That Surprise Walking Dead Death May Have Saved Two Other Characters

That Surprise \Walking Dead\ Death May Have Saved Two Other Characters

Preview video: The Walking Dead season 9B midseason trailer

The Walking Dead just gave viewers one of the darkest, freakiest, and most uncomfortable episodes in series history with the big season 9 midseason finale episode by introducing The Whisperers.

Now, the big question is what is next for the show. Of course, there will be the midseason break which will keep new episodes from airing until February, but there is plenty on the mind of fans heading into the second half of the season.

Video: The Walking Dead Mid-Season 9 Official Trailer | New Enemy

Here is the official trailer for the midseason premiere of season 9 as shared on the official YouTube channel of AMC:

There is quite a bit happening in this video, so here is a breakdown of the action from the official trailer:

What do you think of The Whisperers and does their introduction have you concerned about your favorite survivors when season 9 of The Walking Dead returns? Let us know in the comments section below.

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If you’ve been following along with The Walking Dead‘s ninth season, then you know that a whole lot has changed during the first eight episodes. The show has experienced two separate time jumps, Andrew Lincoln (who starred as Rick Grimes) has exited the series as did Lauren Cohan. While Lincoln’s exit was widely known and well promoted, Cohan’s exit, on the other hand, was hardly acknowledged on the show.

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Cohan’s departure from The Walking Dead had no fanfare, no bells and whistles, no epic send off. Her character, Maggie Rhee, simply went off and join another group. Maggie is currently spending her days, alive and well, with Georgie. If you blinked during the episode right after the six-year time jump, you would have missed the update on Maggie’s status completely.

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The secret of the creepy new walkers is finally revealed on The Walking Dead

[This story contains spoilers for season nine, episode eight of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Evolution."]

At the very least, that should offer some comfort to fans of Cohan that Maggie will be returning to The Walking Dead world at some point in the future. Until then, it certainly seems that the series has plenty of action, terror and kick ass storylines in store to keep fans busy.

For Walking Dead comic book readers and show-only viewers alike, Sunday's midseason finale ended with a massive shock: the death of Jesus (Tom Payne), a fan-favorite figure who remains alive and well in the comics from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. 

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Jesus' season nine death comes at the hands of the Whisperers, the newest enemies in the AMC zombie universe, who wear refurbished skin suits in order to blend in with the dead. In the comics on which the TV series is based, Jesus encounters the Whisperers multiple times and lives to tell the tale, even defeating the deadliest member of the community in a two-on-one do-or-die brawl. AMC's live-action adaptation — which continues to make major diversions from its source material — had other plans, however, with Jesus' fatal encounter standing out as one of the biggest changes from the comics to date, if not quite as big as the departures of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan), both of whom are also still active.

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Given his character's untimely demise, one can imagine series regular star Payne's sadness over walking away from The Walking Dead. However, it would be nothing more than that: an imagined interpretation of events, far away from the reality of Payne's current existence. In a candid conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Payne — who has been with the series since season six (and a regular since seven) — says he was happy to leave the series, following years of frustration over the direction of his character. In the comics, Jesus is easily one of the group's fiercest fighters, a fact Payne believes the show neglected. The character's final stand, in Payne's mind, was much closer to his vision for Jesus all along, making it a note he's more than happy to go out on.

Now, the part of this story that will certainly not play out on the TV version of “The Walking Dead” is all the Brandon Rose stuff, because that character does not exist on the show. As you might have guessed from the name, Brandon is Tammy Rose’s son. But everything about Tammy Rose (Brett Butler) on the show is different — she’s married to Mr. Sutton, and their son Kenneth died in the Season 9 premiere.

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"I know people will be disappointed and shocked," he tells THR with a smile in his voice, "but I'm happy."

In the comics, Negan discovers his cell unlocked but actually doesn’t leave. He wants to stick around to try to earn Rick’s trust and show that he’s reforming. This does not work. So when a teenage boy named Brandon Rose decides to break Negan out in a bid to get revenge on both Rick, who killed his father, and the Whisperers, who killed his mother, Negan takes him up on the offer.

