Warning – this article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 9 premiere!
The Walking Dead returned Sunday, February 10 and brought with it two huge characters from the comics. It also brought some surprises.
The episode opened with the group battling the walker horde from the last episode – and making a hasty getaway. The opening was somber as longtime Hilltop leader Jesus had lost his life in the battle with the group’s new foe, The Whisperers.
There was also a daring maneuver back in Alexandria. Namely, Negan taking advantage of the confusion of the moment and Father Gabriel’s inability to close doors, escaped his cell and set off over the wall. He didn’t do so without being confronted by pistol-packing Judith, but she let him go nonetheless.
Negan set off as a free man and even stopped near a familiar location to drink water. According to showrunner and effects man Greg Nicotero, it was the same place where Negan killed Abraham and Glen in the season 7 premiere. Talk about coming full circle.
Eugene was in the midst of confessing his love to Rosita, once again, when she slipped away and revealed to Siddiq that she was pregnant, with Siddiq’s baby. It’s a big moment for her character and a tough wrap for Eugene, who was one love story away from being one of the more well-rounded members of the cast.
Negan continued his journey, nearly getting eaten by a pack of wild dogs while retrieving a new jacket then going back to the Sanctuary to see it was anything but the safe haven it used to be. The letdown was enough for him to return to his cell – as fate would have it, Judith was waiting on the road to bring him in.
Back with Daryl and Michonne, they discovered more of the walker-skin-wearing Whisperers, including a teen girl named Lydia – fans’ hearts likely leaped at the treat of knowing such a major player for this arc was introduced in the premiere. The pace seems nice and swift, just as it was for the first half of this season.
Lydia revealed to Daryl (who was back in bad-cop interrogator mode) that her group walked with the walkers to survive. She scoffed at the idea of having walls and a community, saying such things always fall. She also claimed her mom was still out there, and swore she was a good person.
While Daryl threatened to have the girl lynched for her group’s part in Jesus’s death, Henry tried to play peacemaker – or maybe he was just trying to get on Lydia’s good side. Either way, it didn’t do him many favors with Daryl.
Back in the woods, Luke and Alden have formed a two-man operation but their search party turned up unexpected results. Fans got a peek of who we can all-but-guarantee is Alpha. The big names are almost all here already.
Season 9 is on track to be one of the more unique the series has had yet.