- Warning: This is our spoiler-filled review of “The Walking Dead” mid-season premiere, “Adaptation.”
- “TWD” will return to AMC on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at 9 p.m.
- Fans will quickly get answers to questions about the show’s next villains and what Negan is up to out of his cell.
- The threat of the Whisperers and who they are should fascinate viewers, but some smaller plot details may frustrate.
Who is this new group of survivors that insists on wearing masks made of walker skin? How will Michonne and the group get away from them? What will Negan do now that he’s out of his cell? You’ll learn all of this within the first new episode of season nine’s back half. You just may not be completely satisfied with all of the answers.
INSIDER has viewed the next two episodes of “The Walking Dead” ahead of its return to AMC Sunday, February 10. Is the show worth tuning into without Rick Grimes? If you’re fans of Negan, Daryl, his dog, and are intrigued by the show’s next big villains,the Whisperers, then the answer is yes. Just overlook a few silly plot details.
What you should know: The episode runs a bit over an hour and is best paired with December’s mid-season finale
The mid-season premiere, “Adaptation,” will run a little long so set your DVR for 10:14 p.m. It’s directed by Greg Nicotero, who usually directs most of the show’s premieres and finales, and is written by Corey Reed. Reed also wrote last year’s mid-season premiere and send-off for Chandler Riggs.
The episode is stronger if you watch it directly after the December finale. It continues right where it left off with Michonne (Danai Gurira), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Daryl (Norman Reedus), and more surrounded by a group of walkers and mysterious new foes after the death of Jesus (Tom Payne).
What’s Good: Norman Reedus steps up with Andrew Lincoln off the show, Danai Gurira shines in every scene she’s in, and the Whisperers delight
For the first time since season six, a mid-season premiere of “The Walking Dead” doesn’t have a big, flashy moment. Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) not there to fight his way through a giant horde of zombies at Alexandria, there aren’t any TNT explosives blowing up zombies on a highway like in season seven, and AMC’s not leaning on the crutch of an impending death of a beloved character (Carl) to bring in viewers like it did last February.
And that’s OK.
Since Angela Kang took over as showrunner at the start of season nine, the show’s focus has shifted from simply killing the next group of zombies or Negan’s Saviors to creating more meaningful interactions between its large cast of survivors. These are people who have lived alongside each other for years but didn’t seem to have the most believable of relationships. (It was a bit odd that we barely had any substantial dialogue between the show’s three lead women – Carol, Maggie, and Michonne – in years until the start of season nine.)
Lincoln’s absence opens up room for interactions between some cast members you’re not necessarily used to seeing, and that’s something “TWD” has been missing. Expect bonds to continue growing when the series returns.
If you’ve been hankering for more of Daryl, your wish is AMC’s command. With Andrew Lincoln gone from the show, Norman Reedus take over much of the spotlight on “TWD.” Reedus is definitely earning that reported pay bump to $US1 million per episode. The man must have more dialogue in the first two episodes of 2019 than he did in most of seasons seven or eight.
Don’t worry. It’s not the “Ride With Norman Reedus” show, now. Michonne (Danai Gurira) also gets her time to shine in the mid-season premiere slicing and dicing, giving orders, and sharing some sentimental moments with a few of the show regulars. If you’re a fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and have been tired of seeing him locked in that cell, you’ll finally get to see him roam around a bit, as Kang teased to INSIDER in December.
Though there isn’t a big, flashy scene on the mid-season premiere, there is a quick, satisfying action sequence early on in the episode that you may want to watch more than once. And you’ll get to see plenty of Daryl’s dog.
In case you’re worried AMC is going to make you wait several episodes to see them again after the mid-season finale, don’t be. You’ll get your fair share of the Whisperers in “Adaptation” and the following week’s episode, “Omega.” But if you think you know what’s going to happen next because you’ve read the comics, you really don’t. I was pleasantly surprised with some of the new material the show has added to bolster the Whisperer arc. You may even get some vibes of the Governor’s storyline from back in seasons three and four.
It’s not all just Negan and Whisperers. If you’re still here for the dead, Nicotero and the makeup effects team play around with some new decaying looks we haven’t really seen before.
What’s Not: Comic fans may be a little annoyed and there are a few silly details in the premiere which cannot be ignored
As much as the mid-season premiere works as a whole, there are a few cringe-worthy and questionable moments that stuck with me through two full viewings.
Though the episode’s opening sequence continues right where the mid-season finale left off, you may be left wanting a little bit more. Any spooky, haunting feelings “TWD” may have conjured in its mid-season finale are quickly quashed within minutes, making the villains, initially, feel like less of a threat. It’s a bit frustrating after a mid-season finale that worked up to an extremely tense moment.
If you’re a big comic fan, you may get annoyed to see one character taking over a large chunk of Carl’s role from the series. And if you weren’t a fan of Negan before, you may have a tough time swallowing the character as he comes back to the show’s forefront seeking redemption from viewers in gradual baby steps.
Fans may be bothered the most by the extent of Jesus’ (Tom Payne’s) appearance in the episode. It’s no secret he appears. The first photo released for the back half of the season showed Payne strewn across a horse after getting killed off the show.
Let’s just say, that image is a pretty good partial synopsis of the mid-season premiere itself. If that doesn’t upset viewers, you may be left rolling your eyes at an overtly bizarre moment near the end of the mid-season premiere.
Overall: Come for Daryl, his dog, and some Whisperer action. Stick around for the following week’s episode.
There’s a reason AMC gave journalists two episodes of “The Walking Dead” to screen ahead of its return. Though enjoyable, the first episode on its own isn’t stellar. Watched together, the first two episodes complement and build off one another as a satisfying, slow burn. I wish AMC was airing them back to back for viewers.
Are the first two episodes of “TWD’s” 2019 return to TV the strongest I’ve ever seen the show? No. Are they my favourite episodes of the season? Nope. But they’re solid episodes with plenty of Daryl scenes and I’m looking forward to seeing more. The intrigue lays in the rollout of the Whisperers and a promise of learning more about those mystery “X” marks later this season. Here’s to hoping the reveals of both give the show the added push it needs.
“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC Sunday, February 10 at 9 p.m. You can follow along with our show coverage here and watch a teaser for the second half of season nine below.
- Read more:
- ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Katelyn Nacon says Enid won’t be happy Negan’s free
- ‘The Walking Dead’ star says another actor almost lost their arm on the show years ago
- ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Seth Gilliam says it’s not his fault Negan escaped the prison cell: ‘Father Gabriel slammed the f—ing gate shut’
- ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Katelyn Nacon hints we’ll finally get to see Carl’s letter to Enid
- ‘The Walking Dead’s’ Katelyn Nacon says she didn’t learn about Enid’s new romance until she read it in the script
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