"The Walking Dead" peaked early, it turns out, with the penultimate episode of the ninth season, which brutally killed off multiple characters and provided a much bigger shock than the relatively low-key finale that aired Sunday night.Other than a snowball fight that offered a dose of lightness after the previous hour's carnage, the episode seemed most notable in setting the stage for another season's worth of full-blown battle against the Whisperers; and perhaps more significantly, potentially expanding the role of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) by more fully incorporating him into the series.With the departure of Andrew Lincoln and deaths of several key players, activating Morgan might be the adrenaline jolt that "The Walking Dead" — which until the heads-on-a-pike moment, had been largely running on fumes — desperately needs. Morgan's wry, foul-mouthed Negan also brings disarming humor to the series, in the finale teasing other characters about the soap-opera-like "love quadrangle," as he put it, surrounding Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam).The show has also found a playful dynamic in Negan's relationship with the young Judith, which in some respects mirrors his unexpected bond with Rick Grimes' other kid, the late Carl.Given the damage that Negan inflicted, fully incorporating him into the "Dead" community will have to be an act of necessity, and his interplay with Michonne (Danai Gurira) appeared to be laying the groundwork for that. "Common goal, common enemy," he said, adding in regard to the bad guys, "No one ever thinks that they're the evil one."The story of "The Walking Dead" has been consistently punctuated by reloading, despite a steady stream of casualties and departures. The idea that virtually no one was safe elevated the show in its early seasons, creating a sense of genuine unpredictabilityYet recent experience has suggested there are losses from which the program has struggled to rebound, and another hugRead More – Source

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