Season nine has been a rough ride! ‘The Walking Dead’ just lost a familiar face — again. We’ve got all the details on who was killed off.
In case you needed a little reminder that Game of Thrones isn’t the only hit show that isn’t afraid to kill off beloved cast members, Jesus’ storyline just came to a tragic end in The Walking Dead. So how did Tom Payne‘s character die? The leader of Hilltop, who has been a familiar face on the AMC show since season six, was stabbed in the back — by a walker. (Yes, you read that right). In the episodes leading up to this shocking midseason finale, Jesus, Aaron and Daryl were trying to help an injured Eugene get back to safety, but were being targeted by a herd of zombies.
And not just in the normal way! These zombies were somehow honing in on the group, even resisting noisy traps that Daryl sent to distract them. They kept circling back to the guys, and with Eugene hobbling along at a slow pace, he and his group found themselves surrounded by walkers in a foggy graveyard full of twists and turns. It was starting to look dire — for Eugene, at least — especially when he came upon a locked gate, but Michonne and Magna miraculously appeared to help dig a way out. Jesus just had to beat off the last few walkers, which he did with some incredible slow-motion moves, and then they would be in the clear.
Only, as Jesus turned to follow his friends to safety, a walker came up behind him and shoved a blade into his back, whispering, “You are where you do not belong.” Michonne and the others had to watch as he died right in front of them, but the loudest cry was from Aaron. Recall that his husband Eric died back in season eight and since episode five’s time jump, he and Jesus have sparked a sweet flirtation. But after taking a moment to mourn — and kill the murdering walker — Daryl tried figuring out exactly how a zombie had gone from a mindless walker to a whispering stabber. The answer was simple.
Someone was wearing the walker’s face as a mask, and Daryl pulled it off to reveal a human face. That was how the herd had been able to stalk his group, thanks to the whispers of the living dressed in disguise. But this killer wasn’t the only one! The episode ended with Michonne, Magna, Eugene and Aaron surrounded by a group of walkers who were very much alive.
Fans of the comic books will recognize these figures as the Whisperers, a formidable force that Hilltop, Alexandria, the Kingdom and Oceanside will have to go to war with. Despite the fissures in the society’s relationships over the years, an enemy like this is sure to bring them all back into a friendly alliance.
After saying goodbye to Andrew Lincoln‘s character, Rick, a few episodes ago, this is a hard loss for The Walking Dead fans. And the fact that Maggie hasn’t been onscreen since his departure sure isn’t helping the transition along. But while Jesus’ death was a brutal — and shocking — pill to take, introducing the Whisperers into the series opens up so many possibilities for the rest of season nine. We can’t wait to see how our favorite survivors band together to fight them off.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9:00 EST on AMC.