In my last The Walking Dead discussion post I talked about the departures of Maggie and Rick and how I felt they would impact the show.
I said that despite their departures the show’s future looked bright and, based on the final three episodes of this half of the season, I think I can stand by that statement.
Even though viewership is still declining, I think The Walking Dead is returning to its glory days and it will only get better as it goes on.
The show has already made improvements on its comic book counterpart, something that has not happened since season five.
This improvement can be seen in the episode after Rick’s Departure, “Who Are You Now?” where we get the official introduction of Magna (Nadia Hilker) and her group after they appeared at the end of the previous episodes.
I already think these characters are a massive improvement on their comic versions.
Magna is a lot more fleshed out and given more backstory, with it being revealed she was in prison.
Her group of Yumiko (Eleanor Matsura), Luke (Dan Fogler), Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) are also made much more interesting because they are given more characteristics and a lot more to do.
I also liked how this episode and the other ones place a divide between the communities.
Everything was all hunky-dory after all out war in the comics so to see such open hostilities between the communities is very interesting, especially because we do not know what caused this divide.
We do know it has something to do with the X’s carved into Daryl and Michonne’s back but not much else.
This adds a layer of mystery to the story, which I am really enjoying.
However, the seventh episode of the season “Stradivarius” is definitely the weakest of the season because, while it does continue the character growth of Magna and her group, it only slightly pushes the story forward.
It is certainly not a bad episode though, and the season not having one bad episode out of eight is definitely something the last few seasons cannot attest to.
The mid-season finale, “Evolution”, is one of the best episodes of the season, possibly only falling behind Rick’s goodbye episode “What Comes After.”
It features the moment I have been waiting for even since it happened in the comics… the reveal of the Whisperers and it does not disappoint.
The final moments of this episode felt like a horror movie and brought incredible levels of tension.
This unfortunately led to the death of Jesus.
I had heard rumors of his death before watching the episode but I was still disappointed to see him go because, just like his actor Tom Payne said, he had been badly underused up to this point.
That said, what an epic way for him to go out.
It was a masterful sequence that shocked me, even though I knew it was coming, and showed the true horror of the Whisperers.
Just as Jesus finishes killing some Walkers in an amazing use of slow motion he walks towards safety but two more stand in his way.
He takes out the first one when suddenly the second one ducks and stabs him from behind whispering in his air, “you are where you do not belong” as thunder crashes around them.
This was an amazing way to reveal the Whisperers because it shows how deadly they are with many unable to tell if they are Walkers or Whisperers in disguise.
We then got the intense cliffhanger of the group realizing the supposed talking Walkers are actually people wearing their skin and then hearing multiple Whisperers as they surround them before cutting to black.
And, with that, the first half of season nine comes to a close.
I have been saying for a while now that season nine was the make it or break it season for me, where the show would either recover from its dark descent or rise above it.
Thankfully, I am now certain that the show has moved past the dark times of seasons seven and eight.
Angela Kang has done an amazing job with this season and if it continues like this, it may be one of my favourite seasons of The Walking Dead. One thing is for certain though, I cannot wait to see how the rest of the Whisperer arc plays out in the next half of the season, where we will get the much awaited arrivals of Lydia, Alpha and Beta.
The fifth episode of the ninth season of The Walking Dead, “What Comes After”, recently aired, being the final episode for Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes and Lauren Cohan’s Maggie Rhee, at least for a little while.
When I first head these two were leaving I honestly thought the show was doomed with two of its central characters (Rick being the main character) departing.
However, after viewing all five episodes of this season so far and seeing the direction it is heading, I actually think with Angela Kang as the showrunner The Walking Dead may continue to deliver a compelling narrative.
But even so, this does leave the question of whether the departures of such major characters as Rick and Maggie were done right?
Since Rick is the main character, I will start with him.
Coming into this episode I was very concerned with how he would leave the show because I thought we were going to get another Carl situation with a bad death for such an important character.
This concern was generated by the ending of the previous episode, where Rick accidentally impaled himself on some rods.
I came in feeling like I knew what was going to happen, with Rick hallucinating all of his dead friends before dying of blood loss.
However, while that first part was right, the second, thankfully, was not.
Rick does experience numerous hallucinations and all but one of them are handled expertly.
Seeing Rick interact with Shane and Hershel again was a joy to see, especially Shane because their scene together spoke a lot about how far Rick had come.
The one hallucination I did not like, however, was when Rick talked with Sasha.
This was Rick’s final hallucination and of all the characters for him to talk to during it, Sasha would have been at the bottom of my list.
