The Walking Dead Season 10 Explores Trauma, Paranoia and PTSD

The survivors’ continued conflict against the Whisperers will see The Walking Dead Season 10 unravel more of the trauma, paranoia and PTSD inflicted by the flesh-wearing villains.

“One of the great things from the comic book that we got really excited about, there’s this idea of propaganda and paranoia, and this idea of ‘silence the Whisperers,’ which [creator] Robert Kirkman played really well,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW.

“So there’s definitely a feeling as our group gets into this conflict that keeps building between the Whisperers that’s very different from how the Saviors war played out, where there’s just elements of paranoia but kind of a Cold War feel.”

Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol (Melissa McBride) and the others are still feeling the effects of devastating losses that came in the penultimate episode of Season 9, “The Calm Before,” where it was learned Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) abducted and then decapitated ten allies, including Carol and King Ezekiel’s (Khary Payton) son Henry (Matt Lintz).

Dealing with these territorial new foes, who disguise themselves as the dead, means lines will be crossed on both sides.

“There’s a lot of brinkmanship and things like that, because the Whisperers are so different. Alpha pulled her big move on our people by being in disguise and sneaking around in the middle of a fair,” Kang said.

“It’s just open for all to see, and somehow nabbing these people. That’s a very different way of operating than any of the other people that they’ve had to deal with, really. So we’ve been having a lot of fun playing with that feel for the season.”

Kang continued, “We’re dealing with a lot of things also to do with people’s trauma, and the idea of what is real or not real. Things having to do with illusion, or just memory breaking, PTSD. So there’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing that’s pretty unique to the feel of this season.”

Not only is the Whisperer war more psychological in nature, but unlike Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the survivors unleashing all out war against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, Daryl and company will be forced to combat their enemies in ways audiences haven’t yet seen on TWD.

“We’re also having a lot of fun with the fact that the last time our people were in a war, it was automatic weapons and gunfire, but we’re just not really in that period of time anymore. So we’re working on some battle stuff that is unlike anything we’ve done on the show, which I’m super-excited about,” Kang said.

“[Director and executive producer Greg Nicotero] has been in rehearsals for some stuff we’re about to shoot that I think is pretty cool. That’s some of the stuff that look-wise, feel-wise is unique to the start of season 10.”

Dealing with this new way of life imposed by the Whisperers comes as TWD undergoes another minor time jump of at least a few months.

“They’ve been living with some of the Whisperers’ rules, and we’ll see that some things have changed and some people have done some unexpected things in the time that has passed to deal with the trauma at the end of last season,” Kang teased.

When hinting at this coming season in April, Kang warned the massive walker herd corralled by Alpha and the Whisperers “plays into the story going forward.”

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If TWD borrows a beat from Kirkman’s comic book, the horde signals even more doom and destruction headed Alexandria’s way.

AMC will premiere the first look at TWD Season 10 Friday, July 19 during its Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con ahead of the season’s October premiere.

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