(Spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead and the 9th Season of The Walking Dead)
Fans of Fear the Walking Dead will recall that one of the show’s original cast members, Nick Clark (Frank Dillane) was killed off in the third episode of the fourth season. He was shot and subsequently died in the arms of his sister, Alicia. And yet, Nick Clark continued to appear in the remaining five episodes of the front half of the season. Likewise, Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) was dead when the season opened, though viewers at home didn’t know it until the midseason finale, when the series finally revealed her demise.
Fear managed this feat by running on two timelines — a present timeline (in which Nick and Alicia were dead) and a past timeline, in which a huge time jump was gradually filled in over the course of the first eight episodes. At least where it concerned Nick, whose death we witnessed early in the season, it added an extra layer of sadness, as flashbacks continued to drop Nick into the series even as his character’s death had already been presented.
The Walking Dead seems likely to pull off a similar fear with Jesus, whose character was killed off in the midseason finale of The Walking Dead a few weeks ago. But that doesn’t mean that Tom Payne’s arc is over.
“There’s a six-year time jump, in which a lot of stuff happened and there’s those mysterious marks on Michonne and Daryl,” Payne told an audience attending the Walker Stalker Con in New Jersey. “All of these things which could be explained, and Jesus may have a hand in some of that.” It was the second time since the midseason finale that Payne had hinted at his return.
Payne, of course, is referring to the unexplained X-scars that adorn the backs of Daryl and Michonne. While viewers remain in the dark about the origins of those scars, it’s reasonable to assume that Maggie’s departure from The Hilltop and the isolationist approach that Michonne has taken with Alexandria are related to them. Jesus was Maggie’s right-hand man while she was running The Hilltop, so he’s likely to have played a role in whatever transpired. In fact, it’s even possible that Aaron’s decision to pick up some new fighting skills from Aaron during the time jump is also related to those scars.
That means, of course, that viewers may have to re-experience a little of the heartbreak incurred by Jesus’s death every time he reappears in the back half of season 9 in flashbacks. It worked for Fear, so I suspect it will work for the mothership, as well, especially considering how beloved Jesus is to fans of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead returns in February. Meanwhile, production has begun on the fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead.