The Walking Dead Showrunner Reveals Why a Comic Character Had to Be Changed for Whisperer Twist

The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has revealed reasoning behind the shocking twist that ended episode 10x07, “Open Your Eyes.” A vocal tick was the final clue Siddiq (Avi Nash) needed to unlock the post-traumatic stress disorder that plagued him since he was abducted by the Whisperers and forced to watch Alpha (Samantha Morton) murder his apprentice, Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and friend Tara (Alanna Masterson). Siddiq realized it was assistant Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) who was behind the mysterious illness spreading throughout Alexandria, and worse still, that it was a masked Dante who forced Siddiq to watch his friends be slaughtered.

“As we were breaking the season, we were talking about what is the nature of the Whisperer war and what are the feelings from the comic books that are interesting? And I’ve been talking about how we started thinking about it in terms of a cold war, and then we were like, ‘What really makes a cold war, a cold war?’” Kang told EW. “And a lot of it had to do with that feeling of not being certain who to trust, the paranoia, and a lot of that came from what [comic book creator] Robert Kirkman set up in the idea of Silence the Whisperers. All of that idea of propaganda and stuff is in the books. And then we were like, ‘Well, it’s also about spies, and there’s a spy aspect to it.’ And we haven’t really done that in that way other than Dwight had his own kind of turncoat thing, but this is a different way into it.”

Ex-Savior Dwight (Austin Amelio) acted as a mole, supplying Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the survivors with key information during their war against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, but Kang and the writers’ room wanted an infiltrator within Alexandria’s walls. To pull it off, Siddiq was paired with Dante — a heroic character from the comic books who had to be changed for the show as result of the absence of Maggie (Lauren Cohan).

“We really started from the idea of it’d be interesting if there are attempts to gather information on both sides, and then as we got into the story, of how it would be interesting if Siddiq, as a result of his PTSD, had gaps in his memory and can’t trust himself,” Kang explained. “And as things are going wrong, he’s not sure what’s going on. We started creating this character of a spy, and then the problem was like, ‘Well, how do you even embed a spy when our people are so smart and they’re so savvy about things? And also our audience is savvy.’”

To lessen suspicions around Dante — a newcomer who integrated into Alexandria during an unseen time jump between Seasons 9 and 10 — another change was made: the television show would make Dante an Alexandria doctor instead of a Hilltop colony lieutenant like his comic book counterpart.

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“We just talked about the fact that a lot of times sociopaths can be very high functioning individuals that hide in plain sight because they’re accomplished. And so, we were like, ‘Well, people just tend to trust doctors. They just do. And it’s something they need, and it connects to Siddiq,’” Kang said. “And we were wanting to introduce Dante as a character, and we just decided to meld them together and see if we could play a story where like, ‘Here’s this person who, on the one hand, is incredibly charming and could be a friend and he legitimately actually likes Siddiq, but he’s also got a deeper agenda.’ So, that’s how the genesis of the melding of Dante and this spy character came about.”

The Walking Dead next airs its midseason finale Sunday, Nov. 24 at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.