THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 9, EPISODE 6: "WHO ARE YOU NOW?"
REVIEW New in Town.
Source :BY MATT FOWLER / IGN
Warning: Full spoilers for The Walking Dead episode "Who Are You Now?" follow...
Hey, new things! We like new things, right? For the most part?
Acting a bit more like the smaller time jump from the middle of Season 6 (which kicked off in "The New World" and featured Rick and Michonne's conscious coupling) and less like the big year and a half we just skipped over coming into Season 9, "Who Are You Now? featured a remix of Alexandria - with some of the changes landing better than others.
It's been six years. Arguably, given that amount of time, which was mostly used to age up Judith and Henry (who's still hella annoying, just much bigger), a lot more should have happened. Honestly, aside from the kids growing up, this could have easily been a two or three year jump given the gravitas of the changes. They weren't all that big, all things considered. The most surprising element here was that Alexandria and The Kingdom were still standing and that these folks were all still in it. When have we ever known anyone in this universe to last in a place this long? These characters all got a pass because if the cameras had kept rolling, just for the sake of drama, everything would have gone to s***. The jump allowed them a reprieve, of sorts.
That's not to say everything was copacetic and calm. Something happened with Hilltop. And whatever that was, whenever it gets explained to us, it's probably why Maggie's no longer around. Maybe. Sure, it could be that somehow relations with Hilltop disintegrated and no one's allowed to see Maggie anymore so she'll just remain off-screen. No actual death has been confirmed. We only know Lauren Cohan's done with the show for now. (Even if that annoyingly wasn't acknowledged on screen this week or last.)
The Walking Dead: "Who Are You Now?" Photos
Also, is whatever happened to Maggie tied to why Michonne is so strict about security these days? Only barely alluded to, it seems like there was some incident or adventure involving a person or persons being brought in and then causing havoc and it's made her want to lock down the entire place - for what seems like a while now. So it's not like these characters haven't experienced loss since Rick choppered away, it's just that it wasn't big enough topple their entire communities. I am curious though about Hilltop and what's going on over there with Jesus and Enid (is she gone or aged up?) and whether or not Maggie's alive. Carol's taking Henry there so we'll touch on all this eventually.
"Who Are You Now?" was a good catch-up episode that constantly offered up new information, which kept things moving. The new characters - Magna (the disagreeable one), Yumiko (the injured one), Connie and Kelly (who are apparently sisters, according to Talking Dead), and Luke - are fine. And all very sad about "Bernie," apparently. Their predicament, and Judith's stubborn kindness, were our entry point here, and it was partially through their eyes that we witnessed new Alexandria. Which was different, but the same. Alexandrians were caring, but cautious - akin to where Alexandria was when it first became a part of the show. Except now it wasn't accepting any new members. By the end, exceptions were made and Michonne softened enough to allow the new people to stay. Having them face a council as a group was a good way to give us a quick overview of each new face.
So what's up with Negan? Well, he's still behind bars. Again, it's one of those revelations that maybe could have worked a little better if this episode were only two years down the road, and not six. Because after six freakin' years Negan seems to be in pretty good spirits. And I like his genial relationship with Judith. He's always been at his best with kids and it's been his caring about kids, Carl in particular, that basically opened him up for any type of sympathy from us whatsoever.
Also, I see Michonne subscribes to the Lori school of thought involving making your kids still do goddamn algebra homework even though the entire world's been lost to gruesome oblivion. To be fair, at least Michonne's doing it in a world where thriving communities now exist and people will have to know basic math in order to build stuff and do rudimentary engineering. For poor Carl, he was just on Hershel's farm so bored out of his mind that he was allowing walkers to kill Dale.
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Carol, sporting a long Geralt of Rivia-style white mane, now has the family that was not only robbed from her when the zombies hit, but also the family she basically never had because Ed was an abusive pig. And she's still a badass den mother - or you could use "Queen" here, which she hates - ready to murder an entire Savior brigade because they roughed up Henry a little bit. As mentioned, Henry's still terrible. He's just as impetuous as he was as a kid, when he was supposedly taught not to be impetuous anymore. Will he ever learn to be an unassuming psycho like his adoptive mother or will he always barrel headfirst into every dangerous scenario?
Anyhow, all these years later, "Who Are You Now?" wrapped up that whole Jed the Savior arc from the beginning of the season. As soon as he showed up I knew, or at least hoped, he'd get put down immediately. Because I did not want any of the past still lingering this large. Jed showing up, as grimy as ever, was okay as long as it was just to close out his story. Because we never actually saw what happened when everyone started shooting back in Episode 4. So like a Ghost of Christmas Past, Jed showed up, acted like a tool, and got deservedly burned alive. That was an awesome moment for Carol. I don't know where's she's at physically, with being able to fight back or gun down a bunch of people, but she can certainly stealth her way into an enemy camp and set a dozen souls ablaze. I mean, aside from killing Lizzie, this may have been her darkest deed.
Now, let's sift through the new changes, from "YAY" to "UGH, GABRIEL'S STILL SLOBBERING ON SOMEONE?"
(Yay!) Michonne is currently raising <del>Rick's</del> Shane's daughter, Judith and her and Rick's son R.J. ("Richard Jadis", I choose to believe). So yes, she did get pregnant before the bridge explosion. It's a pretty stable household considering Michonne seems to constantly chat it up with dead people.
(Aww) Aaron, now all Winter Soldier'd out with a metal arm, adopted baby Grace, who was seen here briefly as a little girl. Now... was she supposed to be Negan's or just...a rando zompocalypse baby?
(Okay) Negan's still locked up in the basement, but he seems to be in a better mental state.
(I Guess I'll Get Hot) Dr. Siddiq "Beard" Smolderson.
(Who'da Thunk?) Eugene is now a capable killer. Mullet-free, he's able to handle himself out there in the wild, killing walkers quickly and efficiently.
(We Exactly Thunk) Daryl vanished into the woods at the end of Episode 5 and...never came out. He just lives in the wilderness and stabs things with a stick. At least all the fishing gets him to bathe. Sorta.
(Still Crazy After All These Years) Carol's at home with her Queenly life, though still ready to fire it up when anyone threatens her family.
(Oh Henry!) Henry's still a punk.
(Surviving the Game) Rosita's basically been around so long that she's become a character by default. She's never been rounded out fully: She's always been defined by who she's with, either romantically or other. Even when Abraham was killed, her story shifted to "being angry over Abraham's death." Now she's with Gabriel, which unfortunately stands as another element that overshadows who she might be as a character.
(It's the Dead Eye, Isn't It?) Somehow, Gabriel's still out there smashing. Season 9 basically decided this guy wasn't an inept coward anymore and started giving him multiple romances. It's not, like, gross or anything (okay, it is) but it also doesn't feel right. Because he's not really a formed character either, so pairing him with anyone is also just more candy coating on a hollow shell. And before anyone out there argues that Eugene should be with Rosita, let's first explore the idea that no one should be with anyone. I know that's very un-TV of me, but don't get boxed into the whole idea of Eugene and Rosita simply because he "liked her first."
Finally - dem Whisperers! Yes, right at the end, as Rosita and Eugene tried to avoid becoming walker chow, they heard the herd groan out guttural sentences. For those who don't read the comics, there's some fun stuff ahead. It was a cool way to end the episode, after a roller coaster of change-ups.
The Walking Dead used a handful of new characters to bring us into the lives of Alexandrians (with some adjacent Kingdom-related goings-on) six-years later, with some changes working better than others. The most surprising twist, in all of this, was that everyone was still in the same spot after this long, but the episode still worked because the flood of new information, and new faces, carried us through swiftly.