve and talk in that show. Unfortunately Z Nation is garbage though.

  • Stylez

    Did anybody catch what the whisperer said as he killed Jesus? Was hoping that might be coveres but there wasn’t any mention so I’m guessing it’s insignificant. I’m going to have to remember to turn on subtitles going forward with the whisperers in the fold.

    Also a minor comic book zone note that wasn’t touched on in the pod, but I wonder if they are going down the same cheating/cucking storyline with Rosita as they did in the comics (just with different men). Negan basicaly set that up this week telling Gabriel that Rosita was cheating. Then again Negan could have been lying as a wink and a nod to the comic readers.

    • Lance Davis

      The Whisperer told Jesus, “You are where you don’t belong.”

      • Stylez


  • Bry_Lander

    Thanks for another great half season of the podcast, Rob and Jessica!
    I honestly enjoy this podcast as much as (sometimes more) than the actual show and will miss you until February…

    1. Time jump comment – the walkers were starting to look a little ragged before the time jump. Shouldn’t they be essentially falling apart with another 6 years of weathering? Combine being outdoors with the friction of constantly moving 24 hours per day for 8-9 years straight, and none of them would be clothed at this point.

    2. Bye Jesus – another popular character prematurely removed because of conflicts with the actor. But hey, why not get rid of the really highly skilled martial arts guy for no apparent reason?

    3. I like the way that the Whisperers have been slowly and carefully introduced and that the way they maneuvered the herds was a big tell to the search party (a rare display of survival IQ that fits the scenes’ context).

    4. Compared to the other main series villains like the Governor and Negan, the Whisperers are especially disturbing because of the degree of insanity it requires to live with dead skin masks on. It is also a nice twist that the people wearing dead walker faces are more dangerous and creepy than the actual walkers.

    5. The Negan “escape” was also nicely handled. After 6 + years, it is totally plausible that someone would forget to lock his cell once, especially a flake like Gabrielle. It still feels like there was more entertaining dialog to be had with him while he was incarcerated, but that Carl (or maybe Henry), as an adolescent male, was best suited to draw out the more interesting exchanges that were in the comic.

    6. I agree with Jessica, the scene where Aaron threw up his prosthetic arm and allowed the walker who was attacking him to bite it was great. For a moment, I forgot it was fake and thought he was infected, so it was a nice bit of creative tension conceived by the writers.

    • TrentC

      Agreeing with much here I have bring up a point Stephen King made in a story about The Mummy. Gist was that no one should be afraid of The Mummy because it just shambles along slowly, giving you plenty of time to escape…or make some coffee, check Twitter, have a quick nap etc, while being chased.

      Unfortunately I see The Whisperers in this light. I also liked the gradual, spooky introduction but have a hard time getting a feel for the danger once we know their schtick.

      • J-me not Hi-me

        I always thought the point was that yes they’re slow and you can outrun them but eventually you have to stop and rest and they never do. But the Whisperers as humans DO have to stop and rest eventually, so that moots the main advantage zombies have.

        • TrentC

          I think it would be a great tactic right up until the time you have to move as a human. Once the secret is out, you pretty much have to kill everyone in the area to keep the secret.

          • J-me not Hi-me

            Once again we’re on the same page. When the dude got the jump on Jesus I said “Okay, that was unexpected, but you can literally do that once.”

      • Bry_Lander

        It has been awhile since I read it in the comic, but I seem to recall the Whisperers there were embedding themselves in the giant herds, pointing them in a certain direction, and then moving in and out to attack from other angles while the group was trying to avoid having their settlements get overwhelmed by the slow, forward moving mass.

        In the show they seem to be in smaller herds, where it would be more obvious that there were humans among the walkers and they would be extremely vulnerable to being wiped out from a distance as they ambled along.

        • TrentC

          You just sold me on a good tactic. Herd the horde and then attack secretly from another direction.

          The only bad part of the strategy is if the Whisperers are disguised walking within a herd and some humans decide to take random potshots or come up with a plan to ignite them all or similar.

          Walking as a zombie or a human in that world could attract harm depending on who you meet. Kind of a neat wrinkle for a Whisperer when deciding what to wear after getting up in the morning.

  • Wendy B

    The Walking Dead is like a high school play

  • Charles Bikle

    Also, didn’t Gabriel once accidentally leave the gate to Alexandria unlocked/unguarded ?

    Why is Father Gabriel so bad with doors ?

  • Lance Davis

    According to Variety, ratings for the ninth season mid-season finale that aired on Sunday night (Nov. 25) dropped even lower than those of last year’s mid-season capper. The episode averaged a 2.0 rating in the adult 18-49 demo, with 5.1 million viewers watching.

    Comparatively, the mid-season finale for Season 8 drew a 3.4 rating with
    7.9 million viewers, which represented a series low until this week.
    When you place the two mid-season finales side by side, that breaks down to a 41 percent decline in the key demo and a 35 percent fall in total
    viewers between 2017 and 2018.