SPOILER WARNING: This article contains potential spoilers from the comic book for The Walking Dead. Proceed with caution.
The Whisperers’ arrival on The Walking Dead has been eagerly anticipated for some time. And with Robert Kirkman confirming at San Diego Comic-Con that the comic-book group will crop up in Season 9, which premieres in October, fans can look forward to a whole new chapter in the apocalyptic saga with some brand new antagonists.
And if you thought Negan was fearsome, wait until you find out what this group of hostiles have to bring. With Season 9 mirroring the time jump in the comics, there’s every reason to believe that’s not the only thing the new season will borrow from the pages of Kirkman’s hugely successful opus. So here’s what fans should be steeling themselves for.
They are Super-Scary
If you saw the Season 9 trailer, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con, during its final moments you’ll have caught a glimpse of the Whisperers. The Whisperers are a band of people who go a step further than smearing themselves in the blood and guts of the dead — they actually wear their skins. Yes, it’s a bit Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In part, they do it so that they can walk among the dead without fear of getting eaten. But there’s also a more unnerving reason for it — more on which later.
The moment the Whisperers are revealed in the trailer – eerily murmuring something like “Where are they?” — shows a panicked and petrified Rosita and Eugene fleeing and hiding from them. The pair smear themselves in mud to avoid detection, a look of terror in their eyes. But it’s not just the Whisperers’ appearance that’s alarming…
Their Introduction Rivals Negan’s
Shortly after their first appearance, they ambush members of Rick’s blended group of survivors, which includes the communities of the Hilltop, Alexandria, the Kingdom and Oceanside as well as the remaining Saviors, and brutally stab two of them to death. It will be interesting to see how they top that Negan scene in the premiere of Season 7 in which Glenn and Abraham met their untimely demise at the end of a baseball bat.
But then there’s more equally barbaric behavior. The series has hinted at potential rape scenarios previously, but the Whisperers have some very questionable beliefs around this reprehensible act. Which marks them out as truly hideous, just in case we weren’t already doubting their morality.
Samantha Morton as the Whisperers’ Alpha
The group is led by Alpha. She explains the group’s philosophy to Rick. She tells him that his ways belong in the past, describing the way of life he’s trying to follow and the civilization he’s trying build a “joke” and a “shrine to a long-dead world.” She and her people embrace an animalistic way of life, in tune with their “natural” instincts. To Alpha, it means freedom from the constraints of the old society, of rules and protocol. Instead, they relinquish what it came to mean to be human in the old world, before the apocalypse. They deny emotions deeming feelings only for the weak and not the strong. Living essentially as animals, they discard names, and adopt the alpha and beta roles to lead the “pack.”
Samantha Morton’s casting is a masterstroke. She has a history of playing troubled, complex characters – some of which are difficult to like or identify with – and her acting prowess will no doubt bring some of that complexity to Alpha. Alpha is surely going to be far from a black and white villain with Morton in the driving seat.
Deaths of Beloved Characters
One of the most fearsome aspects of the Whisperers is their propensity towards decapitation, and displaying the severed heads on wooden pikes. In the comics, the group is responsible for slaying twelve of Rick’s combined group of communities and exhibiting their heads in this way. Two of those killed in this way in the comic books are Rosita and Ezekiel. Aaron also at some point gets stabbed in the stomach but survives.
Gabriel is also stabbed in the stomach by Alpha’s right-hand man, Beta, after falling from a ladder and breaking his leg during the long and bloody Whisperer War. He’s left to be finished off by walkers.
Finally, Negan’s barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat, Lucille, meets her end while Negan is beating Beta. He even buries it, laying to rest not only his beloved bat but also the memories of his departed wife after whom he named the bat. And could we also see Rick fall at the hands of the Whisperers? Comic-book Rick is still going of course, but Andrew Lincoln’s announced departure from the show will see Rick leave — probably for good. Though we’re yet to discover how he’ll say goodbye, there’s every chance he’ll die.
Ultimately, Alpha is martyred after being beheaded by Negan. Beta says they’ll use her death as an excuse to kill all those who oppose them – making Alpha arguably the most dangerous villain ever to grace the pages of the comic book, and indeed the screen universe of The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead Season 9 premieres on October 7.