4 frustrating moments from 'The Walking Dead' mid-season premiere explained

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCWhy did Negan wait until broad daylight to leave Alexandria?

  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for the mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead.
  • Sunday’s mid-season premiere of the AMC zombie drama, titled “Adaptation,” continues one of the best seasons of the show in years.
  • It also had some questionable moments involving Jesus and Negan, including a slightly bizarre ending to the episode. Showrunner Angela Kang and executive producer Greg Nicotero clarify and break down some of the moments on Sunday’s episode for us.

The Walking Dead” is finally back and it wasted little time letting fans know what happened to Daryl, Michonne, and the gang after getting surrounded by the Whisperers.

The AMC zombie drama also showed us exactly what Negan is up to after escaping from his jail cell. And while we really enjoyed “The Walking Dead’s” return to television, it wasn’t perfect. There were several moments during the episode that really made us hit pause, including the show’s final minutes between Negan and Judith, which almost seemed like a fever dream.

INSIDER spoke with showrunner Angela Kang and she clarified some big moments on Sunday’s episode, from that slightly bizarre ending to why it was decided to have Tom Payne playing dead on a horse for a majority of the episode. Executive producer and episode director Greg Nicotero also shared some insight on how we almost saw a bigger fight with the undead Sunday night.

It seemed a little silly watching Tom Payne getting dragged around for a majority of the episode as a corpse.

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCThat’s Tom Payne on that horse playing dead.

After getting killed on November’s mid-season finale, fans were able to say goodbye to Jesus (Tom Payne) on Sunday’s episode. However, we weren’t expecting to see Jesus getting dragged and then carried by a horse for a majority of the mid-season premiere.

Showrunner Angela Kang told INSIDER they could have used a dummy in place of Payne, but the actor volunteered to play Jesus’ corpse.

Though Kang recognises images of Payne on the horse could become memes, she thought it was important to show Jesus brought back to his community of the Hilltop.

“For me, the positive payoff of it all is that moment when they do bring his body in through the gates of the Hilltop and you see Tara just laying her hands on his body and just the grief that they all have,” said Kang. “I think seeing Jesus there, really helped everybody’s performances. It is such a momentous moment for the Hilltop and that just reverberates through the rest of the season. It’s something that affects people very deeply. It changes the leadership structure at the Hilltop. It causes characters to change their minds even in the other communities.”

Read more: ‘The Walking Dead’ showrunner says Tom Payne volunteered to play his character’s dead corpse on the mid-season premiere

It was a bit unbelievable that Michonne, Daryl, and the rest would have been able to escape the Whisperers so easily at the episode’s start.

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCWe could have seen a larger fight early into ‘The Walking Dead’ mid-season premiere.

The Whisperers made a big entrance to the show in November, shockingly killing Jesus in the process and about two minutes into the mid-season premiere, the rest of the group was able to slink past them unscathed, even though they were surrounded. After such a terrifying debut in November, it made the threat of the new villains seem a little less menacing.

For what it’s worth, executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also designed the look of the Whisperers, told INSIDER that we could have seen the group in more peril after leaving the cemetary, but the main focus of the mid-season premiere was to emphasise story.

“In an earlier draft of the script there was a bigger zombie fight after they left the cemetery,” Nicotero said. “[Showrunner] Angela [Kang] and I talked about it and we were like you know, that’s not really the place for it. Do we really need this big zombie fight? We’ve seen our characters kill zombies before. We’ve seen them kill zombies in the fog before. We’ve seen it. Let’s streamline, keep our story focused on what we want.”

Why did Negan wait until the morning to leave Alexandria after escaping from his cell at night?

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCA quick watch of the show made it appear that Negan was out of his cell for the majority of the night just wandering around Alexandria. Angela Kang says that wasn’t the case.

On Sunday’s episode, it looks like Negan escapes his cell in the evening only to wait around until broad daylight the following morning to try and leave Alexandria.

What gives? And, more importantly, why didn’t Judith notice Negan in her bedroom while he entered in the middle of the night?

According to Kang, it’s tough to tell, but Negan didn’t escape from his cell in the middle of the night. It was actually very early in the morning.

“Maybe that’s a little too confusing. Part of it is he had escaped probably closer to dawn,” explained Kang. “The daylight may have not totally worked for us. They actually did shoot it first thing in the morning, at first light, when he’s escaping, but it gets bright very quickly.”

“The other thing that perhaps isn’t as clear as it should be is that Judith actually didn’t stay [at her home] overnight,” said Kang. “In our minds, she’s probably staying with a babysitter and so when he went over to their house and was wandering around, fortunately the children weren’t home. We felt Michonne would, having gone on a trip over to the Hilltop, would have left [Judith and RJ] with a trusted family friend.”

We like to think Judith was having slumber party with Aaron’s daughter Gracie.

What was with the ending of the episode?

Jackson Lee Davis/AMCWas this real or a dream sequence? Angela Kang assures Negan was on his way back to Alexandria.

Are we really supposed to believe Judith knew exactly where Negan was going to wind up on his motorcycle at the episode’s end? What was she doing wandering off on her own? It felt like viewers were getting a little nod to her older brother Carl’s (R.I.P.) mischieviousness.

“I think Judith is wandering around a little on her own sort of like Carl. I do think they probably sent out search parties after [Negan], so probably somebody’s not too far from her sort of as we were introduced to the older Judith in episode six [of season nine],” said Kang of why Judith is outside of Alexandria to begin with.

If you recall, Judith was also the first person to meet Magna and Yumiko in the woods after the time jump.

“She kind of came across that group of strangers first and then you learned she had wandered a little bit afield of the rest of her group. In our minds, Negan was actually heading back to Alexandria, so [Judith] probably heard the motorcycle coming, maybe guessed that it was him. It’s just something that during the search [for him] he’s kind of on his way back and sort of a happy coincidence, but she just doesn’t take a lot of risk with things.” “She just knows somebody on a motorcycle approaching is somebody who deserves to have a gun pointed at them,” said Kang, adding that the only exception Judith would make for someone on a motorcycle is obviously Daryl.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.