A remixed storyline from The Walking Dead comics could reveal a traitor within Alexandria.
“In the aftermath of an overwhelming loss, the communities must brave a ferocious blizzard; as one group deals with an enemy from within, another is forced to make a life or death decision,” reads the Season Nine finale’s official synopsis, hinting at fallout from a major comic book shocker and a potential twist.
The Walking Dead is split into multiple groups — Alexandria, Kingdom, Hilltop, and the little-seen Oceanside — almost any of which could foster a traitor.
It has since introduced a new faction comprised of Daryl (Norman Reedus), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Henry (Matt Lintz), and former Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) — daughter of Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) — who may prove suspicious for her ties to the prominent enemy group now menacing the already splintered communities.
Though The Walking Dead has strayed further and further from its Robert Kirkman-penned source material, many beats are the same, even when playing out under different circumstances or with different characters.
Suspicions point to an enemy within Alexandria because the community now overseen solely by Michonne (Danai Gurira) has kept ousted Savior leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as its lone prisoner for nearly eight years. While Negan might be an obvious pick for an enemy within, he has since appealed to Michonne in an effort to prove his trustworthiness, and the comics tell us to be wary of someone else: Brandon Rose.
In the books, Brandon is the son of Hilltop couple Morton and Tammy Rose, who each meet violent ends: Tammy is a victim of the Whisperers, while Morton is killed by Rick during an ambush on the crippled Alexandrian leader.
Seeking revenge for the death of his parents, Brandon sneaks into the Alexandria jail and tells Negan of his plan to manipulate the Whisperers into believing Rick Grimes has declared war, hoping the conflict with result in the deaths of both Rick and Alpha. When Negan agrees, he’s freed and escorted to the Whisperer border, where Negan kills Brandon and continues on alone.
Negan then integrates for a time into the Whisperers’ ranks and wins the respect of Alpha, but soon clashes with their uncivilized way of life. Negan breaks Alpha emotionally, kills her, and presents her decapitated head to Rick and lover Andrea as a sign of his allegiance.
Rick then conscripts Negan to fight on the frontlines as a member of the militia assembled to combat the Whisperers, next led by second-in-command Beta, who vows to use the undead to destroy the society being developed by Rick and company.
Could a similar beat play out in the television show? Michonne refuses to free Negan, who took advantage of an unlocked cell door before voluntarily returning to jail without conflict, hinting at his budding journey of finding peace and redemption.
Though he has an advocate in Michonne’s daughter Judith (Cailey Fleming), Negan’s next jailbreak could come in the form of a Brandon surrogate: someone possibly taking issue with Michonne, who until recently has sternly resisted outside influence, clashing with the Alexandria council over the issue of participating in the community-wide fair before relenting.
Because of the tensions between Alexandria and Hilltop, and Michonne’s new attitude towards outsiders, it’s likely a Brandon replacement will come from within Alexandria. Should that someone suffer the loss of a loved one to the Whisperers, it could push them to turn to Negan for help — even if such an act counts as a betrayal against Michonne.
Comprised of Aaron (Ross Marquand), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Siddiq (Avi Nash), Laura (Lindsley Register), Nora (Tamara Austin), and Kyle (Marvin Lee), no significant member of the council is likely to unleash Negan in the hopes of seeing Michonne killed, but an Alexandrian could betray her wishes by setting Negan free in the hopes of combatting the Whisperers.
This would play out the beat of Brandon releasing Negan for his own purposes, only for Negan to take advantage of his second chance at freedom to prove he’s a changed man, a trajectory set up during his conversation with Michonne in 912, ‘Guardians.’
Though they’ve spent six years integrating into Alexandria and going on to become trusted members, former Saviors Laura and DJ (Matt Mangum) would be the likeliest suspects to free Negan; they’ve seen him successfully lead a band of survivors, as Negan pointed out to Michonne, and could consider him a needed weapon in the fight against the Whisperers.
But “enemy from within” suggests a more sinister turn of events, hinting any potential traitor and their plot could have an effect that will reverberate throughout the finale and possibly carry over into Season Ten, set to be Gurira’s final season.
Because Brandon has no counterpart in the show, it makes it hard to predict which character, if any, will follow a similar path. In the show, Tammy (Brett Butler) is married to Hilltop blacksmith Earl (John Finn), and their son, Ken (AJ Achinger), died years ago in the Season Nine premiere; it was there a hooded Earl was maneuvered into attacking Maggie (Lauren Cohan), mirroring Morton’s attack on Rick.
Morgan has since said he hopes the show will adapt this era of Negan storylines for the show, particularly Negan’s clashes with the Whisperers as he attempts to prove his rehabilitation.
The Walking Dead Season Nine finale airs Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on AMC.
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