What to Know About Jesus, The Walking Dead's Newest Character
Daryl (Norman Reedus), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) may have met some Saviors (what Negan’s enforcers call themselves in the Walking Dead comics) in the midseason premiere, but both Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl are the ones who actually find “Jesus” (Tom Payne) in the latest episode.
While on an almost-successful sorghum and soda pop supply run, Rick and Daryl cross paths with The Walking Dead’s most capable and biblically bearded badass. But during their struggle to subdue him, they lose their truck at the bottom of a lake. Despite the setback, Jesus proves himself to be both a highly skilled survivalist and a decent man (aside from trying to steal Rick’s supplies), and if things progress on the show in the same way as in the comics, a load of sorghum is a small price to pay to have Jesus’s skillset and connections.
Take a break from discussing the hot new TWD couple, Richonne, and read this quick primer to learn who Jesus is, how his TV counterpart’s introduction differs from the page and what new plotlines we can expect from his appearance.
Spoiler alert! From here on, this piece will discuss plotlines from The Walking Dead comics and upcoming episodes of the TV series.
Who Is Jesus?
In the comics, Paul Monroe is Jesus’s real name, but he introduces himself differently on the show. Everything about his physical appearance on TV, from the jacket to the hat to the bandana over the mouth, is a direct homage to the comic book panels. He’s also a scout for another community of survivors, Hilltop, outside Washington D.C. Before Jesus, the Alexandrians believe themselves to be the only surviving community, so Jesus opens up the series to a broader world.
What First Impression Does Jesus Make?
The suspicious reaction by Rick’s group and the ensuing physical altercation with Jesus are lifted straight from the page, with a couple of major differences. Since Daryl is a TV original, he doesn't meet Jesus in the comics. And neither does Rick, at first. Instead, the two characters from the main cast who first encounter Jesus in the books are actually Michonne and Abraham, the two most formidable hand-to-hand fighters in Alexandria.
It’s impressive that Jesus is able to hold his own against Rick and Daryl on the show, but since Michonne’s martial arts abilities are played up more in the comics, it's even more impressive that he could disarm her, along with professionally-trained soldier Abraham, making it immediately clear that Jesus is in his own class as a fighter.
What Are Jesus's Skills and Strengths?
Jesus is more than just a warrior; he also serves as an ambassador. In the comics, after besting Michonne and Abraham, Jesus specifically requests to speak with the leader of their group to discuss alliances and trade agreements. On his first episode in the show, he seems more interested in securing supplies than in seeking new allies, but similar to his comics counterpart, he is savvy enough to stay alive on a solo run, tough enough to take down anyone he needs to and tactful enough to hold back on violence until it's his only choice.
Rick and Daryl try to subdue Jesus
Can Jesus Gain Rick and Daryl's Trust?
Part of the reason Jesus is seeking new communities in the comic is to find help alleviating Hilltop’s oppression by Negan’s Saviors. In the comics, as the fight with Negan develops from distant threat to “All Out War” (a major storyline), Jesus becomes an indispensable member of Rick’s inner circle as both an advisor and a combatant. For now, on the show, Jesus still has to gain Rick and Daryl’s trust, and showing up unannounced in Rick and Michonne’s bedroom may not have been a step in the right direction to do so.
Will Jesus Bring the Alexandrians to Hilltop?
After Rick knocks Jesus out and brings him to Alexandria in the comics, Jesus convinces him to head over to Hilltop and discuss a possible trade agreement. On the show, Rick already suspects that Jesus is part of a larger group, because he looks too well-groomed to be surviving alone. With casting confirmed for Hilltop’s leader, Gregory (Xander Berkeley), it’s a safe bet that Rick and his group will be making a trip to that community in future episodes.
And since Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) will definitely make his debut by the season finale, a trip to Hilltop seems even more likely, which means the TV plot may follow parts of the the comic source material. So expect a ramp-up toward the Negan conflict—and a potentially iconic scene rumored for the finale.