HOLLYWOOD—A new threat has emerged on “The Walking Dead” and the mid-season finale delivered an epic shock for viewers of the TV show, but fans of the comic book series are well aware of the newest threat. This week’s episode, ‘Evolution’ saw the Alexandrians, the Hilltop and the Kingdom came face-to-face with a threat that is smarter than what we’ve ever seen.

Things kicked off with Jesus, Daryl and Aaron on the hunt to locate Eugene, but stumbled upon a herd of walkers whose behavior seemed out of the norm. The audience soon realized these ‘walkers’ might not be actual walkers people. Negan was still attempting to stir things up, this time with Father Gabriel who was in panic mode after learning Rosita was in danger.

Michonne, Luke, Magna, Kelly and Connie arrived at the Hilltop, where it seemed the friction between groups were quite strong. Since when did the Hilltop become suspicious of Michonne or perhaps it was solely her crew of newbies? I am dying to know what transpired between the groups during the last 6 years because whatever it was had a major impact on the relationships that we now see today. It was a very awkward reunion between Michonne and Carol, but who would’ve guessed that Carol knew ASL?

Now it makes perfect sense, the three ‘cities’ want to keep themselves separate for each other. Why can’t Michonne realize that together as one, the Kingdom, Hilltop and Alexandria are way more powerful? This bromance between Aaron and Jesus is a fun one, and while I always thought Jesus was the perfect leader, he seems fearful to take the reins from Maggie. It was bittersweet seeing Carol say goodbye to Henry who she now likens to her child. This has to be brutal for Carol who already lost her daughter and has greatly bonded with Henry since he lost his brother.

Interesting, looks like a new romance could be brewing between Henry and Enid people, but she has eyes for someone else, a Savior of all people. Wow, Gabriel’s dark side is emerging, and the fact that he was willing to open Negan’s cage to watch him was a stupid mistake. Henry bonded with some other teens, but it appears their idea of sneaking out for a bit of fun could lead to some chaos later down the line. So now we get to the core, Michonne made some decisions that have shaken up the core groups and her pride is stopping her from making an amends. Rosita awoke and warned Michonne and Sayid that she is well aware of Eugene’s location and the new threat is far worse than they could have ever imagined.

The tension this midseason finale is building is contagious people; it’s like we get a little nugget here, another nugget here and we’re still waiting for the big bombshell. Jesus, Aaron and Daryl located Eugene who was hiding in a box in a cabin. Whew, I was scared for a moment that Eugene may have finally met his maker after so many close calls on the series. Eugene warned the others that the walkers were whispering and talking to each other.

Unfortunately, Daryl’s dog decided to bark drawing attention in their direction. Yeah, it looks like Henry’s new pals are going to be major trouble, as he learned they were keeping a walker stowed away. Not a bright idea to mess around with a walker, while drunk. Henry immediately dispatched of the walker, but his pals left him in the bottom of that whole. Jesus, Eugene and Daryl started to conspire that something is off with the walkers, which led our heroes to strategize.

Negan continued to toss is ball in boredom, and soon realized that Gabriel did not completely lock the gate when he opened it. Whoa, Negan has just escaped the hell he has been trapped in for more than 6 years; the audience is really about to discover if our villain has indeed changed. Well, here’s a bit of good news, Henry is okay.

With the ‘Whisperers’ drawing closer, Daryl created a diversion, but soon realized that the loud sounds and noises were not leading the walkers in his direction. Yes, the walkers have evolved, because they are NOT WALKERS! Jesus, Aaron and Eugene found themselves in mortal danger as the walkers edged closer to them as they entered a cemetery in the dark of the night, in the middle of storm. With the walls closing in, Jesus and Aaron went on attack mode, as did Eugene. It soon became clear to the three they were in major danger, but Michonne, Magna and the others arrived to help escape as Jesus stayed behind to fight, and found himself stabbed by one of the walkers, who was actually a person!

Daryl investigated and revealed that the walkers were actually people utilizing flesh to masquerade. Genius? Yes indeed, and an utter shock to say the least. I expected either Eugene or Rosita to meet their maker in this mid-season finale, not Jesus! That was indeed a stunner. Season 9 of “The Walking Dead” has been epic and this story is getting so good, but with the Whisperers and now Negan on the loose, utter chaos is about to challenge our heroes in a way we never imagined. Until February 2019 “Walking Dead” die-hards!