Fear The Whisperers
With season 9 of The Walking Dead having returned on February 10, season 10 of the long-running zombie horror (where, increasingly, humans are the real monsters after all) is already being teased.
With no Rick, and Norman Reedus’ Daryl stepping up to top billing, here’s what we should expect from the next season of the AMC show.
When will The Walking Dead return for season 10?
Every Walking Dead season to date has premiered in October, at varying times. The first season debuted at the end of the month, the following five seasons were all in mid October, while seasons 7 and 8 moved back towards the end of the month again.
Season 9, which concluded in April, premiered on October 7, 2018. The ninth edition embarked on its traditional mid-season break at the end of November and returned for its final five episodes in February.
Fans have thus come to expect an October premiere date for all new seasons and this was confirmed to be the same for season 10 in a teaser trailer (scroll below to watch), which cited October for when the show will return, although a firm date hasn’t yet been revealed.
Which cast members are coming back?
Having appeared in almost every episode since the very first season, it’s probably safe to expect Norman Reedus to return as Daryl.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Reedus has “become the new No. 1 on the call sheet” after signing a “franchise/universe deal”, meaning that he will continue to be paid even if his character is killed off in the next three years. The report suggests that Reedus will make “$350,000 per episode on top of additional guarantees and advances in a deal that sources say could be worth anywhere from $50 million to $90 million”.
Co-star Melissa McBride (Carol) also looks set to return, having signed a similar deal with AMC worth an estimated $20 million over three years.
Golden Globe-winning star Samantha Morton (Fantastic Beasts, Minority Report) will be introduced as part of The Whisperers during the second part of season 9, with Ryan Hurst (Taken) playing her deputy, Beta. With the season 10 teaser confirming that The Whisperers are sticking around, it’s likely that both Morton and Hurst will return too.
It is uncertain whether Danai Gurira (Michonne) will sign up again for season 10. THR reveal that Gurira was in “prolonged negotiations” with the network that were “complicated by her status as a breakout actress with hits under her belt including Black Panther”.
“She has been very vocal about saying that she loves the show. We love Danai; we love that character. Right now, she’s got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her. But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it,” AMC programming president David Madden told THR.
“We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays. Obviously, the lesson of Andy is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”
When asked how long she would remain on the show, Gurira – who has portrayed Michonne since season 3 – said last September: “I can’t share that at this moment.”
It also looks certain that Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) will stand by Carol Peletier (see filming notes below)….
Will Andrew Lincoln be in it?
No. Andrew Lincoln’s last appearance as Rick Grimes came in the fifth episode of season 9, which aired in November 2018. It saw Rick rescued from a zombie herd by Anne and taken to safety in a helicopter.
Lincoln explained that his decision to leave the show was influenced by family commitments, telling Entertainment Weekly: “I have two young children, and I live in a different country, and they become less portable as they get older. It was that simple. It was time for me to come home.”
However, Lincoln has also left the door open for a return in season 10 as a director. He told EW last September: “I’m going back. I’m going back to shadow a director, and my intention is to direct next year. I can’t be that far away because I can’t bear it. That’s how much I am invested in the show and the continuation of the story.”
There has also been suggestions that Lincoln could reprise the role of Rick for a series of standalone movie specials.
Are there any new characters?
Yes. The new season will see the introduction of a new Whisperer called Gamma, played by Thora Birch. Gamma is described as a fiercely loyal lieutenant of Alpha.
Kevin Carroll of The Leftovers is also joining the cast as an “intelligent” survivor named Virgil.
Do we know any plot details?
The season 10 teaser focused on The Whisperers, a menacing group of survivors from the comics that wear the skin of the dead in order to disguise themselves.
Speaking to Digital Spy recently, star Eleanor Matsuura (Yumiko) said of The Whisperers: “I think they are the most incredible baddies. I don’t think the fans will be disappointed by the new threat that they pose.”
Dan Fogler (Luke) added: “The idea that someone would just willingly dress up like that and go, ‘Yeah, that’s how we’re going to survive’ – that’s insane and a really scary concept. Dressing up wearing zombie skin, it’s like Michael Myers or something. It puts a real chill up your spine that is reminiscent to a horror.”
According to the season 10 description published on AMC, the survivors are “preparing for a battle that may be unavoidable.” Could this mean the Whisperer War is coming?
“The collected communities are still dealing with the effects of Alpha’s horrific display of power, reluctantly respecting the new borderlines being imposed on them, all while organising themselves into a militia-style fighting force preparing for a battle that may be unavoidable,” the description reads. “But the Whisperers are a threat unlike any they have ever faced. Backed by a massive horde of the dead, the Whisperers are seemingly a fight the survivors cannot win.
“The question of what to do and the fear it breeds will infect the communities and give rise to paranoia, propaganda, secret agendas, and infighting that will test them as individuals and as a society.”
The season 10 premiere will also kick off “a few months” after the snowy season 9 finale.
Other than that, we don’t know much concerning the season 10 plot. Former showrunner Scott M. Gimple (who was replaced by Angela Kang for season 9) indicated that the show would focus more on “original stuff”, rather than adhering to the source material from the comics.
Meanwhile, Lincoln has said that Kang has a “new vision” for the show, adding: “There’s something beautiful in the original DNA of the show in that it is all about change. The show will live on and it will continue to be great.”
Is there a trailer?
A teaser trailer was shared on the official Walking Dead Twitter page in early February, with showrunner Angela Kang also posting it to Instagram.
The teaser shows one of The Whisperers staring directly at the camera, placing a finger to their mouth. They can be heard whispering the words “Season 10 this October”. ‘S10 October’ then appears across the screen, confirming the season’s autumn due date.
Check that out beneath.
Has filming started?
Yes. Production kicked off on Monday, May 6. Norman Reedus shared an image from the set on his Instagram, confirming that Daryl will be with Carol Peletier in the new series.
How many more seasons will there be?
Back in 2017, now-departed showrunner Gimple (who now serves as the show’s chief content officer) indicated that he wanted the show to span more than two decades.
“We are trying to do 20 years,” Gimple said during a fan panel at PaleyFest in LA. “The [Walking Dead] comic has certainly done it, and I look forward to every issue. The Simpsons has been on 26, 27 years, so that’s a challenge — so OK, challenge accepted. Done.”
The show has also experienced diminished viewer ratings. 6.08 million people in the US tuned in to the premiere of season 9 last October, which was down 47% on the previous year’s season premiere (11.4 million). Ratings for the rest of the season dipped to the four and five million bracket, the kind of viewing figures not seen since season 1 back in 2010. However, The Walking Dead is still one of the top-rated shows on US cable, so AMC could still see reasons to continue to commission seasons for years ahead.