The Walking Dead took out one of its leaders on Sunday night, while simultaneously proving the new villains are terrifying and aren't playing around. The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang opened up about the shocking Mid-Season Nine finale while talking to ComicBook.com.
Spoilers for The Walking Dead Episode 9x08 follow. Major spoilers!
In the final moments of 2018's last episode of The Walking Dead, the Whisperers made their presence known. They may not talk much but, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Their first victim is Paul "Jesus" Rovia (which Tom Payne opened up about in this interview with Comicbook.com), a detail which showrunner Angela Kang worked out early on in Season Nine's development.
"I think we started planning it out at the beginning of the season," Kang said. "We knew that there needed to be something momentous to happen to kind of kick off this season Whisperer storyline. And in the show we often diverge from the paths from the comic book, because it's just our array of characters is so different. But it had to be something that really would affect the story at Hilltop, and a character whose life really mattered, and what they stood for matters to our characters. And so, there's a lot of factors that go into deciding who's being written out and why and things. And so, it's something that we take very seriously and not very lightly, but it seems to work well for the story, and definitely you feel the effect of this death rippling through the entire season. And so, I think it's had a powerful impact on the story."
While Kang does aim to follow the source material to a pleasing extent, she does acknowledge that some variations are absolutely necessary. Right now, for example, the AMC show is without a leader for the Hilltop as both Maggie and Jesus are gone (though Maggie is likely to return).
"That is part of the story at Hilltop, is they're dealing with some crisis in leadership but also it gives some other people a chance to step up as well, and it's part of the array of what's happening at these different communities," Kang said. "Each community is dealing with their own challenges. Alexandria has sort of closed itself off, Kingdom and having problems keeping together. And so, they need help from the others. Hilltop is kind of in a crisis of having some instability in what's happening there. Each one of these communities is really trying to deal with these leadership challenges that they really haven't faced before onscreen, so that's just part of the story going forward."
As for the Whisperers, audiences had best buckle up. "They're a scary group," Kang promises. "In [Episode 9x08], we reveal that these are humans. They're not like evolved walkers. We really start delving into and showing what the Whisperers' philosophy is when we get back into the new season and they are unlike any group that we've encountered before, just their philosophy to survival is very specific."
Fans of The Walking Dead comics are quite familiar with the barbaric philosophy in reference. "I think that there's some really interesting story for people who are interested in what kind of groups are out there in this world," Kang said. "It's been really fun to write and work on, and really interesting. Samantha Morton as Alpha has brought so much to the table. I'm really excited for people to see what she's been doing with that. The same with Ryan [Hurst]. Both of them are the nicest people, that's the great thing. But their characters, they're hardcore in a very different way than any other person that our group has come across, so it leads to some particular sorts of challenges for them to deal with."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.