The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8 Review: Evolution

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The Whisperers are flat out terrifying. End of story.

On The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8, Jesus, Aaron, and Daryl went out on a rescue mission for Eugene, but what they encountered was something for which none of them could have prepared.

"Evolution" was exactly the episode that The Walking Dead needed going into its hiatus, as it pushed the series into uncharted territory with a hefty -- and shocking -- reveal of the series' newest threat.

While the idea of walkers supposedly gaining sentience sounded utterly ridiculous, so is the idea of the dead getting up and walking around, to begin with. But the reveal that the Whisperers are humans masquerading as the dead which is a much more horrifying revelation.

In A Fog - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

So no, the walkers aren't evolving, but this other group has found a way to coexist with the walkers.

It's a fascinating take on the survival tactic what we've seen our survivors incorporate over the years. It's a whole new sick and twisted level.

The Whisperers are not just walking among the dead; they're passing as the dead.

Ears Are Ringing - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

There had been a bit of skepticism on how the Whisperers' look would translate to the screen. But Greg Nicotero and the effects team have done it again, and somehow, the show has made this group look even more terrifying than they did on the pages of its source material.

The sewn up flesh masks appear to have drawn some heavy inspiration from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the decision to go that route for the Whisperers' design proved to be a visually stunning -- and disturbing -- choice.

It's the stuff nightmares are made of.

The Feast - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

While the majority of the episode was a slow burn, the payoff came in the final fifteen minutes. And boy oh boy was it worth it.

The group battling the walkers in the fog was such a beautiful set piece. It instantly reminded me of Maggie, Bob, and Sasha's encounter with a similar situation back on The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 13. It was such a beautifully shot scene.

It contained many classic horror elements such as the fog, and graveyard. But it never once felt hokey, and the flashes of lightning briefly lighting up the walker's faces was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time.

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My one issue with the scene was how Michonne appeared out of nowhere. How in the world did she know exactly where they'd be? Not only that, but the fact that you couldn't see five feet in front through the dense fog made it even more ridiculous that she located them.

Her sudden appearance felt more like a reason to have Magna follow her to prove her worth. However, sneaking out of Hilltop and following Michonne doesn't exactly scream "trustworthy," regardless of Magna's intentions.

Despite Michonne's inexplicable appearance to help, it wasn't enough as the group suffered a devastating and unexpected loss.

Close Eye - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

Was anyone else blown away by Jesus' death? Who saw that one coming!?

Like the rest of the group, the viewers were completely caught off guard when that walker dodged Jesus' attack. It was completely unexpected and incredibly effective.

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While both Jesus' death and Whisperer reveal were shocking, I wish the writers would have dragged out the mystery surrounding the Whisperers a little while longer.

For fans of the comics its no secret, but it might have served the season better to show some restraint with the reveal.

You are where you do not belong.

Whisperer

As much as I hate losing Jesus, I'm hoping his death does indeed stick. Jesus' murder at the hands of the Whisperers will be the catalyst in showing the survivors exactly what they're up against and the immense danger this new group poses.

It's definitely a game changer, as walkers can no longer be dealt with by conventional means as you can never know for sure who is a Whisperer.

As dangerous as this new group appears to be, their advantage lies in numbers and the element of surprise. However, based on how quickly they were dispatched by Daryl and the group after their surprise attack, it's fair to say that the Whisperers aren't nearly as skilled in one-on-one combat.

And that is a weakness that the communities will need to learn to exploit if they want to survive the coming conflict with the Whisperers.

Hilltop Cookout - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

Henry was picking up his new trade rather quickly, but he had to screw it all up with yet another ill-advised choice. Watching this kid make poor decision after poor decision is just mentally exhausting.

Sure, he's still just a kid, and I try to remember that he's been sheltered at the Kingdom for most of his life, but come on. This kid is in desperate need of some guidance, and the new friends he's made with the other teens at Hilltop aren't doing him any favors.

You can teach Henry how to construct a spear, but you can't teach common sense.

At least Earl was willing to give Henry a second chance, which is more than I'm willing to give that dope right now. Get it together, Henry!

Learning A Trade - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

While Henry's antics were the most frustrating part of the episode, the happenings at Alexandria more than made up for it.

Who else was loving Negan and Gabriel's little therapy sessions? The guy has a natural talent for pushing buttons, and Negan does it with such ease.

Love him or hate him, you can't help but crack a smile at some of the things that come spewing out of Negan's foul mouth at times.

Negan: You know I read something fascinating the other day. You know what a smell is? It's when odor molecules activate neurons in your nasal passages. So every time you come in here and change my bed pan and smell my shit, something that was actually in my ass goes right up your nose.
Gabriel: Shut up.
Negan: I'm sorry, I never know exactly which eye I'm supposed to look at, it's a little bit distracting.

It's fitting that Gabriel has been attempting to get through to Negan since he was the one who initially began to peel back some of Negan's layers and humanize him a bit on The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 5.

Do you agree with Negan's comment that his rehabilitation may have gone as it can go, or is there still more lurking beneath the surface? Gabriel made a key observation -- and one we've noticed ourselves at times -- Negan does show signs of wanting to be a good person, but there's a part of him that's resisting.

Related: The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 7 Review: Stradivarius

But now that Gabriel didn't close the cell door properly, Negan's out and on the loose, and there's no telling what he's going to do. We'll find out soon if Negan being locked up for the last seven years has had any positive impact on him.

New Kids On The Block - The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 8

The arrival of the Whisperers has once again changed the status quo, and this new threat will be unlike anything our survivors have faced before.

It's insane that we're already halfway through the season already. The Walking Dead mid-season return in February can't come soon enough!

Stray thoughts:

  • Will Tara now be in line to take over as the leader of Hilltop?
  • Now Alden and Enid are a thing too? Stop the world I want to get off!
  • Speaking of relationships, so much for a Jesus/Aaron pairing. There's no dumpster to hide under here, folks.
  • How come Gabriel has never mentioned Jadis' attempt on his life or the helicopters in the six years that Rick has been gone?
  • The walker stopping in the herd and turning its head at the beginning of the episode was chilling!
  • Is anyone else confused as to why everyone was throwing shade at Michonne when she arrived at Hilltop? What could have transpired over the last six years to warrant such treatment? Hopefully, that will get addressed when the season resumes.

Now it's your turn, Walking Dead Fanatics!

What did you think of "Evolution"? What are your thoughts of Jesus' shocking death? What will Negan do now that he's free from his cell?

Hit the comments below and let me know.

Can't wait for February? You can always watch The Walking Dead online right here at TV Fanatic.

Evolution Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (35 Votes)

Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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