Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead” season nine, episode eight, “Evolution.”
Sunday’s mid-season finale of “The Walking Dead” brought horror back to the show with the inroduction of the Whisperers, a group of survivors who wear the masks of the undead over their faces.
Their arrival on the AMC zombie drama came with the unexpected loss of one of the show’s bigger characters.
This is your last chance to head back before we dive into major spoilers.
During the show’s final minutes, Aaron, Jesus, and Eugene scrambled through a cemetery in the night fog as they were chased down by a herd of walkers.
As Aaron and Eugene fled to safety, Jesus stayed back to fight off the rest of the undead. In an incredible fight sequence, Jesus slayed walker after walker. Just when it looked like he was in the clear, the final walker in his path sidestepped and drove a sword through Jesus’ back.
It was a brutal moment that left fans gutted.
NOOO WHAT I’M CRYING JESUS #TheWalkingDead
— ???????????????????????? (@xjdmreedus) November 26, 2018
Not my Jesus!! ???????? Can this not be real? #TalkingDead
— Last Un1c0rn (@Un1c0rn_1) November 26, 2018
— greyhoundsgirl ???? (@rileysgirl) November 26, 2018
— Estevan Casas ???????? (@EstevanC530) November 26, 2018
— Amy (@belsey_amy) November 26, 2018
Not Jesus!!!! Noooooooooo #TheWalkingDead
— The Nurse You Love to Hate (@Nishakakes85) November 26, 2018
Many were upset that they wouldn’t get to see Aaron and Jesus together on the show. (In the comics, they become a couple.)
— Vanessa (@VNG1997) November 26, 2018
We were robbed…Aaron and Jesus
— lisa_oms (@lisa_oms) November 26, 2018
“I was kind of frustrated with what I had gotten to do on the show and I was kind of a bit bored with it,” Tom Payne told INSIDER of playing Jesus on the show. “If I wasn’t being given anything, I was kind of ready to go. And then when [showrunner] Angela [Kang] called me, I was quite chill about it. I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Great. Cool.'”
“I was pretty happy with the whole thing,” Payne said of the way he was killed off. “I just want to tell a good story and be part of a shocking moment on the show. I much rather be that than hang around at the Hilltop for another few years.”
Payne acknowledged that some fans will be upset with his departure, but he thought it would be because his character didn’t fulfil all of the storylines he had in the comics.
“I think there will be backlash because he’s such a popular character in the comic books and I don’t think he quite got the storylines that people might have been expecting,” said Payne. “I think there would probably be a bit more of a backlash about that. I think the way he goes and what it does for the story is really strong.”
“Obviously, for comic-book readers who love the character of Jesus, this will be a big blow,” showrunner Angela Kang told INSIDER. “But we’ve often deviated from the comic in deaths throughout history. Rick is still the lead of the comics and we had to write out Andrew Lincoln this year. There’s definitely a lot of things that are different.”
Kang said it’s normal to expect a bit of backlash, but is proud of the amount of diverse characters that are represented on the series.
“We have a very good record of diversity both on screen and behind the scenes. Our writers room is incredibly diverse,” said Kang. “At this point, so many of our characters fall into some sort of a minority or underrepresented group that it’s kind of hard to say that any particular group is off limits. What we want to do is just show that there is a variety of people just like there is in the world and we’re proud of that representation on screen.”
While Jesus is gone, there are still four openly gay characters on the show. There’s Aaron, Tara, and newly-introduced couple Magna and Yumiko.
The series also recently introduced the character Connie, who is deaf. She is played by deaf actress Lauren Ridloff.
Jesus’ death was teased throughout the episode as several characters at the Hilltop said they would consult Jesus when he returned to the community about Magna’s new group and Henry’s misbehavior. Someone else, probably Tara, will now have to step up as the Hilltop’s new leader.
Were you surprised by Jesus’ death or did you see it coming? Let me know what you thought and talk the episode with me on Twitter @KirstenAcuna.
You can follow along with our “Walking Dead” coverage here.
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