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How did Payne's Walking Dead exit come together? What are some of the biggest missed opportunities with the character along the way, from his perspective? Ahead, Payne enthusiastically weighs in on all of that and more, including the romance with Aaron (Ross Marquand) that never was, what it was like filming his final episode with Norman Reedus and Josh McDermitt, and more.

Brandon wants to try to force the Whisperers and Alexandrians to kill each other by leaking Rick’s war plans to the Whisperers. But Negan has other ideas, and murders Brandon before heading to the Whisperer camp and pretending that he wants to join them. After a lengthy chat with Alpha, the Whisperer leader, about life as a Whisperer, Negan kills her and sneaks out of camp with her head.

The Walking Dead Season 9B Trailer Offers a Creepy First Look at Ryan Hursts Beta

I'm excited for everyone to see it. I just wanted to be part of telling a good story that shocks people. That's what the show has been about for me. When they came to me with the idea, I said, "As long as it's a really cool moment, let's do it!" I know a lot of people are going to be bummed about it, but I've been bummed for the last two years, that the character hasn't gotten as much cool stuff [on the show] as he has in the comic books. They gave me a really cool ending, and I'm happy with that.

Now, Negan had a pretty key part to play in the comic book with the upcoming war with the Whisperers, those folks who we discovered were disguising themselves as zombies at the end of the mid-season finale. The TV version of “The Walking Dead” is already taking him in at least a mildly different direction, though it’s likely for the sake of condensing his story a little bit.

They were aware I wouldn't be unhappy if they got rid of me. I expressed unhappiness last season. I was very frustrated with what the character had been doing. He arrived in a very cool way, and then he floundered at the Hilltop. During the war with the Saviors, the only person he had a fight with was a man who was on his side [in Lennie James' Morgan]. In the comics, he has this massive fight with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He catches a grenade, and throws it back [at his enemies]. He's the most capable member of the entire group! And he wasn't used at all [on the show]. In the background, I was training every single week. I was ready and raring to go. You can't help but feel a little bit despondent when you're not released to do some cool stuff. It was mutual and they knew I would be OK with it. It's an amazing show and I was so honored to be a part of it, but at the same time, being the same character without anything fun to do is a bit frustrating. 

When the call came, [season nine showrunner] Angela [Kang] was surprised at how laid back I was about it. (Laughs.) It was the first time she's ever made that call [to tell an actor about their character's impending death]. Andy and Lauren's deals had been worked out before [the season], so this was the first time. She called and told me, and I said, "Yeah, as long as it's a cool ending!" Because this character really is such a strong character. It would have to be a ton of people or a real surprise in order for him to die — which is what it ended up being. I wanted to make sure we were telling a story that surprises the audience. That's what the show is all about: no one is safe. It sets up the Whisperers in a great way. It was a mutual thing, and I was really happy about it. The whole episode, I had this huge smile on my face. I kept thinking: "This is so fun. This is what I wanted to be doing!" I felt like Jesus was feeling. Jesus has been cooped up at the Hilltop for two years, and he wants to get out there and do shit. It may have gotten him killed in the end! But at least he got into a fight with his sword. The whole episode told such a great story. I was happy to tell that story. This is what the show's about, and I just wanted to be a part of that. You want to be part of the shocking sequences. I ended up being very lucky in the end. I got to introduce you to the Saviors, and now I'm introducing you to the Whisperers. It's a pivotal moment for the show. 

When asked how the show plans to portray L.G.B.T.Q. relationships going forward, Kang said that Magna and Yumiko, who were just introduced this season, are actually a couple. (The two have appeared in multiple episodes, but so far no indication has been given that they are together.) “[They haven’t been outspoken about it yet] because of their personalities and their sense of safety,” Kang said. “You see them leaning on each other and we’ll see them kiss this season. They are survivors who are going through life. They’re a couple. We opted to show it in the most real way possible. We don’t start by saying, ‘They’re a couple.’ Regardless of if they are gay or straight, they’re just trying to feel out the other group.” That, Kang said, will be another story to explore when Season 9 returns next year.

