Warning! Major spoilers below for the latest episode of The Walking Dead, so be sure to watch before reading on.
The Walking Dead's "Who Are You Now?" was important in a way that no other episode has been in the past. It needed to fully close out Rick's story while also planting enough seeds to make possibilities seem endless in the future. For the most part, it did just that, and I never found myself wishing for Rick and Maggie to show up and carry a scene.
Instead, the episode inspired plenty of other reactions from moments both major and quiet, and characters both new and old. With the universal understanding that "More Jerry!" is the biggest takeaway from any Walking Dead installment, let's look at all the other hot takes that were shambling around.
Michonne Is In Full Beast Mode
In the years that passed after Rick went missing, Michonne only grew more comfortable with her skills as a leader and an enforcer. (Not to mention her fabulous hairstyle choices.) And even though viewers got to see softer sides of her during the episode, Michonne's confidence and innate rage were on full display during "Who Are You Now?" and as it always goes with a Danai Gurira-heavy episode, it was a wonder to behold.
Michonne Has Another Kid Now!!!
The Walking Dead showed a deft sense of timing when making the second biggest reveal of the episode. Just after Judith had upped the emotional ante by saying she was forgetting Rick and Carl's voices, viewers heard a brand new voice. That voice belonged to a child that Michonne apparently had at some point in the time jump. The obvious instinct is to say that the lil' dude is Rick's, but was he even old enough? Let the conspiracy theories rain down.
Hell Yeah, The Whisperers!
For anyone who didn't see those final moments already in The Walking Dead's first Season 9 trailer, that must have been one shit-storm of a shock. Walkers that can think and talk would make for a frightening reformation of post-apocalyptic ethics, but this isn't the next phase of natural evolution. It's The Whisperers! While not quite a full introduction, Eugene and Rosita became fully aware of the disguised threat's existence, so everyone should beware!
Rosita And Father Gabriel, For Realsies?
Remember when romance was a scarce resource on The Walking Dead? Not so much in Season 9. We just got used to Father Gabriel and Jadis-or-Anne having a botched fling, and now he's all kissy and chummy with Rosita? When did that go down? And how jealous is Eugene? It seemed like he was going to set up a love triangle by confessing his love for her just before the Whisperers arrived, which would be true to the comics. But was he?
Judith Is The Best (Non-Carl) Kid Character Yet
The Walking Dead is regularly responsible for awkward and awful younger characters, but the series has reached an apex with Cailey Fleming's 10-year-old Judith Grimes. She exudes all of Rick's swagger while maintaining the moral code of both the Grimes family and childhood in general. She emotes. She lands her lines with seemingly effortless skill. And in so many ways, she is already the perfect way for The Walking Dead to fill Carl's shoes. Or his hat, as it were.
'Negan & Judith' Works Better Than Expected
In the comics, Carl's story started getting great after he lost his eye and started having therapeutic conversations with Negan. In theory, Judith shouldn't be able to slip into that role so easily, since Negan relates far easier to a pubescent male than a pre-pubescent female. Yet somehow, Angela Kang & Co. make it work, and it's so easy to believe in Judith knowing she always has the upper hand in those conversations.
That Radio Should Get Really Important Soon
One of The Walking Dead biggest comic arcs kicks off with Eugene achieving radio communication with someone in the outside world. The TV show teased it previously with Gabriel's CB radio, but he had a lot more time and comm tech at his disposal in "Who Are You Now?" Naturally, Eugene helped boost the signal, so viewers will almost certainly hear a new voice in the near-ish future. Where will it come from, though?
Eugene's Hair Is A Masterpiece
When it comes to TV hairstyles, Josh McDermitt was basically royalty for rocking Eugene's evolving mullet. But I think everyone can agree things are more hunky-dory now that he's grown it out into a post-mullet concoction. In some shots, he look like he's a kerosene-fueled jetpack away from becoming The Walking Dead's resident steampunk farmer. The hair really made his badass walker-stabbing moment all the more awesome. Naturally, Eugene crumbled by the end, but he was on top for a few minutes.
Daryl Makes Nature Happen Now
With the communities at odds, of course Daryl is out on his own. I didn't expect nature to treat him like a Disney character, though. By just looking at a fish, he made it want to be impaled. (Probably.) By just looking at that disgusting walker, he made a beautiful bird suddenly appear to use that walker's face-hole worm to feed its nested young. I almost wish Carol hadn't arrived in the end, just to see if Daryl discovered any dwarves or big-footed rabbits.
Carol Rules, And Fuck Jed
Carol showed off all of her skills in this episode, at first appearing in full-on domesticated mode as Ezekiel's wife and Henry's mother. Of course, Henry fucked up and almost got them robbed by Gross Former Savior Jed - his birth name. That's when Carol proved her phoenix is still there just below the surface, and she burned Jed and the others alive to stop them from ever threatening anyone again. Henry better learn something from his momma.
Magna's Pretty Shitty For A Desperate Person
I definitely won't deny that Alexandria's council-based process for accepting new citizens is as intimidating and impersonal as possible. But for someone actively seeking to secure permanent residence, Magna went about everything all wrong. To everyone but Judith, she was rude, standoffish, and purposefully withheld important information. What, was she just testing Michonne's mettle? I get that she's protective or whatever, but she should probably react more positively to procedure upon arriving at Hilltop.
Kelly And Connie Need All The Screen Time
Luke's diversity speech, though heavy-handed, spoke to The Walking Dead's own character pool limitations. As young black female recurrers, Lauren Ridloff's Connie and Angel Theory's Kelly are a delightful sidestep from the status quo. Because Connie is deaf, the sisters speak through sign language, adding new layers to how The Walking Dead utilizes silence and communication. Plus, Kelly's answer about her teenage naivety before the outbreak was instant proof that all of her conversations will be the best.
Big Papa Ezekiel > Older Henry > Younger Henry
One of the most exciting aspects of this time jump involved Henry getting older and hopefully more mature. I can say that Matt Lintz is indeed more believable as a warrior trapped in a hard-headed kid's body. However, all it took was one expertly delivered reprimand from Ezekiel to chop Henry back down to size. I gotta say, Ezekiel is even more winning as a stern father than he is as the Shakespearean leader of the Kingdom.
That Bridge Is Never Getting Fixed
To be expected, the episode started off on a melancholy note directed at Rick's absence during the time jump's span. Viewers listened as Michonne carried on the latest in many one-sided conversations with her missing partner, and it was then revealed she was at the doomed bridge where he sacrificed himself. Perhaps this is the hottest take of all, but I don't think anyone is going to rebuild that bridge. [Cue all the gasps.]
What did you guys think about The Walking Dead's transition from Rick's reign to this advanced new world? I'm assuming that next week will be centered at Hilltop, where someone will actually address the fact that Maggie isn't around anymore either. Unless she is... But she probably isn't.