She and Rick barely interacted and I do not think they were even that close so seeing Rick hallucinate her giving him this emotional pep talk made absolutely no sense.
It should have been Glenn, Lori or Carl Rick talked to, not Sasha.
Other than this though, the hallucinations were all handled well and added to the tension.
Then came Rick’s “death scene” where he blew up the bridge while he and the herd of Walkers were still on it to save his friends.
This was very emotional and if Rick had died here I would actually have been OK with it because it left a big emotional impact and served a logical purpose, unlike Carl’s death.
However, this was not the end for Rick because Jadis saved him by taking him on the helicopter with her.
And so Rick departed the show on this helicopter, with the ending song from the very first episode “Space Junk” by Wang Chung playing in a fitting end his story on the show.
This did leave me wondering what would happen to him in the future but this question was answered when I learned Andrew Lincoln would be starring in the recently announced The Walking Dead spin off movies.
When I first learned this, I laughed but, after thinking about it, I realised this could be interesting.
I will just have to wait and see the movies to know if it was a good idea to keep Rick alive for this.
Overall, Rick’s sendoff this episode was both touching and fitting, and I think they did a great job with it.
Not so much for Maggie I am afraid.
I would go as far to say that Maggie’s sendoff this episode was handled incredibly badly.
I will say I did like what happened to her in this episode, with her finally confronting Negan over Glenn’s death in a scene that, while not as good as the comics, was still very impactful.
However, there was literally nothing in the episode that would suggest this was Maggie’s last episode.
No emotional sendoff, no death, nothing.
It was like they completely forgot this was supposed to be her final episode until they had actually completed it.
Hopefully they can at least give a logical reason for her departure in the next episode.
Speaking of which, even though these two incredibly important characters have departed the show, I am still looking forward to what is to come this season.
We will be getting the full introduction of Magna and her group next episode, The Whisperers will be introduced soon, and it looks like Judith will now be taking center stage in a surprising yet welcome turn of events.
All in all, the future for The Walking Dead looks bright, even with these departures.
You know, I tried to be optimistic about the future of The Walking Dead in my season eight review but now the future for the show is not looking bright.
I swear, every time I say some good might be on the horizon for The Walking Dead news has to come out and completely dash my hopes and, unfortunately, this time the news I am hearing may very well kill the show.
This is because Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes the main character, and Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Rhee another central player, have both been reported to be leaving the show in season nine.
No matter how you look at it this is nothing short of an absolute disaster.
This means the show will be losing three of its most important characters in two seasons, the other being Chandler Riggs’ Carl, whose controversial departure in season eight, I felt, was completely unjustified.
Granted, this time it appears to be the actors’ choice to leave, unlike Riggs’, but this will still have dire repercussions for the show that I honestly do not think it can bounce back from.
When I first learned about Cohan’s departure I was not happy because of the effects this would have on the story, combined with the effects of the recent loss of Riggs, but I still thought the show could recover if it was done right.
However, when you add the departure of Lincoln to this, I believe the final nail in the coffin has been delivered.
While Cohan’s departure is a great loss, if Lincoln or Riggs had remained the show may have been recoverable because there would still have been a reliable character to put the show on their shoulders.
If Rick died in the comic then it would be able to continue because Carl could take his place and if Carl died instead it could go on because of Rick, but losing both characters creates a vacuum that cannot be filled.
Not to mention the dramatic impact Maggie dying at this point in the show would have as well.
Having three major characters leave in just two seasons will hugely disrupt the storylines they are involved with in the comic and the characters that are left, after they are gone, are not strong enough to keep the show going.
It does not matter if Melissa McBride (Carol) or Danai Gurira (Michonne) decide to stay and it certainly does not matter if Norman Reedus (Daryl) takes over as the lead.
They are just not leading material like Rick and Carl were.
Speaking of Reedus, as I said, in my Top 10 Worst Changes From The Walking Dead Comic to the Show post Daryl Dixon has more than overstayed his welcome.
There is so much story revolving around Rick, Carl and Maggie in the future of The Walking Dead, as can be seen by the comic, that it makes it impossible for the show to continue with any meaning after all three of them have departed.
The show can try to continue, as I am sure it will, and many fans of the show will continue to watch it, but it is unlikely than anything will change for me.
I will watch the show through to season nine to see these characters’ departures but after that I will find it difficult to care about the story anymore and many fans may feel the same way.
This may cause The Walking Dead show to implode, if it is not doing so already from the numerous departures.
But hey, at least the comic is still going strong so there is that.