'The Walking Dead' brings an iconic moment from the comics to life with a big twist

Gene Page/AMCAlpha shows Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and the communities she isn’t messing around on ‘The Walking Dead.’

  • Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead” season nine, episode 15, “The Calm Before.”
  • Sunday’s episode of AMC’s “TWD” brought a large moment from the comics to life, with a twist.
  • The show killed off multiple characters, but swapped out some of the big iconic deaths in the comics for others.
  • Episode director Laura Belsey told INSIDER about the scene stayed with her weeks after editing it for its haunting nature.

They finally did it. King Ezekiel’s fair finally got underway on Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead.” But it didn’t go according to plan. Alpha (played by Samantha Morton) infiltrated the fair to kidnap 10 fairgoers and kill them.

In a dark moment, Alpha has the victim’s heads put on pikes and displayed in an open field to mark the border of her land from the other communities. They’re discovered by Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Siddiq (Avi Nash).

Twd 915 pikesJackson Lee Davis/AMCThe group comes upon the border created by the Whisperers.

The pike deaths are one of the biggest and most shocking moments from the comics. You don’t see it coming in July 2015’s issue No. 144. The issue ends with two large spreads revealing a dozen character deaths. Similar to the comics, the TV deaths are revealed one by one, juxtaposed with scenes from the fair where others are searching for their missing friends.

As the reveals move forward in both the show and the comic, they hit you harder as they go from more obscure, background characters to longtime characters. On the show the deaths are revealed in the following order: Ozzy and Alek (The Highwaymen), DJ and Frankie (former Saviors), Tammy Rose, Rodney, Addy, Enid, Tara, and Henry.

Carol nearly buckles from the sight of her adopted son Henry on the final pike. Daryl holds her up in a callback to season two when Carol first discovers her dead daughter Sophia on season two.

Many fans were shocked by the reveal


It wasn’t just fans who were gutted by the moment on Sunday’s episode.

Episode director Laura Belsey has directed a lot of episodes of TV. You may have seen some of her work on “Arrow,” season two of “Genius,” and “Criminal Minds.” But she told INSIDER the pike scene on Sunday’s episode was embedded in her mind long after leaving the editing room.

“I couldn’t shake that scene for weeks after I was done with the show,” said Belsey. ” I was haunted by it. And, hopefully it will haunt other people too.”

A huge departure from the comics

Fans of the comics, have been wondering whether or not the show may stay true to the comics if it brought the pike scene to life. Sunday’s episode switched up two of the comic’s big deaths. In issue No. 144, the two big deaths are Rosita, who is pregnant in the comics and the show, and King Ezekiel.

TWD issue no 144 pike deathsImage Comics/SkyboundHere’s an example of the death reveals in issue No. 144. The episode similarly juxtaposed images at the fair and the heads on the pikes.

On the show, Tara takes Rosita’s death while Henry subs in for Ezekiel. Enid, a character only from the show, is also among the big deaths on Sunday’s episode.

Up until the pike reveal, the episode really leaned into several clever misdirects to make fans believe Rosita and Ezekiel may receive their comic deaths.

Read more: ‘The Walking Dead’ had a huge opportunity to take a big swing on Sunday’s episode and it chickened out

Alpha has a conversation with King Ezekiel who later seems to disappear when a big movie screening is underway. At another point, Alpha glances Rosita’s way. Eugene and Gabriel are seen looking for someone, believed to be Rosita, until the scene cuts to Tara.

“That was very much by design,” Belsey told INSIDER of introducing several misdirects throughout “The Calm Before.” “The comic fans know whose heads are on the pike in the comic, so how do you toy with them just enough without tipping? It was really fun, just playing with all those scenes and all the characters so that they’re given a good goodbye without it being obvious that they were going to go next, and have a few misdirects, like Rosita and Gabriel.”

Twd 911 enid taraGene Page/AMCEnid and Tara get a few final moments on screen on Sunday’s episode.

Belsey said they purposely built up an underlying creepy element to the episode so the audience is on edge and isn’t sure who may be getting killed off the series.

“We just didn’t want to be too obvious, like, this is Tara’s last scene as a leader,” said Belsey. “Give her a heroic moment, and I think that was the balance that we all strive for in the writing, the performances, the direction, in all levels. Just how do we give them the heroic exit that they deserve, but not tip it?”

Not everyone was shocked by Sunday’s pike reveal. Some were underwhelmed by the changes from the source material.


What did you think of Sunday’s big pike reveal on “TWD”? Were you surprised by the deaths or were you left a bit underwhelmed by who was killed? You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here.

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