The second half of The Walking Dead season 9 will start off with a gloomy atmosphere it seems, as the survivors have to deal with the death of their friend, Jesus (Tom Payne). The Hilltop leader – since Maggie vanished – was murdered by a vicious Whisperer in the midseason finale and the ninth episode of the season will pick right up from that tragic incident when it airs in February.
This new still from the episode showcases the grim job now facing our heroes: burying Jesus’ body. From left to right, the photo features Michonne (Danai Gurira), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Aaron (Ross Marquand), who leads the horse carrying the corpse. It must be especially tough for him, as season 9 had given the impression that he and Jesus had developed a romance since the 6-year time jump.
There’s no doubt about it, then Jesus is a goner. However, Tom Payne isn’t ruling out returning to TWD in future episodes. The key to his possible comeback is the aforementioned time jump. Payne thinks it’d be a good idea to fill in the gap with a flashback episode at some point, thereby giving him the opportunity to reprise his role. Otherwise, the actor admits that he’s happy with his exit as he’d been frustrated with Jesus’ development on the show.
Jesus’ death will likely be just the first casualty in the survivors’ clash with the Whisperers, another group who’ve effectively gone native in this zombie-infested world. They’ve taken to wearing walker face-masks and murdering the living, and we’ll get to meet their leaders Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Beta (Ryan Hurst) over the course of season 9B.
The Walking Dead 9×09, which is currently untitled, airs on AMC on Sunday, February 10th.