Stradivarius: Review for The Walking Dead 907 by R.C. Murphy
Shh. Do you hear that? It’s spoilers whispering from the review below. Be careful!
Danai Gurira as Michonne – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Seems like everyone’s on their way to Hilltop in one way or another during this episode. Despite Michonne’s new isolationism kick, she’s going to have to reach outside her protective bubble in order to ensure her people will remain safe. Carol is already well on her way to taking care of her people’s future by driving Henry to Hilltop so he can become a blacksmith. On the way they make a pit stop for possible reinforcement first. Other citizens from Alexandria make the trek to the community, as well. Some whose arrival is quite unexpected.
Hilltop isn’t the place it was back when the bridge blew up. There’s been some major changes. They’ve expanded the farm, taking up countless acres outside the main fence in order to have enough to provide food for everyone and grow the herbs they need to treat the sick. There’s a small standing army with new recruits coming in weekly. Tara, of all people, has stepped up to become an assistant the community’s leader. And that leader? Is not Maggie. Yes, folks, the rumors are true. Maggie gets an off-screen goodbye. But it’s not goodbye for good. Showrunner Angela Kang says she plans for Maggie to return in more than just letters in the future. For now Jesus runs the community. Okay, let’s be honest, Tara’s running the show and Jesus has his foot halfway out the door again because he’s too restless to do the job as needed. So restless, he’s secretly training Aaron to fight instead of taking care of business matters.
The change-ups at Hilltop don’t sway Michonne from her plan to take Yumiko and her people to about the halfway point before giving their care over to Siddiq and D.J. for the remainder of the trip. She’s only there to check out the group’s story about leaving their supplies and bolting after their friend died. The story seems to be true, judging from the rampant destruction at their storage container. Not even accidentally killing an irreplaceable musical instrument convinces Michonne to do the right thing and see them to the gates herself. It takes Hilltop messengers with the news about Jesus finding Rosita in bad condition to change her mind about a visit to see some of her old friends.
Another visitor with reservations is Carol’s last-ditch help to protect Henry, Daryl. After putting herself in danger to fetch him from his self-imposed exile, it’s obvious just showing up won’t be enough to pull the guy out of his prolonged, and self-harm-ridden, mourning cycle. Nothing she says truly sinks in. Daryl is afraid to face a world without his friend, so he keeps avoiding it. The guy has a booby trapped camp and a nameless dog, and the unrelenting need to stay by the river just in case he finds Rick’s body. But time has come for him to rejoin the world. Oddly enough, it’s not Carol who gets Daryl moving, but Henry and misadventure with walkers. She’s excited anyway. At least Daryl won’t be alone anymore. He wastes no time once back amongst people and is one of the first to volunteer to find Eugene after being told about Rosita’s message before she passed out.
Will they find Eugene before these whispering walkers do? As much as I don’t like the guy, no one should be left to die alone and scared in the woods. Hopefully they get to him and figure out what’s up with the undead’s odd behavior with minimal bloodshed.
Thanks to the stinger at the end of TWD’s season eight, fans knew going into season nine that there would be quite a bit of drama around how, exactly, this newfound peace will be lead and nurtured to last into future generations. In order to make it work, they brought Maggie to the forefront to take over as leader for Hillside. It’s the perfect arrangement, putting the farmer’s daughter in charge of the farming community, and Maggie has the backbone to see that her people not only pull their own weight, but are showed the respect they deserve. “But we’ll see that Maggie is just, you know, she’s not gonna just fall in line with everything Rick’s doing because she has to take care of her own people now. She’s got her own agendas and she’s gonna follow them,” showrunner Angela Kang explained during The Walking Dead Season Nine Preview Special.
Too bad Rick disregarded that respect when he alone made the decision to keep Negan imprisoned in Alexandria.
As seen in a recent teaser, Negan doesn’t plan to sit quietly in a corner to rot under Rick’s watchful eyes. His monologue is manifestation of the fear eating at Maggie since the second Rick gave Negan the role as prisoner of war. The guy will never lay down and stop plotting to save himself. Matter of fact, Rick, Maggie, and their folks built the exact thing Negan strived for—a cooperating network of communities with a constantly flowing supply chain. The main difference is, there’s no preferential treatment in this new society. No room to grow into a management position and lord over everyone. For Negan, that’s a flaw he’ll gladly fix once he finds a way out of Rick’s little prison.
It won’t be an easy fight if Negan does get out. Probably. Maybe. In a clip from one trailer, there’s a call for help from the Saviors, with a reply echoing the group’s standard response when asked who they were. So obviously someone out there is still feeling loyal. But are they enough to upset the applecart this far down the road thanks to the time jump? Hilltop looks pretty secure in the few glances we’ve gotten from the various trailers/teasers. If Alexandria got the same sort of treatment, it might be enough to hold Negan in and his still loyal followers out. But none of that matters if Negan works his magic from the inside, playing with people’s heads. Not to mention, Negan has the added bonus of looking for gaps in everyone’s armor while they deal with the Whisperers.
A little quick casting news, since we’re here discussing Hilltop anyway. The production team announced the addition of two new characters straight from the comics (with a few changes to fit the story). Joining the bustling community for season nine is Brett Butler as Tammy Rose, and John Finn has been cast as Earl, Hilltop’s blacksmith.
A Sons of Anarchy Star is the Newest Addition to TWD by R. C. Murphy
Casting news from the Walking Dead camp comes at a whirlwind pace nowadays. Over the last month or so, we’ve learned that season nine will introduce yet another survivor group, the Whisperers. This crew is straight from the comics, with their reign as Grimes’ adversary coming after All Out War wrapped, just as it is planned on the show currently. What makes the Whisperers different from other foes Rick’s group has faced is their heavy-handed use of undead skins to blend in with the creatures. The show has already announced actors for the Whisperers’ leader Alpha and her daughter Lydia—Samantha Morton and Cassady McClinty.
At the end of August, they announced that another Whisperer has come onboard. Beta, Alpha’s second-in-command, will be brought to life by Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy, Bates Motel). It’s not hard at all to imagine Hurst filling that all-too memorable walker skin mask. Matter of fact, just a day after the announcement, Hurst found himself in the makeup chair with his head covered in goop so the makeup magicians for the show can create said mask.
Fellow cast members wasted no time welcoming Hurst to the fold via social media. Some joked around a bit, possibly alluding to a gruesome plot line from the comics which may or may not happen; it depends on how much tweaking they have to do in order to not only make up for Carl’s absence, but also writing off two community leaders this season. However the Whisperers story line plays out, it’s bound to be incredible based on the casting news alone. There’s no way they’d squander this much talent.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 7th. Catch up on previous seasons via your favorite streaming service, or keep an eye out for one of the many mini-marathons AMC hosts at random.