It’s not guaranteed to happen, but more often than not, The Walking Dead serves up a memorable and shocking death in its mid-season finales, and season 9’s was no different.
Last night’s eighth episode, titled “Evolution,” saw the survivors properly encounter the Whisperers for the first time. A tried and tested TWD method of proving how dangerous a new threat is is to off a fan favorite character, and sure enough, that’s what happened here.
The final scene of “Evolution” saw Paul “Jesus” Rovia take on a bunch of the mysterious walker herd as he told his friends to escape. An accomplished martial artist, Jesus can often take care of himself, but in this instance, he tried a tricksy move on a walker and it turned out to be much more agile than he anticipated. The Whisperer got the jump on him and unfortunately, delivered a fatal blow.
This is yet another surprising death for comic book fans, as it differs from the source material. But according to showrunner Angela Kang, Jesus had to die. The writing team didn’t make the decision lightly, but ultimately felt that his death would have the most impact. She also promised that his loss would be felt throughout the rest of the season when it returns after Christmas.
“I think we started planning it out at the beginning of the season. We knew that there needed to be something momentous to happen to kind of kick off this season Whisperer storyline. And in the show we often diverge from the paths from the comic book, because it’s just our array of characters is so different. But it had to be something that really would affect the story at Hilltop, and a character whose life really mattered, and what they stood for matters to our characters. And so, there’s a lot of factors that go into deciding who’s being written out and why and things. And so, it’s something that we take very seriously and not very lightly, but it seems to work well for the story, and definitely you feel the effect of this death rippling through the entire season. And so, I think it’s had a powerful impact on the story.”
After Jesus’ death, his murderer is finished off and the group investigates his body, with Daryl realizing that he’s actually a living person with a zombie face mask sewn over his head. Yes, just as comic book readers knew, it’s not that the walkers are evolving but that a warped group of human survivors are impersonating the undead for their own malevolent ends. It’s a grim discovery for the gang, but at least now they can get a grasp of what they’re up against.
The Walking Dead season 9 will continue in February 2019, and when it does, it looks like there’s much to look forward to.