Throughout the first half of Season 9, decided to keep the episodes largely free of specific big bads, since the later time jump rendered season-long threats moot. However, things rapidly heated up in the midseason finale when The Whisperers took swift and deadly action against Jesus. (R.I.P.) With new episodes still over a month away, showrunner Angela Kang has revealed why The Whisperers are so dangerous to Michonne, Aaron and the other protagonists.
It’s this amazing idea from the comics and we really delve deep into what that means. 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.
Going from the comics, and from what Angela Kang has described, The Whisperers will seemingly have more in common with feral beasts in the wild than domesticated animals of society. They don’t consider humanity’s technological evolution to be all that remarkable, and Samantha Morton’s leader Alpha has an Old Testament mentality about lots of things. That behavior likely won’t mesh well with everyone else who’s actually trying to return to pre-outbreak society.
As peels back the layers surrounding The Whisperers’ motivations and behaviors, fans will be witnessing a villainous group that’s like no others before it. For instance, Negan’s Saviors and the Governor’s Woodbury army (and just about everyone else) were all invested in being the most powerful group of survivors with the largest number of goods and supplies. The Whisperers, meanwhile, are mostly interested in no-frills living, with far more primitive ways of dealing with others.
That The Whisperers are willing to just randomly track and stab people already doesn’t bode well for anyone. But the fact that they are actively against the expansion of civilization could be almost as devastating as the initial zombie outbreak. The years of effort that went into turning Alexandria and Hilltop back into legitimate townships could be completely undone in a single day’s worth of Whisperer-fueled terror.
In a similar vein, Angela Kang implied to EW that the morally unhinged Whisperers will be something of a parallel for the general state of the crumbling world around them. In her words:
It really plays well to the overall themes we’re exploring this season, just with the world falling apart a little bit more as the days and the years pass. Our people try and fight that tide by trying to rebuild, and they’re seeing that some people have decided to take completely the opposite tack, which is something that gives them pause in moments. They’re not a group that can be reasoned with in some of the same ways that some other villains have been that they’ve encountered in the past.
I don’t think anyone would go around calling Negan “reasonable,” per se, but the former main villain was usually inclined to hear out others’ proposals to see if they were lucrative for him in any way. Meanwhile, The Whisperers don’t see much value in anything, so it’ll be extremely difficult to form any deals or agreements with them.
Especially when the protagonists will still be coping with the irreversible downfall of the natural world. Here’s what Angela Kang had to say about the good guys.
They’re also just trying to figure out how they need to interact with each other in this world as they face more and more problems and challenges related to both this new threat and some of the other obstacles that they face in this world. We’ll continue to see the effects that nature has on our people, as things start to break down and they deal with the problems that come up as a result of these things.
Here’s hoping everyone within ‘s positive-minded communities gets at least a brief chance to breathe easy in the back half of Season 9, since The Whisperers are making it their mission to disrupt everyone else’s comfort zones.
With plotlines like the X-scar situation yet to unpack, will return to AMC for the back half of Season 9 on Sunday, February 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see all the other new and returning shows coming soon, head to our midseason finale schedule.