Solid but disappointingly unremarkable, “Adaptation” welcomed back The Walking Dead in a safe and uneventful way.
This recap of The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 9, “Adaptation”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It has been a while since The Walking Dead was last shambling across our screens, so here’s a quick refresher: It inexplicably got good again, it introduced a hoarse though promising new threat in the form of the Whisperers, and then it killed Jesus. “Adaptation” picks up right where we left off, with Jesus still dead (I guess the whole resurrection thing isn’t a given), and the survivors making their escape with his corpse and an injured Eugene (Josh McDermitt).
Along the way, there’s time to ambush a group of walkers and, with them, a living Whisperer; she says her name is Lydia but is otherwise unusually tight-lipped. Taking her back to Hilltop to toss in jail alongside the still-annoying teenage Henry (Matt Lintz), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) ask her a bunch of questions but receive no satisfactory answers. Daryl then does a Bad Cop routine and buggers off to eavesdrop on Lydia whining to Henry as they bond over both being losers.
In the meantime, maybe I’m forgetting something here, but the last I recall it was Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who was banging Rosita (Christian Serratos), yet “Adaptation” reveals that she’s pregnant and that the likely father is… Siddiq (Avi Nash). When did that happen? Is it smart for The Walking Dead to pass around their only remaining eye-candy between multiple odd romantic partners? Then again the only other option is Eugene, which would inevitably mean more screen time for him, and we certainly can’t be having that. (Note: “Adaptation” deliberately timed Rosita’s morning sickness to play up right after Eugene expressed his undying love for her, which was my reaction too.)
In the middle of all this, we continue to be irritatingly teased about some nebulous prior event that occurred during the six-year time-skip that caused the communities to completely isolate themselves, Michonne to develop terrible leadership qualities, and Daryl to live like Tom Hanks in Castaway. At this point it could be anything, but is it just me who scarcely cares either way at this point? If we’re doing the whole six years later thing, let’s just commit to that instead of playing aggravatingly coy with what happened in the meantime. If it was that important it would have been shown; as things stand I suspect they’re just making it up as they go along. Boo!
Oh, almost forgot – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) escaped! Then he turned right around and went back to Alexandria, back to the judgemental company of Judith (Cailey Fleming), who said there was nothing out there for him and was right all along. The point of all this was to have Negan be free and then make the conscious decision to return, thus solidifying his new “good guy” status, which will help in dealing with the Whisperers. But a better twist will be if the group begin to trust him and he turns on them again, because he’s a crazy person who talks to a baseball bat. I’m holding out hope for that eventuality, even if it’s looking increasingly unlikely.
Either way, “Adaptation” was a solid, if unremarkable midseason premiere. After such a string of exemplary episodes and a dynamite midseason finale things were inevitably going to feel as though they’d taken a step down, but nonetheless I was a bit surprised at how safe and uneventful “Adaptation” felt. I still feel like this season even at its worst is operating at a much higher level of competency than seasons past, though, and I’m still digging the time skip and the Whisperers as potential villains, even though we’re killing and capturing far too many for them to maintain their mystique. Hopefully the next episode gets back the scary and exciting high-point we last left the show on, and we can take “Adaptation” for the scene-setting appetiser than it was.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.