‘The Walking Dead’ recap: “Evolution”

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Tom Payne as Paul 'Jesus' Rovia; Jackson Lee Davis/AMC(NEW YORK) -- (SPOILERS AHEAD) Sunday night's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead opens with Jesus, Daryl, and Aaron searching for Eugene.

Back at Alexandria, Fr. Gabriel is attempting meditation with Negan, who's still behind bars. It's obviously not helping. He's as sarcastic as ever.

Gabriel leaves in time to learn riders from Hilltop bring word about an injured Rosita.

At Hilltop, Michonne causes a panic by rolling up with Sadiq and the new survivors. They all disarm, and meet Tara.

She's skeptical of the newbies, but lets everyone spend the night until Jesus can approve them.

Carol reunites with Michonne and catches up; Carol implores Michonne to try to reunite the three communities.

Elsewhere, Aaron implores Jesus to take a leadership role, and hopes Daryl will return. Daryl attempts to distract the herd, with a thrown alarm clock. The walkers are hundreds strong.

Carol bids Henry goodbye. "I'm gonna make you proud," he promises. "You already have," she replies tearfully.

Back at the Alexandria prison, Father Gabriel is losing it with Negan. It's clear he's upset about the Rosita situation. Negan apologizes.

Henry is disappointed to find Enid is spoken for. He meets up with three young people of similar ages to his: Ady, Gage, and Rodney. They offer him a chance to cheer up by sneaking out into the woods.

At the Alexandria infirmary, Sadiq tries to get Michonne to mend fences. She insists she can't.

Rosita awakens and freaks out, insisting the searchers don't know what they're dealing with.

Meanwhile, Daryl, Dog, Jesus and Aaron search by flashlight, and thanks to the Dog's help, find Eugene. He explains about the danger of the whispering horde. He's more scared than usual.

Just as he promised, a horde returns.

At the teens' cabin, they drink and get chummy; then they show what they do when they get bored: they pull the cover off a huge hole, exposing a walker, and basically play ring toss with its head.

Henry drops down and kills it. They leave him in the pit.

Meanwhile, Eugene and the gang debate if the walkers have evolved. They split up, with the herd on their tail -- Daryl and Dog break off to try to give the others a fighting chance.

At his cell, Negan is tossing a ball around, and manages to discover his door is unlocked. He slips away.

Meanwhile, Henry's in a drunk tank. Tara shows his blacksmithing boss -- Mr. Sutton, the drunk that tried to kill Maggie years ago -- what his apprentice has been up to. Henry won't rat on the others who gave him booze, but pleads with his boss not to send him home. Sutton eventually shows mercy, explaining he'll talk to Jesus when he returns.

Meanwhile, Daryl and Dog try to distract the herd with noise, but it doesn't work -- it turns towards Eugene and company.

They struggle to outrun the horde, but find themselves trapped by a gate. Jesus and Aaron fight some off, but find themselves surrounded. Michonne shows up -- and is surprised to find the newbies "earning their keep" by helping her.

Jesus fights off a bunch, chopping them down until one walker actually dodges his strike, and stabs him through the back. "You are where you do not belong," it whispers.

Jesus falls, dead. Aaron screams.

The rest of the good guys clean up the area of walkers and Daryl examines one of their bodies. It's not a walker, but a human wearing the walker's face like a mask.

They're still surrounded.

The episode ends. 

The Walking Dead's ninth season will continue in 2019. AMC has not announced an exact date yet.

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