And yet, the great irony is you're leaving The Walking Dead just as you're getting into so many elements from the comics that define Jesus: the sword, the top knot, the ninja gear…

As for what else is on the horizon in the back half of this season? Kang told Deadline that we’ll learn a lot more about the Whisperers and their leader, Alpha, as well as what’s going on with those mysterious “X” scars we keep seeing. There’s also the newly freed Negan to contend with. And if you’re wondering who’s going to take over for Jesus as leader of Hilltop, it’s looking like that will be up to Tara. As Kang told E.W., “She sort of has been handling a lot of things, because Jesus in a lot of ways didn’t really take to being the leader of Hilltop. He doesn’t like the bureaucracy of it. . . . Tara, we see, has been handling a lot of the day-to-day anyway. So that’s one of the aspects of the story that we’ll be exploring going forward.”

That was the main reason why I was bummed [to leave after] episodes seven and eight. I was getting to work with so many different actors [in my final episodes], like Josh, Ross and Norman. It was fun. I loved the stuff with Ross this season. I think it's unfair to the audience, to tease that Aaron and Jesus relationship. But it's also great that we have it in there. I'm happy they did that. I did think it would be fun to stay on the show a little bit longer — but only if I got to act with everyone! If I only had that episode and then I had to go back to the Hilltop? I would have hated my life.

As for what else is on the horizon in the back half of this season? Kang told Deadline that we’ll learn a lot more about the Whisperers and their leader, Alpha, as well as what’s going on with those mysterious “X” scars we keep seeing. There’s also the newly freed Negan to contend with. And if you’re wondering who’s going to take over for Jesus as leader of Hilltop, it’s looking like that will be up to Tara. As Kang told E.W., “She sort of has been handling a lot of things, because Jesus in a lot of ways didn’t really take to being the leader of Hilltop. He doesn’t like the bureaucracy of it. . . . Tara, we see, has been handling a lot of the day-to-day anyway. So that’s one of the aspects of the story that we’ll be exploring going forward.”

In the past, you have said you didn't want to see Aaron and Jesus in a relationship, as they are in the comics. Did your mind change given the direction of the characters this season?

I liked that they had a friendship, but I felt like a further relationship wasn't necessarily required. I thought it would have been a bit lazy: "Here are two gay characters. They should get together!" But someone else asked me about the six-year time jump [that followed Lincoln's departure], and I was like, "Maybe they did hook up once or twice in those six years!" Maybe that contributed to their [friendship], but as you do, you just become friends afterward. I could see that happening. But a long-term [relationship]? I'm not sure about that. They have a lot in common, and they did connect in a few different ways. It was nice to have them chatting; their sensibilities were similar. They were quite natural friends.

Its fair to say theres a lot of potential in that idea, but it cant help but feel like a bit of a letdown after the early episodes this year showed such promise in the notion of deriving human conflict from our existing characters. Worse still, that promise is just lying there waiting to be utilized: Theres a whole plot about what went wrong between the communities, and rather than delve into it in a significant way, the show is playing the waiting game, obnoxiously offering little teases of a far more interesting show, if only it would stop playing coy and dropping elusive hints about why Alexandria (and Michonne in particular) is on the outs with the other two outposts. We get small flashes of insight: Michonne feels guilty turning down Carols request that Alexandria send a delegation to the fair, but insists, We have our own troubles, too. She tells Siddiq that people in Hilltop are still angry with her, and she refuses to mend fences—Not the way they want me to, anyway—instead implying she made some hard choices that got people killed, but it was the right thing to do. Show, dont tell, Walking Dead. The series may want to play the long game with that narrative, but it means were left spinning our wheels in the here and now. Or rather, enduring some tiresome conversations, and then killing off Jesus before he can settle into his role as leader.

The Walking Dead season 9: The Whisperers expose HUGE plot hole YOU missed

Not only is Jesus an iconic Walking Dead character, he's also an iconic gay character on television. How was your experience in that regard, and what do you say to viewers who felt represented by Jesus, and are going to be disappointed by this loss?

