The Walking Dead’s new bad guys, the Whisperers, are still steeped in mystery. If you have not read the comics, you may not be familiar with them. Here’s some explanation…
The Whisperers (who by all present appearances, seem to be a group of walkers that have evolved with the ability to speak), have finally been ‘unofficially’ introduced into The Walking Dead TV series.
Their highly anticipated introduction coincides with a time-jump six years into the future, with this latest ‘big bad’ finally presenting themselves as an ultra-evil new foe in a new and technologically devolved world, now severely short on fuel and bullets, and high on spears, arrows and horse-drawn transportation. Most notably, there is no ‘unf*ckwithable’ Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), to deal with this brutal new enemy, and his absence makes this band of murderous freaks seem so much more terrifying.
The addition of the Whisperers is easily the most satisfying new direction the show has taken, even while accounting for the fact that Judith Grimes (Cailey Flemings) is now a gun-toting 10-year-old, and Michonne (Danai Gurira) is the group’s new leader, rearing a child of Rick Grimes (who may or may not be a figment of Michonne’s imagination). Rosita and Gabriel are also now apparently involved, romantically, and Maggie has also mysteriously just disappeared – supposedly to set up another community. Carol (Melissa McBride) has fully re-embraced her inner psycho (mass-burning people alive, and using the dog of Daryl Dixon as bait), and Daryl Dixon himself (Norman Reedus) has gone bush, shunning Alexandria and donning a home-made whaling jacket while living with his dog in the forest.
This intriguing ‘jump’ brings us to a total of 10 years since the Zombie Apocalypse took place, and everything we know about decomposition tells us that zombie evolution shouldn’t be even remotely possible. If anything, the remaining walkers should be weaker than ever, and they definitely shouldn’t be able to form coherent sentences.
You may have guessed though, even without knowledge of The Walking Dead comics, that these new super-zombies are not dead at all. They are, in fact, these fiendish new baddies we keep referring to, the Whisperers.
Keep reading if you want to have a better understanding of their origin, and basically to just get an all-around better idea of what the heck is going on.
Are The Whisperers Evolved Walkers?
In last week’s, “Who Are We Now,” after Rosita and an injured Eugene nearly get overtaken by walkers, they manage to cover themselves in mud and seek refuge in a ditch. While trying to blend into their surroundings, they hear members of the approaching herd whispering “Where are they,” and “They must be close. Don’t let them get away.” In the entire ten-year time-span the show has covered, walkers have never been depicted as having any sort of cognitive control, other than their urge to feed, so what’s up with these new walkers? Are they evolving? The short answer? No—at least not if the show is taking inspiration from the comics.
The Whisperers In The Comics.
The Whisperers were introduced in issue #130 of The Walking Dead comics, written by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. While Rick (who was still alive and kicking at his point) and the gang assumed these walkers had learned how to speak, they soon found that they were actually something much worse—a group of highly dangerous living people, who camouflage themselves in the skins of dead people, in order to skirt the walkers, but also to hide from, or stake out people from neighboring communities.
The group is led by a “stern and cruel” woman named Alpha, according to IGN. Second in command is Beta, who basically acts as Alpha’s muscle to carry out her orders. The Whisperers, in the comics, make a habit of kidnapping anyone they think gets too close to their borders and, in a barbaric show of their morals, mount the heads of the dead onto spikes. Basically, if you thought the Saviors were bad, think again!
If the show borrows directly from this plot point, and showrunner Angela Kang’s interview with The Hollywood Reporter, suggest they are, then the group, now led my Michonne, has a lot more on their hands now than walkers. “This is one of my absolute favorite moments from the comic book,” Kang relays to The Hollywood Reporter. “These issues were coming up while we were working on a prior season of the show. As we were reading the issue in the office, everybody was like, ‘Oh my god. What just happened? What is Robert Kirkman even doing here? What could possibly be next?'” The same article cites death, and lots of it, but as with everything else, you shouldn’t expect the show to directly apply the comic storyline to the small screen version. Kang also states that there will be “twists and turns.” Make of that what you will.
Who Plays The Whisperers?
Samantha Morton (Minority Report) and Ryan Hurst (Sons Of Anarchy) have been cast as the group’s leaders, Alpha and Beta. Though she hasn’t officially made her onscreen debut yet, viewers have much to look forward to concerning Morton’s portrayal. In October, Andrew Lincoln, in a statement to Digital Spy claimed that “She’s scared the bejeezus out of all of the crew, actually.”
Cassady McClincy will also portray what would have been Carl’s love interest, Lydia, from The Whisperers comic arc in Season 9 of The Walking Dead. McClincy is most well-known for her work on Castle Rock (2018), Love, Simon (2018) and Ozark (2017). Of course, Carl is now dead, unlike the comics where he is the Whisperers fiercest enemy – so – Lydia and Carol’s ‘son’ Henry (Macsen Lintz) will apparently be the ones becoming romantically linked.
In the comics, Lydia was taken prisoner at the Hilltop Colony after being captured by Jesus. There, she meets and strikes up a friendship and eventual relationship with Carl Grimes, son of Rick Grimes, having fully defected from her mother’s (Alpha’s) group and fighting alongside the survivors in the eventual war against the Whisperers.
As of Sunday’s episode, viewers still haven’t seen much of the Whisperers, but that doesn’t mean their presence isn’t felt. If you recall Rosita and Eugene barely made it out alive by the skin of their teeth after they ended up surrounded by a group of the Whisperers. In Sunday’s, “Stradivarius,” Rosita, though injured, has been accounted for, but Eugene is still out missing. Unfortunately, for him, the whisperers, seem to really want him for one reason or another.
Honestly, talking walkers sounds a lot cooler than an unnecessarily murderous group of freaks, but you have to remember that the group in Alexandria, led by Michonne, don’t know who they really are yet. From their point of view, these whispering walkers will likely inspire several discussions about the possibility of what caused them to “evolve” so it’s almost like viewers will get to eat their cake, and have it too.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays on AMC.