The Walking Dead Review: Old School Horror Lives in ‘Evolution’

The Walking Dead Review: Old School Horror Lives in ‘Evolution’

November 27, 2018 0 By Jeff Fountain


The Walking Dead, which took more time delving into the human side of the show for years now, finally has embraced the creep factor again with The Whisperers storyline. In ‘Evolution’, fear and dread actually come calling and it’s been far too long since they came to visit.

As Michonne and the new people rolled into Hilltop, it was interesting to see how much tension was still in the air. Obviously, it all centers around an event that no one is willing to talk about yet, probably involving Maggie, but even though everyone is still friendly there are a lot of long stares and people walking around on eggshells. Even Carol, who tries her best to communicate with Michonne beyond grunts and hard stares, has a hard time concealing her apprehension regarding whatever happened with Michonne and Hilltop.

Meanwhile, Aaron, Daryl, and Jesus search for Eugene and in doing so, discover a zombie herd acting very weird. It wanders in circles in a field, it grows in numbers and doesn’t respond in the usual way to diversions like firecrackers or alarm clocks. Eugene understands this, leading him to stay hidden in a barn. His theory is they are evolving, which is scary enough, but they soon find out that it is something else entirely, and something that is maybe much worse. All of these things, the idea of these things, help build the tension moment by moment as things just seem to get stranger each passing minute.

The tension hits its peak when the boys get trapped, surrounded by zombies in a fog-covered graveyard. It might sound cliché and hokey but it works very well, a set-up that The Walking Dead hasn’t seen in a while. Michonne and Magna show up to help everyone and for a moment, it looks like they might all make it. They are efficient, this group of survivors, in killing the undead and the do so here with Jesus showing off some great moves in the process. However, just when you think they are free and clear, a seemingly ‘normal’ zombie ducks away from sword and stabs one of the group in the back, whispering that they are treading in places they do not belong. Down one man, the group soon discovers the secret of The Whisperers, while at the same time being surrounded at every turn.

I have to say, this was one of the better mid-season finales The Walking Dead has ever done. They slowly built the tension, including what was going on at Hilltop, and left us with the possibility of another character being killed off. The writing and set direction were excellent, setting a great tone from start to finish that made this episode so much fun to watch. Also, The Whisperers have now firmly identified themselves as a real threat, even though we still don’t know much about them, and it’s a threat that is both creepy and disturbing in many ways.

The only thing that I didn’t like about the episode was the way they handled the part about Negan. This was rather important and it felt kind of tossed in there amongst all the other things going on. Let’s hope that is all explained when the show returns in February.

It’s been a long time since I was looking forward to each episode of The Walking Dead but season nine has been solid and if ‘Evolution’ is any indication there could much more tension and death on the horizon.

Four stars out of five