It's been so amazing to be a part of that community and to give visibility as a gay character on one of the biggest television shows ever. It was an amazing responsibility, and I was happy to take it on. But I was disappointed it wasn't in there more. It wasn't ever even explicitly mentioned. [Jesus' sexual orientation] was just one scene with Lauren in season seven. The right people picked up on it; they did recognize it. But you can find people who still don't realize Jesus was gay. I think they could have been a bit more up front about that. While you've lost Jesus, you still have Aaron and Tara (Alanna Masterson), and now Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), so there's still representation on the show. But it's a shame. He was such a badass character. They could have made more of it. It's really Robert Kirkman who was so amazing to do it in the comic books. I was super excited to play that. I wish they made a bigger deal of it. But other storylines take precedent, I guess.

We shouldve known better. After an episode literally called Evolution, in which Eugene makes the case for the walkers developing the potential for speech and thought, its all revealed to be a sham. After killing some of these spry new Talkers (I cant be expected to write talking walkers every damn time I refer to them) in the shows final minutes, Daryl sees the seam in ones skin and opens it up, pulling off an undead skull cap to reveal the all-too-human face hiding underneath the rotting flesh. Leaving aside the practical difficulties of sewing masks made from decaying material (they must have to make new ones, like, every other day, no?), this means theres a threat of living beings out there who have chosen to blend in with the walker hordes; in other words, at any moment a supposedly braindead shambling mess could suddenly turn and launch a swift attack on our unwitting protagonists—which is exactly what happens here. R.I.P., Jesus.

Do you have any interest in reprising Jesus at some point down the line, perhaps in a Walking Dead movie, as is the plan with Andrew Lincoln? Given the time jump, there are lots of potential stories involving Jesus viewers haven't seen…

I would never say never, but I would only want to do it if it was good material. I don't have any interest in being there in the background, or showing up just for the sake of doing it. I would love to tell a story about Jesus' beginnings or whatever happened in those six years, and there's a lot of scope for that. If the material is strong, I would be interested.

The steady journey to find Eugene and evade the walkers was the most satisfying part of Evolution, likely because it was a rare case of the show just executing a straightforward story without trying to drag it out. They went to find Eugene, and in doing so, discovered the new menace of walkers who dont abide by the old rules, ending with the reveal of the humans that hide in plain sight among the undead hordes. Thats a beginning, middle, and end for a subplot, and its something this series could sorely use more of. Its what made those first couple episodes stand out; so take a breath during this mid-season hiatus, Walking Dead, and hopefully youll come back ready to get down to the business of telling good stories, not just teasing them.

Yes! We had a nice little dinner. People have different attitudes toward leaving the show and I was really happy! (Laughs.) I gave a speech about how I was happy. Even though there were times I was frustrated with the show, I was happy we were telling this great story. That's the whole point. It's what I want to do in my career, and to now be able to do that on this show…and I really hadn't felt like I had been involved in that many story points, aside from when I first joined the show, and then they gave me this huge one at the end. I'm hugely honored Angela put me in this position. 

What was the hardest part about saying goodbye to Jesus — which perhaps is a moot question, since you were clearly happy to say goodbye.

I loved the character. It's sad to say goodbye to the character. But there was just so much potential in the character that wasn't realized. I was frustrated by that and wished we had explored it further. I wasn't sad to say goodbye to that frustration. It was constant. I had been training for two years. I was so prepared for this character and what he was capable of. There was just lots of unrealized potential. That was very frustrating for me. When we finally showed off this year what he was able to do, that was great. I have no wish to go back to being frustrated by a character. (Laughs.) It's really just part of being on an ongoing series. You're constantly hoping the next episode you get, something will happen for you. You're on the edge of your seat all the time, pressing your hands together and hoping that something cool will turn up. You can only do that for so long. I'm looking forward to doing something now that has a beginning, middle and end, so I can see the character in front of me. I spent a long time hoping my character was going to have more to do. I was happy to have a great beginning, a great bit [in the middle] with Lennie, and then a really great ending. That's enough for me. I'm happy it rounded off in a fun way, with a great impact on the story. But at the same time, I'm ready to move on.

Posted in Surprise