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The Walking Dead ended its midseason finale with a gut punch when the long-awaited Whisperers entered the scene by murdering Jesus. It was a tragic twist for a character whose story unfolded very differently on the pages of the comics, and show viewers seemed like they were in for more of the touching bond between Jesus and Aaron. The two men got close during the time jump that saw Judith grow up and a lot of hairstyle changes, but The Walking Dead never defined what exactly happened between them.
Well, Tom Payne, who played Jesus, recently spoke with CinemaBlend, and he is of the opinion that Jesus and Aaron probably hooked up during the time jump. When CinemaBlend's Nick Venable asked if he thought such a thing had happened, Payne said this:
Oh, interesting. You mean in the six years? Maybe. No one's actually asked me that, because everyone's always like, 'Do you think they're going to become a couple?' I've actually never even thought about that. Yeah, maybe they have like messed around a bit in those six years. Yeah probably. You know, you get bored. But I've always said that I thought it'd be a bit lazy if they got put together, being the only gay guys on the show now. I think that would just be a bit too rote to do that. But yeah, maybe they messed around a bit. [laughs].
The one thing we can be sure of is that Jesus and Aaron were not in an ongoing committed relationship immediately following the time jump. The two weren't really supposed to be hanging out when the action picked back up, as trouble was brewing between Alexandria and the other communities. Nevertheless, they worked together so that Jesus could help Aaron learn to fight with his new hand, and they were clearly closer than they'd been before the time jump.
Tom Payne hadn't really thought about past romantic entanglements between the two, although he'd faced the question of whether Aaron and Jesus might hook up at some point in the future. Given that he knew well before fans did that Jesus' future was very limited, that particular question couldn't have been difficult to answer. Still, as Payne says, they "probably" hooked up. Six years is a long time in the zombie apocalypse.
Perhaps Tom Payne can be pleased that his character's death at least means that The Walking Dead won't go a "lazy" route of putting the only two gay guys into a relationship. He hasn't minced words when addressing Jesus being killed off, so we can probably bet that he would share his thoughts on the matter. That said, what's the harm in a little release among zombie apocalypse friends when there's a limited pool of trustworthy people out there?
When it was suggested to Tom Payne that Jesus and Aaron would have been less stressed out during the time jump if they could rely on the occasional hook-up, Payne expanded upon his thoughts on Jesus/Aaron:
Oh my God, that's so true. Exactly. That's funny. Yeah, they probably did.
Alas, we'll probably never know if Jesus and Aaron hooked up now that Jesus has been killed, although there's always the chance that Aaron could elaborate on their bond as he mourns. I wouldn't be shocked if Aaron kind of shuts down for a bit. Whether or not he had feelings for Jesus beyond friendship, his death will be a blow, and we already saw some of his heartbreaking reaction in the midseason finale.
After losing Eric and all the other people who died before the time jump, Aaron may be ready for a break. We'll have to wait and see. The focus in the aftermath of the midseason finale cliffhanger may be more on the new threat than on the death of Jesus. I was a diehard Jesus fan, and even I have to admit that The Walking Dead's method of killing him off was pretty awesome.
The Whisperers needed to do something serious if they were to make an impression on viewers as the first big human threat since the Saviors, and killing Jesus definitely accomplished that. Jesus was important enough that plenty of people will be motivated to figure out what's going on with this new group and perhaps exact some vengeance, and his death should shake things up at Hilltop. Could the post-Jesus vacuum at Hilltop bring Georgie or even Maggie back at some point?
Although Tom Payne is openly fine with his character being killed off, he did have some nice things to say about the changes to Jesus' look in the episodes before his death. When asked how it felt to finally get the man-bun from the comics and pull his long hair back, Payne gave this answer:
Oh, dude, I couldn't wait to get my hair on my face. That whole fight that I had with Lennie, half of the fight was me petrified that I couldn't see to stick whistling towards because my hair is there. The hair is like...I'm just super happier that Jesus managed to figure out that maybe putting his hair up is a better option. And then also, yeah, I was very excited to get into the armor and the man bun and all that kind of stuff. Little did I know that it was only going to last for two episodes, but I really wanted to make sure that we honored that part of it. I loved creating that side of him and getting the sword and all that kind of stuff. I was like, 'Yeah, that's cool.' Whenever we got close to the comic books, I was really happy about it. So that was a good part of it for me. I loved doing that.
I think anybody with long hair can relate to Tom Payne and his joy at finally getting his hair out of his face, especially for fight sequences. Honestly, I was happy to see it just from a realism point of view. As somebody who has always been frustrated at the length of Daryl's hair as it gets in his face when aiming his crossbow, what's not to love about a nice practical man-bun for Jesus?
Sadly, we won't be getting more of Jesus, man-bun or not. The upside of his death is that it ushers in a new era of The Walking Dead with The Whisperers as the prime threat. Sure, Negan is still alive and around to ruin everything for the survivors, but The Whisperers seem likely to be the focus of the second half of the season. Only time will tell. The Walking Dead will return in 2019. For some of what you can watch in the coming weeks after the fall shows go on break, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.