SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 9 Episode 6, called “Who Are You Now?”. Proceed at your own risk.
We’re living in a Rick-less world now in The Walking Dead, and this week’s episode went a long way toward filling the gaping void left by Grimes Sr’s departure. It introduced five new survivors – Magna, Luke, Connie, Kelly, and Yumiko – and showed us how Alexandria and The Kingdom have fared after a staggering six-year time jump. Interestingly, at around this point in the comics, there was a significant leap forward in the timeline as well.
The comic’s “new beginning” was significantly less dramatic, however. A less impactful two-year time jump, it meant Judith was still young; she’s now old enough and resourceful enough to go on fighting the fight in her dad’s absence. In the comic books at this point, Rick and Carl were still around. In fact, a lot of the early storylines following the skip forward in time revolved around Carl getting older and wanting to strike out on his own. The show and the comic books have separated themselves time and time again, and here it’s no different. These are the major differences between the series and the comic books after the time jump following the war with Negan.
Henry Is The New Carl
When Carl was killed, a lot of fans were asking how some of the upcoming stories would be handled. They were arguably moments that made Carl more interesting than he had been in years. Well, it looks like Carol and Ezekiel’s adopted son Henry will become a stand-in for Carl in some of Grimes Jr’s comic-book storylines. This week’s episode saw Henry and Carol set out to deliver goods for the upcoming festival. This mirrors a similar Rick-less trip Carl took to the Hilltop where he soon moved to so he could train to be a blacksmith.
It’ll be interesting to see how far Henry’s story will follow Carl’s. One of the most memorable parts of the jump in the comic books was seeing Carl go through puberty and navigate interactions with girls while living in the apocalypse.
The Saviors Are Gone
We saw this tension play out through the first five episodes of the season, but in the comic books Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Saviors were in a slightly better place. Rick was in charge of Alexandria, Maggie was at Hilltop, and Dwight was in charge of the remaining Saviors. Things were still tense between everyone, but for the most part, the communities were all thriving.
In the show, it’s just Alexandria and Hilltop – and even that relationship seems rocky at best. Not only are the Saviors not in the picture community-wise, it seems like Carol pretty much wipes what was left of them out after they hurt Henry and steal her wedding ring.
Ezekiel’s Love Life
Developments in Ezekiel’s love life take a big leap forward in this week’s episode. It transpires that he and Carol tied the knot at some point between when we first saw Ezekiel bring it up outside D.C. early this season and now.
In the comic books, the time jump reveals that Ezekiel was actually in a relationship with Michonne – who had become a pseudo-pirate in the two years since the war. Of course, in the comic books, Michonne never had a romantic relationship with Rick. Michonne’s role was filled by Andrea in the comic books, who lasted significantly longer than the Andrea of the TV series.
Connie is a member of Magna’s group that Judith saves and brings to Alexandria. The difference between her character in the show and the comic books is that in the show, she’s deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate with her group. Her TV version is the first deaf character to be featured in both The Walking Dead and spin-off Fear the Walking Dead.
Gabriel and Rosita?!
Eugene’s had a very obvious thing for Rosita since we met him. And Rosita has always had a soft spot for Eugene. That’s been the case in both the comic books and the show. Some thought that, eventually, things might develop further for Eugene and Rosita. Well, in the comic books, after the time jump, they do. The oddly matched pair wind up together, despite some rockiness in their relationship.
TV Eugene just can’t catch a break, however — because Rosita is now with Gabriel. This pairing might not make a ton of sense, but a lot can happen in six years. It’s clear Eugene still harbors feelings for his longtime traveling companion, so who knows how things might pan out as the series progresses?
Hilltop Under New Management
One of the least publicized parts of last week’s episode was that it wasn’t just Rick’s last episode of the season, but also Maggie’s. Not only is that a fairly abrupt departure – though she’s much more likely to pop up in the show again than Rick – particularly since Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie, appears to have been given a leave of absence to shoot her new show Whiskey Cavalier — but it really changes up the dynamic of Hilltop.
Where Maggie was still in charge of the community in the comic books, someone else has the reins in the show now. Jesus seems like the obvious choice, but is that too easy? Also, Hilltop and Alexandria seem to be in a rocky place themselves. It’ll be interesting to see where all that started, and how many months or years Maggie hung around before she took off. Expect some answers going forward.
Negan and Judith
Judith alone is probably the biggest left-turn the series has made in a while. And although Henry seems to be filling in for Carl’s comic storylines in some places, it seems Judith is taking over in others.
The comics revealed Negan was still alive and in prison after the war because Carl spent a lot of his time talking with the man in his cell. The two had a weird bond during the war and that continued in the years after it. Apparently, that bond was passed to Carl’s sister.
The show revealed Judith hanging out by Negan’s cell, having her dad’s former enemy help her with math homework. The two have a clear rapport, and although it’s pretty creepy, it’s also kinda cute.
Michonne and Rick’s Kid
There’s nothing to compare this to in the comic books. Rick doesn’t have another kid after Judith – at least not yet. A lot of fans thought Michonne could be pregnant before Rick died and their guess was right on the money. Their offspring seems to be in line to take the place of a young Judith, as a child that the group rallies to protect.