The Walking Dead outed Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) as a Whisperer spy when he murdered Siddiq (Avi Nash) in 10x07, “Open Your Eyes,” and adding to that tragedy is the possibility that Dante could have switched sides and stayed in Alexandria, according to Cardenas. 10x08, “The World Before,” revealed Dante was selected by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and entrusted with infiltrating the walled-off community, where he backed medical chief Siddiq and helped him through his Whisperer-caused PTSD. It wasn’t until Dante’s nervous tick triggered Siddiq’s final flashback to the night of the Whisperer slayings that Siddiq realized it was a masked Dante who forced him to watch the murders of apprentice Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and other friends, resulting in Dante killing Siddiq after a brief scuffle.
“The whole idea of playing a mole is always some of the hardest roles to play because you’re playing the reality from moment to moment… How much of what I am saying is the truth?… Do I really believe it?” Cardenas told the AMC Blog. “With each piece, you try to understand what Dante is thinking and when he veers off the road as far as his objective is, which is to ultimately betray the trust of someone he’s grown close to.”
Cardenas was helped along through conversations with Nash and episode director Michael Cudlitz, who offered “perspective on one segment of the conversation where Dante is trying to convey to Siddiq that the efforts of all of the survivors and Rick Grimes‘ (Andrew Lincoln) vision of a new future is working because the people there are good and working together.”
“Look, this place, it’s special. I got that right away,” Dante told Siddiq in their final conversation. “It works because it’s a village. It takes everyone here to build, grow, fight, raise rugrats, and heal people. Everyone carries equal weight. So when something happens, it’s all our fault, yeah? And when one of us is suffering, we’re here to help.”
The speech wasn't just covering a looming twist. Cardenas says things could have played out differently if an accidentally triggered flashback didn't give Dante away as a Whisperer spy.
“Most of the time, as a mole, he’s trying to corrupt from the inside. It would be so fascinating and so sad if, in the midst, he slowly realizes… by talking to Siddiq… another world is possible here,” Cardenas said. “In that little glimpse, you can see that if Siddiq didn’t have that flashback and Dante didn’t act from his indoctrinated and autopilot programming, that there is a glimmer of hope that Dante could have changed and stayed. I think that’s what makes it so sad. It could have happened, but there’s not always those happy endings for these characters. It’s a tragedy, but a great moment. It’s a lost opportunity for redemption.”
Dante lost that opportunity for good when Siddiq was avenged by Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who brutally stabbed Dante 15 times when he was held prisoner in the same cell once occupied by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
The Walking Dead Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23, 2020 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.