Season nine was a big turning point for “The Walking Dead,” it’s the season where we lost a ton of big players in the series including Lauren Cohan and one main character Andrew Lincoln. With the exit of both dramatic forces, “The Walking Dead” has had a ton of foot work to cover, and season nine was a pretty good rebound that’s managed to keep the pace going now that the main driving force of the show has left. With a very good season, “The Walking Dead” presented some stand out moments. These are ten of the most shocking.
10. The Whispering Walkers…
Episode 6, “Who Are You Now?”
It was kind of fun seeing the reactions of various fans that have zero knowledge of the comic books. After Rosita, Father Gabriel, and Eugene are attacked by an odd herd of walkers, all of whom seem cognizant of the survivors. Rosita and Eugene, as a last ditch effort to hide, cover themselves in mud and much to their horror as the herd drifts by them unseen they can hear whispering. Among the walkers conscious whispering among them drifts through the air conjuring a brand new enemy they’ve never faced. It’s a weird and eerie plot twist.
9. Alpha Claims her Leadership
Episode 12, “Guardians”
Episode 12 of the season is a great look in to the society of the Whisperers and how they operate as basically savage, demented people that survive by embracing the Walkers. After losing Lydia, Alpha has to defend her leadership role to a pair of Whisperers, both of whom want to claim her spot. Alpha is more than capable though as she quickly destroys her female opponent severing her head in cold blood with a thin wire. She then hands the head to her husband, and finishes him off with a mortal wound to the stomach. It’s a depraved example of power Alpha is willing to keep, and a grotesque display.
8. Jesus Falls in Combat
Episode 8, “Evolution”
Sadly, “The Walking Dead” didn’t quite adapt Jesus for the big screen too well. The Jesus in the series differs vastly from the horse back warrior we see in the comics. That said, Tom Payne did a bang up job and Jesus goes down like a hero. In what is the first strike of the Whisperers while cornered in a cemetery, Jesus attempts to fend off the walkers while allowing his friends to flee. He’s then taken off guard by a whisperer who stabs him in the chest, effectively murdering him. It’s a sad and shocking end to a character that started off pretty great, but then was rendered fairly ineffective.
7. The Alpha Whisperer
Episode 10, “Omega”
For the past eight seasons some of the biggest and worst enemies facing off against the show’s protagonists have been men. This time around, though, the group is met with a swift, merciless and cunning army of depraved savages that wear the skin of the dead for the sake of survival. And their leader is a relentless female warrior known as Alpha. With a bald head, and blank expression, she serves as one of the series’ most memorable and ferocious antagonists, and she’s just getting warmed up.
6. Carol Burns The Saviors Alive
Episode 6, “Who Are You Now?”
One thing you don’t want to do is incur the wrath of Carol Peletier. Now a queen married to King Ezekiel, Carol and adopted son Henry are traveling until they’re attacked by the remaining Saviors. With the Sanctuary fallen after Negan’s imprisonment, Carol is forced to give up her possessions and supplies. Later that night, in typical fashion we expect from Carol, she sneaks up on their camp and burns them alive. This isn’t the first time Carol burned people alive (Season Six episode “The Same Boat”), and no, it will not be the last.
5. Alpha sacrifices a Baby
Episode 11, “Bounty”
We don’t know much about the tribe of the Whisperers, but we do get a first hand look at their survival methods. Much like wildlife, they view their young as expendable. While confronting Alexandria, one of Alpha’s flock struggles to settle a crying baby, which is drawing attention from a local herd of walkers. Much to everyone’s horror Alpha signals to her follower, who then abandons the crying baby leaving it to be consumed by approaching walkers. Despite being saved by Connie and Daryl, it’s a disturbing example of Alpha’s mindset.
4. The Li’l Ass Kicker
Episode 5, “What Comes After”
The episode “What Comes After” signals the end of the Rick Grimes story line, and the beginning of the Judith Grimes story line. While the character is dead in the comics, Grimes is alive and well in the zombie apocalypse. After a time jump, Judith helps save the new group of characters on the show, all of whom narrowly escape an attack by walkers. With her dad’s trademark hat and pistol, and a copy of her mom’s katana, Judith shows everyone that she’s a force to be reckoned with, with a riveting and stirring end to a very emotional episode. Daddy Rick would be proud of his Li’l Ass Kicker.
3. Michonne Takes Down a Group of Children
Episode 14, “Scars”
In “Scars” we finally see what happened to Michonne and Daryl to have garnered the X scars on their lower backs. This explanation led to answers to a lot of questions, including why Michonne was so unwelcoming of any and all newcomers to Alexandria, the Kingdom, and the Hilltop. After running in to her best friend who happened to survive all along, she meets her army of kids all of whom stage a major coup by stealing Alexandria’s remaining food, and kidnapping all of the kids including Judith. Forced to go after them, Daryl and Michonne experience a hard dilemma of having to take on kids, all of whom have been brainwashed in to combating the two. Dead set on getting Judith back, Michonne is forced to murder the kids in cold blood as they attack her from all corners. It’s a harrowing and disturbing moment that showed the torrent of emotional distress Michonne endured when Rick exited.
2. Rick Grimes Exits
Episode 5, “What Comes After”
“The Walking Dead” has always and will always be about the saga of the Grimes family. The departure of Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes was a controversial and very divisive turn of events, but one that’s been looming since season four. With the final episode of Rick Grimes, Rick is merciless at the throes of a walker horde, and while looking for ways to lead them away from Alexandria, he has to confront the demons of his past. This means him coming face to face with the hospital where he was reborn, and meeting the three people that had the biggest impact of his life: Hershel, Shane, and Sasha. The writers couldn’t quite pull the trigger leaving Rick to be carried off by that mythical helicopter we’ve seen looming in the sky since episode one, opening the door for more Rick Grimes in the future. It’s a bizarre, albeit emotional exit for a hero who still has miles to go before he sleeps.
1. The Border in the North
Episode 15, “The Calm Before”
It’s one of the most infamous turning points of “The Walking Dead” comic book series, and the writers of the TV series brought it to grim life in ways unimaginable. The dynamic between characters has changed drastically since season five, and with the exit of Rick Grimes, the show needed a jolt that would inspire the fan base again. After being held at gun point, Daryl is informed by Whisperers leader Alpha to take the Border in the North, which will now signify where the land is split between the survivors and the Whisperers. There, the fleeing group with the unbound Siddiq follows they make the grissly discovery.
Upon ten pikes are the heads of ten residents from the trio of villages, teens Rodney and Adeline, Savior Stalwart Frankie, ex-savior DJ, Alex and Ozzy the pair of Highway Men the series seemed to be propping up as big side characters, and the crusty Tammy Rose. The final three managed to be the most shocking as we witnessed Tara, introduced in season four who’d taken over as leader of the Hilltop, Enid, the once enigmatic love interest for Carl Grimes who’d finally found happiness, and Henry. The final reveal was probably the most shocking as it seemed writers were propping the character to lead the series. Nevertheless the climax to “The Calm Before” kept audiences stirring for days, something we haven’t seen since the deaths of Glenn and Abraham.