After the mideseason finale of The Walking Dead ('Evolution'), our survivors were taught a horrific – and tragic – lesson: they're now facing an enemy unlike any they've ever faced before: The Whisperers. With leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), second-in-command Beta (Ryan Hurst), and Alpha's teenaged daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy) leading the charge, the group has made its intentions known by claiming their first victim: Jesus (Tom Payne).
So with the long-running AMC series set to return on Sunday, February 10th, showrunner Angela Kang sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss what viewers can expect from the ever-growing threat – and in particular, how Morton's Alpha and the Whisperers' philosophy factor into the remainder of the ninth season.
● While our heroes have faced numerous threats over the years, Kang believes it's Alpha and the Whisperers' "different philosophy" towards survival that makes them the biggest "big bad" in nine seasons – a philosophy viewers will learn more about (and see first-hand for themselves) when the series returns:
"Part of the story will reveal — pretty early on in the back half of the season — the way that Alpha thinks and the way that she moves about the world. I think what is really interesting about them is that to put on the skin of a dead person and walk around in the world and walk around amidst walkers, that really takes a certain kind of a person."
● As Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), and the rest of the community stuggle to build a new society out of the decaying old one, Alpha and the Whisperers present a more primal path – making them a group that can't be reasoned with in the same manner as other villains have:
"It really takes a pretty brutal philosophy to believe that it's not even worth trying to be something that approximates human in the way that we think of it. I think that really brings them right up against the things that our people are thinking about as they're trying to rebuild something that's like a civilization, and just the fact that this group just doesn't even think any of that is worth preserving. It's something that's really dangerous for our people to grapple with."
● As for Morton's portrayal of Alpha, Kang praised the actress for how she made the role her own and is a welcome edition to the cast and crew:
"She's fantastic. I'm so surprised by the things that she does, in a way where I'm like, 'That's so much better than what I imagined this woman could be.' She's just such an interesting and deep actor. We've really loved having her. She's so nice, too. Could not be a nicer person. The entire cast just loves her. The crew loves her. She's been absolutely wonderful and such a good presence to have and very serious about what she does, in the best way. She deep-dives, man. She's awesome."
The second half of "The Walking Dead" Season 9 finds our groups of survivors, both old and new, continuing to deal with the impact of events that took place during the six years that have passed. Since the disappearance of Rick, many of these characters have become strangers to each other, and in some ways, strangers to themselves.
What they do know is that they are in undeniable danger. They will soon realize the world just beyond does not operate as they thought. The group's rules and ways of survival no longer guarantee their safety. A whole new threat has crossed their paths, and they soon discover it's unlike any threat they have encountered or endured before. The group will start to question what they think they see. What may appear to be normal in this post-apocalyptic world could actually be more disturbing and terrifying than when the apocalypse first broke out. All that is certain is the stakes are high and numerous.
Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics, "The Walking Dead" tells the story of the months and years after a zombie apocalypse and follows a group of survivors who travel in search of a safe and secure home. The series is executive produced by chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, showrunner Angela Kang, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Dave Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse and Denise Huth.