Gearing up for the mid-season premiere, the hit TV show’s ninth season has been met with nothing but praise from fans and critics everywhere.
Taking off a year and a half after the defeat of Negan, the now united communities are at the center of this season — facing threats from both within and outside of their alliance. The remaining Saviors have proven to be difficult to deal with, destruction of infrastructure posed a more difficult quality of life, and infertile ground has made supplies and resources scarcer. On top of that, the relationships between the supposedly allied communities have been put to the test when the decisions of various leaders are questioned.
However, the biggest possible threat so far has only been speculated upon even until this point. Mentions of “talking walkers” who have been acting strangely have been popping up throughout the season (and even in earlier instances) — ultimately leaving viewers with the cliff hanger of the Whisperer’s reveal during the mid-season finale.
So, what do we know about this nefarious, enigmatic group? Here are some facts we gathered from the comic book counterpart of The Walking Dead.
1. They do indeed wear the skins of the walkers
Using a more revolting technique than the “cover-yourself-in-guts” method that Rick and Glenn discovered in season 1, the Whisperers use the tanned, leathered skins of random walkers to disguise themselves — both from the dead and the living. They blend in with walker herds so well that they go by unnoticed and unbothered by them, and most humans can almost never tell the difference either. This means that the Whisperers never actually fight the living dead. Rather, they walk freely amongst them.
2. They take their anonymity and boundaries seriously
If ever someone decides to join the Whisperers and dons on a mask made of walker skin, it means giving up their identity to instead take on a code name instead. The Whisperers have chosen to identify more like animals, thus shedding their human “identities”. Just like animals however, they are also territorial of their land and area.
3. They are led by a cutthroat woman named Alpha
Appearing as one of the few female villains of the series, Alpha is the savage and cold leader of this new villain group. Although she can seem aloof, she imbibes the philosophy and worldview of the Whisperers completely — ruthless, resourceful, and almost completely devoid of emotion. Alpha’s second-in-command is a man named Beta who never removes his walker mask and is extremely physically imposing.
4. They believe that the apocalypse has set them free
As mentioned previously, the Whisperers have adopted to a more pack-like, animalistic worldview. This is because they believe that humans have lived in a “fantasy world” of social constructs prior to the apocalypse, and that they have now discovered the true way that people were meant to carry out their lives: primitive and without pretence. They move in herds (along with walkers), and don’t communicate much. Instead, they speak only when necessary, and in hushed tones. Thus, the name ‘Whisperer’ was given to them.
5. They collect hordes of walkers
As seen in the comics, the Whisperers don’t simply walk amongst the dead and blend in. They herd and collect them inside their camp in order to build an army for themselves. The walker hordes, who the Whisperers have even said are more comforting and less frightening than humans, serve this new villain community by either attacking for them or allowing them to travel along unrecognized.
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