The Whisperers have arrived!
The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6 acted not only as an introduction to a new timeline, fresh characters, and new antagonist, but it also gave us a glimpse into how the series plans to push forward without Rick.
And if "Who Are You Now?" is any indication of what's to come for the remainder of the season and beyond, we're going to be in a for one hell of a ride.
While there were numerous surprises and developments, what was perhaps the most interesting was how Rick's presence was not missed one bit. And that is very telling in and of itself.
In Rick's absence, the rest of the cast has been able to step into the spotlight, and thus actually become relevant again.
Granted, it's only one episode, but the fact that The Walking Dead has found a way to continue telling compelling stories without its star is an extremely promising sign.
The six-year time jump wasn't nearly as jarring as I initially expected it to be. The transition was incredibly smooth, and gradually brought the audience up to speed without being overwhelming.
If you thought life was different following the one and a half year jump on The Walking Dead Season 9 episode 1, you were in for some drastic changes here.
Sometimes you have to let the cracks happen to let the light in.Carol
The destroyed bridge has become a memorial for Rick, and it was endearing to hear Michonne speaking to Rick about never giving up hope. Her words were especially powerful while being intercut with the scenes with Daryl seeing the bird, and Carol noticing the lone flower growing through the crack.
It was all symbolic of the hope of new life after all that was lost.
What I found interesting about that scene was that since Michonne still thinks Rick is dead, it means that Rick hasn't had any contact with anyone in the six years that have passed.
Hopefully, the AMC movies involving Rick will shed some light on why he wasn't able to contact anyone.
Was anyone else blown away after seeing little Gracie? Ever since Aaron took in baby Gracie from the Saviors on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 2, I had been wondering when that would be touched upon again. It was one of many surprises during the hour.
Aaron seems to have recovered well following his accident on The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 2. He's become a pillar of the community, and I'm looking forward to seeing more focus put on his character.
One thing that stood out to me was how Aaron resembles the comic version of Rick. From his hair and bushy beard right down to the missing arm.
All he needs is a gimpy leg, and he'd be a dead ringer.
It makes me wonder if Aaron might get some of Rick's stories from the comics. That could make for some fascinating arcs.
Who else loves Carol's new look? She owns those long flowing silver locks.
Henry's gone through a big change as well. The kid may be older, but he's certainly not any wiser. I'm sure everyone shared my frustration with how Henry blindly ran right into the Savior ambush.
Henry's up to his old antics again, and it's infuriating. I know he was trying help someone supposedly in need, but he was so eager to be a hero that it almost cost both of them their lives.
Fortunately, Jed was in a giving -- and stealing -- mood and allowed them to leave, but not before taking Carol's engagement ring.
Around all this darkness, there are flashes of life. Tiny beacons that shine out, calling to us.Michonne
Carol is still trying to steer Henry away from that dark path he once ventured down. But that didn't mean Carol was going to sit idly by and let Jed's group go back to their old Savior ways.
That's why it was so awesome when the ruthless Carol we all know and love set them all ablaze. Carol's back to setting people on fire again!
Judith has instantly become one of my favorite characters. Sure she's just a kid, but she is wise beyond her years. She is well aware of the dangers that lurk outside the walls of Alexandria and is more than capable of taking care of herself.
The nickname "Lil' Asskicker" suits her to a T. And wow, does that girl have some sass to her or what?
Judith: And what about after that? You ever bring home another dog?
Negan: Well, hell no I wised my ass up!
Judith: Yeah, and look how great everything turned out for you.
One thing that is a tad concerning is that I'm not quite sure how a ten-year-old can handle a magnum. I can't help but imagine her firing that thing and getting tossed back a solid ten feet.
Considering how manipulative Negan is and how freely he's been chatting it up with Judith, I'm surprised he hasn't tried to use her in talking her into releasing him. Who knows, maybe he has. Judith may not be so easy to manipulate.
I'm just looking forward to more of Judith and Negan's conversations.
Judith is only a child but is an old soul and already appears to be wiser than both Henry and Carl ever were. Let's not forget that unlike Carl and Henry, Judith has grown up in the apocalypse. Everyone else had to adjust to a world filled with death and despair. Judith was born into it, and that gives her an advantage.
Daryl has seemingly become a hermit, distancing himself from the rest of the group and living alone in the woods. The loss of his best friend hit him hard.
In his spare time finds himself spearfishing, which is probably the closest he's come to taking a bath in nine seasons.
Now that Carol and Henry picked Daryl up on the way back, maybe we'll learn more about what transpired following the bridge's explosion.
As fun as it was adjusting to everyone's new lives and roles, we need to take a minute to talk about newcomers Magna, Connie, Kelly, Luke, and Yumiko. They each have a unique charm about them; however, we didn't get to learn much about Yumiko, who was recovering from injuries.
Connie is played by deaf actress, Lauren Ridloff, which puts an interesting spin on the character. Surviving is challenging enough, but not having the ability to rely upon your senses in a world where danger lurks around every corner is utterly terrifying to imagine.
Kelly is Connie's only means of communication with the rest of the group.
Luke is a former music teacher who seems to have his own set of issues.
They're an interesting bunch, and I'm looking forward to learning more about each of them as the season progresses. Magna has especially piqued my interest.
Michonne was right to be cautious about this new group, especially considering that Magna did hard time.
What she did to deserve a prison sentence remains unknown at this point, but Rosita made a valid point that there are always two sides to every story, and it doesn't immediately make her a dangerous person.
Speaking of Rosita, can you believe Gabriel and Rosita are a thing now? Who saw that one coming? For a priest, that dude sure gets around. Good on you Gabe!
The only issue that I have with these jumps in time is that we don't get to see how these relationships formed. But at least Gabriel won't have any concerns about Rosita trying to feed him to a walker.
Eugene and Rosita's trek further west to try and boost their radio signal was a sound idea, but once the passing herd made a u-turn, the whole plan went south.
Hearing the horrific chatter come from among the walkers was chilling. Hell, I'm still getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
Wheeeere aaaare theeeey?Whisperers
Walker herds that can communicate and strategize now? That's a terrifying thought.
I'm both super excited and freaked out at the same time to see this new antagonist introduced and what that could mean for our survivors.
Nothing good, that's for sure.
It's hard to believe that we're already two episodes away from the midseason finale. So far, The Walking Dead Season 9 has been a vital breath of fresh air. Let's hope that The Walking Dead can continue to provide this level of quality in Andrew Lincoln's absence.
Thank the Lord that Jed and his band of misfit Saviors are gone. But could there be more like them out there?
I loved the sheriff figurine that Michonne found and gave to Judith.
Michonne is showing signs of a mental breakdown. It will likely play a larger role as the season goes on.
Rick and Michonne had a baby!
While it was great to check in with Alexandria and the Kingdom, I'm even more excited to see what Hilltop's been up to.
How badass was Eugene taking out those walkers? It's remarkable how far he's come. RIP, Eugene's mullet.
I got a chuckle during Connie and Kelly's disagreement. I've never witnessed an argument in sign language before.
- Eugene has the hots for Rosita. Something tells me she's known for a while now.
What did you think about "Who Are You Now"? Did you miss Rick during the episode? Are you happy with the overall direction of the season? What are your thoughts on the introduction of the Whisperers?
Hit the comments below and let me know.
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Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.