The Walking Dead 907, "Stradivarius," revealed secret meet-ups between Aaron (Ross Marquand) and interim Hilltop leader Jesus (Tom Payne), which some viewers have taken as a hopeful sign the men will enter into a relationship as they did in creator Robert Kirkman's comic books.
"I can't speak to the future of that. What we did think was true is that here are two people that have a lot in common and who certainly had very similar philosophies," showrunner Angela Kang told EW.
"They were the respective recruiters for their communities. And so it seemed like there's a natural friendship to be had there."
Something happened during a six-year time jump to drive the communities apart — a schism Aaron and Jesus hope will be fixed by the upcoming Fair being planned by Kingdom leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).
Michonne (Danai Gurira), Aaron says, would be furious if she knew he were violating protocol by meeting with Jesus for clandestine hand-to-hand combat training, following some bad blood between her and Hilltop leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who Michonne has only just learned quietly departed the colony sometime after Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) "death."
"We were starting off, Alexandria and Hilltop having kind of a freeze between them. They haven't had much contact. There's clearly just some beef that's happened there," Kang teased.
"And just the idea that there's at least some people who're… they're almost like conducting secret diplomatic missions with each other. But there is a friendship there. They like each other. But it's really based in who they are as characters, people who want to maintain connections, because they are the people who forge those connections in the first place."
Payne previously admitted entering Jesus and Aaron into a relationship "might be quite lazy if that happened," telling Metro:
"It would be fun actually if we did kind of riff on it and had a funny conversation about it, like 'you know how everyone wants us to...' and just put it in the show," he said. "I think that would be quite funny."
"I think it's very important. I think that Robert Kirkman has done a really good job of including characters of all walks of life, as it should be because that's how life really is," Marquand said.
"It's a fair representation of how people are in the world. That every group is fully represented is very important to everyone on this show."
Aaron and Jesus' comic book counterparts have been in a committed relationship since The Walking Dead #169. Aaron was last in a relationship with Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson), who died nearly eight years ago in The Walking Dead Season Eight, where he was a casualty of the war with the Saviors.
The Walking Dead Season Nine airs its mid-season finale, "Evolution," Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
I totally ship Aaron and Jesus— Tahlor ? (@EliGoldsworthys) November 19, 2018
they really gonna give us an ep full of daryl aaron jesus and dog pic.twitter.com/sDlJvSRNGx— van (@maagneato) November 19, 2018
Aaron and Jesus being bros is awesome. And I DO ship them. I do. Don't get me wrong, I will always remember and adore Eric but if Aaron feels ready to move on, I'd like it to be with Jesus. Honestly, I just want them both to be happy so whatever. Anything is good! #TWD pic.twitter.com/rrzHDgcveL— trumpetnista (@trumpetnista) November 19, 2018
I need Jesus and Aaron to be a gay couple— thelopsvt_9 (@thelopsvt) November 19, 2018