First of all: are we all caught up with the latest goings-on in The Walking Dead? Good — because we’re about to get all kinds of spoiler-y and speculative about what’s going to happen next on the revitalised zombie show.
The recent episode ‘Walk With Us’ was a thrilling and bloodthirsty affair, with three characters getting the chop. And while we poured one out for the passing of Earl and the reformed Gamma, a mighty cheer went up as the ghoulish Whisperers leader Alpha finally got her comeuppance — at the hands of Negan, no less.
Alpha’s demise ended her year-long reign as the show’s central baddie, and the timing of her death (i.e. that it didn’t take place during a season finale) suggests that a new or refocused foe awaits our survivor heroes in the remaining episodes of season 10 and beyond.
We’ve donned our investigative cap/Whisperer skin mask to try and decipher who, or what, is likely to be the next major villain in The Walking Dead.
The man who would be king: Alpha’s second-in-command Beta is the obvious candidate to become The Walking Dead‘s next primary antagonist. Given that his former boss’s zombified head has just been delivered to Carol by Negan, command of the Whisperers now surely defaults to Beta and his increasingly dusty leather duster.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, TWD showrunner Angela Kang briefly addressed the “massive losses” sustained by both sides during the dramatic events of ‘Walk With Us’, placing emphasis on the fact that “for the Whisperers, they’re [now] without their Alpha”. With the skin mask-wearers still technically at war with our heroes, will Beta now go all-out to avenge Alpha and seize his newfound position as leader? He’ll have to assert his dominance over the Whisperers quickly (and presumably insist they call him Alpha?), so it seems very likely that Beta will have a big, big say in what’s to come over the next four episodes.
As well as all of that to contend with, there’s the small matter of Beta’s real identity being exposed. A brief exchange in ‘Walk With Us’ further teased the suggestion that Beta was a big music star before the zombie apocalypse as a Whisperer appeared to recognise him when Gamma ripped half of his mask off. Naturally, that starstruck Whisperer was swiftly cut to pieces by Beta, who certainly isn’t ready to have his newfound commanding position compromised.
Yes, yes, we know what you’re thinking — haven’t we heard this story before? But while the Saviors may be long gone, it’s clear that there are still very few people in TWD who feel ready to trust Negan so many years on from his big defeat to Rick and co. in season eight. Well, Alpha was beginning to trust him — and look how that ended up.
Fan speculation that Negan was working undercover while serving in the Whisperers was essentially confirmed when he brought Carol Alpha’s severed head (“took you long enough!”). But while he’s done our survivors a massive, massive favour by taking out their number one enemy, a lot of the characters still fucking hate Negan. Take his confrontation with Aaron in ‘Walk With Us’, for example: Aaron looked ready to bash Negan’s head in with his prosthetic hand-mace-thingy as he was so furious at the sight of the leather jacket-clad bruiser and his apparent turncoat ways.
“Negan finds himself kind of in between these two communities,” Kang said in the aforementioned EW interview about the wise-cracking anti-hero’s newfound status in TWD narrative. “There’s just a lot of fallout that’s going to happen from that episode as they kind of all march towards a final confrontation.” Is Negan going to end up on the side of good or evil, though?
Remember Georgie? We remember Georgie. Her sole appearance in the season eight episode ‘The Key’ led to all kinds of fan speculation back in March 2018, with many predicting that she is in fact the TV version of Pamela Milton, a key character from the original Walking Dead comics.
That source material depicts Pamela as a leader of the Commonwealth, a community of over 50,000 survivors in Ohio who become a key part of the narrative (we won’t spoil it any further if you haven’t read them). Georgie’s absence from the show since that season eight appearance has been conspicuous, and it’s not set in stone that the showrunners will appoint her as TWD‘s next big baddie — but, you know, you can’t trust anyone in the zombie dystopia.
In an off-screen development during season nine’s six-year time jump, Georgie managed to recruit Maggie and her young son Hershel to build a new community or two (which hasn’t officially been recognised as the ‘The Commonwealth’ in the TV version). While that plot point was created following Maggie actress Lauren Cohan’s departure from The Walking Dead following a contractual dispute, it’s since been confirmed that Cohan will actually be returning to her TWD role as a series regular in season 11. Kang has even hinted that the character may pop up during season 10 — so will she bring Georgie back with her? Or might Eugene’s upcoming rendezvous in Charleston, West Virginia with his radio love interest Stephanie, who most likely hails from the Commonwealth, bring about Georgie’s possible reign of terror?
“No fucking way,” we hear you cry. And, to be honest, you’re probably right. But Carol’s actions in recent episodes have got us slightly suspicious: her reckless pursuit of Alpha and her horde, for instance, led to Magna’s near-death, Connie’s disappearance and Yumiko punching her square in the mouth for her apparent indifference to the consequences of her actions.
While Carol and Negan appear to have an understanding over finally defeating Alpha, the fact that she’s willing to go behind the backs of her friends and allies to get what she wants might suggest that Carol is operating at a different level to our other heroes. Might she now go on to form an unlikely alliance with Negan?
It should be stressed that a villainous turn in Carol’s character is unlikely — and it certainly wouldn’t go down well with long-suffering TWD fans. But given the current villainous vacuum in The Walking Dead, nothing feels certain — well, that is until Beta puts all this speculating to bed by quickly establishing himself as the new baddie.
‘The Walking Dead’ continues Mondays at 9PM on FOX