Does Daryl Still Think Rick Is Alive?
Since Rick was presumed dead in the dramatic bridge explosion two weeks back, there haven't been too many on-screen mentions of The Walking Dead's former lead protagonist. While catching up with Daryl however, "Stradivarius" revealed that the crossbow-wielding fan favorite first departed from the main group because he still held onto the vague hope that Rick was alive, having never recovered a body. As his conversation with Carol goes on to explain, Daryl ended up staying in the wild because it suited him better, but the big question remains: does Daryl still believe in Rick Grimes?
In the post-time skip landscape of The Walking Dead, everyone seems to have accepted that Rick is dead and the fact that Daryl is still out there keeping watch for his old friend is an incredibly emotive display of the duo's relationship, despite their scrap earlier in the season. It'll be fascinating to see in future episodes how far Daryl's faith will go. Will he continue to insist that there's a chance Rick could have survived? Or has he now come around to everyone else's belief that Rick is long dead?
Who Was Watching From The Trees?
The camaraderie between The Walking Dead's first deaf character, Connie, and her companions has provided the show with a note of positivity in a world of relative gloom, while also highlighting just how difficult it would be to survive a zombie apocalypse without the ability to hear. However, "Stradivarius" demonstrated Connie's heightened senses of touch and sight, as not only could she sense an oncoming horde by feeling the vibrations, but she also managed to spot a mysterious figure lurking in the trees near Hilltop.
While Connie ultimately dismissed her brief sighting as nothing to worry about, the POV camerawork left viewers in no doubt that someone was indeed watching Michonne take Magna's group to Hilltop. It seems very unlikely that this enigmatic voyeur would be any of the known cast, and last season's villains, the Saviors, seemed to meet a fiery end last week. Therefore, suspicion surely has to rest upon forthcoming baddies, the Whisperers.
The Whisperers were introduced in the previous episode, actively hunting Rosita and Eugene. Since Rosita has now been taken to Hilltop to recover, it makes sense that at least one of the group would follow the female half of their quarry. With The Walking Dead set for a mid-season finale next week, it certainly seems like the perfect time for the Whisperers to start scouting out their future adversaries.
Why Are The Walkers Acting So Strangely?
There's something different about the zombies in The Walking Dead season 9. Despite the organization, experience and resources of Alexandria and its surrounding settlements, several separate hordes have been causing problems in the past two episodes alone. Even more worryingly for the survivors, these gaggles of undead are now moving in unpredictable ways that seem to contradict their complete lack of intelligence.
This is one mystery that The Walking Dead's comic readers will be able to answer in full, as the Whisperers aren't just responsible for the zombies "talking", they're also able to manipulate their movements from within by assimilating into the hordes. With this strategy, the Whisperers can hunt and attack their victims with very little chance of being spotted.
Of course, Michonne and the gang are unlikely to see through this ruse immediately. As next week's episode title ("Evolution") implies, the group will first explore the possibility that the undead have developed a semblance of sentience and can now think for themselves. Obviously, this rather far-fetched theory will be swiftly debunked as soon as anyone gets within stabbing distance of a Whisperer but until then, expect these new enemies to pose a visceral, stealthy threat.
With the mid-season finale due next week, The Walking Dead fans are almost certain to get some answers soon. Although, judging from the footage shown in the episode's trailer, these will likely be restricted to the emergence of the Whisperers. Explanations regarding Michonne and Daryl's scars and the division between communities may have to wait until after the winter break, when the show might finally reveal exactly what went on during the recent time jump.
The Walking Dead continues with "Evolution" November 25th on AMC.